Saddle hunting AGAIN…short coupled, flatter back dilemma

Well, hello everybody! After an eight year sabbatical, I happily stumbled upon CotH again during a desperate search for a dressage saddle. Things sure look different around here. I love what y’all done with the place. Ha!
(Am I posting this enquiry in the right spot, though? :woman_shrugging:)

To business: I am in the market for an 18 inch Dressage saddle for a flatter backed 17h Holst x Hano mare with wide shoulders and no real estate to speak of on her back. This has become an issue. I have spent fortunes trying /buying multiple brands:
Luc Childeric DAC 2
Schleese Wave ll
Custom Stephen Peters
Custom Everest (I think)
…and have an old Hennig in the wings left over from another horse but currently ride her in beaten up, abused and desperately uncomfortable, dinner plate flat and equally hard Wintec. Of course, this is the one she loves the most in its Ultra Uber Wide setting because her shape changes so dramatically with every blade of grass past her lips. She is in training and has become fitter than ever and started to demonstrate discomfort so it’s time to do something about that saddle. I would really like to have something a little bit more comfortable for me than the Wintec that also helps me ride/sit better. (She is a very sensitive girl.) Adjustable. Wool flocked. Absolutely must be for a short coupled horse with bigger shoulders. She has a ridiculous girth groove as well and tends to spit saddle pads out the back or has the saddle eventually hoisting up onto her shoulders. A saddle with girth attachment options is a definite bonus.

I would really appreciate input from riders who have had similar experiences/horses weigh in with their suggestions. Saddle hunting is such a hard and expensive exercise as it is, so hearsay is not conducive to getting where I need to be efficiently, even though I am thankful for it :hugs:

Have you tried Loxley? I have arabians, both flat short backs and curvy short backs and the Loxley saddles are a good midrange saddle with lots of custom options. A friend of mine had one designed with short panels to accommodate a short back and 18 inch seat. They tend to be around 3k for a custom saddle, extra for bling.

I lost so much money shipping unsuitable saddles back and forth, or having to sell them at a loss. I ended up with the Cavalleti line since my gelding wasn’t super complicated to fit.


I see that you have tried 2 Custom Saddles. If you haven’t worked with a sales rep already it might make sense to get a Custom rep out - I have had a couple of these saddles. One for a hard-to-fit mare with a girth groove that was tucked up under her elbows with a wide barrel resulting in numerous saddles climbing up her neck. That worked pretty well, but better when coupled with non-slip saddle pads and an anatomical girth!
The second was for short backed, no wither Lusitano stallion. They had one model (and maybe others) - the Wolfgang Constanz - that was by design a shorter panel than most, and also you should be able to order pony length panels. All their saddles are adjustable and I have found them comfortable. My only complaint is that the two I had did not have the best quality leather.

Not sure if this will be helpful info, but my horse is 16.3 and has a relatively normal/flatter short-back. I went from a Custom Icon Flight (which was OK on him and he never complained about it, but my fitter thought he might do better in a flatter tree) to a Custom Wolfgang Gemini. I test rode in one, felt that he was freer through his shoulder and that the tree-shape fit him well, and decided to order one. The base model price isn’t terrible, but I got one that’s two-toned and has upgraded leather options, so it was more than I really wanted to spend. However, it’s a beautiful saddle and I’m happy with it. My fitter lives two states away, so we’re going through some flocking issues right now (the new flocking can sometimes really compress quickly), but once we get it balanced out again, it should be just fine.

I have a mare that is not quite extreme as you describe but definitely along those same lines:

  • Big shoulders
  • short backed
  • flattish backed
  • very round
  • CONSTANTLY changing

I have an Albion Ultima and we both really like it. I’ve had to change the headplate between W and MW based on her fitness levels / growth. Cost $500 first time when I neededto buy the new headplate but now that I have both I think it’s like $100-150 for a change and it’s pretty quick if you have an Albion rep near you.

I have a Bliss of London Para amour - great saddle - hoop tree XW. My last mare was a tank and fit her great and I love the saddle… sadly it does not fit new horse at all. Ugh. So I am getting ready to enter Saddle Shopping Hell too…

1 Like

With a short-coupled but wide Clyde-X, that has shoulders the size of Nebraska, the ONLY ONE that fit was a County Perfection. I worked with a County fitter and she would comeout to make adjustments as needed. Only sold it because my mare is retired. However, it was bought by a gal with a short-coupled Lippanizer cross that nothing fit either…

I haven’t tried Loxleys but interested from what I’ve read about them. Like you, I have lost so much coin in this mission I’m sick to my back teeth. Worse, we don’t live in a well populated equestrian + services area so everything is a protracted and expensive chore at best. Sigh. It’s all very hard.


Sounds so much like my girl, then add the forward groove. I read up on Albion. Their SLK (I think?) range sounded intriguing and I do like that it can change since she does, significantly. I’m jumpy as a virgin at a prison rodeo, though, for reasons stated here, earlier. The amount of money spent already is horrendous. We also don’t have even a remote Albion rep/fitter available that I know about.

Did you buy the Customs as (gently) used or did you order new? Reason I’m asking is that in response to your post I went to re-read - for the millionth time - the information on their saddle models. I didn’t see anything there that specifically mentions the Constanze being good for short backs. Maybe someone ordered short panels - hence my question on new / used.

You don’t mention the first saddle model, though. Care to share?

I had a horse like this - short, relatively flat back with a good upward curve to the loin. Prestige was what I ride in for a long time. Mine was a Top Dressage model, but other models also fit him well. They aren’t currrrvy but aren’t board-flat either, and have upswept rear panels.

Black Country Quantum also fit very well - it was a CC saddle, but the Dressage model(s) are probably similar.


I found a used Black Country Adelinda for my 15.2 wide and short-backed haflinger who also has a bit of withers.

I have a short-backed, big-shouldered KWPN mare. I’ve ridden her in my Steffen’s Advantage for the past year but now have an Aviar Rook on order. The Aviar trial saddle totally frees up her shoulders–she’s very happy in it!

So, I have a very short coupled, big shouldered, uphill horse with a pretty flat back. He goes on Hastilows, jump and dressage (we do both, but are moving up to 4th, so not total dressage newbies). It has an adjustable tree so if the shape works and she adds bulk it can be easily widened. They are very nice saddles for the price point.

1 Like

Bates. If you dont mind a wide twist try the regular Bates dressage (I suggest the + model as it has nicer leather). If you don’t like having your hips pulled out of their sockets when you put your leg on, try the Bates Mono+ or the new Bates Artiste. i have heard both have much narrower twists. They are comfortable, well padded, nicely balanced, have a shim system so you can adjust yourself while you wait for the saddle fitter to come out.

With that said, the ONLY reason I am considering a Bates is because both of my horses have very short saddle areas. They may be designed in Australia, but they are produced in Vietnam, and they just do not have a history that involves extensive knowledge and background in equestrian sport and or leather working. That is just my personal bias. But horsey dictates what I buy so… My trainer has an Antares that seems to fit everything she puts it on, but it does have a wider twist (and much pricier than the Bates).

1 Like

Ok…this is what i’m looking for! i’ll online search Wintecs. I do searches on every saddle everyone ever mentions. And though they are all verrrry attractive and appealing… Everything i see says “deep seat” or medium deep seat. Or if it’s used it has a really high cantle and/or pommel. And i want flat.

I was going to say I have a horse that sounds like similar dimensions (wide shoulders, flat backed, very round) that has been going well the last three years in a BC Vinici Solare, which is the XC version. You can get the same tree in just about any of their dressage models. They’re very flexible.

BCs do tend to fit the high withered, large shouldered, round-backed horses well… I have three horses in BC saddles that are all that type of shape. I originally had just the one BC, an early 2000s model - but I liked it so much I just ordered a custom copy of it this spring. :+1:

I also had a Kieffer Wein fit that body shape well.


Try looking at a Stubben Excalibur. Very open seat, monoflap with very little under your knee.

1 Like

thanks! will do :slight_smile:

The Passier Grand Gilbert might also work for you. I also prefer open seats and was very happy in the GG on a handful of different horses.