I second this. I have had 2 Albion SLK’s, the first one custom with an adjustable tree, and we really struggled once the back started changing, but my horse has a wither that is prominent. They are lovely saddles though. Looked seriously at Black Country for the flatter back and ended up with a Prestige D2 18” seat in a medium tree. The seat balance suited my body more than the Albions, although ironically I really like a much older SLK, it fits his flatter short-coupled back, has a wide channel, and offers lots of shoulder freedom. Fitted the tree for his comfort after his body warmed up and the saddle settled around his withers and on his back.
Ahhh, the Vinici! Very interested in that model at one time too!
When you find one you like, have a look at the tree points - make sure they match the angle of the horse (they are not poking into the horse’s body), and offer saddle support, and that the angle of the tree is parallel to the angle of the shoulder.
Does the horse have a steeply sloped shoulder?
Full disclosure, I am not a saddle fitter. It sure was a relief to have one come out with a bunch of nice saddles! Before that, at least four saddles got shipped back and forth, insured, and yikes, that got expensive.
Bates was the only saddle I could get to fit my flat-backed small but wide horse when we were searching for something for my son to use. They both seem to like it. I hate it, but it’s really too big for me. I’ve been considering starting the search again but it was so hard last time. I usually ride her in my 1985 County Competitor, or just her semi-custom Jeffries jump saddle. The Bates we got was an Innova, in the biggest of their three sizes. The seat is too big for me and the twist is very wide, but it’s got a nice flat set of panels for my flat horse’s back.
@SporthorseFun mentioned tree/shoulder angle. That’s one aspect of that fit, but the other aspect is where does the width of the wide shoulder start? If it starts way up at the withers, then the traditional A frame trees won’t work.
That’s where the likes of Prestige and Black Country come in - they are "/ " shaped, as opposed to “/”. Same angle (all else equal), but the fit is very different. I call them “open A frame” but there may be a more official term for it. It’s not a true hoop tree, but it’s close to hoop than A.
Edit again - this formatting won’t let me use the / and \ like I want, not even if I put it in quotes.
Imagine the / and the \ with 2 spaces between then, and then without any spaces.
I have the Custom Constanze and I love it as do my horses. Fits my 15.1 STB and my 14.3 arab.
When i first started out with my mare her shoulders were quite large, and went all the way up to her withers. She was i think ‘mutton withered’ as they say. I had to ride her in a breast collar to keep her saddle from sliding back to her SI joint. A year plus…now in training, her back has sort of lifted…muscled up. (as has her butt, which used to be sort of a triangle, now it is pretty round). Here is the interesting thing…the cheap plastic saddle i bought her still fits. So i still am not NEEDing to buy her a nice saddle…(but i want to! LOL).
Yes, this really makes sense - where does the width of the shoulder start? JB’s comments solve the mystery of why we couldn’t nail down which tree shape that works for our 17 hand short coupled, basketball player built horse with a prominent wither and uphill conformation. The A shaped tree was too tight and widening the saddle made it rock. The hoop tree seemed like the obvious answer, but the support at the tree points wasn’t there, and the pommel didn’t have top clearance with respect to the withers, or there was a lot of clearance all around, so it was confusing. We tried so many brands, and finally went back to the breeder’s choice of Prestige after initially riding him in a D2000 dressage, and I think it was a Venezia jump saddle, as a young horse. Like magic, at least three models fit him really well. Thank you, JB!
Thought I would pop in and add something. If you are looking to spend a tad bit of money, look into a Dresch. I have a short back, tall withered Dutch gelding, and I couldn’t find a saddle to fit him. I need at least a 17.5 (Big booty issues haha), and he has no back. He also has big shoulders. My fitter did an excellent job at making something for his short back and how I am anatomically. Now, do be warned, it took 8 months to get my saddle due to COVID etc. But I am absolutely in love. Its totally custom to me, and if you have a good fitter they can adjust it to fit other horses in the future!