We also discuss five saddle brands that are most popular in the Quarter Horse world. The picture below shows the gullet of the saddle ; this is also how we measure tree width.
Here are the three main types of English saddles you’ll see in the Quarter Horse world. Dressage : These saddles have a deeper seat and allow for a longer leg position.
They are designed to allow the rider a centrally balanced seat. This type of saddle is appropriate if you are going to ride or show your Quarter Horse in Dressage.
When fitting the saddle to your horse, pay close attention to both the gullet and the tree. You want enough clearance in the gullet to give the horse room for movement in the spine and withers; the saddle should not directly touch the vertebrae.
It’s important to note that saddle manufacturers don’t all use the same angles between makes and models. Fit for the Rider Seat: Size is measured in inches from the pommel of the saddle to the middle of the castle.
The seat size corresponds to the rider’s upper thigh. For this example, the actual measurement from the knee to the backside is approximately 18.5 inches, which corresponds to a 16.5” saddle.
For Quarter Horse classes, you want to look like a jumper, not a dressage rider, so All Purpose saddles generally aren’t ideal. A close contact saddle will enable you to get into a two-point (or jumping) position and maintain a better leg for that hunter/jumper look.
Bates (State Line Tack) $$**Focused on saddle performance and comfort for you and your horse, these are highly adjustable saddles to optimize fit for the horse. Collegiate (State Line Tack) $*Combines modern materials and traditional technique to provide authentic quality and craftsmanship at an exceptional price.
Shop Bates Saddles on State Line Tack Remember, sitting on a saddle in a tack shop isn’t going to be the same experience as riding in it at home.
[Disclaimer: EQUUS may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our site. On the other side of the equation are those shark-withered Thoroughbred types who sprout white hairs even under a sky-high gullet.
Your saddle stays put, but you’re always on the lookout for signs of damage to your horse’s back and withers. Yes, there are all sorts of horses whose shapes make finding the right saddle difficult, and there’s a lot at stake.
A saddle that pinches a horse’s shoulders or presses on his withers can have all sorts of negative effects. Chances are, you’d wind up with painful blisters on your feet, and you might end up with a backache.
If the tree fits the contours of your horse’s back, everything else will fall into place. If the tree fits the contours of your horse’s back, everything else will fall into place.
Fortunately, there are literally hundreds of variations in bar spread, flare, width, rock and length that can enable saddle trees to fit the contours of any equine back comfortably. • Bars (rails on an English saddle) are the two strips that run parallel to your horse’s spine and are connected in front of the fork or pommel and in the back by the castle.
If the bar angle and the twist are a perfect match for the horse’s back, chances are everything else will fit as well. “You would never want to put a flat tree on a horse with a bit of a sway in its back or vice versa.
Horses with broad backs and low withers often do best with saddles that have hoop-shaped trees. Sometimes that broad back crops up in other types, like Baroque horses or gained breeds.
“Some of my saddles, like the Fidelity dressage model, offer a more sloping pommel shape,” says Temple. “You can be in a very wide Fidelity and be amazed at how comfortable it is.” Other ideas include suspending the tree slightly over the horse, but that can mean a loss of contact.
• The Thorogood T4 Cob GP (Broad back) is an all-purpose synthetic English saddle built on a broad tree designed to fit the flatter contours of low-withered, wide-backed horses. To ensure a good fit the saddle features a changeable gullet system, movable blocks at the knee and calf, and four birthing options.
• The Big Horn Harbinger Saddle, now made by American Saddlery, comes in leather and synthetic Western models, with 15 ½-inch and 16-inch seats. The leather models feature short, rounded skirts for the short-backed horse.
• Alleging Mountain Trail Saddles offers a fully customized fit, starting at around $1,350. Models available include Western trail, Cascade Wade, renegade endurance and plantation trail, with different design choices including leather color, skirting style, rigging options and tooling.
Many Thoroughbreds and their crosses, Appendix QuarterHorses and other athletic riding types sport high, sharp---“shark”---withers that make saddle fitting tough. Many of these horses have withers that taper into a broad, athletic back with a well-sprung rib cage.
“A more angular horse with hollows behind the shoulder does better in a tree with a longer point,” says Anderson. High-withered horses will benefit from models with thicker gussets and trapezium or K panels, which fill in hollow areas behind the shoulders.
• Collegiate Saddles offers hand-crafted leather saddles for a variety of English disciplines---including dressage, evening and jumping---all with the Easy-Change Gullet System, which allows you to select a gullet bar that best fits your horse. • Barrel racing or gained saddles, available from many makers, tend to offer ample clearance at the withers.
“The key to high withers is finding a saddle with sufficient clearance,” says Anderson. “The two- to three-finger rule isn’t an accurate measure.” Instead, Anderson suggests riding in the saddle for about 20 minutes.
Then check that the saddle is not resting on top of the withers, both at the gullet area and toward the stirrup attachment or bar. He looks like a bulldog from the front, with a concave pocket behind his shoulders and a fair average back.
There is so much variation in this group that you’ll want to consult a certified saddle fitter or speak with a few manufacturer representatives to be sure. “All riders know that their horse changes shape due to changes in diet, work program and maturity, and naturally they get frustrated when they discover their saddle no longer fits their horse perfectly,” says Ron Bates.
“Now, for the first time riders can monitor these changes and even do something about them.” Prices range from $1,220 to $2,999. • The Cashed Trail Saddle, made by Martin Saddlery, is built on the Axis saddle tree, which features bars that curve away from the horse’s shoulder to avoid interference and stirrup leather cutouts along the bars to allow for even pressure along the back.
The Western-style trail saddle weighs just 24.5 pounds and has a soft, double-padded seat for rider comfort; it sells for $1,695. And often traits that seem to go together naturally---tall and narrow, round and short, and the like---don’t when it comes to equine withers and backs.
But if you take the time to analyze how your horse is put together and what a “good fit” means for him, you’re more likely to choose a saddle that will make you both happy. A better understanding of how to achieve a perfect fit will pay off in a quiet and focused ride.