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Saddle Woes

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  • Saddle Woes

    First off, hi! I'm new here. I've been a long time lurker, and it's a little tiring having to enter a code every time I want to search something. Oh, this'll probably be fairly long.
    Anyways, 3 months and some change ago, I bought a new TB who had evented at Prelim. My beloved Circuit Elite fits him with the help of a ThinLine pad with shims, but it was me who was the problem. Here's where the problems begin.

    I'm about 5'5, ~100lbs, long legs. Being a junior, I'm still growing and am expected to hit 5'8-5'10. I have long thighs, which has been an issue. I really like half deep seats, minimal blocks (I do like having blocks though) and a forward flap to accommodate my leg versus a long, straighter one. I'm a hunter/jumper rider gone wrong, schooling 2'-2'6, and I'm switching to eventing, hence the seasoned event horse. Don't worry, I am working with a dressage focused, event trainer who has been helping me greatly. I will be using this saddle for XC, SJ and dressage, hence the half deep seat. I do have high aspirations, but this saddle is hoped to get me up to Training level before I should need a dressage saddle, but if I need one earlier, we'll deal with that then.

    Horse is a 16.2, 11 year old full TB. He's fairly narrow, not quite slab sided, but could definitely use a narrow tree (fine with padding up a medium, though). River is lacking in the top line department, so that's being taken care of with lots of hill work and the works. He's got higher than average withers, and the saddle fitter (yup, I'm working with one) remarked that his back broadens in the back which was also presenting a challenge. Don't know if that's typical in TBs or not. He goes much better in wool panels than foam, and that's what I'd like for the adjustability factor anyways.

    I've worked with two saddle fitters (both from stores, not independent) who have been a great help. The first one just didn't have a superb saddle selection, but the second one did.

    Antares Spooner & Hampton Classic did not fit, but the Jumping Saddle (stock one carried by that store, not the customized one) did fit, but was not a great ride for me.

    Stubben Portos, which I have on trial right now. While it fit River and I, and saddle fitter and mom said it put me in a good position, I just wasn't feeling that. My normally forward horse was sucking back, but I don't know if that was a reaction to the foam panels or the spring tree.

    Rode in about a bazillion Pessoas, but really didn't like the ride they offered, felt like I was being tilted back or forward in about every one.

    Bates, didn't like them at all, hate the CAIR panels.

    Here's where it gets good. Pulled out a 17" Vega CC that fit River, and was an absolute DREAM to ride in on my part. I felt balanced, secure, comfortable. Just love all around. The 17" seat is cutting it close as to giving me room to grow, and my legs are too close to the edge of the flaps anyways. Saddle fitter re brought out the 18" of the same model, and I was near swimming in it. Still rode pretty well though.

    Old PC friend brought her 18", long flap Amerigo Pinerolo monoflap that she bought custom for her TB, a carbon copy of mine she says. While I was absolutely swimming it, I did like how it rode. I felt not as secure as I could have, but I did like it.

    I have a flexible budget, but custom saddles are out of my reach, unless this whole ordeal drags out even longer.
    My dilemma is that the Stubben Portos rides well, and I like it, I don't LOVE it. I love the Vega, but the Vega isn't a smart option. Do I get the 18" and have some room in the seat until I grow? I understand the flaps come in different lengths, but the 17" is too small for the future and the 18" is too big now, so even a 17" with a long flap isn't ideal.

    Help me, COTHers! TIA.

  • #2
    First, welcome! Good to see another junior on the boards

    Now to your question. You said you felt like you were swimming in the 18"... that's not a feeling that will go away until you grow, and, IMO, not worth losing that sense of security. Is it possible for you to find a Vega with a forward flap, so your leg isn't too close to the edge?
    Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.


    • #3
      Okay, so let's distill this down to the main issue.

      You've got a horse who fits well in the 17" Vega CC. You've got a rider that needs more room than the 17" Vega permits, but you are swimming in the 18" Vega. So what you really need is the non-existent 17.5" Vega CC or something that's darn close to it, and you can't afford a brand new custom Amerigo.

      So here's your options:

      1. Find yourself a Dominus Bruce Davidson in 17" or 17.5". Dominus was designed by Peter Menet before he designed Amerigo/Vega and rides quite similarly to the Amerigo/Vega tack (says jn4jenny who owns an Amerigo and a Dominus). The Bruce Davidson has a very forward flap. They're not easy to find since they're long discontinued, but they're gems when you can find them and they're often priced well under $1200. I suggested this "fix" to another COTHer in almost your exact situation and she is gaga for the saddle. A picture for reference:

      2. Call your local Amerigo rep, or the national World Equestrian Brands office if necessary, and locate a suitable 17.5" Amerigo with the long flap in the demo stock. Sometimes Amerigo will sell demo saddles in the $1800-$2400 range, but they are almost never advertised on the open marker. It doesn't hurt to make the phone call.

      3. Branch out to other brands/models. Don't let your saddle fitter tell you that your horse is some kind of freak for having the broaden-out thing going on in the back + curvy topline + withery with a big laid-back shoulder in the front. Yes it narrows your options, but there are still plenty of saddles that can accommodate that build. Most of them will ride very differently from the Amerigo/Vega stuff, but that doesn't mean they ride poorly. A quick laundry list off the top of my head:

      Black Country Quantum
      Black Country Tex Eventer
      Albion Kontact
      Frank Baines Reflex with the wool panel option
      County Conquest and its discontinued predecessor, the County Extreme
      The Stubben Genesis CS (which would be much better suited to this conformation than the Portos)

      I won't tell you that finding those saddles in 17.5" with a long flap for less than $2200 is going to be easy--that's a very popular seat size, and long flaps are rare--but it does happen. You could also look at some of the old-school saddles for this combo, particularly the Berney Brothers Dublin Jumper and the Ainsley Chester and Ainsley ProNational, all of which can be easily found under $1200.

      And if your one and only beef with the Bates was the CAIR, try its cheaper cousin the Collegiate Convertible Diploma. It has wool panels but otherwise is nearly identical to the Bates Caprilli with the forward flap option.

      In short, don't despair. You have pleeeeenty of options left.
      Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


      • Original Poster

        AppyGoLucky - Thank you! The Vega unfortunately doesn't come in a forward option, and none of the other Vega models really give me enough room in the thigh (where most of my height is) without compromising seat size.

        jn4jenny - Thank you, I really appreciate all the options! Definitely going to put a call out to Amerigo. I really like the look of the Bruce Davidson, too. I actually rode in the Collegiate as well, and I forgot to add that those two both had me tipping in all kinds of ways. Again, thank you so much — I actually was feeling like I was SOL.


        • #5
          For the price point pick up this saddle - it'll get you through the next year or so while your body figures out where it's going; if it still fits the horse & you, talk to someone about changing the panels over to wool & doing a nicer repair on the pommel, replace the seat etc (have a shop quote on the package work as well as individual repairs).


          • #6
            Listen to jn4jenny... she helped solve all my endless saddle shopping woes. I ended up loving the 17.5 Amerigo as well, and she found me a used one.


            • #7
              Originally posted by jn4jenny View Post

              I won't tell you that finding those saddles in 17.5" with a long flap for less than $2200 is going to be easy--that's a very popular seat size, and long flaps are rare--but it does happen. You could also look at some of the old-school saddles for this combo, particularly the Berney Brothers Dublin Jumper and the Ainsley Chester and Ainsley ProNational, all of which can be easily found under $1200.
              Good list and those saddles are out there. I've seen several of the nice old Ainsley Chesters for less than $600. If I didn't already have two jumping saddles I would have bought one just because it's such a nice saddle.

              I have a super long femur and am nearly 6' tall. I love my County Extreme and I also found a Stackhouse saddle with an extra forward/extra long flap. I bought both on eBay for less than $750. They are both nicely balanced saddles that work for my TB.

              My saddle fitter tells me he sees lots of high end saddles being sold for short $$. You just have to keep turning over rocks to find them.
              Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
              EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks everyone! All hope is not lost!
                Definitely going to keep an eye out for used high end saddles, and I might even put an ad out on the Area 1 site of what I'm looking for. Took all of your suggestions and made myself a list in a word processor, and now going to scour eBay/Craigslist/TackTrader/the likes.


                • #9
                  FWIW I have an Ainsley Pro National on consignment at VTO (hint, hint ). Seriously though, even if you're not looking for one of those, VTO has a great selection of consignments and a really simple trial program. Definitely worth looking into their stock.
                  Balanced Care Equine


                  • #10
                    Going to second the Ainsley - Chester or Pro-National. They fit TBs well, they come in narrow/med/wide, and the flaps are very forward for XC - or long legs. They are less expensive and if you're in fact not done growing (I haven't grown a milliimeter since the 8th grade so you never know) you haven't spent a mint on something you'll outgrow in a year.

                    However, the Chester is very much a back seat kind of saddle - the balance point may not feel right for you if you love the Vega, which I tried before getting a Chester, although my leg height is in my lower leg, not the thigh, so it may feel different for you (I'm also 5'5"). I don't know how much that matters or if it is the stirrup bar placement.

                    Definitely, don't get sucked into the "your horse has a most very unique back and only X saddle, that I happen to sell, will fit it" line of 'hossh*t'.


                    • #11
                      hightide- I sent you a pm.
                      Things happen for a reason...so when I reach over and smack you upside the head, just remember...you gave me a reason!


                      • #12
                        Sent you a PM as well!!
                        Please visit the Donate page!



                        • Original Poster

                          Bumping this up again, have a new possibility.
                          I took a used Barnsby Original Milton on trial at one point. Unfortunately, it needed seat repairs that would probably cost more then the saddle itself (saddle was about $500, so good deal).
                          I did find it fit both me and River really well. Now that my budget has grown exponentially since those days, I could afford a new one. Is it worth trying? Any opinions on the Barnsby saddles? IIRC, the leather was soft but very durable.


                          • #14
                            Contact Sandridge as they still have some Barnsby saddles on clearance.


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by alto View Post
                              Contact Sandridge as they still have some Barnsby saddles on clearance.
                              Thank you!
                              But, alas, won't be needed. Rode again in old PC friend's custom Amerigo monoflap, that she got custom for her TB, who went lame just after she got it. It is an 18" seat, with a long, forward flap, but after riding in it today, River went beautifully, stretched out, collected, nailed his transitions, all kinds of awesomeness. It IS big for me, I'm not gonna lie, but I felt super secure (more so then the 18" Vega) and super balanced. I was able to put my stirrups down and go around nicely in a dressage workout, then hike my stirrups up and feel secure over small jumps. Doesn't jam me into a position, but sets me up for the right one. Though I didn't feel secure at first ride, that was probably because my stirrups were a bit too long. Because I loff'd it today. Even had to have my stirrups up a couple holes for normal dressage, just the way the saddle is put together, I guess.
                              Needless to say, I bought it!


                              • #16
                                I don't know where you are in Area I, but in West Chester PA is a trainer named Luis Galindo who has designed and begun to sell his own saddle because he was never satisfied with the ones he found.

                                He came to our barn for a clinic (which was great!) and brought a saddle for some of us to try. It's a monoflap with a forward flap but it's really well-balanced. I've tried some forward flap saddles that just threw me onto my horse's withers. Not great. This one is very nice. I am 5'5" but have a long femur and this saddle fit me really well. Also, it feels like you could gallop around a Rolex course in it! so secure but without being restrictive!

                                He doesn't have a website yet for the saddle but you can contact him at GalindoSportHorses@gmail.com and I'm sure he can send you a photo and if you're interested, set something up to try one.

                                Good luck.
                                Day Care, Preschool, Grade School, High School, College, Job: When do I get to PLAY??


                                • #17
                                  I didn't see the last post, guess you did find one that works.
                                  Day Care, Preschool, Grade School, High School, College, Job: When do I get to PLAY??


                                  • #18
                                    Luis Galindo was arrested for Fraud and procession of a stolen horse 8/18/2015 in Lancaster, PA. Buyer beware
                                    Home of Five Kings HsH (Eurocommerce Berlin x Diamant de Semilly x Quidam de Revel) and several top bred mares www.hshorses.com


                                    • #19
                                      I agree with much of what was said above. You mentioned possibly getting a saddle to pad up. I would consider some of the saddles listed above with a K, trapezius panel or wither gussets to help support the saddle and allow shoulder freedom. Black Country, Baines, (naturally deeper front panel), and County offer these options and Albion offers some as well. You can also find or order some of these with a more forward flap in your needed seat size.
                                      Jay McGarry
                                      sms trained saddle fitter


                                      • #20
                                        this thread is 4 years old.
                                        "Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom" Barack Obama