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Arab saddle fitting

From: Emmy Lou

Hi Jessica, I have an low-backed wide Arab and am having trouble finding a saddle to fit. Right now he wears a Collegiate Jessica dressage saddle which he has made tight in the withers by being overweight. Since he is on pasture, I cannot put him on a diet but winter is coming. Also the saddle is a wide tree. I would like to get a western style saddle for work with cows, sheep and trail riding. Since his back is short, the regular saddles bother his loins by digging into him and then he bucks. Is there such a thing as a short wide tree for western Arabs. I have an Arab saddle but it is too narrow for him. A diet would solve my problem but he is not close to my home. A custom saddle boggles my mind, but I would save for it if that is the only answer.

Thanks so much for taking time to share your wisdom with all of us who live at the end of the road.

Emmy Lou

Hi Emmy Lou! I know what you're going through, and it can be very hard to find a Western saddle suitable for an Arabian. It's not impossible, though, so don't despair! Most show saddles these days are unsuitable -- the skirts have gotten so long (the better to show off the tooling) that the saddles are literally too long for the back of a typical Arabian. I would not even THINK about getting a show saddle -- instead, I would look for an endurance-type saddle.

You should be able to work cows and sheep (herding, not roping!) in an endurance saddle, and you certainly couldn't find anything better for trail rides. And since a very high percentage of successful distance-riding horses (endurance or competitive) ARE Arabians or part-Arabians, you'll be looking at saddles that have already been proven to fit those short-backed, round-bodied, no-withered types. And you want something that will fit him NOW, at least well enough to allow you to ride him for exercise, and also fit him LATER when the exercise has taken away the extra fat and replaced it with lean muscle.

There are many sources for good endurance-type saddles. The Fallis company makes high-quality saddles that are based on the old Monte Foreman Balanced Ride design; the Marciante company also makes excellent endurance saddles. Sharon Saare saddles are very good, and some riders swear by their Ortho-Flex models.

Some riders with limited finances like the lightweight and relatively inexpensive synthetic saddles, such as the Cordura Western models.

I think that you should be able to find something that will fit your horse and keep both of you comfortable, whatever you are doing. You'll have to look around, but this should give you some ideas.

Good luck!


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