Currently saddle shopping for a saddle to fit my QH mare with your typical QH build, stocky/wide all over with big shoulders. We have been mostly working with a Custom Saddlery rep, particularly riding in an Icon Alpha. What brands have you found to fit your QH the best?
I have a pretty thick appendix QH. I have been riding her in a wide Black Country ViniciX (hoop tree). However, she has hulked out even more and I am looking into getting her a Lovatt & Ricketts Ellipse in an XW. I ride in an 18" and the fitter only had a 16.5 XW when I visited, so not sure yet on the fit. Waiting to get an 18" demo saddle to see if it will work. If not I’ll probably suck it up and buy an BC Vinici or EloquenceX in an XW tree (the Vinici is about $1300 more than the Ellipse).
However, if your horse is more banana-shaped front to back, you might need something else. My horse is fairly straight-backed.
I think Frank Baines might be another one to look at. I don’t have direct experience, but have read good things here and they seem reasonably price, so I might look into them if the L&R doesn’t work out.
I ride my very round Arabian/WB in a Lovatt & Rickets XW Berkeley. That and a wide Tad Coffin fit her best of any dressage saddle I have tried. I also have/ride her in a Custom Saddlery Icon Coda with pony panels. Among other things, the pony panels lack the gussets at the front and back. She doesn’t complain and the pony panels are key to making it fit, but I still feel that saddle is over her back rather than around it.
It’s hard to find Custom Saddlery saddles made with Pony Panels to try, but I think lots of those saddles sit far above horses’ backs, so I’d want these thinner panels. Ask your fitter.
I agree with Black Country, Frank Baines, and Lovatt and Rickets, and will add Jeffries and Harry Dabbs depending on how straight or curvy your horse’s back is.
I also have round, wide horses - one an Arab/WB cross mare - anyway - both horses go in Frank Baines saddles which were professionally fitted and are working out nicely.
My QH goes in a Prestige 34 cm tree for both dressage and jumping! The dressage is a super nice 2000 saddle that she loves, the jump saddle is an older model of the Hippo Red Fox and it needs a little bit of padding in the front to keep it from tipping forward onto her shoulders. However it’s also a great saddle and well balanced, just old!
Edited to say sorry I forgot this was on dressage forum and you’re literally just asking for dressage saddles
My gelding is in a Mike Corcoran Merit. He used to design for Black Country in the 90s. The Black Country Riley (which Mike designed) fit him well also. I had a Prestige Grand Dressage that also fit him fairly well.
He is a race bred QH with average withers, built slightly downhill with a curvier back. He also has dips behind his shoulder.
Cruise by www.saddlescience.com, perhaps? Saddles that help with wide backs and shoulders, but also: the Port Lewis Impression Pad is for sale OR for weekly rental (see the store). It’s a diagnostic tool that reveals pressure points under saddles with a 20-minute riding test. A great thing to use when you’re saddle shopping, as it will show you problems that your horse might not complain about for quite some time. Good luck with the search!
Find a Loxley dressage saddle with shortened panels, and either the hoop tree or their adjustable bar tree. The adjustable bars are very hoop shaped, more open at the top, especially the wider you go. I have a Very wide, mutton withered, short backed Lipizzan pony mare that we literally tried like 200 saddles on her. The Loxley was made by someone who worked for Black Country and then took that knowledge and tweaked it to make them even better. I love my Loxley LX with adjustable bars, it rides like a professionals saddle and my mare is finally comfortable and goes like a million bucks in it.
I have an 8 YO QH cross. I have been using an N2 Primus for 4 years now since I started her. The saddle was fitted to her back and has been adjusted on a yearly basis according to her changing muscle structure in withers and back. I just use a regular quilted saddle pad and nothing else as my saddle fits very well.
Ryder makes saddles that work well for shouldery horses. They also have trees that can accommodate various back shapes.
Also, I had an upper level Appendix QH that I used an adjustable tree Hastilow Elevation saddle on. Lovely saddle to ride in and allowed for freedom in his big shoulders