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Saddle for compact mare

Hi everyone, first of all, I’m sorry for starting yet another saddle thread! My new mare has us stumped, and I didn’t find anything on this particular topic in the archives.

Mare is VERY compact and I think mostly because of how short her back is, she has hated all the saddles we currently have in our barn and have tried on her (as demonstrated through bucking and general spazzing at canter). Mare is fine on lunge unless saddle is on, at which point angry behavior comes back.

Any recommendations of models to try from folks who have horses with this kind of build? She is a 16.1 Dutch mare. We will be doing the adult jumpers so need a h/j saddle. She looks quite sound but I have a vet coming right after thanksgiving (vet is also a chiro) so we will rule any other potential issues out soon. This particular vet has some knowledge about saddle fit as well, so I’m hoping she will be giving me some guidance on this, but would love ideas from others too. Thanks so much in advance for any ideas!

(Would also take up-to-date suggestions of brilliant saddle fitters in the northeast!)

I can’t help you with suggesting saddle fitters of the north, but, I can feel your pain as myself and my current mare’s previous owner went through the wringer with saddle fit this summer.

She’s a 14.1 hand pony with a short back and a wide shoulder (average to low wither).

She goes in an M Toulouse Annice with the genesis tree system. I have it set much wider than she requires to allow room for shoulder movement, and have a riser front pad that lifts the saddle off her withers.

It’s a 17" saddle and I need more near an 18" for my butt, but because of her short back, unless I go full custom or spend tons of money on a specialty saddle (not an option for “project pony”) 17" is the largest that seems to do okay on her back.

Of course I don’t know what seat size you’re using on her, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it might be her shoulders or her wither getting the bad end of the deal. I didn’t realize how terribly restricted her shoulders could be, especially by a forward flap jumping saddle. When I adjusted it wider to accommodate, I had a bucky-pissy-mean-“im gonna stop moving altogether” mare. When it was wide it put pressure on her withers which in turn gave her the “OUCH THAT HURTS AND I MUST STOP MOVING” response.

So the saddle issues finally resolved by adding a lift pad, but I was still having some “training” issues. Her previous owner had a bodywork/chiro out and her SI among other things were very “out” of place. A nice easy adjustment and she’s 1000% better and progressing nicely.

You’re doing the correct thing in having the vet/chiro out… body work makes a world of difference, and next on the list will be to get an educated opinion on how the saddle fits. Don’t forget to look at the shoulders!!

Have you tried to ride her bareback? If the bad behavior is still present bareback then I would suspect pain more than saddle fit.

Thank you both for the ideas!! One of my friends has an M Toulouse and I’ll borrow for a test ride if its the same model / tree. I haven’t tried bareback yet since if she throws the same antics, I will likely go flying :slight_smile: Hopefully the chiro will have some insight.

I’m usually the first to suggest County, and will say that I ride my medium pony in my 17" County Sensation with no issue at all (from a length of back perspective), but it depends on more than just size or back length. Is her back flat or is it “scoopy?” I had a 15.1h short-backed Dutch mare who was fairly particular about her saddle. We ended up with Devoucoux Biarritz that fit her banana-shaped back beautifully. Ended up with another little tiny Dutch mare with the same type of back who I handed over to my helper rider at the time, and she rode her in a Devoucoux Socoa (IIRC) and could swap in my Biarritz without issue. The only other equine I’ve ever had that saddle fit is my small pony (who’s fat and round to boot, much like both mares).

Perhaps if you posted pictures of her back here you might get some suggestions from folks with some good saddle experience?

i can’t suggest a saddle as I have no idea of her conformation aside from the short back. Conformation shots, one directly from the side of the entire horse and one looking down on the back from behind the tail might help. If the saddles you have tried are too straight, too narrow, too angular and so on, your horse might object aside from it being too long. The saddle has to fit both longitudinally, laterally and spread the pressure out over the entire panel and if the pressure when mounted is concentrated in a particular spot or inhibiting movement because of restriction, then she may be telling you something with her bucking.

Dr. Katz!!!

I have a short-backed horse which was very difficult to fit until I found a saddle with a tree that flared in front to allow free movement of the shoulders. It’s an 'arabian tree.