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Rather dumb saddle fitting question.

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  • Rather dumb saddle fitting question.

    At what point do you bring a saddler fitter into the mix with a young, green horse?

    Obviously from the get go seems ideal, but since horse needs to be able to tolerate multiple tack changes and riding at the W/T/C, then it needs to be at least a few months under saddle, correct? I didn't even think about this (DUH!) until I spoke to a saddle fitter today.

    So in the meantime do you just go with a saddle you think fits reasonably well? What if horse is a unique/odd/hard to fit shape?

    Gosh this was easier when I was 19 and just whacked a western saddle on my filly and let my friend climb aboard.... Ignorance is bliss, eh?
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

  • #2
    We take what fits best now knowing that with muscle development and growth they will change. I would bring in a fitter once they are in a reg. work and not in any major growth spurts.
    "If you've got a horse, you've got a problem"

    Comment


    • #3
      but since horse needs to be able to tolerate multiple tack changes and riding at the W/T/C, then it needs to be at least a few months under saddle, correct?
      I am so confused by this statement

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by alto View Post
        I am so confused by this statement
        Need to be able to try saddles to see what works. Hard to do that if horse isn't W/T/C. I'm pretty sure thats what she meant. Because sometimes what looks good doesn't work for the horse at all.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by alto View Post
          I am so confused by this statement
          What's so confusing about it?

          Have you ever used a saddle fitter? The appointments take hours and involve saddles on and off many, many times, pads shimmed up, rider on and off, blah blah blah.

          A very good saddle fitter is going to be in our area in a few weeks (which is a rare thing) and in calling her yesterday I was surprised that she recommended we wait awhile to fit the horse. I guess I assumed there might be some protocol for fitting very green horses that wouldn't necessarily be down for 3 hours of tack and rider on and off etc.

          But her logic makes perfect sense, and she will be back later this year, so I'll hit her up then.

          So... was just curious when most people brought one into the mix with a baby horse. Of course they are all different....
          We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

          Comment


          • #6
            When I had my saddle fitted to my mare, it took about two hours, and that was adjusting one saddle to her, not trying a bunch of different ones. She was W/T/C at the time but quite green, and we were still working on refining steering, lol.

            I think in your case if you can find something that fits reasonably well and can pad/shim to fix minor fit issues, that will be good enough. It'll be a bit before you are doing much more than walking and trotting anyway.
            Full-time bargain hunter.

            Comment


            • #7
              I have never had a saddle fitting appointment last more than an hour.

              I generally start with a saddle that I think fits pretty well and then have it "tweaked" by the fitter.

              With a young or unmuscled horse, I start with a saddle that has the right shape tree/panels but which is a bit wide and then use a Mattes pad with shims to pad it up as the horse develops.
              Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
              EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

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              • #8
                Saddle fitting takes, like all things horse, as long as it takes.

                If you're taking a brand-new, wide-open approach-- Of all the saddles available today, what saddle will fit both this horse and my body for the needs of my discipline?-- you could take three or more hours. If this is what you're doing, you are right; you want to W-T-C in as many saddles as the fitter is carrying. Ours carries dozens. She gets it narrowed down very quickly, but it does take time.

                And if you're new to the sport, new to the horse, or new to being fitted, you can get confused a bit and need to go back to one a couple of times to see if you really like it...and really like it at that price.

                If you already know your sport and what you like to ride in-- knee roll, flap length, depth of seat, etc.-- and you've already ridden this discipline with a similar saddle, so you know the feel you're looking for, basically, you're just trying to fit the horse. In this case, a fitting may take a bit less time. If you're just looking for the answer to "Is my horse a County tree, or a Passier tree?" that, too, will take less time, and a good fitter will eyeball that for you in about 45 seconds, but still want to go through the efforts of sitting them on the horse, and, preferably, having you ride in it.

                And, lastly, if you already have a saddle and just need it flocked properly for this horse, then of course that will only take 30 minutes or so.

                So, in answer to your original question, yes, you really do want to have the horse w-t-c if you're going to invest in a quality saddle for her, and you're most definitely going to want her in riding fitness-- re-flocking for growing horses is a necessity, but you can reduce the number of times you need to do it if you start with a reasonable facsimile of fitness.

                But we have to get there, don't we? And there's the rub! At this point, you can plan on fitting her to a good used starter saddle. You can get by with a basic evaluation of ballpark shape/size/model, find a suitable starter (which sometimes ends up being the final saddle, if you're lucky) and then pad and shim (or re-flock) as she moves from green pony to fit, svelte, ground-covering machine. If the starter manages to be the long-term saddle, yay! But plan on a couple of re-flockings and having to pad/shim until the fitter can get back to you to do the re-flocking. If it is clearly just a bridge to better later, then you have time for your husband to adjust to the price tag before you spend your savings on the investment!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Good question, and one I was asking myself!!

                  I have a 3 year-old, just backed (as of Saturday). I also have a custom-made dressage saddle, originally fitted to my filly's dam. As well, I have a new-to me Jaguar mono-flap x/c saddle(never been on any horse of mine) and a Bates Caprilli c/c saddle with the interchangeable gullet.
                  I'm using the Bates at the moment, as I feel, with the gullet system I can get pretty good fit. It actually fits her really well just as it is. I might throw the other two saddles on her "just to see" on the weekend, but unless the dressage saddle fits her really well I'll wait until she's in regular work, w-t-c, before I get the saddle fitter to fit it to her. I may wait until she's ready for her first event before I have the Jaguar fitted to her, if it can.
                  I should mention, my saddle fitter is a great believer in the Bates saddles for babies because the gullets can be changed if the tree works for the shape of the horse's back. Fortunately for me, mine does work.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I see if I have a saddle that appears to fit, use it until horse is doing W/T/C and starting to build muscle, unless it appears to be causing issues.

                    Then I bring in a saddle fitter to make adjust saddle as necessary, have them back in 6-12 months, depending on level of work horse is doing and how much their topline is changing.
                    Now in Kentucky

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thanks for the thoughtful replies. BR, as usual, I appreciate your informative response!

                      I'm used to TBs, and horses with big withers, big shoulders and I know how to fit those types. I also know what *I* like-- a narrow twist, a forward flap for my long leg, and as little bulk as possible. My favorite saddle is an Ainsley Leceister, easily 20 years old. Basically built like an old school Crosby PDN. A pancake-ish close contact.

                      Because Miss Mare is rather... rotund... and built completely different than anything I've ever owned, leased, or ridden longterm, I thought I should get a saddle fitter in on things right away.

                      However as some of you alluded to, I think buying a used saddle that will squeak us through for a little while may be the best idea. And then look at more customized and/or expensive options once we are rolling along a bit.

                      I don't even think my pads are going to be useful for her, I usually ride in a baby pad + NuuMed half pad combo which I'm sure is going to be unnecessary bulk under a saddle in this case.

                      Anyway I'm jumping the gun, horse has not even been delivered yet. But I'm just excited for the horse, and, was excited to hear this particular saddle fitter is servicing our area.
                      We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        What's so confusing about it?

                        Have you ever used a saddle fitter? The appointments take hours and involve saddles on and off many, many times, pads shimmed up, rider on and off, blah blah blah.

                        got it now
                        (I was walking a totally different road)


                        With a young or unmuscled horse, I start with a saddle that has the right shape tree/panels but which is a bit wide and then use a Mattes pad with shims to pad it up as the horse develops.
                        This.

                        FP was started as a 3 yr old (special considerations) so definitely not getting the custom saddle - found 2 older foam cc saddles that were reasonable fits: the 15" saddle (borrowed from trainer) was good for months 1 & 2, the 16" saddle (already owned it) fit best for months 2 & 3, not as well by month 4, month 5 picked up an o.l.d 16 1/2 County dressage that fit perfectly!!! as if the tree & panel configuration were made for him; adjusted flocking after 4 -5 months. Added a used County Innovation at 1 year - this last saddle actually fits both horse (still with some growing room) & rider.

                        Still more $$ than I hoped to spend initially (BUT less than FP's purchase price so I figure I'm doing pretty good )

                        As for saddle fitters, the local County rep is outstanding.
                        If you think your mare will be a difficult fit or you have no idea in which direction to go, I'd book a consult with that very good saddle fitter just to know what to look for on the used market.
                        FP was very frustrating - straight back, w.i.d.e shoulders so none of the 20 odd saddles I hauled in fit (at all) didn't add rider weight to a single one
                        Initially we were hoping to start him in something that fit better than the 2 sortas - if you leaned to the left, so did the saddle - unexpected dismounts were usually accompanied by sideways saddles
                        In contrast the County dressage "sticks" to his back even with an oops loose girth.

                        Bates/Wintec finally offer a flatter tree so that might be a consideration for your mare.


                        Bayou Roux definitely gets Best Answer Award

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post
                          At what point do you bring a saddler fitter into the mix with a young, green horse?
                          Before you set a saddle on him

                          The last thing you want that fresh, young, malleable mind in which you are trying to instill a good work ethic, is for him to be uncomfortable with his tack, even if he doesn't outright tell you it's not comfy

                          Obviously from the get go seems ideal, but since horse needs to be able to tolerate multiple tack changes and riding at the W/T/C, then it needs to be at least a few months under saddle, correct? I didn't even think about this (DUH!) until I spoke to a saddle fitter today.
                          I'm not sure I understand the "multiple tack changes", unless you mean regular changing of tack due to changing shape. If that's what you mean, the even more important to start with something well-fitting, and address every couple of months, more often than you would an established fitness and finished growth horse.

                          So in the meantime do you just go with a saddle you think fits reasonably well? What if horse is a unique/odd/hard to fit shape?
                          IMVHO, no, "reasonably well" won't work (for long, for most horses), and it's ESPECIALLY critical to get a good fit for the oddly shaped horse, since more rack saddles are likely to not fit reasonably well enough

                          Gosh this was easier when I was 19 and just whacked a western saddle on my filly and let my friend climb aboard.... Ignorance is bliss, eh?
                          LOL, ain't that the truth

                          Your best bet, IMHO and IME, is to fit 1-2 sizes wider, as long as the whole shape is still correct, and use proper padding/shims to fill in where he's still developing muscles. On a monthly basis even, you re-address the fit with the pads and adjust as necessary.
                          ______________________________
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Ok, finally read the rest of the replies LOL and now I get your "w/t/c" comment.

                            I would much rather start with a fitter who can tell me the saddle fits at a standstill, see how it fits after an appropriate lunge session, and go from there to find out how it works w/t/c, then start with a saddle that doesn't fit well enough and try to get the horse going w/t/c and not be able to figure out if issues are just him, or the saddle.

                            Since the new horse is round, I would suggest starting looking at older/used (therefore more afforadable for a saddle you'll be possibly getting rid of in a year or two) County, Black Country, and Prestige, not knowing what the lateral picture of the back looks like. They are not hoop trees, really (though BC does have some hoop tree models) but they fit much more hoop like (upside down U shape) than A-frame. The Prestige are a narrower twist than a BC, and I've only sat in a couple of Countys, but IIRC they were maybe mid-way between the two - not all that narrow but not a leg splitter either LOL
                            ______________________________
                            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bogie View Post
                              I have never had a saddle fitting appointment last more than an hour.

                              I generally start with a saddle that I think fits pretty well and then have it "tweaked" by the fitter.

                              With a young or unmuscled horse, I start with a saddle that has the right shape tree/panels but which is a bit wide and then use a Mattes pad with shims to pad it up as the horse develops.


                              Ditto.

                              What I did was ride my 3.5 y/o in my Amerigo that fit at the time. He started really getting broad in the shoulders and wither, so I had my fitter out to open up my saddle as much as I could to try to get me by for a little while. The problem with my saddle was that it is on a curved tree and my gelding needs a straight tree. So she opened up my Amerigo and lifted it as much as she could and I used a Mattes pad but knew I needed a saddle soon. I ended up buying a semi custom but only because it is fully adjustable so as he grows and changes, its very easy for my fitter to come out and adjust it.

                              We tried it on, had me get on and just the moment I SAT in it, I could totally tell the difference between the new saddle and how my Amerigo fit my gelding. So I had it for a week, loved it, got that model, had 3 rides in it, then my gelding broke his splint. LOL So I have been riding in it on my TB (while my fitter had my old saddle trying to sell it for me) but it certainly doesnt fit on her like it does my gelding.

                              I think until they start to develop muscles, you can usually get away with a decent fitting saddle. But once they start to work and you ask them to lift the back and they get hit with a poorly fitting saddle, you will have your work cut out for you. And the LAST thing you want is a young horse to associate work with pain. If you dont want to buy a "nice" saddle, try a synthetic one or used USED leather one that will work until the horse "levels out".
                              ~~~~~~~~~

                              Member of the ILMD[FN]HP Clique, The Florida Clique, OMGiH I loff my mares, and the Bareback Riders clique!

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