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Saddle fit

I’ve been on quite the saddle journey with my mare shaped like a table. I’m looking for opinions on placement and fit of this saddle. I’ve never gotten an eye for it myself. I was really hopeful it was going to be perfect until I untacked and had dry spots (pics also included) again. I currently use a 1" Won Pad and am open to pad recommendations as well.

My two cents worth. One - you could try a thinner pad and see if it helps the dry marks.

But I feel that the saddle is set too far forward, and if you move it back a couple of inches, it’s going to be too long for your horse.

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You’ve taken great fitting shots.

Your saddle is too far forward. The concho is screwed into the bar, and the bar needs to be behind the scapula. It appears the saddle sitting in this position is sitting ON your horse’s scapula.

Once you move it back to the right position, you can take similar photos to see if it is too wide or too narrow.

I wouldn’t worry about too long, unless the rock on the saddle is such that the rear skirts dig into the loin. Western saddles have longer skirts in the back to tie bedrolls and jackets and stuff on. As long as the skirt doesn’t dig in, you are fine. Now, if the bar was digging in, then yes, it would be too long. And sometimes the longer rear skirts just don’t look right on a shorter backed horse.

I had a saddle made and intentionally asked for shorter rear skirts and rounded skirts, just so I didn’t have so much weight.

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Personally. I don’t think it fits. At all.
It is “perched” on her back. Bar angle and/ or gullet too narrow.
No pad can fix that. That’ll make her sore in a hurry.

She looks like a big beefy mare and you’ll need a much wider bar angle.
What brand is that saddle?
What type of tree is supposed to be in it? ( full QH or semi QH)
What type of riding discipline do you do, and are looking for? (Trail, roping, all around, etc)

I’ve done a quick photo edit in Paint. The red circle represents where it is not touching your mare at all, and it should be. There should be even contact all along the bar of the tree. This is where it is “perched” because the tree angle is too small. (represented by the red line)
I exaggerated the green line to show what bar angle she needs. It needs to be wider.


Looks like a Don Rich built on a Buster Welch tree. Not going to fit a horse with back like that even if you slide it back where it should be.

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To your red circle specifically - don’t you want some clearance around the wither? Assuming the bar angles were correct, I thought some taper in the top of the gullet was desired to keep the weight bearing portion of the bars below the trapezius.

With the saddle making contact in that red circle area ( where it currently isn’t making contact) you will still have 2- 3 fingers clearance , which is all you need.

That dry area is huge and a 1" pad is pretty darn thick.

It is a Don Rich. I was told it’s a cowhorse tree, not sure if it’s the same as the Buster Welch.

As additional detail, I just got the saddle last week and it replaced my Continental, which REALLY didn’t fit her. I usually do reining but am taking some time off to do ranch while her hocks finish fusing. I ordered a thinner pad but it hasn’t come in yet. I also received some advice to get a shim pad and take the shims out of the front so I may try that as well. I also am taking her to a horse show at the end of the month where I can have my usual body lady look at the saddle in person and Cross J will also be there to help me with fit or sell me a different Don Rich saddle.
I will say I LOVE LOVE LOVE how it rides and she feels way better in it than my old saddle so I do feel like I am heading in the right direction.
Thanks to everyone who provided input!

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The cow horse saddles from Don Rich, I’m thinking, are either made on a Buster Welch or a Don Leson. I’m not sure if they use any others in their cow horse saddles like a Beau Galyean or Olin Young as Jeff Smith does. The Leson tree has flatter bars than the BW. The Galyean even flatter. I honestly haven’t ridden in an OY that I know of to really suggest.

I’d like to see the saddle moved back to where it should be but I’m guessing it’s on a BW based on your front view pics comparing to my Don Lesons’ from a different maker.

Saddle fitting is getting tougher on these more modern bred horses. My BW saddles fit a lot of my older horses with a big wither. Now they sit and I’m having to go to flatter bars on my younger, modern bred horses.

Hope you find one that fits!

Another update, for anyone following, I tried a thinner won pad with okay results. Smaller dry spots but still dry spots. Then, after the recommendation of someone I ran into at a horse show, I tried a shim pad with the front shims taken out and (drumroll please) no dry spots!

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Yes, you do want with clearance but just trying to show how this saddle is “perched” on the horse’s back, because it’s too narrow it can’t even sit down where it should be. There’s a big space where the saddle is not touching but it should be starting to have a point of contact to distribute the tree weight. Here, part of the tree is just in the air.

It would be like you tried to wear a cowboy hat that is too small. It would “perch” on your head and you wouldn’t be able to push it down on your head where it should be.


I was wondering what tree you’ve had success with your younger horses.

I’ve had moderate success with a Don Leson tree which like I said before you’ll find in a lot of cow horse saddles other than a Buster Welch.
It’d still want to roll on a really mutton withered horse but I could make it work. Much better than the BW. Your horse looks to have a little bit more wither than mine do but still that flat wide back. You might try a Don Leson if you can just because they are easier to come across, in my opinion.

The Beau Galyean tree in my Jeff Smith is the ticket so far on the filly I sold last year and the one I have now. I luckily found one used with a big gullet and it seems to work with a thin pad.