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Fitting a Western saddle for a Newbie!

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  • Fitting a Western saddle for a Newbie!

    How do you fit Western saddles? What is the N/M/W tree equivalent? I keep hearing of horses that were hard to fit English preferring Western, or being easier to fit Western. Is this the case? Would my wide-shouldered, short-backed, everything-bridges draft cross have an easier time with a Western saddle?

    Having said that -if this is the case, is there any such thing as a close contact Western saddle?

    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

  • #2
    They can be as challenging to fit as an english saddle. They can bridge. Even saddles that you consider wide enough could still pinch because of the slope of the bars. The slope of the bars is as important as the length of the tree. I find that my western saddle with an Arab tree fits most of our horses because it is wide enough and short enough and the bars are flatter. Full quarter horse bars may work also for the flatter back but sometimes the tree is too long and it will dig into the loin. You need to ride in a few saddles to find what you like. I would not call any of them close contact but some will put you a good position. Some saddles are just all wrong. Good luck with your search.


    • #3
      I would think that the only reason western might be easier to fit is that you have more and different padding options. I agree with sterling on fit issues. Western saddles can be every bit as complex as english/dressage/etc. For 'close contact', IMO, the best you can do is a high quality cutting saddle. They are purposely constructed with less bulk under the legs and for maximum contact through the thigh/seat. I LOVE Roo-Hide. http://www.roohide.net/category/64-t...inal-line.aspx the originals are going to set you back 4 grand easily, though they now have an 'economy' line www.roohide.net/category/63-the-brumby-line.aspx . I also really like Jerry Shaw cutting saddles. If you look on eBay, you can sometimes find used saddles that will suit your needs. Sterling is right on with the length issue. A western saddle with FQH bars can be a LONG bugger. Though they are known for fitting the big uns'. For a wide horse, I prefer 'dropped' bars.


      • #4
        I think Western is tougher to fit, but like was mentioned, you have a lot of padding options. I though you had the EZ Fit treeless? Just curious because I am always interested in what works/doesn't work. We might have to look again for husband's half-draft.

        I bought a Diamond Wool pad with shims to hopefully help with bridging. I thought it might be more versatile than a regular swayback pad. If you find a Western that fits pretty well (no pinching, room in the shoulders and not too long) you can try either of these pads to possibly solve a small bridging issue.

        I wouldn't buy one without trying it on, unless you get a good deal and think you can resell it for the same price. I think the Billy Cooks tend to run wider. We have an old one and a new one, and the old one is wider. You might have to look for something labeled as "wide tree". And I would look for a rounded skirt as opposed to a square one, due to the short back.

        Keep an eye on where the end of the saddle hits the horse, too. DH's horse got a bump on her spine because it is bridging and putting too much pressure there (bridging + saddle too long?), but a square skirt can also dig into loins even if the saddle otherwise fits well.


        • #5
          Paula, look at the Bighorn 808 model. It sits balanced like a dressage saddle but fits the horse like a western saddle.
          Bighorns are great for curvy backs.
          chaque pas est fait ensemble


          • Original Poster

            Thanks, guys. The EZ fit is very nice, but I haven't given up on treed saddles. Funny you mention the Bighorn, it is one I was going to try but never got to try. A local tack shop carries it so perhaps I can try it when I'm flush again.

            He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).