These horses are short coupled with well laid back shoulders and being fantastic elastic “back movers” it is amazing we don’t need superglue and duct tape to keep a saddle on them. The good news is all these features make a spectacular riding horse.
While there are some generalities every horse has its own unique conformation so just because a saddle is labeled Arabian doesn’t guarantee its fit. Maybe, while there are some generalities I will describe we know Arabians all have their own unique conformation, like snowflakes no two are exactly alike.
One of the most common generalities in Arabian saddle fitting is the fact that many Arabians have a shorter back or more specifically 22 vertebrae versus 23 (five lumbar 17 thoracic) that you see in many other equine breeds. Another generality is many Arabians are flat backed, primarily because they have well sprung ribs.
You see along with those well sprung rib cages and laid back shoulders comes a very forward girth groove. If you draw a line straight up from this mares normal girth groove you would be on top of her neck almost.
Do you see how forward this mare’s natural girth spot is from where the billets would join in? Girths always travel to the smallest circumference I don’t care how many “anti-slip” pads you use.
Some argue that a point billet puts unnecessary pressure over the scapula. That is just my experience, but every horse has a different comfort level and if the saddle fits well in other areas it shouldn’t be creating undue pressure.
It is also a safety hazard for you, as these horses may rear, bolt, or buck to evade the pain. If you have ever birthed up what you thought was a plenty good fitting gullet/tree, lined up with the shoulders, great angles, and then the horse walked….
And “pop” goes up the back end of the saddle, you have experienced a pommel base problem (it could also be too wide). Well in the same area we develop the seats twist, below that is the pommel base, and it determines how quickly a tree narrows, or flattens.
So with a rare few exceptions (saddle manufacturer wise), you can’t have a narrow twist on a horse who needs a wide pommel base. Keep in mind the channel of the saddle must be wide enough to accommodate the withers AND the spine all the way down, including the nerves and ligament that run along-side it.
If you have long, wide mutton withers that taper well in to the back then you need two things, at least a hand widths channel if not more (depends on the horse) and a saddle where the scoop of the tree is slightly sloping, deep seats are a “no no” on these types of horses because seat profiles generally match tree shape…where they don’t you have so much padding between you and the horse is makes for a complete lack of contact something in my opinion you can’t afford not to have when riding Arabians…just my two cents. A curvier tree was an absolute necessity on this mare until proper training improved her top line.
I am not going to discuss wither tracings, proper gullet width/shape and making sure the angles of the three points align correctly as I think there are a number of very good saddle fitting articles that already address those issues. While many saddle fitters recommended “re-flocking this and re-flocking that” I believe in re-flocking for minor corrections and focusing on the fact that the basic shape of the tree, rails, and panels must match not just a static horse but also one that moves.
I have had many saddles that looked perfect standing still only to rock more than a see-saw when the horse started moving. Frank Barnes: Specifically the Reflex for combination backs that are fairly straight in the top line.
Black Country: The Eloquence X, their hoop tree models tend to work very well on flatter backed “U” shaped Arabians with a slight dip behind the withers. ArabianSaddle Company/Lovato and Ricketts: Ellipse for the “U” shape types Berkeley for the “A” frames.
Later: Trident, not for super straight top line but a moderate long slope, but tends to run long in the panel, if your horse has a bit more length of back but is very broad this is a great saddle for those horses. Duet: If your horse resembles a propane tank, and super wide and round these guys may be your saving grace.
Albion: These guys are very versatile in tree options but struggle with them rocking on flatter towlines. HDR/Henri De Rivel: Pro Quarter Horse, wider channel slimmer panels good choice for a close contact saddle, the Austral and Dortmund are great choices for “A” framed combination types.
The above article is for informational purposes only and not meant to diagnose or treat any saddle fitting issues that you may be experiencing. To visit our website click here: Theconnectedrider.com We are not responsible for any damages as a result of this article and provided for informational purposes only.
I even upped my price range to 1k, and what I seen there in their used saddles- a lot in my price range, but only a few that may work, but even then, the saddle was hanging more to the little small side (for the gap in the middle for the spine, my saddle fitter said 4 fingers... one was just a hair bigger than 3 fingers, another one started a little more and 4 fingers, but at the back was a little more than 3. My saddle fitter is on vacation, so there was no point in taking the other one on the 3-day trial, but I was set to at least look. However, I was only looking for 2 brands that my saddle fitter said were good used brands for Arabs: Stubbed and Passers.
So, for right now, I could spend the 5-600 bucks on a cheaper brand- thinking like a winter synthetic that fits the horse and me, and just plan on buying a nicer, better quality saddle in the future once I get the inheritance. Or I could cosign it- but let's face it- you get what you pay for, resell value for cheaper saddles may not even be worth it.
They tend to run wider than the Stubbed & Passers, I found those too narrow. If you want fun, try finding a WESTERN saddle with a 25-inch skirt.....or less.
I think I am at all I can handle now with the English saddles... western sounds darn near impossible! Fits my wide, short-backed, no-wither, forward girth-groove Rocky MTN Horse.
Duet also makes nice hoop-treed saddles (which are great for wide-backed horses). Fits my wide, short-backed, no-wither, forward girth-groove Rocky MTN Horse.
My gelding is very round Until I bought a Had Pad with the waffle bottom. Now no slipping issues and I can even mount from the ground if needed without sliding the saddle.
Can try to explain... I hold the edge of the right side of the seat with my right hand and pull on it while I swing up. With the treeless pads you have to put them on then let them sit a few minutes, then tighten them up more.
I preferred the soft padded seat of the Torsion, the look of the Free form, but my horse went best in the Barefoot. But the neat thing is, by changing the padding the saddle also fits my medium-wide HQ mare with small withers and my medium sway-backed, old gelding with high withers.
Mine is not an Arab, which you asked about, but he is an extremely hard to fit horse with similar issues as many Arabians. The nicest saddle saddle I have seen on an Arab, and very well fitting too I might add, was a Dale Chavez Arabian saddle.
It was like it was made for the horse, however I think those babies are high end price wise. These saddles are expensive new, but you can often find a nice, newer model used for under $1,000. I had a Duet, which did fit my Arab but the twist was too wide and I didn't care for it.
Arabian horses have distinctive body shapes, and we have found a good selection of western trail saddles to fit your Arabian. They have shorter skirts with wider gullets and a bit more curve, just as your horse was designed.
The saddle has a round skirt specifically designed for the Arabian horses, which have a much shorter back. As outlined in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, The Chronicle of the Horse and its affiliates, as well Resort Enterprises Ltd., the developers of bulletin, are not legally responsible for statements made in the Forums.
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