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. A saddle that doesn’t fit causes tension, and when his body is tense, every footfall hits the ground with greater force.
That kind of repetitive concussion can contribute to soundness issues down the road.” “But sometimes ear pinning, tail swishing, teeth grinding, evasion of the bit, and even difficulty with upward and downward transitions can be linked to discomfort in the horse.
But if your horse has a hard-to-fit physique, you might be asking: “Is it even possible to achieve a good fit for him?” The answer is a resounding “yes!” Over the last several years, innovations in saddle making have made it possible.
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.
It must distribute the rider’s weight evenly over the horse ’s back, while keeping pressure off his spine. 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. Note that many round-barreled horses are also short in the back so consider round-skirted Western saddles over square skirts if that’s the case for yours.
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 Quarter Horses 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. On the other hand, says Temple, “Many in the natural horsemanship community, as well as other fitters and veterinarians, feel that fitting a horse with a too-wide saddle and using shims to lift the front is actually advantageous.
The use of front shims to lift the saddle balances the rider, while the extra width in the tree gives the horse great comfort and freedom of movement.” “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.
Saddles for draft horses come in a variety of types (English, Western, etc.) Please scroll down a little lower on this page for a checklist of good things to know before buying a drafthorsesaddle.
Does the seller clearly state that the saddle comes with or without cinches, stirrups, Latinos, billets, a breast collar, etc.? An increasing number of eBay sellers are getting tired of buyers who take a long time to pay for their item.
Read the description carefully to know if the seller will accept returns, and, if so, what conditions apply, and what charges you're likely to incur if you do return the saddle (shipping fees, restocking fees, etc.). Be sure to check this area to view the feedback that previous buyers have left for that particular seller.
Both of these features accommodate the wider, thicker, conformation typical of a draft horse. NOTE: Accurately measuring gullet width can only be done on a raw saddle tree.
Below: The blue line is illustrating the width of this saddle's gullet. Some images and/or other content on this website are copyright © their respective owners.
Work such as plowing, hauling and driving are all part of a draft horse ’s duties. There are a wide variety of draft horse breeds, the most common being the Clydesdale, Belgium, Shire, and Percheron.
The shoulders are more upright than the average horse in order to pull heavy loads. Most notably, the draft horse has a very broad shoulder and a short back.
Because draft horses have easygoing temperaments, they have become versatile breeds. However, due to its very broad back and shoulders, the gullet is made much wider for the draft horse.
The reason typical saddles won’t do is because of the pinching that occurs, which is very painful for the horse. Also, a wider gullet will allow freedom of motion of the horse ’s shoulders.
In order for a horse to do its job, such as cut cows, extend the trot, or jump fences, its shoulders must be allowed a complete range of motion. This wider saddle will prevent pinching that can occur with a typical Western horse saddle.
Your horse will benefit from the wider gullet that allows for freedom of movement for their shoulders. Drafthorsesaddle seats are well padded in order to provide comfort for the rider during long trail/pleasure rides.
However, typically, rigging is in the 7/8 position in order to avoid the saddle slipping forward. Depending on the saddle style, the horn, castle, fenders, stirrups and skirt are going to vary.
This first drafthorsesaddle is built on a rawhide covered tree and is extra wide. This beautiful, stylish saddle is lightweight (35 pounds) and extremely comfortable.
This particular saddle is extra wide to fit your broad horse. It’s finished in a beautiful brown, full-grain leather with premium lightweight nylon, which makes it light.
Extra wide gullet (7.5 inches), leather padded seat (when the seat is on the saddle, it sits ½ inch bigger than the size), 7/18 double rigging, extra heavy stainless steel does, Cordoba skirt fenders (easily wipe clean with damp cloth) I hope this article helped you to understand what draft horse saddles are and what they’re used for.