Finding a saddle for a mare without withers

Hello everyone! I feel as if I have posted too many topics about finding a saddle for my mare. She is a Welsh X with no withers and short-backed. It’s just a nightmare. Recently, I contacted the Horse Saddle Shop and they gave me some bar templates to print out and use. After trying the three different templates (semi bars, FQHB, and haflinger bars) none of them completely fit her like a glove.

The semi left about ⅓ of space between the template and the pony at the top inch of the template.

The FQHB left about ½ inch of space between the template and the pony at the bottom inch of the template.

The haflinger bars did not fit her at all and left a huge gap towards the bottom.

Many people have been saying to get an extra wide saddle, but clearly that won’t work here. Any suggestions?

maybe look at some Morgan tack, we had one mare who had no pronounced withers and was Round… most of her saddles were custom made, back in those days there were real tack shops where the owners could make stuff. They fitted a tree then sent to a custom saddle maker.

Another source might be Arabian tack, we found some that worked fine

Back in the 1990s we could find some Wintec western light weight saddles that were on wide trees that also worked fine, our mare liked that saddle as it only weighted 17 pounds

I once tried the Horse Saddle Shop, doing the same thing you did with printing out the templates and finding the best fit. Unfortunately, no one bothered to tell the saddle manufacturers that their saddles were supposed to match the templates. I tried a “draft horse” saddle and a Circle Y “extra wide” saddle, neither of which was wide enough for my guy. The saddle that fit him best had a plain old “full QH bar (FQHB)” tree, although a different manufacturer’s FQHB saddle did not fit him.

Funny that Clanter mentions Wintec - the saddle I had that fit my guy the best was a Wintec western with FQHB that I had bought as a colt starter saddle.

Anyway, I’m sorry to say that the best way to find the best fitting western saddle is just to try a bunch of them and, having lived in a tack store desert myself, I know just how difficult/impossible that can be for some folks.

Thank you for this info! Yes, the struggle of finding tack shops is quite real here. There is only one tack shop near me that sells saddles, and they usually only have the most typical saddles, nothing for special sizes. The tack shop is Chick’s Saddlery in Delaware! I’m lucky enough to live close to their warehouse for other tack, but saddles are out of the picture. I had thought of finding a used one, but I really don’t need to be driving my mare around in a trailer for hours, attempting to find the perfect saddle and seller.

Are you set on Western saddles only? For the really round horse ( i have/ had one) I alternate between a wide Abetta endurance( in her slimmer times) and then go to my Duett ( english) when she fills out along with the grass growing ( despite a muzzle).

Duett saddles really fit the wide, no withered horse like a glove. They are well made, affordable , comfy for me and my mare loves it too.

I have to admit, I’ve never really rode in an English saddle before! I’m not quite sure how that would work out…

That’s the question, isn’t it? My new horse has no withers and a short barrel. After trying both of my western saddles on him, I gave up and decided that, for now at least, western saddles are not for us. I’m thinking about buying a soft, squishy AP saddle with lots of knee roll for trail riding and using my close contact saddle for arena work and jumping.

A saddle with a Hoop tree (English) will often work on a mutton withered horse.

How can I tell if she is “wide”? In her case, she only takes FQHB, nothing extreme like a haflinger saddle (I just recently measured her withers). Most saddles I see recommended for mutton withers are always made for haflingers or other wide, stocky ponies…

I think the duett is on a hoop tree. It also clears the spine well on both sides ( or where the spine should be if I could find it!).

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I used a bendable saddle fitting tool( saddle fitting curve) .

I wanted to get a gullet width in cm on my mare before looking for a used english saddle. She was WAY wider than I would have ever imagined at 39-40cm ( at her widest weight). The first saddle did the trick.

Even when she slims a bit the duett does fine. I find english way easier to fit than todays western type saddles. With western they can fit at the gullet but not along the spine. Very frustrating.

I would suggest getting a saddle fitting curve ( as I mentioned above) so you have the gullet width you need for english. I was shocked at how wide my mare actually measured and it saves you guessing over and over again. For us the first try was a success. Trying to guess I would never have chosen one so wide.