ShelbyDuh

What Size Saddle

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I fit perfectly in a 15" Western saddle, but I'm about to buy my first English saddle. I know the seat sizes run differently. So what size should I get?? Thanks for any help!

Edited by ShelbyLynn

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Most likely a 17", unless you want saddleseat, then those run bigger and I'm not all that familiar with them.

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16.5-17 is a good place to start. But I ride a 15-16" western saddle (barrel vs training saddle) and I ride a 16-17. 5 English saddle depending on the seat depth and flap position.

Your best bet is to have someone who knows English saddles help make sure yours fits properly. Look for an older CC saddle like a Crosby PDN, you can usually find them for a couple hundred bucks and they are much better money spent than 99% of the AP saddles out there.

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Thank you guys for the input!! I'll start searching for a 17" then. There's a store around here that is having a huge horsey yard sale, so I'm hoping to find one there. Staff members are very knowledgeable, so I'm sure they can help me out.

I just want a cheap, all-purpose saddle that I can do anything in. I want to learn to jump, but I'll also be trail riding and maybe taking a dressage lesson or two. I just want to practice riding English, so that later on down the road, I can buy a nicer, possibly custom saddle I can actually jump in. I took my Western horse over a small cross rail and I'm hopelessly hooked. I want to go higher and faster and see how far we can go :)

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I wrote a story about this for our Horsecity Spring Buyer's Guide and took some parts that might help you:

All-Purpose Saddle (AP)

A very utilitarian style for the English rider that incorporates a forward flap for occasional jumping and a slightly deeper seat for secure feel when hacking or trail riding.

Close Contact Saddle (CC)

Most suited to the world of English jumping. Offers a shorter, more forward flap, to encourage the rider to stay with the horse over obstacles in a "two-point" position. Styles vary a bit with padding, blocks and depth of seat according to rider preference. Commonly found in the Hunter/Jumper and Eventing disciplines.

Dressage Saddle

An English model that performs very well for flat riding and typically has a deep, comfortable seat with a straight, long flap. The styling encourages good communication and precise cues between horse and rider to perform movements in the Dressage arena.

Regardless of the discipline you ride or style you prefer, the role of a saddle can make or break your ability to ride at your best and your horse to perform

to expectation.

Whether you prefer new or a broken-in saddle, take the time to seek out the best possible size, style and type for you and your equine. Take time to break in a new saddle, it?s often like a new pair of boots. It might not be fun at first, but well worth it in the end! ■

Saddle purchases are mostly a personal preference sort of thing. Some folks prefer a deep seat and a long flap, others prefer a flat seat and a short flap. You will literally have to try them out to see what fits you and your horse best.

English Saddles come with tree sizes and seat sizes. The wider and flatter the body of the horse (generally) the wider the tree size. The more prominent withers and shoulder makes a more "regular" tree size suitable.

Seat size is measured from the middle of the nail on the skirt to the middle of the cantle. Most adults find a 17 or 17.5 suitable for general riding. They typically come in half sizes (16, 16.5, 17, 17.5, 18). Contrary to popular belief, the seat size is not "always" determined by your bootie size. It is more likely to be determined by the length of your leg from your "point of hip" to the mid-knee joint. If you have a long upper thigh you will need a bigger seat size - even if you have no bootie! :winking: Some saddle manufacturers compensate for this by offering flap sizes and shapes - sometimes they call it "forward" flap or "long" or "short" flap. The wording varies.

"English Made" saddles are the most popular, middle-priced, cowhide saddles on the market. Some are English leather that is manufactured in India or Pakistan - these are usually more reasonably priced. Others made in Germany, France and Italy are high-end glove-like leather with a different seat and flap options and are sometimes made of Buffalo. Those will put a dent in your checkbook. :winking:

Like anything in the horse world ... cheap = cheap. Saddles are usually and "investment" so take the time and patience to find the right one for you and your horse. It is worth it.

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AP is all purpose and typically what you find in inexpensive English saddles, deeper seats and longer flaps but not as deep and long as a dressage saddle.

BUT the cheap ones that look barely used and seem like a great budget buy - are typically cheaply made and poorly balanced and more likely to cause problems for both horse and rider in the long run. A good well made close contact saddle is perfectly fine for all types of lower level English riding.

That being said, stubben and courbette are two brands that do have decent AP saddles if that is what you're interested in getting.

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Well, the reason I wanted all purpose was because I have no definite style set in mind. I definitely plan on jumping. I definitely plan on trail riding. I definitely want to use precise cues. So I didn't want to buy a jumper saddle, and then find it to be uncomfortable on the trail or something like that.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this is a temporary saddle. I plan on having for no longer than a year. I just want to get used to English and start my horse in it, and then I'll buy a high-quality, possibly custom English saddle. I totally understand about cheap possibly causing problems. I'm hoping if I buy it from this tack store, they will point me in the right direction. I guess we'll seee. I'll post pictures when this all happens :happy0203:

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Just steer far away from the silver Fox saddle packages they are JUNK! I had an old crosby for my first english loved it. Then found a lesser quality borelli that fit my Arab and me well. Ever one said borellis are junk. And they aren't top of the line but that saddle did its job well and held up ok. Still have it In the tack room. I have ironicly a weaver leather AP that fits my average backed but wide shouldered gelding well I like it so far paid a 180 new with tags on it on like 75-% off. But look at the Wintecs good quality saddlewith very reasonable prices

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Lancer is junk, very unbalanced. If you can buy the saddle NEW for less than $500, then it is probably junk. You'd be better off buying a used brand-name saddle.

Another good option is the Dover line of Circuit saddles. Often Dover has scratch and dent sales, or sometimes you can find one used for a good price. I have one as my training saddle, been riding in it every day for over 10 years and it is held up great. It sits a lot like my Pessoa saddle that cost 4x as much.

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Thank you for all that information, Nikki!

I will stay away from Silver Fox, then, haha. Has anyone heard of Lancer saddles?

No problem :happy0203: Happy to help.

Run like the wind from Lancer and Regency. :sick:

You are much better off finding an older, used, "used to be expensive" saddle at a tack shop than buying a new poorly made one. There's plenty of them out there ... Pessoa, HDR, Stubben, Barnsby, Collegiate, Courbette, Crosby, Passier.

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If you plan on jumping, I would look for a close contact saddle, older and well made.

It may not be the most comfortable thing to take hours long trail rides in, but it i going to put you in a good solid position for jumping. That will make jumping much more enjoyable for your horse and yourself, which is a bigger deal to me than trail ride comfort- you can always throw your western saddle back on if you want to go for a longer ride.

Keep in mind that you're probably not going to feel like you're sitting on a comfy sofa when you first sit in some English saddles, they're going to feel weird and a little uncomfortable. Do you have someone you trust who knows English riding to take along with you?

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Ooook, no Lancer, haha. I would love to get a nice, used name brand like Collegiate or Stubben. I think I do want close contact, as well.

Mars, I plan on bringing my one of my very good friends, and best riding buddy on the planet, Leah with me. She's been riding for a little bit longer than me and she's been under the training of a skilled eventer in the area. She is mostly into dressage, but she has more English experience than I do and has gone through heck* and back fitting her horse perfectly with a saddle. So I do trust her judgement and I'm thinking she'll be able to help me out.

a lot of AP saddles will place you too far back with your leg too far forward for a proper jumping position.

Ooooh, ok. I think it would be best for me to go with a close contact saddle.

I guess my main goal is to jump, so I should get a jumping-type saddle.

Edited by ShelbyLynn

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Agreed, all purpose commonly equal no purpose.

Glad you have someone to go with you! If you find something that is good but maybe the wrong size, check out ricks at www.saddlesource.com they are great to work with and have a great selection of good used saddles.

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Ok, I went out today and found a possible saddle. I hit all of the tack stores in town. If found one saddle that fit and was in my price-range ($250-$300). Although I did find another that might still be an option...Both are Collegiate.

The first one is a 16" close contact collegiate saddle. It was used and for a very good price: $225. However, I'm really not sure if a 16" will be big enough for me. I tried sitting in several saddles today. I determined that 16.5" or 17" will be perfect. I actually think 16.5 might be better. Anyway. So, I really like that one, and the price, I'm just concerned about the size.

The second one is a 16.5" all purpose collegiate saddle. It was used, and also for a very good price: $187.50. It feels great, it looks great. I know I fit in it. I had a lady at the store help me out. She did explain that the flap won't allow me to jump very high, but I can pop over some small jumps. She explained that the seat was deeper. And apparently this saddle has an inter-changable gullet system! So that's fantastic. It's like half-way custom, lol. I can also get it flocked to fit a little bit better. So I knew it fit me and my needs (comfy, secure, able to go over small jumps), I just had to test it on Tucker. So I was able to take it to the barn to try it on him. What do y'all think??

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I'm quite terrible at saddle fitting, to be honest, so I have no clue. My friend Leah said it looks fine, but we should go down a gullet size. We used a measuring tool that the store let us borrow; assuming we read it properly, he should be a medium wide gullet. The saddle currently has an extra wide in it. The store changes them out for $10.

So what do you guys think? I haven't technically bought it yet. I have until Friday to buy it or bring it back. I really like it, and as I said earlier, I don't plan on keeping this saddle forever. Maybe a year or so. If I find that we are jumping more often or higher, I'll sell it and buy a close contact one. But for now, I just want to learn how to ride English and feel secure with English tack. THEN I'll buy a nicer close contact or dressage or whatever suits my needs.

ETA: sorry about the semi-dirty horse. I just grabbed him out of the pasture to snap a few pictures. I was on a time constraint today.

Edited by ShelbyLynn

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I could technically ride in it if I wanted to, but I have no leathers, irons, girth, or saddle pad. So I'll just have to hope it's comfortable in motion as it is on the stand.

ALSO! If I do buy this, I plan on heading down to a saddle fitter in the area in a week or two to have him thoroughly check it out, flock it, and give me any more insight on it all.

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Sweet! Thanks for your reply! The worker at the store says she has that same saddle, too, and loves it. I'm heading over there to buy it now :yahoo:

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ALSO! If I do buy this, I plan on heading down to a saddle fitter in the area in a week or two to have him thoroughly check it out, flock it, and give me any more insight on it all.

Flocking = wool and Collegiate saddles actually have foam in them so they are not able to be changed in any way. Wool flocked saddles are generally more expensive. I'd definitely recommend sitting in the saddle on the horse - even if it's without stirrups just to see how it fits you and him/her. They all fit different once a rider's weight is in them. Be sure to stick 2-3 fingers under the pommel as you ride to make sure the withers are not being pinched.

Let us know how it goes!

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Thanks, guys :smileywavey:

Nikki, the lady at the store said it had synthetic flocking in it?? She said if I take it down there to let the guy know it's synthetic and he may not be able to do much, but he might be able to do something.

I'll see if I have time to sit in it tomorrow, but I did buy it, so it's officially mine. Worst case scenario, if it doesn't work out, I can sell it for more than I bought it for. It was super duper cheap and everyone at the store was shocked at the listed price.

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Well, it's been several weeks, but I have an update for those that are interested. I was able to find all of my other tack at a big horsey yard sale. I got a girth, leathers, irons, a bridle, a pad, and a girth extender just in case for a grand total of $36. Super good deals!!

Then I went to Raleigh, NC with a friend and her horse to get her horse re-fitted and to get Tucker fitted. The saddle fitter picked up my saddle and said that he's seen a few of that type that had bad trees, and he was hoping mine wasn't one of them. So he picked it up, rested it on his leg...and nearly bent it half length-wise. He looked at me and said "I'm so sorry". If you couldn't connect the two, it means my saddle had a bad tree. It's not "broken" it's just useless.

He explained that saddles are supposed to have lateral flex in them, but NOT length-wise flex, which this one had. He went on to explain that it was a design flaw by Collegiate that the company never owned up to. After they got so many saddle fitters' calls, they fixed the problem and put springs in the saddle to support the tree and make it more rigid.

Due to the flexibility in the tree, if I were to ride in it, the saddle would rock on the horse's back terribly, causing pain. So I asked him what it's good for. He said "the trashcan". Awesome. No wonder it was so cheap. I doubt the STORE knew it had a bad tree, but I can almost guarantee the SELLER knew it was a bad tree. That must have been why the price was so stupid low. I'm pretty upset about this, but I don't think anything can be done...I'm going to go to the store tomorrow to explain the situation to see if they can do something, anything. Store credit, return, I don't know. It was on consignment, so it's probably sold "as is". Ugh. This just sucks.

To make it even worse, he looked at my Western saddle and said that it doesn't fit either. It rocks on his back. The only way to fix that would be to buy a new saddle that fits or to get a custom pad fit for him, which would be a couple hundred dollars. I don't have that kind of money. I literally ONLY had enough money to make the trip down there and back with an extra $30 or so. Not a couple hundred.

So my weekend was ruined. My conscience would never let me ride him KNOWING it would cause him pain, but I don't have the money to buy anything for a long time. I called my parents to see if they could lend me the funds, and they did, THANK GOD. I got their credit card number and he fitted a pad for Tucker. I was soooo relieved. I'm still upset about the English saddle not working out, but at least I can still ride my horse. He wants to see us in 60-90 days to check the fit. I did learn a lot from the visit and I'm very glad we went.

After that, my friend and I went to her grandparents' farm and spent the rest of the weekend there, riding for one day. It was a great vacation. I'm hoping I can save up the money to buy an English saddle by summer time. I'm still practicing going over poles and just riding in general. Maybe by summer we'll be ready to jump for real. We just need a tack change :smilie:

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Oh, he also recommended that I get a Chiropractor to work on Tucker a couple of times. I also need to keep the saddle up farther than I usually do. However, after riding, it slides back, so now I need to ride with a breastcollar. Luckily, I have one. Just no straps for it, so I'm using twine to tie it in place. I'm thinking for Christmas I'll buy Tucker a nice leather breastcollar :)

Also, if the store can't do anything for me, I guess I'll have to throw the saddle away or sell it with full disclosure. I was thinking maybe $100???? And super emphasize that it SHOULD NOT be ridden in??? I'm just worried that a buyer might buy it and ride in it even though it has a bad tree. So I'm iffy about that. The saddle fitter did say that it could be used to lead a "two-year-old" around in. I guess pony rides? Cuz kids are so light, it won't be a problem. But I'm just not sure what to do with it now :surrender:

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Pitch it. If your conscience won't let you ride in it can you sleep at night knowing someone else bought it and could be riding in it? Pitch it and chaulk it up to experience.

Checking a tree like that should be the first thing you do when looking at an English saddle, a person knowledgable in saddles should know how to check for broken trees.

Glad you got your western one sorted out.

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Yeah, I think I will. I just don't really trust other people. Even with full disclosure, I bet there are many people who would ride in it anyway. Well, I didn't know how to check for a broked tree or "bad" tree. Now I'm still not even sure if I do...I only watched him do it. So now I'm paranoid.

That was my thought, too. If I'm buying from a very reputable store with the best selection in saddles, I would HOPE that they would check their consignment saddles before putting them up for sale. On one hand, I feel like I shouldn't get anything, I bought it "as is", but on the other hand, I feel like I didn't get what I paid for, a good riding saddle. So it's iffy. I dunno. I guess we'll see what the store can/can't do for me.

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On an English saddle if you hold the one end against your hip and pull the other end towards your body there should be no flex or rippling in the seat, if there is something is wrong, a cracked or broken tree.

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If you cant return it and are about to trash it, how about a cute decoration in your house? Ive seen some neat broken saddles that were actually painted cute for decorations

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