Saddle fitting, are stallions more difficult?

I have a 4yo Irish Draught colt that I’ve been slowly bringing along under saddle. He’s only getting ridden once a week or so just to maintain his domestication. But next year he’ll be 5, and we should start getting on with more hacking out and probably rides that are longer than the 20 minutes we do now. So I’d like to get something more comfortable for both of us than the close contact saddle we use now.

The trapizus behind his wither where you often see those hollows on TB’s are huge. Like there’s a dip at his spine between them that could hold water. That’s a stallion thing, right? I’ve ridden/groomed/worked around probably a dozen WB stallions and a couple of Iberians and QH’s and while I haven’t noticed this specific characteristic on any of the their backs I wasn’t responsible for fitting their saddles.

He’s also got a laid back shoulder and forward girth groove and a rather short back so we’re going to have LOADS of fun with this.

I’m currently trying one of those Natural Balance saddles with the discs and panels and such and while he seems to appreciate the freedom on his shoulder the back wags when I lunge him in it.
So I put on our jump saddle and lunged him and the back of it wags a bit too. It’s like as his muscles move it’s twisting the saddle. What do you even do with that? How do we fit a static saddle to a moving back? These saddles don’t seem to be too narrow when he’s standing. His back is rather A shaped so I didn’t think a hoop tree would be necessary. Are there “stallion” trees or is my boy just freaky?

In general no the are not more difficult than any other horse. However I would love to see pictures of what you are talking. It sounds like way over development of muscles or has very interesting fat pockets.


:sweat_smile: people are so funny about stallions. No, it’s not a stallion thing but can be an overweight thing. It’s also possible with pulling breeds/those with heavy influence from pulling types, such as the ID, can be a bit more naturally developed in their front ends. Or just chunky.

I’d also be curious to see a photo. I’ve seen what I think you’re describing in overweight horses or sometimes going horses that haven’t fully developed yet/grown in their withers.

There are also some horses that are a bit more propane tank shaped, which are more suited for a hoop tree.


I bred welsh cobs for years. My stallions were no easier or harder to fit than all the others. Short backs, rounded withers, curvy beer-keg like frames with well laid back shoulders is the norm for most within the breed. My most challenging one to fit was my best broodmare - off the bench hoop tree didn’t come close to accommodating those shoulders.


I’d say that’s a lack of muscle and possibly a lack of protein thing. Why not ride him a few days a week and maybe tweak his diet. Regular easy exercise shouldn’t damage him, but prepare him for life. A horse shouldn’t have hollows on their back, regardless of their age or breed unless there’s a medical issue or poor horse keeping.

I have an Irish Draught mare. She definitely has withers but the withers are attached to a propane tank. I bought her when she was 7: she’d been started and ridden, but then she’d be left in a field for a year and a half before I bought her. So she was out of shape.

What worked for me: I already had a hoop-treed dressage saddle that was super wide. I used various combinations of pads to alter the fit as needed while I worked her to get her into better shape. Only then did I look for a saddle that was specific for her, and it too was/is a hoop tree.

Her back definitely changed shape over this period. And I’d expect any younger ID to go through a similar metamorphosis.


I think his wither has not caught up to the rest of him at this stage. This is a garbage video but shows how when he moves his muscle comes up higher than his spine.

I don’t think he’s particularly fat, but he’s certainly not going to starve.

From the sweat mark I don’t think the wither/shoulder area is the problem, but my PIVO decided that following a horse was too hard so I didn’t get the video I was trying for.

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I would like to ride him more, but I don’t want to sore his back doing it. That’s why I’m looking at saddles.

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I got his dam (damn? Maybe it depends on the mare?) as a 6yo and her back definitely changed over time but his “wither muscle” is a new one for me. This and the rib spring pushing saddles forward have me scratching my head a bit. And unlike her he is 0% stoic, so if something doesn’t feel good he wants to buck it off. So that’s fun.

Here’s picture of my mare within a month of my buying her (5 years ago!):

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Maybe my man is fat. He certainly looks porcine compared to her! :rofl:

Same horse, taken this past April (excuse the mud!)


What saddle are you using for her now?

The dressage saddle in the photo is a Balance International Nexus.

That’s interesting, I feel like the stirrup bar is too far forward on so many saddles. Have you had it long? Care to weigh in on leather quality?

I’ve had that saddle for about 15 years. For many of those years it was my primary or only saddle. So it has held up quite well.

The flaps are buffalo. They’ve faded (no longer true black but that brownish color older saddles get). But it’s a comfortable saddle. Wide twist, movable and smallish knee blocks underneath the flap.

What saddle is in the upper photo?

That’s a Reactor Panel saddle im trying. Well, I bought it with the hope it would work with his changing back. But I’m not married to it if it doesn’t fit.

I’ve got a call in to see if I can get a remote fitting done with the maker. His back is going to change so much and I’d love to have something that could change with him. But mostly I want something that fits him comfortably.