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What to do saddle-wise with a 3yo?

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  • What to do saddle-wise with a 3yo?

    I just retired my 16.1 high and shark fin whither OTTB with a HUGE chest and barrel. And.. acquired a new guy () who is also 16.1, but much more finely built, and my 17" Medium (small medium) Amerigo CC monoflap (not a Vega - the Vega did not fit horsey #1 ) is not a great fit for him, even with a Mattes in every go..sh darn way the shims could be configured - they all result with a somewhat rocking, unbalanced saddle. The best balance I get with one in front and two in back.

    I cannot afford to buy a saddle right now. I mean, I could sell my Amerigo, sure, it's a very re-sellable saddle, in great condition. But I can't afford the fittings and consultations and shipping fees that come with trying saddles - especially when he is not done growing, and when I expect his topline to build significantly in the next year or two.

    What do you do for your growing greenies for saddle fit through the stages? I'd like to stay with wool flocked saddles if any suggestions are made. Thanks for any help!

  • #2
    I have always just used whatever saddle I've had, and padded accordingly. Usually as they develop, the padding changes. One month they may be in a square pad and half pad, but the next month they may be in a poly pad, and the next, just a square...and every combination in between....and several configurations we'll end up revisiting over the next couple of years.

    The last horse I had from 3 year old on probably didn't stop needing occasional pad adjustments until he was rapidly approaching 6, if even then.

    I would NEVER bother with getting a saddle fitted for a youngster and would probably wait until they were closer to fully developed with a good top line. You COULD sell the Amerigo and buy an inexpensive saddle that fits a little better now....but realize you will still be doing the saddle pad dance as he develops.


    • #3
      PS- As I said of the green horse (older, but definitely not developed) I have right now when a friend wanted to use her saddle on him this weekend... "He's not old enough to have an opinion on saddle fit, yet."


      • Original Poster

        Haha! Thanks YB! Maybe if something available locally that didn't need shipping and costs less than I could sell my Amerigo for, that would definitely be an option. I'm confident I can get enough for the Amerigo to pay for a nice used saddle, especially as 16.5 saddles aren't the most high demand. Could also make it more difficult! Doesn't have to be a perfect saddle at all, as long as it can be saddle padded the cr@p out of as he grows and changes.

        I already have the Mattes correction pad, which has really worked miracles before, but I am thinking I might invest in a PolyPad or other type of back padding.


        • #5
          Originally posted by ake987 View Post
          And.. acquired a new guy () who is also 16.1, but much more finely built, and my 17" Medium (small medium) Amerigo CC monoflap (not a Vega - the Vega did not fit horsey #1 ) is not a great fit for him, even with a Mattes in every go..sh darn way the shims could be configured - they all result with a somewhat rocking, unbalanced saddle. The best balance I get with one in front and two in back.
          Have you had a saddle fitter out to adjust the flocking on your Amerigo? I'd start there, then add shims.

          It may be that the tree is just not suitable for his back but I'd keep this saddle around for at least a year before making any irretrievable decisions.

          This site always has some interesting saddle, if you love your Amerigo, then look for previous/other Peter Menet designs (such as the Dominus on this page)

          For resale, stay with 17" saddles - you might pick up a 16.5 cheaper but they are also generally slower to sell (though if you get a terrific deal, it becomes less relevant).


          • #6
            I agree with the saddle fitter consultation to see about reflocking your current saddle.

            I also agree with the sentiment from other posters....3yo are far too changeable to buy a custom fit saddle for. But IMO 3yo are also far too fragile to mess around with a saddle that *doesn't* fit. I aim for a saddle that's a little too wide that I can pad to fit. My baby just turned 5 and I've been using my older County Stabilizer on him since day one. The pads have changed (I used my Mattes pad with a variety of shim configurations for the first year or so, and now I'm using an Ecogold pad and a riser pad), but the saddle fits the shape of his back nicely and is really just a hair too wide. I tried several of my other saddles on him and most of them were completely the wrong shape. The only other one I have that was "okay" was my other horse's County Innovation, but that saddle's wider than the stabilizer and I couldn't get it quite right with padding.

            So I would start with evaluating how well the saddle fits his back shapewise. My personal approach would be to have a saddle fitter take a look since I second guess myself all of the time, but may not be necessary if you're more confident about your saddle fit eye than me . And if your saddle can be reflocked, then that would be a good starting point.
            Flying F Sport Horses
            Horses in the NW


            • #7
              Agree with all the suggestions above. Your guy is most likely going to change shape a lot.

              Last summer I was in your situation when I got my awesome TB from Canter MidAtlantic. I still don't have the "perfect" saddle, but did find that there are a lot of serviceable used saddles out there for not a lot of money.

              After suggestions from this board I ended up with an older Wintec Pro Jump (again found right here on BB)! It fits him extremely well. I'm not in love with it, but for now it is doing the job. And he has decided to change shape quite a bit this summer (he is now 6) so I'm really happy I didn't spend a lot of money last year.

              Ok, how great is this BB? Found my horse, my saddle and got to meet the amazing jleegriffith and Bev Strauss (MidAtlantic Horse Rescue).

              Enjoy your young horse!


              • #8
                It's a pity you don't have access to good, affordable saddle-fitting up there. I agree - it's definitely not a time to be having an expensive consultation, with fees and commissions and all that. It would be nice to have someone who does more of the 'mobile tack store' model though ... How about Patti Merli - doesn't she do that ? I know she has a big stack of used saddles available to try. If you've tried every combination of padding for your current saddle, I would say you know enough about it to know it's not going to be made to work with simple flocking adjustments - for my part, I always 'fake' a flocking adjustment by using shims first as a test, so if you're not finding that sweet spot with shims, it probably isn't going to be there with flocking.


                • #9
                  If you need to fill space, how about a Beval Therapeutic-type wool pad? They are useless for a good-fitting saddle, too thick, but I find them really useful for getting a slightly too-wide saddle comfortable for the horse. They are less in vogue these days in hunterland so I am sure you could find a used one cheap.


                  • #10
                    The thing is, that it might rock now, but in two weeks, it might be more balanced. And in another two weeks it'll be wonky again. Obviously, if it fundamentally does not fit and he is uncomfortable, you may have to go looking for something (like the Wintec Pro mentioned) to get you through, but if it is just a little "off", I don't see a big point in having it flocked to fit him NOW, when he will change VERY quickly over the next couple of years...you'll be getting it flocked every couple of weeks!

                    If it is just a little wrong, I would invest in some different saddle pads, and just play musical saddle pads for the next couple of years...unless he drastically outgrows the current saddle!


                    • #11
                      The best balance I get with one in front and two in back.
                      suggests either the horse is noticeably asymmetric or the saddle is from use on previous horse.
                      It's a wonderful saddle, I wouldn't give up on it without investing in a fitting which even if it turns out the saddle won't fit (the 3yr old - though I must say that FP's wide shoulder, straight back that made saddel fitting difficult at 3 are the same issues that make saddle fitting difficult at 5: just wider ) the fitter should be able to suggest an array of saddles that are likely to work.

                      There are also online consults available ranging from free to $, just practise a few times to ensure that you're reproducible in your measuring.
                      Last edited by alto; Aug. 22, 2012, 12:29 PM. Reason: asymmetry


                      • #12
                        You've invested $$$ in time, money, training and overall resources for horse.

                        I know I would feel horrible if an incorrectly fitted saddle caused permanent damage to a horse's back... and when I was a kid no one expected me to wear ill-fitting shoes for months on end.

                        That being said - I have been in your boat with a just turned 4 year old and a just broke 6 year old, both of whom seem to change shape on a monthly (if not weekly!) basis. And did I mention the human giant who also rides and needs his own extra-special extra-long saddle to wrap the preying mantis legs into!?

                        About a year ago I went out and dropped the cash on good quality used saddles for both (a Barnsby and a Courbette). They both still fit very well, both horses don't protest and a mattes pad has provided enough buffer room to make it all okay. You can do a lot of good through re-flocking if you start with a good saddle. If I were in your shoes I would see if a saddle consult can help narrow down why you are having such issues with yours - maybe a simple re-flock to 'remove' the prior horses imprints is all that is required.

                        BTW - dressage trainer at our barn bought a Custom Saddlery saddle for her prince when he was 4. He is now 8 and that same saddle still fits him, with minor tweeks here and there each winter when they go down to Wellington. A good quality saddle can take a lot of adjustments to make it work.


                        • #13
                          Some expensive saddles fit everything well with minor adjustments. Some cheap saddles fit everything well with minor adjustments. And....some expensive saddles don't fit but one special horse, and some cheap saddles never fit anything and aren't worth buying.
                          I think sometimes it is better to have a couple of cheap good fitting saddles in the tack room along with your expensive ones just to fit those occasional growing young horses who change shape. And a variety of pads, too.
                          Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                          Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                          • #14
                            Buy cheap or borrow, err on the wide side, re-check fit frequently and wait until they're done growing.
                            Click here before you buy.


                            • #15
                              Thanks DW, I think that is what I was trying to say this morning, I just hadn't had my caffeine yet.


                              • Original Poster

                                Thanks for all the suggestions! DW - Ah-freakin'-men!

                                FWIW, I would not compromise his back to save money, trust me. I have dealt with fixing a back that was so bad a curry could drop the horse cold, definitely not a road I want to travel down again anytime soon!

                                Good news: My chiropractor, who worked with Equestrian Imports to find a properly fitting saddle for my previous horse (hence, current Amerigo), has shimmed the Amerigo to a point she is very happy with, so we are good to go! ..Until next week.

                                I fully expect his back to change quite a bit - however, I did NOT expect to buy a horse(!), so reflocking, or a <$500 saddle would probably be my only realistic options. That said, I know people have obtained some glorious "cheap" saddles that you couldn't pay to take away from them! I guess I just never expected the Mattes could be configured to make the saddle work, but I suppose now I feel better about what I paid for that damn pad.


                                • #17
                                  When erring on the wide side, remember to physically check wither clearance at all gaits & not just the standing horse, use pads with shim pockets or slide the shims under the saddle panels (old style) to reduce the risk of slippage when your greenie does those extreme dance moves