My kingdom for a saddle!

Looking for recommendations!
To start off: I have an independent fitter coming next month. She is also a rep for a popular brand and will have demos, but I am doubtful that the demo configurations will be suitable for a pony with a fairly short back. I am also not in a position to order a custom build from this brand. I have a limited budget, would prefer to stay around $1k but could probably stretch it to $1500 for the right one. Fitter is only in my area once every couple months, so I’d like to have several used possibilities to try out while she’s here this time, if I can. I’ve been riding in a bareback pad for too long!

I have one saddle right now that is a possibility to be a decent fit with some tweaks, but I’m still shopping because it’s not really ideal for me (seat is a half inch small). Pony is A-shaped at the shoulder and then his back is ROUND after the withers, curvy front to back with a decent wither and is sometimes downhill. I need to do updated tracings, but IIRC his weight bearing area isn’t more than ~17" or so in length. Here’s a recent picture that gives an idea of the profile I’m trying to fit:

And a back photo from tracings I did in early Feb:

I have a few suggested brands/models to look for from another fitter, but am coming up empty finding them used - would anyone care to suggest any budget brands/models that have worked for them on horses with this general shape? Please help me :joy:

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I’ve had luck with Niedersuss for this shape. Wide. Originally made for Lippi type horses so does nicely with the stockier kind and shortish. Plenty available in your budget too.

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Disclaimer: I am not one who can look at photos and say “oh that looks like my horse’s back”…unless it is bay with an overgrown mane and actually my horse.

As far as length and budget: I had good luck with Fairfax and Kent & Masters (and presumably Thorowgood, as they are in the same family). My Connemara cross is about 14.3 hands, maybe a smidge downhill, and doesn’t have a lot of room to work with. My Fairfax is a 17.5" seat. While I have not measured the panels, my favorite pony dressage pad is 19.5" along the spine, which leaves enough pad at the edges to have a tidy appearance (does that make sense?).

My saddle is the “cob” version, which has shorter tree points and I believe flatter panels. While he definitely has withers, he is described as a “propane tank” shape by my seriously underpaid saddle fitter.

Fairfax no longer does the cob dressage, and I think Kent & Masters has changed the name to “flat backed”. I bet a used version of either would fall into your budget.

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Check this out; https://www.webshop.viva-iberica.com/dressage-saddles-35-c.asp

Saw some used on Ebay.

Black Country Eden might be one to try. BC usually does a good job with wider backs, and the Eden is a more curvy tree. Stubbens also tend to have curvy trees, so that might be another brand to look into.

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I’m going to second the recommendation for the Niedersuss. I got a 1994 model KN Symphonie a few months ago for my tb, who has tall narrow withers, giant shoulders and a curvy short back. There are lots out there, check out Pelham Saddlery, and I also saw some on eBay in the last few weeks (the one I have somehow fits everything at the barn, so helping friends search.) I paid $700 for mine and have seen them even cheaper.

I have an older than dirt Albion (can’t recall the model and it’s not here) that fit my QH shaped like that. It’s just sitting since he retired. If you want details and/or a trial we can work one out - it would be totally within your price range. It would need to be reflocked - needed it when I bought it but he retired due to neck arthritis before I got to it.

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I will say what won’t work: both my guys have flat backs and round side to side. Skip Trilogy, Wintec, the newer Bates, Albion SLK, lots of the Custom models, and the older Schleese.

I might look into Black Country as stated above and Amerigos.

Yes, the BC Eden was one that was suggested to me by another fitter. I’m just having a difficult time actually finding one that is a 17" and a medium tree - and even still I’m concerned with the length of that on his back.

I will consider Niedersuss, as mentioned…they always looked pretty flat to me but I haven’t seen one up close in years.

@UrbanHennery I will PM you about the Albion!

@blue_heron good info. I know wintec/bates are far too flat for him front to back for sure.

There is a second hand BC saddles group on FB that you might try if you haven’t already.

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I found a fabulous used BC GP Eventer on that Facebook page. Wired funds in pound sterling and had it shipped. All for a total of $1600. 4 yo saddle. Best buy ever!

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I think you can find used Steubbens within that price range. In my very very limited experience, the right Steubben VSD Seigfried appears to be able to fit almost anything.

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My mare is very very similarly shaped. The panel design of the eden did not work for her back and the Kent and master was significantly longer than her 17” of weight bearing. Sample size of one of course.

In the summer we will embark on our own saddle journey. Kentaur, prestige lucky (doesn’t work for me as a rider), and Passier young star were the three top options recommended for my mates configuration.

Full disclosure, I have had this pony for two and a half years and have tried at least a dozen saddles on him with almost nothing but failure. :joy: So I wish you luck. If I were rich, I could have just ordered something custom - BUT, he’s just turned six now and I think finally achieved his adult body, so what fit then wouldn’t fit now anyway. He has some lordosis, but I have been kicking his butt this year and he’s a lot stronger. He still gets a little droopy backed when he’s tired. This was him as a long 3yo:

I have also had people suggest the Prestige Lucky, and I just saw a Passier Young Champ today on ebay - my problem is that my backside is most comfortable in a 17", and all the youth saddles max out at 16" (I know prestige runs large though). Right now I have a Custom Royal Star (old model) which is closer to fitting him than anything else I’ve tried - but it’s a 16.5, and digs into the inner-back of my thigh slightly. I can ride in it fine, and I’ll happily tolerate it if it can work for him. I have too many other adult things to pay for to divert $4-6k into a custom ordered saddle. :joy:

@Heinz_57 - if you decide you want to look for an old KN, let me know. I think a friend of mine has at least one in her tack room.

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You have brought this horse a lonnnnng way from that photo! Wow!!

I’m almost convinced that any adult who is riding in a Prestige Lucky must be in an older mode or one that is well broken in. I took a new one on trial and my fitter was howling at me trying to fit into it. I’m 5’1/100 lbs and it fit smaller than a lot of the kids saddles i hop on. I could barely post without getting stuck.

I would love to try an older model as the bones of the saddle tend to work well for horses like ours.

Mine is currently in a Harry Dabbs Stockholm. It is ugly as sin but works for her. It took us around 12 saddles and a few fitters to find Cinderella’s secondhand slipper.

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Thanks, he’s been a very entertaining project. :joy: I have always been the one with all the ugly ducklings. I bought him on a whim at an auction for $350, with the idea of making him an all-around type kid mount with a good dressage base. Over the next two years, he grew up 2-3 inches and put on 400lb, went from a 64 blanket size to a 74-76. He now thinks he is hot stuff :grin: and even though I’m 5’7" I don’t look ridiculous on him. He can even be fancy (for a quarter pony) when I can get him to make an effort:

There is a used Prestige Lucky on Farm House tack’s website right now, for $1350. It looks fairly new though, or at least very well cared for.

At any rate, I bought two more saddles yesterday so I hope to not see anything else I want to try for a while!

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Interesting! I have one of the new model prestige luckys and as a 5’4” adult that wears (currently) a size 6 I’m very comfy in it. I haven’t tried out the previous model and I bought mine new from VTO saddlery.

Lemme just throw this out there – I have two Neidersusses, the Olympik and the Symphonie. The Symphonie appears to fit more on the flat side, and the Olympik has more curve. I bought both saddles used so who knows what has been done to the panels; YMMV.
Other suggestions i’d make for this shape of back: County Warmblood, Stubben Maestoso, the Bliss/Loxley saddles built on their “warmblood” tree, Detente Isis, Dominus, Roosli Pilatus. And I’d be looking MW or Wide.

My pony is very wide after his withers, but his back was measured as a narrowish Medium tree. Because of the small area for a saddle, my fitter suggested an older upswept type of saddle. I ended up with an ancient Passier Baum, bargain at $325. After reflocking, tree-narrowing and billet replacements and repositioning, I had a custom-for-us saddle for under $1500 (including two fitter appointments). The change in him has been pretty amazing.

The newer dressage saddles have built up gussets in the back, which make them a bit longer in length and may not fit your guy. A lot of the older saddles have more of an open seat, which are roomier even in a smaller size. Some also have curvier trees, made to fit the non-Warmbloods from back then. If you don’t mind not having knee rolls and thigh blocks and a slightly less-padded seat, one of these may work for you.

This is almost identical to mine, but I had two long billets instead of three short ones:

I think it will last another 40 years!

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