About Juli and Saddle Fitting
IF YOU WANT CORRECT KNOWLEDGE ABOUT SADDLE FIT- COME TO ONE OF MY CLINICS!!!!
I hear folks say to me when searching for a saddle to fit their horse. “I have a really big horse- hez really tall so I need a big saddle.”
Please understand that the height of your horse doesn’t depict the size of saddle you or he will need> I’ve fit 13 hand ponies with an extra wide QH bar saddle and 17hand Tb’s and Saddlebreds needing narrow SQH trees. I have fit Arabs and ponies that require a wider gullet than a QH. i HAVE FIT 14H Horses that have a 5″ scapula swing in under the saddle and 16h horses with a 2″ swing (R.O.M- range of motion)
Also please understand that an “Arab tree” saddle doesn’t always mean narrow either. I’ve seen Arab tree saddles be wider thru the bars than full QH tree saddles. This depends on the maker. Some makers realize that alot of Arabs are flat back and mutton withered across the top and other saddle makers make their Arab tree to fit the thinner type Arabians so put a straiter bar tree in their Arabian saddles. Many Arab saddles have a contoured tree with more rocker- but your arab/horse may not need more contour so buying one of these would be painful for your horse.
Also, the size tree your horse needs doesn’t depict the size seat you as a rider will need. they are separate issues. And If you ride a short backed horse~~~ your saddle may be so long it could be causing injury to your horse.
It pays to do your homework when buying a saddle to fit your horse as an individual. Most saddle makers have a website these days so email them and ask them about the trees in their saddles-even if you are purchasing a used make of their saddle, they are most helpful in after market sales of their saddles.
Please remember that as your horse ages he will need a different saddle, so be sure to reassess your saddle fit at the beginning of each new riding season.
So heres a little FYI to raise your awareness when looking at your horses back:
Look at your horses back from on top:
If your horses shoulders/wither area look like a church steeple from the top down. you will need a narrower bar angle.
If his back looks like the top side of a ball or the rolling hills of Missouri he will need a wide flat bar angle
If His back looks like a triple Mountain, a taller mountain in the middle (his wither)…this is where it gets tricky becuz you may only be able to fit his back with a wide tree but the slope of the shoulder is the final factor for this type of horse. My Peebs is this way and thru the years as he has gotten older I have changed saddles a few times in order to keep him in a comfortable fit.
Look at the profile shape of your horses back from the side:
If his back looks like a bowl you will need a tree with alot of contour/rocker to prevent painful bridging
If his back is really strait and there isn’t much rise from the lowest part of the back to the top of the wither you will need a tree that is strait and with little rocker. but remember, you still need to determine wide or narrow bar and rafter angle! these are separate issues.
Now heres the really difficult part:
If your horses shoulder ties into his wither in the forward part of the wither, the center of his wither or behind his wither all means something too! becuz this is your horses shoulder action. the way he moves…you’ve heard the term a strait or slopey shoulder? This determines how much space your horse will need in the twist under the pommel and decides rigging placement.
This also determines whether or not your horse will need a tree with a flare in the front to the bars to accomodate the shoulder in and out of the gullet.
AND IF YOU ARE RIDING A GAITED HORSE! THEIR BACK SHAPE WHILE STANDING STILL CAN BE POLAR OPPOSITE OF ITS SHAPE WHEN ITS IN MOVEMENT! THE SADDLE THAT WOULD FIT IT STANDING STILL IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THAN THE SADDLE NEEDED WHEN IT IS IN MOVEMENT.
So! I know this is confusing….but I hope it helps you when looking at your horse or ponys back.
NOW… AS FOR THE DIFFERENCES IN TREES!….
Here is a page that explains one tree makers saddle tree differences. Steele equi-fit is my favorite saddle tree maker because he has been the most consistent over the years. His “bar fits” are the same. He adds new bar fits to his line without changing the old ones.
The difference between the semi qh, qh and wide qh tree is: The angle placement of the bars PLUS the width of the gullet at the top where the bars begin.The semi QH tree is narrower at the top, but the bar angle is generally steeper top to bottom from a QH tree making the width all the way down slightly narrower and more verticle than the QH tree by up to an inch from start to finish. whereby fitting a narrower horse both up on its topline as well as the steeper/flatter lower shoulder so fitting a horse without much upper or lower shoulder muscling. This saddle is not for a wide bodied horse with a wide chest and big shoulder. Gaited trees often have steeper bar angle in order to provide lower bar support for narrow based horses.