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Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:04 pm
by PhoenixRising
I'm going to have to start looking at purchasing a saddle for Phoenix sometime in the next 6-8 months. I'm not currently able to go out and buy one, but will be starting pooling money for the purchase now. Until now I've used the saddles the barn owns where I board her, but there's a lot of big changes coming up and my options are about to be very limited. Unfortunately, the saddle that fits her best (but I don't like at all for me) is about to go up for sale. I have learned over time I don't like buying things just because they are cheap and then the quality and feel is lacking, so I'm hoping to budget for a 2000-2500 purchase. However with her only being 4 and knowing she's likely still going to change a lot, where would you start? This will be a huge purchase and commitment for me, so I want to start looking into brands, styles, etc sooner than later so I can feel confident buying when the time comes.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:10 pm
by PhoenixRising
A side note- I do have someone at the barn who used to saddle fit for Trilogy, so a saddle fitter is close at hand if needed as she develops and changes. I'd just prefer not to buy a saddle and then a year later need a different one.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:18 pm
by silk
In your situation I would look at something like a ReactorPanel or WOW saddle (the former are US-based, I think WOWs are English? so might not be widely available in the US). Both are easy to adjust and have good resale if you find you need to change the saddle completely.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:28 am
by khall
Don't get your heart set on not having to change saddles once your filly matures (unless you go with a soft tree like a Vogue). They can change mucho from 4 to adult. My gelding went from a RP to a hoop tree Black Country (RP was just not wide enough for him and you cannot widen their trees)

I don't know anything about the WOW saddles or how they fit. Do you have any idea what shape tree she will need? If she is a A shape then there are way way more choices out there. If she needs a hoop tree that limits you quite a bit. They tend to be pretty dang pricey too except for Duett (which are very economical for what they are and hold up well in my experience).

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:18 pm
by PhoenixRising
You know, I really don't know! Oh boy! I just had to google what a hoop tree is :oops:
I do know that even at 4 she's already pretty wide. She's also slightly chunky at the moment although I'm sure there will be some trade off between the fat and building muscle as she gets back into shape.
I really like the look of the Bates Isabell saddles, but I haven't sat in one or ridden in one to know if it would be as comfortable as it looks. I know I like knee/thigh blocks because I'm still not a great enough rider to keep my legs back enough and stable enough on my own.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:23 pm
by khall
Phoenix if she is wide as a 4 yr old then more than likely she will end up in a hoop tree. The Bates Isabell is not a hoop tree. Get a good saddle fitter to give you an idea of what shape she is (hoop needed, curvy back or flat back etc) then look at saddles that fit her criteria. I would not go shipping saddles back and forth until you had some idea of what she will need.

Short anecdote re saddle shopping: Rip my gelding started out in a RP, it was a saddle I had already and at 3-4 it fit him ok. By 5 he was WIDE and I had to go saddle shopping (I hate saddle shopping). Contacted Trumble Mountain Tack and one other fitter, sent off all kinds of tracings to both. Trumble sent me a Isabell to try, they must not have even looked at the tracings because even with the widest gullet in Rip was way wider and saddle did not fit. So got a gauge and checked (handy dandy gauge that works with the Isabell and the other Wintec saddles with changeable gullets) he was way wider with the gauge went up to (white I believe for widest gullet). So out those shipping costs due to incompetent help at Trumble. Other one had a favorite saddle, sent me a couple, none worked for Rip. One even bounced up and down on his back (got told by the saddle maker "our saddles don't bounce" so I sent him video, never heard back). I ended up learning more myself of what Rip needed and ended up with a Black Country Vinici X (hoop tree) that fits him, his sister and my 4 yr old filly well, go figure I got lucky! Does not fit the old mare now though.

Good luck I hope you can find a competent saddle fitter, I have yet to find one.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:33 pm
by silk
I would not recommend Bates. They don't have wide TREES, even if they have wide gullets.

WOW are fully interchangeable - you can swap in and out all the parts to get something that suits.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:02 am
by khall
Silk no need to be snarky, in using gullet I was using the language the saddle company uses:

https://www.doversaddlery.com/wintec-gu ... p/X1-1584/

https://www.doversaddlery.com/wintec-gu ... p/X1-1582/

So yes it is the GULLET that is not wide enough for my horse. More A shaped than U shaped like a hoop tree. Wintec and Bates use the same system, or did when I tried it. I used this gauge pictured to check Rip for fit. Way off.

The WOW looks interesting but I am not fond of the CAIR system. It is bouncy when you have a horse that has a good bit of trot to ride. True with the Heather Moffat Vogue too, their panels are foam and are bouncy.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:16 pm
by StraightForward
It would help if you could take tracings of her back and also post photos of her back, as well as the size and model of the saddle that fits her.

I'll say that I find Black Country saddles tend to fit a range of horses nicely. I also have a ViniciX and it fit my 15.1 hand round Appaloosa, but also is a near-perfect fit for my 16H Oldenburg mare, and has worked on Susan's (Kyra's Mom) 15.2H Azteca mare with a SaddleRight pad. I have Annabelle in an older BC (Riley or Eden, not sure) that I picked up for $1,000 and had reflocked to fit her. Rather than spending your entire budget on THE ONE saddle, I might look at getting something in the $1000 range to use until she is more mature. Some of the Albions and Barnsby saddles have a fairly open head even if not technically a hoop tree, and tend to fit pretty well. You can pick up a used Albion SLK for like $1,200, which will leave you some reserve in case you need to get something different as she matures and muscles up.

I'd also stay away from Bates/Wintec for a wider horse. Not a fan of the Cair panels, and the rider balance is not as good as an Albion or Black Country.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:19 pm
by PhoenixRising
Pictures are easy, I can get some tomorrow. I'll have to do some reading on how to do the tracings, that's new to me too.
I wasn't familiar with the CAIR panels, and after some reading agree I don't want to go that route.
It would actually be really great to spend less than what I was planning, I just want to make sure we're both comfortable and the saddle is decent!

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:17 am
by silk
No snark whatsoever, Khall, just emphasis on 'tree', which needs to be wide for the type of horse Phoenix has. My experience is that Bates are simply not wide enough trees for much more than a Thoroughbred.

Cair is different to Flair, which is the WOW system.

I personally love Albions, haven't ridden in BCs but they are similar as far as I know. Wasn't sure if Albion was something you can get freely in the US, and, they are not as adjustable as something like an RP or WOW, which might be required if one wants a saddle that can suit a youngster while they are growing. However, if you can get one for a reasonable price, it might be OK to buy/sell/buy/sell as the horse changes.

FWIW, YMMW, my mare fitted a MW Albion perfectly. I sent her away for a month of work with my instructor, she muscled up so much the saddle didn't fit at all. She was in a 13" RP for a bit and finally ended up in an XW Albion that worked really well. I hated the RP for me, but it got us through a patch where I could easily have had three or four different non-adjustable saddles.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:39 pm
by Chisamba
I find i have to be careful to find a saddle designed both for my comfort and for the horses comfort. I need a narrow twist and so if the horse needs a hoop tree, i need the seat of the saddle designed for me, they dont do these things well saddle makers, also, they are so in the mode of wide channels, horses with an angular rib cage do very poorly on a wide channel there is too much lateral instability. There are so many things that saddle makers claim that are not supported by anything but their advertising. Just my ten cents of opinion, i bought an adjustible tree thoroughgood , ( yes only the gullet is adjustable, but they call it an adjustable tree) because it was cheap and adjustable and i was not sure what my horses would be needed after the fire. I lost my four favorite saddles in the fire. anyway, the cheap thoroughgood has proven to be comfortable for so many of my different horses. it is the most used addle in the barn.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 3:57 pm
by musical comedy
Interesting is that so many saddle sellers ask only for wither tracings. The shape and length of the back is just as important.

Saddle balance comes into play too. Some saddles are forward balance and others center balance. Some saddles have a flat spot where you sit, and others are more scoopy. Stirrup bar placement is also important. Set too forward can present a real problem for some people. So can set too far back. The ideal is a stirrup bar that has different positions. You can't usually find that in the less expensive saddles.

Terminology does get confusing. Gullet is the part in front of the saddle. Channel is the space between the panels, imo, but some people might call that the gullet too. What does it mean if the 'tree' is not wide enough.

Going back to what Chisamba said, for some of us it is not just about fitting the horse. Some of us riders present a real fitting challenge. I do. It would be rare to find a saddle fitter that understands the human anatomy and how it relates to saddle fit. I found one, but sadly he turned out to be unreputable.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 4:31 pm
by kande50
khall wrote: So out those shipping costs due to incompetent help at Trumble.


Trumbull Mountain? They have an excellent saddle fitter, although maybe not clairvoyant enough to fit saddles remotely?

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 5:42 pm
by khall
kande yes Trumble Mountain. Not in my experience. I sent wither tracings to them they did not use them before sending me the Isabell. No way they could have. All they would have had to do was apply the gauge to the tracings and understand that saddle was no where near wide enough for Rip. I did end up buying my Vinici X from them, but I did not use their fitting service just bought the saddle.

MC the other fitter I sent tracings to required the entire back in increments and then along the spine itself. Much more involved, yet she still did not get it right on a couple of saddles she sent me. I have also had at least 2 different fitters here not much help from them either.

chisamba I'm interested to hear your experience with the thoroughgood. I've looked at them but never pulled the trigger but have always wondered how they were to ride in. My ViniciX does well for me so I have just stuck with it now. May have to explore a different saddle with upswept panels for my filly because she is so short backed. Trouble is: Is there a hoop tree saddle with upswept panels? I don't know, never had to go there.
Also the Vinici has a narrow twist, one of the few hoop trees that does. I think the Duett Fideolio does too and it is a third of the price of the Vinici now. I got mine when the it was pricey but not outrageous like it is now. Finding a ViniciX used is about impossible, lots of Vinici regular tree.

silk my experience with the RP is that they are not that adjustable. Their tree is the size of the tree period and if it is not wide enough they do not adjust in that way (like a regular saddle my Vinici adjusts up or down one size). No amount of redoing the panels on the RP can make a too narrow tree fit. Which is why I sold my RP when it quit working for Rip as a 5 yr old. Again don't know enough about the WOW saddles to understand them. Have looked at them but not gone beyond that. The FLAIR is still using air for flocking. Would think you would still have the bouncing issues like the CAIR does.

I have ridden in Albions long ago but it has been awhile now. Liked it well enough then but have not looked at them in a long time. Not sure how well they would fit my wider loads here.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:27 pm
by StraightForward
khall wrote:Finding a ViniciX used is about impossible, lots of Vinici regular tree.


The person I sold my first ViniciX to when I bought mine with the custom roll/flap has it for sale. It's an 18" wide tree with serge panels in very nice condition. Just in case anyone is interested.

I inquired about a Duett Fidelio a few years back and was informed that it was for a curvy-backed horse, whereas the Vinici is more for a straight-backed horse, so they are not at all interchangeable if the info I got was right. I test rode a Duett Largo once and it was about the most hideous thing to ride in that I've ever tried.

Silk - Albions are very easy to come by in the US. I don't they they have a lot of adjustability, but if say an SLK works, it shouldn't bee too hard to sell and buy another in a different tree size as needed. They're well known, so pretty easy to resell, but I wouldn't pay more than about $1500 for a used one with the expectation of getting my money back on resale (unless it's one of the super tricked out new ones).

Another saddle that could be fantastic if you can find it is the Mike Corcoran Master Dressage. They have a very open head/hoop style and usually serge panels. Mike designed most of Black Country's best models, but no one really knows his saddles here, so it's possible to come by a deal. I trialed one for Annabelle that was just amazing to ride in but way too wide for her. I honestly thought about keeping it just in case I ever had a horse it fit; it was that nice. I think it was $1200 or so. I've heard that Mike is wonderful to work with - he runs his business out of Texas but travels around the US and builds western saddles too.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 9:07 pm
by musical comedy
Chisamba, I use Kate Wilson at Dutchess Saddlery for fitting. She is pretty close to you and travels all over. She is trained by the UK and doing this for 23 years. Her husband also does leather work. Perhaps you are already using her.
https://www.dutchessbridlesaddle.com/home.html

khall wrote:kande yes Trumble Mountain. Not in my experience. I sent wither tracings to them they did not use them before sending me the Isabell. No way they could have. All they would have had to do was apply the gauge to the tracings and understand that saddle was no where near wide enough for Rip. I did end up buying my Vinici X from them, but I did not use their fitting service just bought the saddle.
Was it when Kitt was still there? Trumble changed ownership a few years ago

MC the other fitter I sent tracings to required the entire back in increments and then along the spine itself. Much more involved, yet she still did not get it right on a couple of saddles she sent me. I have also had at least 2 different fitters here not much help from them either.
<sigh> Yeah I know. Even when you have a new saddle made to measurements it still often doesn't fit. Many cases I've seen of that.
chisamba I'm interested to hear your experience with the thoroughgood. I've looked at them but never pulled the trigger but have always wondered how they were to ride in.
My best friend has one that she has used on a couple of her very large/wide horses. The thorougood has the exchanable gullet plate feature. There are 3 thorowgood models : the cob type with low pommel head and S-bar, the standard with regular pommel head for normal withered horses with R-bar and the high withered version.
May have to explore a different saddle with upswept panels for my filly because she is so short backed. Trouble is: Is there a hoop tree saddle with upswept panels? I don't know, never had to go there.
<sigh> I have a very short backed mare too and I need an 18in seat. I've squeezed myself into a 17.5 because I have no choice. She is also quite wide and needs the U shape gullet. Right now I'm riding in an older used Amerigo. There is a new Amerigo Model out now called the Pasubio. Google it. It's for short backed horses. Also, a couple Schleese models are made for shorter backs. The Obrigado can have what they call a 'relief wedge' for short back horses. Another Schleese model also is made for the shorter back. Of course, both the Amerigo and Schleese are very expensive even used.

Re: Saddle Suggestions

Posted: Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:10 am
by khall
Cool! Got some saddles to look at! Though I have not been a fan of Schleese just sitting in them. Never ridden in one. Right now my ViniciX should work ok on my filly. It fits her in the shoulders it is just a bit long for her very short back. It is an 18 though I can ride in a 17.5, not sure how much that would change the fit on her though. I actually thought about looking at one of the baroque type saddles for her later. They often have a leather tree.

MC I don't know if Kitt was still there or not, it was roughly 6-7 yrs ago when I first went shopping. I knew it changed hands, did not have any issues when I bought the Vinici from them. But I knew what I needed by then.

Saddle shopping is a PIA and the prices are all over the place, from the $4-6000 higher end models to the cheaper synthetics, then the whole saddle fitter deal is a bit of a night mare too.

SF I owned a Duett Encore and loved that saddle but it only fit my mare Anna (my filly's mom now deceased). I sold it to someone on here I believe out in CA owned an Arabian. I have also sat in the Tango and liked it fine, not ridden in any of the others. I was impressed with how well they hold up. Mine was in very good condition and I ride a good bit, for their price. A friend just bought one for her wide OTTB g, she loved the Vinici X but could not find one in a 17 or 17.5, so went the Duett road. Not sure which model of Duett she ended up with but she said that the company was just lovely to work with.