Sunday, September 28, 2008

Opinions, Please.

This is my current saddle. It fits Bombay, but rides up on Lostine's withers.

Today I borrowed a couple of used saddles from an acquaintance. I disregarded one of them because it had a very uncomfortable seat and upon closer inspection, I saw that the fiberglass tree was sticking out in front through the sheepskin. However, the other saddle, which they claimed fit all of their Arabian horses, seems like a good possibility for Lostine. The skirt is nice and level. I took these pictures after lunging and riding her, so you can see that the saddle does not ride up over her withers.

The downside is that though it seems to fit Lostine, the seat is too small for me. In order to avoid pressing my rear against the cantle, I have to jam my crotch into this rather radical rise. It is not uncomfortable, though. I can live with it, and I am losing weight rather rapidly thanks to my new vegan diet.

The leather is in good condition and all the rigging is safe.

The tooling is to die for. At first when I put the saddle on, the back of the skirt stuck up into the air a bit, but once I sat in it, it molded to Lostine's back. The saddle had been sitting on a rack in a storage room for a long time.

I can fit two to three fingers in between the withers and the gullet.

The best part about it is that the position of the stirrups forces me to keep my legs back, heels down, and toes turned in, which is the correct riding position that I can never seem to achieve with my current saddle. The worst part about it is that someone screwed up in punching the holes for the the stirrup adjustments right where I need them to be for me, so I would have to replace that strap. What do you think? Should I make them an offer or keep shopping?

I don't really want to buy a new saddle, but these are the three I would consider. This one is a Billy Cook Arabian saddle. I like it because it has the shorter Arabian bars, but not so wide of an angle to the tree.

The one below is a Dakota Pleasure saddle. I just love the coloring of this one and the leather is super soft. The tooling is oak and leaf.

This next one is a Crates Ladies' Lightweight Trail saddle. I like the non-slip heavyweight trail stirrups, among other things. Of course, I can always buy the stirrups separately if I want them that bad.

My trainer's contact is in Europe, so I will have to wait two weeks before I can try out that used saddle. Should I wait?


Farm Girl said...

Have you noticed how the stirrup hang nearly under the swells on your saddle and they are farther back on All of these other saddles? Maybe this has something to do with your problems with leg position?

I too have had problems with fitting saddles to my very wide quarter horse mare, but I purchased a Corrector saddle pad and she is much happier.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Hey NM,

So exciting! Saddle Shopping!

I think I'd have to see you in that fancy tooled saddle first. To me the seat just looks painfully cramped and tiny. What size is it?

If you intend to use it as a trail saddle, I'd be very concerned with comfort and err on the side of more room, instead of a tight fit.
Just as with clothes, they always say to buy what fits you now.

That steep, bulging curve at the pommel/swell just looks painful to me. Just imagine riding down a steep hill or cantering on uneven terrain. My crotch is sore just thinking about it. haha!

I prefer simple saddles such as the one you use for Bombay. That one is just lovely.
I also prefer rounded skirts.

Of the three saddles in those pictures my first choice would be that Billy Cook Saddle. So nice! And made for Arabians, too.

The Dakota Pleasure saddle looks great and comfy, too. But my concern would be how dirty the light colored lower skirt area and leg flaps would end up getting.

The Crates Lightweight Trail saddle looks pretty nice, too. Just look at that nice deep seat, but with the pleasant gradual slope to the pommel and swells. Comfy :)

So those are my opinions, for what they're worth :)


BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I like how the used saddle fits.

If it is simply the padding that causes the seat size issue-that can be removed by a saddlesmith. It is only padding under the seat leather. They can take the leather off, remove the padding, add regular padding and relay the seat leather. If this saddle can be bought for a reasonable price, it might be worth it.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Farm Girl - Good point about the location of the fenders and stirrups. People have mentioned before that they are too far forward on my current saddle, and I've tried pulling them back, but they just keep creeping forward. I think they are furthest back on the Crates saddle.

Lisa - I measured the seat size on the used saddle to be a 15. I need a 16. The 5" swell looks a lot more painful that it is. It actually keeps me snug in the seat, I just needed an extra inch so that I'm not pressed against the cantle. My thighs do not hit the pommel, but are close. The space between my crotch and the pommel is about 3.5", and I know it should be 4". I was able to post without coming down in an uncomfortable spot. I'll see if I can get someone to take a picture of me sitting in it. I can only keep the saddles for a couple of days.

browneyed - That's good to know. I think lowering the swell won't do it for me. I actually need an extra inch or I need to lose another 25 pounds.

ranchette said...

I think you *nearly* have a winner there - it looks like it fits the horse well and yes that tooling is gorgeous. BUT, shop around until you find one that's the right size for you too!

Victoria Cummings said...

Whatever saddle you end up with, make sure that the seller gives you a "saddle trial" period of a few days so you can bring it back if it doesn't work out. If you put the saddle on your horse's back without any pad, you can see better how it fits. You should be able to put your fingers between the saddle and the horse on both sides and feel if it is pinching. Have you looked at Tucker saddles? They are good for short backed horses and they make an Arabian tree. Crates makes a great saddle, but I don't know if they make an Arabian tree. It's so good that you are taking the time to get this right and Lostine will thank you.

Laura said...

Saddle shopping is really tough. The used saddle seems to fit Lostine well, but if it isn't comfortable for you, then it might not be the best choice...

I really like the looks of that Billy Cook saddle! I agree with Lisa, the second looks like it would get dirty easy - even though it is a really nice looking saddle.

Good luck in your search - I have no helpful advice, except that I feel your pain... :-) Trying to find a saddle that fits both you and your horse is a bit of a challenge.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

The used saddle just eliminated itself. I had it sitting on a very tall saddle rack and with the morning sunlight shining on it was able to see some odd shadows in the fleece lining underneath. Sure enough, the fleece had rotted and the tree was poking through on both sides. I'd have to replace the lining and padding. I don't want a project. If I have to see a saddle maker, I may as well just have him build one from scratch for me. Ultimately, I'm trying to save myself as many hassles as possible. My TO DO LIST is a mile long, and I don't need to add to it.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

So sorry about the saddle, NM. But it probably wasn't the best one for you anyway.
I like your idea of not trying to cut too many corners and just getting it right the first time. As my hubby likes to remind me, "Yeh it does cost a little more, but you'll never regret it'

Good luck and keep us updated.

KD said...

Good luck with the shopping ! Borrow as many as you can and ride in them as you normally would. I made a mistake with my previous treeless saddle - it was so-o-o comfy, but after 4 or more hours, my butt was fine but not my back. I settled on a used saddle that works great for me and my horse, but it really took some shopping.

I'm interested in your vegan journey. Was it really hard to give up meat?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

kd - You can learn more about my vegan journey at

I actually feel better and less hungry without the meat. I never really liked it all that much in the first place. Although, I used to love In & Out Burgers and Quizno's Oven Roasted Turkey -- until I found out that one of those meals equals all the calories I am alloted in one day.

KD said...

I'll check it out, thanks! I think I'd still have to do dairy and maybe fish....don't think I could go all the way vegan.

Andrea said...

I like the Billy Cook or the Dakota. I like the Dakota one better. I like the two tone and the ruff out look. Plus the rough out helps you stick to the saddle better. I love a good rough out saddle. Like everyone said, watch where the fenders fall. Happy shopping, sorry about the used one being broke. *sigh*

Shirley said...

I think your comment on a saddle maker hit the mark; I highly recommend getting a saddle made just for you and your horses. There always seems to be something not quite right about factory made saddles, but with a custom built one you can get it done to your specifications. I don't know if you have a saddle maker in your area, but if you do, maybe give him a visit. Most will let you bring your horse(s) and try trees until you get that jusy-right fit.And you can get whatever options you prefer in leather type and tooling. It may cost a little moree but in the long run is very worth it. I went through a lot of saddles before I decided to get one made, and it was a good decision.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Shirley - That's exactly the direction I'm leaning in at the moment. I know of a few saddle makers in the area, but was hoping to find someone who could give me a recommendation first. I've got time.

I returned the two used saddles to the owner, and she said that she got the one I like from her neighbor years ago. That explains the rotting. It's had a few owners. I really loved its charm, though.