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Saddle help - Fitting my flat backed (side to side) mare

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  • Saddle help - Fitting my flat backed (side to side) mare

    I just recently adopted an OTTB. I have not owned a horse in several years, but I had some of my old tack that I was hoping to use for her. So far she has fit in practically none of it. Right now I am using a saddle that I have asked a fit opinion on, and it appears to be on the verge of being too narrow through the gullet. The saddle in question is a 9 yr old Collegiate back before they were owned by Weatherbeata. Apparently my girl has a rather flat back from side to side and the saddle I have is more of an A shape.

    I have spent days researching to see if there is anything that can be done to reshape this saddle as that would be my first option. I love this saddle perhaps for mostly sentimental reasons. It's the last real piece of my old horse that I grew up with. I'd rather not have to sell it for a new one, though I cannot really afford another saddle without doing so.

    With that being said, I have been looking all over ebay at a few brands that I have liked in the past. I rode in a Crosby that my trailer had that I loved. I also really love my older Collegiate. But I am struggling with looking at pictures and deciphering if this saddle will in fact fit my horse.

    So I'm asking for some help and opinions. Right now I think the absolute most I could swing would be $500 though I'd prefer to be in the $300 or lower range. I really would like to get something that will give me peace of mind while I save up for something nicer.

    Things to keep in mind:
    -I'm 5'4 with short legs. I'm currently in a 16.5, but I have a booty. I think I could do a 17.
    -I like knee rolls, but I don't think it's a deal breaker.
    -here's a picture of her from the website of her adoption listing. It's the best shot I have of her. I can posts pictures of my current saddle as well if anyone would like to give an opinion there too.

  • Original Poster

    #2
    Bump. Please help. Did I leave something out? Post this in the wrong section?

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Bump. Any armchair saddlers out there for me, please?

      Comment


      • #4
        I ride in Stubbens for my wide, flat backed Arab. I have a Siegfried II that I'm about to sell to a friend to get either a Roxanne or more likely an Edelweiss CS. Its really easy to find older Stubbens in your price range.

        Comment


        • #5
          For the wide, flat backed: Duett
          <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6





            There are some images with my current saddle. I just recently bought her a baby pad to ride in instead of my AP pad to try to combat the fact this saddle is close to narrow. One thing I think I have noticed too is that the saddle looks to be slightly too wide in the front because it looks to me that the seat lifts up in the back. But she doesn't seem to hate this saddle. After not owning for several years, I must admit that I am a paranoid horse mommy now.

            Comment


            • #7
              I don't think the saddle is girthed in any of those pictures, also leave out any saddle pads when you're analyzing fit - this will allow you to see where it needs "help" & how big the gaps really are.

              Are there any saddle fitters in your area? if yes, ask around for referrals & make some calls (you want a fitter to come out that has several saddles that are likely to fit, that carries some of the shimmable saddle fit pads, confirm pricing, etc).

              Your Collegiate may work short term with a shimmable pad - that's where I'd start - as she becomes more fit & develops topline, anything you buy now may not fit in a year or so anyway, so if you can make your old saddle work for a few months, do so (hopefully this will also allow you to extend your saddle budget).

              When looking at older saddles, pay attention to the gullet channel width.

              These Schleese videos are an excellent guide to analying your horse & saddle.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Sedona View Post
                I just recently bought her a baby pad to ride in instead of my AP pad to try to combat the fact this saddle is close to narrow. One thing I think I have noticed too is that the saddle looks to be slightly too wide in the front because it looks to me that the seat lifts up in the back.
                Okay, so although this sounds contradictory, I think what you mean to say is that the gullet/channel of the saddle is not wide enough for your horse. Separate issue from tree width – you are saying the width of the channel under the saddle is not wide enough to clear the spiny processes along the spine.

                In addition to this problem – you are now worried that perhaps the tree is too wide because the front sits down low-ish and the back "lifts up".

                And you want a solution to the problem for less than $500, preferably around $300.

                Okay – so the first issue (IMO) is easier to address than the second issue. Historically, older saddles of the Collegiate/Crosby distinction are going to have that narrow channel. Go look at some older Stubbens if you can find them – see if the channel is going to be wide enough. Ideally, you want to be able to fit at least 4-5 fingers or your fist, down that channel. This is going to take some leg work on your part – get your hands on as many different brands that you can and see how the channel runs. Older Pessoas have decent width to the channels, most newer saddles are better than older ones in this category if it is an issue for your mare.

                As to tree width, she looks like a pretty type-y TB to me with well defined withers. Hard to tell if your saddle is too wide or not. The pommel should be a little lower than your cantle (which it is in the picture) - that is normal. You have good wither clearance, so it isn't so wide that it is sitting on her wither (at least ungirthed). If the back is lifting up – it could be a function of it being too wide OR a function of the panels being the wrong shape for her back, which is causing the rocking.

                Neither is good for her back.

                Anyone at your barn have the $30 wintec lift front pad? If the saddle isn't super tight up front, you might using that for a ride to try to test your theory that the saddle is too wide up front. It should eliminate the rocking without taking up so much space that it pinches up front.

                I am not loving how the back panels of the saddle sit on her – just looks like a lot of pressure would be concentrated onto one area vs it being spread out – but in general, the saddle doesn't look THAT bad on her.

                What else is at the barn you can try on and photograph for us for comparison? She does have a curved back which is why I think your Collegiate sits okay on her – it is more of a curved tree. The straight trees might not work as well on her.

                I would want some wider panels to distribute weight a little better. I think older Pessoas would be on my list "to try" for this horse in this price range. It might not hurt to try on a Wintec close contact as well – not sure if the tree/panel shape would work for her, but for sure the gullet of the saddle is wider in those and you can adjust tree width. (Just trying to think within this price range.)

                I've seen some Courbettes with wider panels and channels too – they would also be one to consider (although I hate them comfort wise for the rider).

                I think this saddle with "just" a baby pad is a bad idea. You can't fix the channel being too narrow with a thinner pad. If anything, I would want more protection under that saddle to protect the spiny processes if the channel is indeed resting on them. Especially if you think the tree might be a little too wide, you have room for some padding. Look into Thinline half pads or maybe borrow a sheepskin half pad from someone and see how it goes.

                Lots of experimenting to do.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Look at this: http://www.heritagesaddlery.com/prod...0000051&cat=11

                  This 16.5 W Exselle Axcess for $549 might cure what ails you.

                  Might. It's like a Crosby Centennial in that it has thin panels. It will fit or it will not. But it suits a sausage back. It also suits a PdN-era rider who doesn't need a lot of saddle around her. The seat will offer you no help in sitting. But I love the balance in these. Do a search here for a more complete version of my plug for these saddles.

                  Rick's Heritage has had this supply of these Axcesses forever. But they won't budge on price. At least they wouldn't for me in 2008. They will ship you a box of saddles to try, so it might make sense to do your research, check out their used saddle selection and have them ship you one of these along with others.
                  The armchair saddler
                  Politically Pro-Cat

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Ok. Thank you all for the advice so far. I have a few more pictures that I took upon someone else's request. That opinion I was given didn't settle well with me to be honest. But I have been trying to fix the problems as cheaply as possible and work my way up. Used Beval baby pad was $3. So far I hate it. It doesn't lay flat on her back and ends up sliding under the saddle at the shoulders.

                    Trake- Thank you. You are seeing what I'm seeing. And I feel less crazy. I have spent every day researching about this saddle issue since I was unsure of the fit.

                    I can post those other pictures later tonight and take some new ones tomorrow. Any angles in particular?

                    I think there is a saddler in PA that comes out to central Ohio though I'm a bit west of that area. I was considering quoting an appointment though I would like to have the funds to make a saddle purchase if that is what it came to. From my understanding, there is nothing a saddler could do to my current saddle itself to make it a better fit, correct?

                    I am really hoping that I can make this saddle work longer because I know that she will continue to change shape through training and aging. Plus I do have a sentimental attachment to this saddle. I really don't want to have to sell it if I can hold off on a new saddle and start saving.

                    I guess my next step is to look into something with Shims? The place I am boarding at us a contesting family, but the girl that rides actually has an even older collegiate saddle that she plays around with during faire time. It actually is a little wider through the channel and a little less A Shaped than mine. I have been hesitant to ask to fit it as I have only been there for less than a month. But perhaps I will ask to fit it anyhow.

                    I love this girl, but she's been a lot of money for a horse with a waived fee! Lol!

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Ok. It's taken me a little longer to get this up. Sorry I can't figure out how to get an album link that'll work from picturetrail. There are pictures girthed and no girth.













                      I was considering picking up a Supracor half pad that my local tack shop has on consignment for about $50 and getting some shims. Perhaps I can ghetto myself a shimmed half pad for her. I was thinking the Supracor might help with the narrowness of the channel. And it was very thin from what I remember as well.

                      Though I am still saddle searching. I am really trying to just save and see if I can get my range closer to $1000 so maybe I could get a nicer used saddle. Plus I am hoping to wait until the Equine Affaire when I might be able to snag a sweet deal.

                      Any other input would be greatly appreciated!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sedona View Post



                        There are some images with my current saddle. I just recently bought her a baby pad to ride in instead of my AP pad to try to combat the fact this saddle is close to narrow. One thing I think I have noticed too is that the saddle looks to be slightly too wide in the front because it looks to me that the seat lifts up in the back. But she doesn't seem to hate this saddle. After not owning for several years, I must admit that I am a paranoid horse mommy now.
                        Really hate the fit in back. See how the panels are built for a "steeper, A-frame roof" than your mare has?

                        The front is not horrendous. Does this saddle rock back and forth? If it does, that's a deal-breaker. If your mare isn't sore back there yet, you are getting lucky. If it does rock, I think you need to consider the 1/3 of her back just behind the withers. You can't see it and it's hard to feel around for saddle fit there.

                        Originally posted by TrakeGirl View Post
                        Okay, so although this sounds contradictory, I think what you mean to say is that the gullet/channel of the saddle is not wide enough for your horse. Separate issue from tree width – you are saying the width of the channel under the saddle is not wide enough to clear the spiny processes along the spine.

                        Okay – so the first issue (IMO) is easier to address than the second issue. Historically, older saddles of the Collegiate/Crosby distinction are going to have that narrow channel.... Older Pessoas have decent width to the channels, most newer saddles are better than older ones in this category if it is an issue for your mare.

                        As to tree width, she looks like a pretty type-y TB to me with well defined withers. Hard to tell if your saddle is too wide or not. The pommel should be a little lower than your cantle (which it is in the picture) - that is normal. You have good wither clearance, so it isn't so wide that it is sitting on her wither (at least ungirthed). If the back is lifting up – it could be a function of it being too wide OR a function of the panels being the wrong shape for her back, which is causing the rocking.

                        Neither is good for her back.

                        Anyone at your barn have the $30 wintec lift front pad? If the saddle isn't super tight up front, you might using that for a ride to try to test your theory that the saddle is too wide up front. It should eliminate the rocking without taking up so much space that it pinches up front.

                        I would want some wider panels to distribute weight a little better. I think older Pessoas would be on my list "to try" for this horse in this price range. It might not hurt to try on a Wintec close contact as well – not sure if the tree/panel shape would work for her, but for sure the gullet of the saddle is wider in those and you can adjust tree width. (Just trying to think within this price range.)
                        I'd be more fussy about the panels (and tree) being parallel to her back than the width of the channel alone.

                        A Pessoa with their horse-friendly panel design would be a good saddle to try. I'd change my earlier recommendation for the W Exselle to M if you want to try one of those. I think the panels will work behind, but your mare has a wither that needs some help from the saddle's tree.

                        If TrakeGirl means those thin, molded foam lift-in-front pads, then I think it's a good thing to try. These ugly, cheap things are great! They seem to have just enough added foam (not much, 1/2" +/- to the rest of the pad at 1/4"). And the foam in the "wither hollows" section seems to be the right shape.
                        The armchair saddler
                        Politically Pro-Cat

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          ^^ That is exactly what TrakeGirl means!

                          Before I bit the bullet and got a narrow tree County with skid row panels for my guy, I swear I tried everything under the sun (and then some) to fill in those wither hollows (Mattes w/shims, Thinline w/shims, Ecogold w/shims, those gel wither pad things, my own ghetto fab thick wool shims, etc) and the thing that worked the BEST was that ugly, cheap thing.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            MVP- I see exactly what you mean about the back. I'm not thrilled about it either. As for the rocking, I don't notice any rocking when I ride in the saddle. Should I actually test the rocking off the saddle?

                            So should I look into one of those lift pads instead of grabbing the used Suoracor half pad? I just thought the supposed shock absorption that it provides might help with saddle comfort while I find the right saddle.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              You said the back of the saddle lifts up in one of your earlier posts - if the back of the saddle lifts up when it is girthed...for sure the saddle is rocking when you are riding.

                              To test: ungirthed and girthed, put one hand on pommel, one on cantle and see if you can rock it. A balanced saddle should make contact all along the back and therefore will not rock. If it rocks - it is not making even contact and you have a pivot point = major "ow" for the horse.

                              Up to you if you want to do the lift front or the Supracor half pad - just my experience that I had a hard time getting the size/shape of my shims right and sometimes felt like I was creating more pressure points rather than helping. And the prefab shims (Mattes, Thinline) just laughed at my guy's wither hollows - I would have needed to stack about three of them together to get those to work. The lift front (as mvp said) had the right thickness in the right place and I didn't have to think too hard about it. But you might not be as far off as I was - so the Supracor plus some thinner shims might work for you. Neither is a bad option to try.

                              Does your local tack store have a lift front pad? You could buy both and return the one that doesn't work...

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Ok. The lifting up part may be my misunderstanding here. I was referring to how much space I see between the horse and the rear of the saddle. When resting it just seems to tilt slightly forward from the back though the seat appears level. I am sorry for the misunderstanding. I am trying to figure all of this stuff out. It seems like I understand one thing just to have something different pop up. I am going to test for rocking now though.

                                The tack shop with the Supracor pad doesn't sell the lift front pad, but perhaps I can see if they can order one. Heck even they aren't very local. My local tack shop is a TSC in Springfield! Lol

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  This saddle is not going to fit your horse. The angle of the panels at the back is too steep. Nothing is going to change that.

                                  A saddle is a piece of functional equipment. If you can afford to carry sentimental attachments to equipment, then keep it, retire it, put it in your bedroom, or whatever, but it does not fit this horse and is going to cause her pain, right there, at the back of the panels, where you can see the edge of each panel digging into her back.

                                  You need a different saddle. Various used saddles are available from $300 up. That's a couple of chiropractic appointments, or part of the vet fee to find out why your horse is going lame 6 months down the road.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    So a Pessoa will likely be the best brand for me to look for. Are there any of brands or models that I should keep an eye out for? I have been looking at Crosbys and other Collegiates as I really do love those saddles and many used ones are in my price range. But I am assuming the panels will be similar to what I have now. I am trying to figure out what I am looking for when I am looking at the panels to determine the tree shape.

                                    Thank you all for the help. I feel like such a dunce with all of this.

                                    ETA: I feel kinda silly for not mentioning this, but I have a really crappy synthetic saddle that I had when I first started riding English. But I haven't tried it on her because the taper of the channel is very steep. It goes from being rather wide at the gullet. I would estimate 3-4 inches. Then it tapers to about 1 inch at the cantle. But I want to say that the overall tree shape is flatter than my current saddle. Should I even bother trying to throw that on her back?

                                    If I can make due until April when the Equine Affair comes into town, I could probably have about $1000 saved up for a saddle. There's always great deals at those sort of things. Even if I didn't find anything then, the longer I can get by, the more options I can for finding her a nice saddle.
                                    Last edited by Sedona; Jan. 27, 2012, 02:03 PM.

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