Saddle ideas

hypopit

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I recently bought a rising 8 year old Cob, he has done very little, a little driving, and a little riding and he was turned away for 8 months before I got him, so I am just bringing him back into work. He was only recently cut and ran on as a Stallion for 4 years doing nothing at all, he has been turned out up on the moors for the 8 months just before I got him, he was not in bad condition but he had lost a lot of topline on his back but still had his big cresty neck with being cut so late.

He came with one of those self adjusting synthetic saddles which i could see was not right for him, too banana shaped as he has a flat back. He has a HUGE shoulder and a very forward girth groove, but I know he will change shape a lot as we get working. I had a Master saddler out to check through all the saddles i have collected over the years and the one that fitted him the best was a Thorowgood cob saddle. She re-flocked it for him and I rode him in it on the flat and all seemed well, it really freed his shoulder up. I have the intention of the Thorowgood being an interim saddle and then when he has muscled up along his back I will get a made to measure, which the Saddler agreed, she said physically although he is 8 years old he is more like a 5 year old with having done so little.

He is a very chuncky boy, but you can actually see his withers now and dips in both sides due to muscle loss. It is very hilly where I ride and the first hack we went on in the Thorowgood saddle I found the first hill we went down it moved forward, digging in behind his big shoulder as the girth moved forward into his very forward girth grove. The Thorowgood fits when it is back behind his shoulder but it does not want to stay there:rolleyes: The saddle does look far back to try and not interfere with his shoulder. I'm sure as he muscles up behind his withers and puts on condition that will help keep the saddle in place.

I tried a Stephens Gel-eze pad, not much better, and I have just bought a Anatomical girth so hopefully this will help with the forward girth groove. I'm now thinking should I go for a different saddle altogether now. I have been looking at second hand ones, which is always a gamble, but i saw a new English leather saddle from "Help your Horse" who send out a template and adjust the saddle for your horse. They have some decent priced Cob saddles on there, for roly poly cobs, which he probably will be in a few months as he gains muscle and condition, but he is not now.

I just don't like the idea of interfering with his shoulder which I'm sure will be unavoidable for the moment as we live on the side of a mountain, with only mountains to go up and down:D

Any suggestions from cob owners with flat backs, huge shoulders and very forward girth grooves on what saddle they found useful or any methods to keep it in place. What do people think about the Thorowgood cob saddles too?
And anyone bought one of these template saddles from "Help your horse" , it would only be a stop gap until he got to the shape he will be, but I want him to be as comfortable as possible getting there otherwise the work will be counterproductive.

Thanks in advance.
 

hypopit

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Ohh I forgot to add, I have a Barefoot treeless saddle that would obviously fit him that i used to use on my old boy who was very happy in it. What do people think about trying that on a horse being brought back into work that will change shape a lot, anyone used one? I think it still may slip forward but it has no panels to dig in the shoulder. I wish I had some flat hacking!!!
 

hypopit

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Hi Carolin

I have two VSD, one an adjustable Wintec cob saddle , not flat enough in the panels, one a L&R too big overall. I need to get onto Ebay and sell some, I have a tack room full of saddles.

I wanted to see what would happen without me on so I long reined him out just now with the new Anatomical girth, the gel-pad and the saddle. I agree with the Saddler the sadle fits like a dream when you put it on, and on the flat, as soon as we turned down the first small hill, his forward girth groove pulled the girth and saddle up onto his wither and shoulder Grrrrrrr. I made him stand up and adjusted it all back to where it should be, stayed put for a bit, and then it popped back up on his shoulder again by the time we got home. It's just as bad with my weight on it.
I think I will have to get the saddler out and get another saddle, but the trouble is I know it won't fit in a few months time. I am thinking about using a Crupper with it and seeing if that works, maybe until those groves behind his withers are filled with muscle nothing will stay back unless I use a crupper.

The saddler suggested trying the Treeless saddle but with him not being muscled up over his back I don't feel this would be right for him. I will do as much long and low lunging, and plenty of hills long reining, until I can find a saddle solution...The Saddler said he was going to be hard to fit, I know he will be now:(
 

DirectorFury

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Could you use a shim pad to fill the pockets of muscle wastage until he's built the muscle back? If he's otherwise sensible how about the Christ Lamafelle pad or one of the Limpet (?) saddles that seem to be popular with the showing crowd.
 

McFluff

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My mare has big shoulders and a forward girth groove. I've found a VSD better than GP saddle (gives shoulders more room) and a prolite girth has helped. I also use the point straps and balance straps on the saddle (at saddle fitters suggestion). Finally, I use either a double sided gel pad or a LeMieux pad (which I find stays in place well) with a thin gel pad between pad and saddle (to stop saddle sliding off the pad).
My longer term plan is to get a saddle made for her, but she's changing shape too much just now.
 

Meowy Catkin

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As you already have the Barefoot, try it. If you set it up with the correct size insert and maybe the thick memory foam pads in the saddlecloth, it might work better than you expect even with his muscle wastage. If it doesn't work you can then look at other options.
 

hypopit

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Thank everyone some really good ideas there!

I will try the barefoot, hopefully it will be more comfortable that being rammed in the shoulder. The point strap idea using the two back ones instead of the front and back strap is a great idea, I have a double sided gel pad on the way. And will look into that make of girth, though the cheaper anatomical girth didn't help much tonight. Good idea with the half panel saddle, but don't know how easy they will be to get hold of, will look into that.

Saddler said no pads or shim pads or risers as the saddle will not fit then, it does fit well if it stays where it is supposed to.

Again thank you for all your advice everybody much appreciated. I will get there...eventually.
 

hypopit

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I'm going to ring Barefoot today as my Barefoot saddle is the Cheyenne but it is at least 10 years old, so even though I have the Barefoot sheepskin pad for it, I have looked online and you can get a physio pad and also one where you can add the shims. I just hope these pads fit the older version of the Barefoot saddle.

Anyone with a Barefoot Cheyenne know about the older newer style models?

I have a feeling this may be the way forward with the Barefoot for now. at least until we get the desired shape we want for a fitted leather saddle, but I will try and get the best pad for underneath it to protect his spine, and give it a go basically, he will let me know in the end if it is right or wrong. I also saw a Mark Todd physio pad online that looked good, someone mentioned they use that with their Barefoot saddle.
 

FfionWinnie

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While I was using a Christ lamfelle pad the muscle wastage on my horses shoulders caused by previous (fitted!) saddle filled in. I would definitely try the treeless saddle you already have. You've got nothing to lose.
 

Meowy Catkin

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I don't have a Cheyenne. I dealt with Horse and Harmony when I needed to get pads sorted for my Barefoot. Going to Barefoot themselves might be even better though. :)
 

hypopit

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Hi Faracat
I googled Barefoot saddles this morning and it came up with Horse and Harmony at the top and then Barefoot saddles.com, both are the same contact details from a quick look and I copied the number down to try them at work, but the number does not exist anymore...weird. Do you, or anyone else have a contact number for them?

I appreciate that Ffion, I have a good feeling about trying the Treeless. My saddler is all for it, she also says if I can work him on the ground as much as I can for a month it will make all the difference to him back/muscle wise, I will try and limit my riding to a couple of times a week, it will be hard, but it is a means to an end, and plenty of long reining and lunging. It will help with my muscle tone too!!

The trouble I have is the hacking around me is terrible, not a single track or bridle way, it's all road work. The shortest route I can do without turning back on myself is five miles, with huge hills. The average route hack is seven miles plus. I don't like turing them around on a hack as it teaches them bad habits, though I have had to do it for the first week out with him or else he would have died with the hills around me he had to tackle. He is very good though, has not tried to nap at all and he is getting fitter and enjoys being out and about a lot. I should get chance to try the treeless at the weekend, watch it he will buck me off now!!!
 

Spoiled cob

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What about the acavello gel pads to try and stop it slipping forwards, one under the saddle pad then one between the pad and the saddle. Otherwise I would suggest a dressage saddle so it's cut back behind the shoulders.
 

sbloom

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Saddles move forwards for a variety of reasons, a forward girth groove is a contributor but seldom the only reason - you need a shorter panel (which may or may not mean a shorter seat), a flatter tree or both, you may need to use point and third rather than the back strap as suggested, but if that pulls the front of the saddle down the the tree/panel is wrong anyway.

I don't know anything about Help Your Horse but I do not like the self adjusting saddles in any way, and so I'm afraid any professional recommending or selling them goes down in my estimation.
 

hypopit

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Thanks sbloom, what makes of saddles could you suggest with a shorter panel and a flatter tree? For the short term (preferably second hand or cheaper) then for the longterm. I agree with the self adjusting ones, he came with one and it is going in the bin I don't even want to sell it on.
When you say you don't like self adjusting saddles do you mean the Wintec and Thorowgoods T4's too? Can I ask why if they are fitted by a Master saddler? Always good to hear opinions.

I think the saddler fitted the Thorowgood to him because he is going to change so much.... and I had it, and as she said he will change so much that a made to measure saddle would be pointless in six months as it would not fit. The Thorowgood fits him OK for now and a damn sight better than the self adjusting one he came to me in.

What do you think of the Treeless saddles?

I would be interested in any makes you can suggest with a flat tree and short panels. I don't need a long seat, 16/16 1/2 inch fits both me and the horse fine, so that is one thing that makes this easier. I will need a straight cut, I was thinking about an old fashioned show saddle, they used to be a bit like that, but how easy they would be to get hold of, and what make I'm not sure. There is very little choice where I live now for second hand saddles. Where I used to live there were three Saddleries that carried a huge amount of good quality second hand saddles and all three were master saddlers so would come out to you with a van full, so you were always guaranteed a great second hand saddle which was a good fit, not so where I live now, very remote and rural.
 

sbloom

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BY self adjusting I meant the mention you made of them, to me that's not a changeable head plate saddle but one that "adapts" without adjustment when you put it on, they are made in India so poor quality and tend to collapse on front, I'm afraid most saddle fitters regard them as "bargepole" saddles. D Flex are one variety, I barely ever pass judgement on other fitters, we all have our detractors and admirers, we all have our own way of fitting, so all I'm saying is, as they stock something that I have never heard another fitter say a good word about....

Changable headplate saddles are great if they fit, but I see especially the cob and wide models fitted with the saddle fitter saying "that's the best you'll get, your horse is too flat/wide to get a stable fit". The trees and panels are not truly flat, plus they're "a lot of saddle", long panels etc, and when they don't work you can feel very perched and very unstable. Being able to change the width of course doesn't mean they work for everything.

I am not allowed to mention brands as I am a professional fitter. Sorry.
 
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MiJodsR2BlinkinTite

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OP if you have one of the older-style Barefoot saddles, firstly let me advise you to hang onto it for dear life (i.e. don't e-bay it!!) as the newer ones are totally naff in both quality and comfort, in comparison.

I share your pain in that my cob is a nightmare to fit, i.e. low withered and short backed, and very wide. I tried Barefoots: the size one was too small for me but just right for the horse, and the size two was way way too big for both of us! So until they do a saddle which is midway between size 1 and 2, I've just given up on them. They make the rider sit very wide, uncomfortably so, IME.

What I did with my cobby was to take a saddle template: I used a cardboard box and made that up into two templates, i.e. one which was for width, and the other was for curve along his back - and took that along to second-hand tackshops and horsey car-boot sales. I did manage to find a rather tattered (and obviously aged) Lovatt & Ricketts GP which I picked up for £50; then got a SMS to check it for me and re-flock to fit him which she did very reasonably. This saddle is mainly used by a friend of mine who rides him regularly and who just can't deal with treeless saddles!! I don't use this saddle very much TBH but I am just saying that you need not spend a huge amount of money if you take a template and see what is around secondhand, but always always get it checked just to make sure.

When I ride my cobby, plus my other horses, I ride treeless by choice nowadays: have a Tor GP saddle which I bought from Tree Free saddlery at Buckfastleigh, Devon, which is what I use from a 12.2 Exmoor, up to a Welsh D, through to 15hh chunky cobbie; I had one of their saddles on trial for a week first before I purchased, cost me £50, well worth it. If you go onto the "Saddles Direct" website there are details of how you can trial various saddles for a set price for a week - well worth the money IMO if you are thinking of a different saddle as they're all different, especially the treeless ones. My "Tor GP" saddle has a much narrower feel to it than say the Barefoot, which on a wide cob anyway, I found really uncomfortable and gave me hip and back problems. So if you are committed to treeless might I suggest you have a look on this website and see if there is anything which you think might work on yours. And before anyone pushes the button on me, no I do NOT get commission for "mentioning" Tree Free saddles. They are super people who if anything undersell themselves and provide an excellent service.

AH saddles are designed specially for cobs & natives and they are lovely saddles. I wish I could afford one of theirs, but cannot at the mo regrettfully.

PS if you are going the "native pony" saddle route, please do your research as there is more than one company flying under this banner....... there is plenty on here and on other forums so I will leave you to root around as unwise to say too much on here. Suffice to say that those who quote celebrity patronage (which in actual fact isn't as true as you'd think from their website!) and come up with frequent (and very irritating!) pop-up ads on various horsey places, might be best avoided....... PM me if need.
 
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ester

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How anyone can sell any leather saddle at that price is :eek3: and fitted long distance.
Many of the better brands would be able to make ones with shorter panels for their seat size etc.
I would speak to your fitter again, ask whether the thorowgood can be improved and ask for a recommendation if not so you can pick up something second hand that will suit at least while he muscles.
At least you have shoulders ;) Mum's mare has no shoulders, forwards girth groove, quite flat back, big arab barrel ribs and croup high. She could still make her saddle go forwards if she did a really dirty stop but otherwise it has been excellent and because it fits her frame has actually done her in her slightly plumper months as she had a year off doing a suspensory. Mum made do for years with an okish saddle but wishes she had got the better one earlier.
Frank just has the the forwards groove and the big barrell ribs. He has shoulders ;) and is level ;).

I actually posted a template to a seller to check my latest purchase (a dressage saddle) would be ok and she took pics for me with it :)
 

hypopit

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Thank you all for your very helpful answers.

Well, took him out in the Barefoot tonight, we did not like-y one bit-y!!!! I used to love it on my well muscled CobxTB, like I said I used to intersperse it with a well fitted L&R on him and liked both as much as each other, and I felt as secure on both on him, and HE used loved them both.

Mijods, it is an old Barefoot!!! Ten years old infact but still in fab condition, but this new one seemed to hate it. In fact I got off after 15 mins of hacking, stashed it in a hedge and led him back, he hated it that much. Now, whether he was being an ass tonight, but that is not like him so far, or whether he hated it that much, I favour the latter, but he kept bearing down then trotting off in a super fast driving trot. I could stop him, but he looked unhappy in is eye as well. I got off.
I think the trouble was, when I bought the Barefoot the woman talked me into getting the size 2 as I was carrying more weight back when I bought it. I have lost 5 stone and I am 9 stone now, so a size 1 would be fine. My old boy could take the size 2 (just) and at the time I told the woman I was going to lose weight as I had just had my Daughter and I had piled it on. But she insisted on me getting the size 2. Well, on this new Cob it was massive, it was sat well up his wither and right covering his loins and I did think "why am I doing this",lol. but I'd got that far, you know how it is, I thought I 'll give it a little go, but it did not look right.
Anyway, he did not like it, I sat COMPLETELY differently on it than I did with it on my old boy, so I was back to looking at Limpet pads tonight,lol. You have given me some great info there Myjods. I think it will be a bit of a painful drawn out process this, I have a feeling, but I have to be patient and I don't want to put the boy off as he is very genuine.
I have the back Lady coming out next Wednesday to give him the once over and I have gone for a better Anatomical girth and gel pad so will give those a go. I will carry on with the ground work as he is really starting to already change shape. It's just you get a new horse and you are raring to go, but patience is a virtue, I just wish I was more virtuous!!
I will PM you, if you don't mind.

Hi Ester, I am in touch with the fitter and she did re-flock the Thorowgood and it does fit well when it sits behind his huge shoulder, and STAYS there, his shoulder and front, and neck are huge it does not leave a lot of back left! I just hope as his wither and back muscle up it will have a bit more to sit onto. He is a bloody odd shape, but a he carries it well if that makes sense!! Good idea about the template, thanks for that.
 
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