A little help with saddle size?

Hi all! this topic is so foreign to me. Coming over here from the dressage and jumping world. I would really like to get a Bob Marshall sport saddle for some longer trail rides I have planned, and am wondering about seat sizes, skirts, etc. I think I have my seat size figured out, but am wondering about the skirt of a saddle. My guy is short backed, so I have been looking at saddles with a round skirt, but it looks like the overall length varies. How far back is too far? Do the same rules apply as a dressage saddle for example? And lets say a saddle is advertised as a 28" skirt, how do I actually lay that measurement out on my horse? I’ll be looking for a used saddle, so I’d like to know what to look for and ask about. Thanks!

Edited with another question: what is the difference between a regular Bob Marshall and Bob Marshall by Circle Y?

Just to put it out there, I have ridden up to 25 miles in my dressage saddle, and everyone has been comfy. Others will have had different experiences, of course.

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Have you ridden a BMSS before? If not, I suggest you try one before buying as they have a very unique feel. It will be very different from your dressage saddle.

I am not sure what makes a Circle Y one different (or if there is a difference). When trying to figure out skirt lengths, remember you will need a special pad for under any treeless saddle to create spine clearance, so that will add additional length.

Personally, I loathe the BMSS partly because treeless bothers my hips after a while and partly because of how the stirrup of that specific attaches. I have a dressage-type saddle that is my favorite for distance riding, so maybe you want to try using the dressage saddle you already have and see how it does on trail.

I have not ridden in a BMSS, but then again I haven’t spent much time in any western saddle. I have several people telling me that if I want to spend hours in the saddle, I should get a western style. I also have looked up the Barefoot saddles and they look interesting as well.

If you’ve got a dressage saddle you like, try a 3 hour trail ride in it and see how it feels.

I thought I would want a Western saddle for semi back country trail riding but my dressage has been just fine, including on steep terrain. I have gone up to 5 hours in it. I don’t think I’d be any more comfortable in a Western saddle.

In my experience two big things are letting your leg drape and hang, if it’s tense your knees will end up hurting. And getting off the horse to stretch at least every 2 hours.

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Have they also told you that the main function of a Western saddle is to inadvertently have the saddle horn rip your bra off your body when you lean forward and slide down to dismount? :grinning:


:joy::joy::joy:. I believe it. The last time I tried one, I couldn’t figure out how to get out of it

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While a BMSS looks more western than english… it really is a saddle unlike anything else I have ever sat in. The stirrups attach very low, which changes your balance point. As someone who started riding english, that lack of ability to pivot from the hip vs from the knee is a big deal for me. I ride a couple horses for friends who ride exclusively in BMSS, and I always remind them I need a good 5 minutes or so to remember how to ride in one without tipping all over.

If you have a dressage saddle that fits your horse and you are comfortable in, you may be better off investing in some nice wide base trail stirrups and maybe a sheepskin or other type of saddle cover if you are worried about trail debris damaging your show saddle to start with. I have ridden hundreds of hours and thousands of miles in dressage-type saddles.

If given a choice between a BMSS and any Barefoot, I would take the Barefoot without question. But there are LOTS of saddle types so your best bet is to find some you can park your butt in and see what feels comfortable to you.

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I would echo that dressage saddles can be pretty comfortable for trail riding, especially if it’s what your horse is used to and you add a sheepskin or seat pad. For cargo, Trail Max makes a nice set of saddle bags that attach to an English pommel.

I switched to a treeless saddle for trail riding many years ago. I prefer the close contact of a treeless on my wide-backed Andalusian. I also like the comfy seat and extra rigging on my endurance style treeless, with the ability to hang trail gear off the front and back of the saddle. I currently ride in a Freeform Scout. It is a model that has a narrower twist for smaller people, and an aluminum stiffener in the pommel which can be re-shaped to the horse it’s being used on.

No matter what saddle you’re considering, you’d typically look for a skirt that clears the shoulder and ends at or before the end of the ribcage (pad adds a couple of inches to length), where the seat centers your weight between the 9th and 13th thoracic vertebrae. Though my current horses have fairly long backs my seat size is short, so I opted for a shorter skirt in the event that I want to use the saddle on a short-backed horse in the future. For treeless, depending on your horse’s conformation, you may also need a custom pad to clear the withers and provide an adequate gullet. This is especially important if you plan to do longer rides. Some people also add cushioned panels to the saddle’s underside to provide more clearance.

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