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Saddle Fit for the wide, flat TB...on a budget. Help!

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  • Saddle Fit for the wide, flat TB...on a budget. Help!

    So, pretty much what the title says. I apparently have a *very* thick 5 year old OTTB. Wide front to back, flat side to side, but not very wide side to side. With I’m now guessing a more set back shoulder and more forward girth groove. All in all a
    PITA to fit, lol! She’s also on the shorter backed side, and I’m on the longer femur-ed side. Oh! And I’m on a budget, so like $1200 is stretching it. And I’m around a 17”-17.5” for seat size.

    I just got a Stubben Edelweiss NT with a 34cm tree and 17” seat to try, but I don’t think it’s quite right just seeing it sitting on her. It might be a bit too curvy once girthed up, and the billets might be just too far back, and it looks a hair narrow behind the shoulder. But, I haven’t girthed it up yet or ridden in it.

    She measured an XW on the gullet gauge for Wintec, but they are all too wide/flat in the wrong spot in the back panels for her, or I would totally already have one.

    With her width, almost everything affordable isn’t wide/flat enough, and nobody my size is apparently giving up their saddles, lol. Everything is either a 16.5” or a 17.5”/18”. And if the 17.5” are a bit on the roomy side, they are too close to being too long for her back

    I’m betting a County would fit perfectly, but I haven’t been able to find anything close to my budget, or the right size! I don’t have easy access to any tack shops, and it’s not feasible right now to have a fitter out. If a wide enough vintage Stubben existed, I would jump on one of those, I borrowed one from a friend and love it!

    Any ideas for where to look or brands to try? County, old Wintec, Bates, Tad, anything English, nothing French, something!? At this point I have a good looking pasture puff because I can’t find anything to fit her!

    *Can post pictures/links to pics once I figure out the easiest way*
    "On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."

  • #2
    Many of the English-made saddle brands should have workable options, and many can be found used on ebay UK less expensively than here, even with shipping. I have a Hastilow I acquired there that works beautifully on my wide, flat TB mare (as in looks more like a Morgan). Her dressage saddle is a Frank Baines - Reflex, I think. County, Hastilow, Frank Baines, Ideal, Barnsby, Albion, Kent & Masters, Black Country, may all be worth a look. Look for something specifically with rear gussets and wool flocking if you're dealing with a flat back.
    Custom and semi-custom washable wool felt saddle pads!


    • #3
      Call Smith Worthington. They will work with you to fit you and your horse within your budget. They have a lot of nice saddles on clearance.
      I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne


      • #4
        Try a Beval natural if you can find one in a wide tree.

        I have a mutton withered TB who has a fat round back when he isn’t muscle wasting.. it also fit my big shouldered, fat thoroughbred as well.

        My femur is about 20 inches and the regular flap fit well. I was riding in a Voltaire with 3AAA flaps.


        • Original Poster

          Dewey thanks for reminding me about SW! I didn’t know they might have clearance options! Pretty sure the mare has Lyme, so at this point what’s more waiting... ugh. I’m beginning to think I should just wait it out and save up more for saddles in the $2k range, my options go exponentially up in that bracket! It’s more than I can hope for to have one that fits the horse AND my leg, lol.
          "On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."


          • #6
            Sorry to hear about the Lyme. Hope that gets cleared up soon. As for SW, they have some clearance saddles on their site; probably they have more than these in their store. The disadvantage of SW is that it is not a trendy brand and isn't an easy resale; the advantage is that its well-made and they will really work with you on fit.

            Waiting for your horse to recover and get fit is a good idea, but don't forget SW when you do shop.
            I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne


            • #7
              I have a QH that sounds similar to your TB. Also 5, shark fin wither, but sort of plateaus off in the back, and wide. I had a saddle fitter out to check the fit of my (french) saddle and she can't make it work. She's coming back in a few weeks, but she told me pretty much nothing French will work, and thinks my best bets are Bates or Pessoa. She's bringing some out for me to try, but you could probably find one of them used in your price range. I stumbled across your post when trying to read some saddle reviews on the two. Good luck!!


              • Original Poster

                hokie98 the struggle! Your horse sounds similar to the Appendix I had as a teenager...she’s who started me on my saddle fit obsession! She was NOT an easy fit. I’d suggest you look for a County with skid row panels. They *do* make them in wide and extra wide with the SR panels, but they are almost impossible to find used.

                I’ve hesitated on the Bates, just because I’ve read enough mixed reviews about the tree quality and CAIR quality, and they aren't as easy to find as you would think! Plus, I think a lot of them are built on a pretty curvy tree, so you have to be picky about what year you’re looking at. I almost bought an older Event model, but was too afraid of having iffy panels needing work. And they were all 17.5” seats, which can be too roomy for me if they’re on the flatter side.

                As for the Pessoa’s, I’ve seen a good amount for sale, but a lot of them have more steeply angled back panels than I can work with. And apparently nobody parts with the Corto (flat) panels. Boo. Lol.
                "On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."


                • #9
                  LOL... have you tried an Ainsley? There's been a couple for sale on the MA tack groups lately.

                  Also have Janie from Pelham Saddlery come out. She'll bring a truck worth of saddles in your budget and she is a very good saddle fitter. If she doesn't have anything that will work she will tell you that. She costs very little and with the number of saddles she can bring from Pelham it's completely worth it. You will likely find something that works in your budget. Or at the very least, find something that works and you can look online for the exact same thing that IS in your budget.

                  The older Bates were on a curvier tree. The newer ones are flatter and much better quality- Janie happens to be a Bates expert. I got an Adam Ellis wide on a hoop tree from her and it works great for us. Horse has a flat back, a big shoulder and actually gets wider as you go towards his ribs. There's been a Thornhill that looks really nice on facebook recently too....


                  • #10
                    This is really not an unusual "spec" for TBs. Most are wide in their shoulders, flat side to side, shorter backed (which is a real PITA for fit!) and thick.

                    Your best bet is to save up for the better quality saddles, and get a saddle fitter out. Fitting is not an enterprise I would want to do without the fitters.

                    Vet them very heavily. There are lots of saddle fitters in our area but not all of them are worth the ink you write the check with. If you would like I can send you a PM with some suggestions. If you are very close to me, I can even offer some saddles (not for sale) for you to try to give you an idea if those brands would work.

                    Do you know how to assess fit independently? It will help separate wheat from chaff in terms of finding saddles for your fitter to look at, but won't replace a fitter. In my experience most TBs prefer a tree point that is not flat, and need a type of saddle that accommodates their wide withers. Most seem to need a cut-back pommel, angled tree points, gusseted panels (wool, not foam), dropped panels to accommodate for the wide shoulder / hollow behind shoulder, with rear up-swept panels. That's just something I have noticed with all of my TBs, looking over the saddles that we have picked for them that's what they all have in common.

                    I would be surprised if a 34cm Stubben fit her. IME Stubbens run slightly narrow, but most TBs (even the very thick ones) fall within the spectrum of 28-30cm. I've owned a lot of TBs and my current ride is the widest TB I have ever had (his chest barely fits in an 82 Rambo), and he is going in a 28cm.

                    I love Ainsley saddles and have ridden a couple of my TBs in them but in my experience the tree point in Ainsleys seem to cause issues with the TBs. Which is a shame because the Ainsley XC I have is my favorite saddle in terms of how it fits ME. I have not been able to make it work with any of my TBs and I have had all kinds.

                    Country and Stubben, IME, are the best fit[s] for TBs in general, and Kieffer comes up close but I am not sure if you'd be able to find a jumping saddle that wasn't A/P which doesn't help you down the line. Naturally more expensive but worth every penny down the line: well made saddles hold their value very well, and a good fitting saddle prevents lots of expensive vet bills down the line when you are chasing a NQR/niggling backsoreness issue, mesotherapy and back injections are not cheap.....

                    Of course the most meaningful advice would come from a fitter, but that's just my two cents, having gone down this saddle-fit road on more than one occasion with more than one picky TB.

                    P.S Sorry to hear about the lyme. My guy contracted it this spring too, first time in the five years I've had him (I test him every year).. ticks are awful this year.
                    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                    • #11
                      Thanks!! I just for *fun* had a CWD rep look at my gelding at a show and she commented that my gelding had an "interesting" back. "Interesting" is NOT the word you like to hear from a saddle rep/fitter! ;-) My local fitter seems to think we can find something - well see. She did mention County but said she wasn't sure if we could find a used one.

                      As for the Bates - I'm in NC and I've seen a few for sale recently locally, and my fitter says she thinks they are fine saddles - AFTER they've been converted to wool. She's going to convert a friends Bates to wool in a few weeks. I saw one last PM in nice condition for $1,000 that was already converted to wool (which voids any warranty...but....).

                      But yes, isn't saddle shopping fun. (insert eye roll....)..... Good luck!


                      • #12
                        I rode my TB mare that was no wither, wide, and flat with a Pessoa and then a Tad Coffin, both fit great.


                        • #13
                          This is what I have for my OTTB for a jump saddle. It comes as Medium, Wide and Extra Wide.

                          Per the write up: Longer, forward flaps make it ideal for jumping and eventing and a great fit for longer legs or those that prefer to ride "short". The flaps are not quite forward enough for my trainer but it is a 17" and she is 5'11" and all leg.

                          It is wool flocked. I have had mine for 2 years. It is a good solid saddle. Pretty comfortable. Leather is a touch stiff but it broke in easily- calf leather it is not. It is priced a little higher than your budge but comes with free stirrup leathers.

                          Twice recently my TB has been mistaken for a QH to give you an idea of how he is built.
                          Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


                          • #14
                            Sounds very similar to my TB. I had the fitter out. My Butet was a big no, so basically no French saddles. The Tad works well with a mattes and a shoulder relief girth (total saddle fit). She said I could try a County but I’ve hated the two I’ve ridden in.


                            • #15
                              You might want to look at wide tree Exselle saddles, they can accommodate withers and a shoulder and are not very curvy. They can easily be found within your budget, and have foam or wool options.
                              Proud Member of the "Tidy Rabbit Tinfoil Hat Wearers" clique and the "I'm in my 30's and Hope to be a Good Rider Someday" clique


                              • Original Poster

                                beowulf the 34cm Stubben is shaped a bit too much for her lack of wither dips, so was too narrow under the stirrup bar area. Lol. She’s thick . It was also a bit too curvy, and looked like it would maybe rock just enough to be a problem. I’ll have to set up a way to get pics on here to show her back shape.

                                I’m still hunting for just the right one, and she finally looks sound again now that we’re halfway through the round of Doxy.
                                "On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."


                                • #17
                                  If you can stretch your budget to $1500-1600 range, as you've seen you'll have way more options (used).

                                  If the Wintec models don't work for your horse at all, probably best to avoid Bates too as they are made by the same company - same trees. Your horse might not be as wide as you think, it could be that she tends toward a hoop tree (U-shape) versus the V-shape that most Wintecs/Bates fit.

                                  My TBs were very happy in a Kentaur Naxxos, including the very short backed gelding, but both tended more to the narrow side. It's hard to judge how similar they might be since I don't know what your horses back looks like.

                                  I probably suggest Passier close contacts on almost all of the h/j saddle threads so sound like a broken record, but since they aren't trendy people forget about them. They are designed to be prominent wither/ big shoulder friendly, and the one I have fits my long thigh well. Passier trees and wool flocking can be adjusted by a fitter, and you can find a good used one in your budget if you are patient. My warmblood mare has a flat back, so the fitter had to adjust the wool flocking, but it fits very well after the changes were made.


                                  • #18
                                    What about a used wide Antares? Most wide trees measure 5" dot to dot. I've owned 4 in the past 10 years (for 3 differ horses), and I really like them. Check High End Saddles online. Cori is great at helping to find the right saddle and allows trials.


                                    • #19
                                      If you wanted to try a Beval Natural, Strafford Saddlery has a very nice one on consignment. Not sure if it'd be wide enough but it has a nice forward flap and great balance. What about Stackhouse? The Galloping Grape has a used one at a good price?


                                      • #20
                                        Who is saying that the horse needs a 34cm tree?

                                        You or a fitter?

                                        Be careful -- TBs have very wide shoulders and that can throw off their owners when trying to narrow down a saddle that fits; it's not always better to go wider, and a wide shoulder does not always mean a wider/bigger tree.

                                        Stubbens in particular seem to accommodate TBs better because of their tree and panel shape, TBs being wider in the shoulder than most horses of their same size. County and Black Country are other brands that tend to fit this type very well.

                                        TBs come in all shapes and sizes with some much wider than others, but 34cm is usually what I see put on draft-Xs.. My way-larger than average TB fits in a 28 cm.. his shoulders are huge, but he fits better in the 28cm than the 30cm -- and performs better in it too. This horse is huge - everyone always asks me "that's a Thoroughbred?!" in disbelief.

                                        Here is a picture of him alongside his brother:

                                        He is even wider in person.

                                        Definitely don't skip a fitter coming in. I haven't really seen you mention a fitter being involved... You will save money and time in the long run involving a fitter versus doing the guessimation[s] yourself. A quality fitter is worth what you pay for and more.

                                        The specs you are describing don't add up to the tree width, to me. Maybe other more experienced people can chime in.. the TB I have that most fits what you are describing (wide shouldered, flat back, not very wide barrel-wise) is in a Medium Black County Vinci.
                                        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012