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Update to Forum Rules: Criminal Allegations

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Should you be able to get your fingers under fork of properly cinched saddle?

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  • Should you be able to get your fingers under fork of properly cinched saddle?

    It seems that you can with english saddles, but with every western saddle I have been checking, the answer is "no." These are english and western saddles on other horses that I have checked whereby the owner says the saddle fits well.

    I am just curious as to why that might be. I know that many english horses are higher-withered and thus have a wither pocket that might make it easier to slip one's fingers inside -- or maybe something to do with the flocking vs not. Or maybe simple the weight of a western saddle vs english. But it is something I have consistently seen.

    Thoughts?

  • #2
    Do you mean under the bars along the front of the saddle, the part that lies next to the shoulder? Or under the actual fork/pommel? The answer is yes to either. But if you mean under the bars, I think it's going to feel more snug with a Western saddle because of the lack of flocking. But you should be able to check fit by sliding your flat hand underneath and running it from top to bottom of the bar. I wouldn't say it's super easy, depending on how heavy the saddle is. And tougher to do when it's cinched. If you can't even wiggle anything underneath, I'd say it doesn't fit.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      oh yeah, I meant under the bars -- not wither clearance.

      My new saddle -- the one that puts me in such a great position -- feels snug to me, but I come from an english background and it seems all the western saddles at my barn are just as snug. My horse is a 12yo foundation-type QH, a former ranch horse/roper, so he is on the wider side, but not draft wide. The saddle is a wade with 93 degree bars...they normally don't come wider than that. I have a hard time believing he would need anything different as his back and build look pretty normal to me and everyone who has looked at him. Prior owner used full QH bars.

      So that made me wonder if it was just an inherent difference in how the saddles sat, weighed, flocked, etc. or whether all these western riders at current barn don't have good saddle fit and don't know it. It is a boarding barn, so no trainer oversight, I suppose that is possible. Most have swell-fork saddles, if that makes a difference, but I don't think it should..

      Without cinching and no pad, it feels great, even pressure and not too snug. I changed from 3/4 in wool pad to 1/2 in and it seemed to fit even better, but it is still snug compared to english saddles..

      I have read every great website on saddle fit, so I know what is supposed to be in theory, just surprised in practice, lol!

      A couple of people have said my saddle looks too far back. I put the concho right behind his shoulder blade, but I have to admit, having it up a little further *looks* better. I wonder if I am placing it too far back and it would be less snug if I moved it forward an inch, and the bar crown would allow the shoulder to slide under... The barn owner, a rated roper, says the saddle fits well. (but I have also heard ropers prefer tight cinches and tight saddles). My former dressage trainer said "oh my, that is WAY too tight." Arrgh.

      My horse doesn't seem to mind, but we haven't really had a long enough/hard enough time in saddle for him to get sore. An hour or two a day of arena and trail several times a week is our norm, and I have had the saddle 3 weeks, but I don't think it is enough to sore a horse if it didn't fit.

      Just curious as to what others have experienced. I will go test out if I can get any fingers under when cinched, versus just feeling tight.

      Thanks for the feedback.


      Comment


      • #4
        Not sure what you mean by getting your fingers under the "fork" of a Western saddle, because I've always known that to be the swell, which just connects both sides of the saddle together, under the horn. It doesn't have anything to do with the fit of the saddle, although of course you need to have clearance above the horse's withers.

        But if you are referring to the bars, I don't run my hand under the saddle when it's cinched up, but I probably also ride with my saddle cinched tighter than most (don't want it to go anywhere in the middle of a barrel run!). It is not easy to get your hand/fingers under there, and I personally don't feel it gives me that much useful information when it is cinched tight. Yes, with my English saddle, it is pretty easy to slide your fingers along the front of the bar, but it also seems "more flexible" with the flocking and easier to do so.

        I evaluate fit the most with the saddle sitting on the horse's bare back (no pad) and not having it cinched. And then yes, I do run my hand under the tree all over to see how it feels, along with looking how it sits on their back, and seeing if I can rock/roll it anywhere. If it looks promising, then we cinch up with a pad (see how it looks) and then ride until they are sweaty

        It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by BlueDrifter View Post

          Just curious as to what others have experienced. I will go test out if I can get any fingers under when cinched, versus just feeling tight.

          Take some pictures for us and post! We'll take a look.

          Take pictures without the pad and without cinching it. Get a side view and get a view of how it matches with the shoulder angle.

          It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            I hope this works...so hard to get photos by yourself! the saddle actually feels tighter without a wool pad than with!

            Wade trees do not have gullet sizes, but handhold sizes...and I have never seen anything but 4 inches.. and this guy just doesnt look that hard to fit to me!

            I actually can get my fingers under bar when cinched up, and when walking under saddle, but not if he has his neck turned right or left.

            Comment


            • #7
              Your pictures are kind of small (fun cinch!!) but it seems to be an okay fit. It's sitting level and you appear to have it place appropriately on the back. The picture of the horse's left shoulder angle seems to match very nicely with the bar angle. The picture of the right might be playing tricks on my eyes (because of the sun and shadow) ... there might be a tight spot, but it might just be an optical illusion.

              You do have to consider that a Wade saddle like that is simply going to be a lot heavier than any English saddle, and that's going to make it "feel" much different. But looks like you have a decent fit.

              How are the sweat patterns after a ride?
              It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks for looking, beau159! I need to check what the size limit is for CoTH photos.

                Had a second western trainer take a look at, and then ride, and he felt the saddle fit. He is a fan of wet saddle blankets to know for sure, so maybe I will have another judgement point later on. Right now, I am just going to go with it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by BlueDrifter View Post
                  Thanks for looking, beau159! I need to check what the size limit is for CoTH photos.
                  I feel like pictures show up better if you upload to a separate site (such as photobucket) and then post the pictures. Seems like COTH doesn't resize them smaller, like it seems to do with attachments.

                  Of course, I know (for example) that Photobucket requires a paid membership now for folks to be able to link their pictures to different sites.

                  It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    I haven't checked out the photo-sizing deal yet, but one thing I did today was just purchase the Dennis Lane templates. I will put that in another thread..

                    Comment

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