Short back horse, DP, Pegasus, Tad Coffin?

I have been doing a lot of research. I recently purchased a horse with a great brain but rode a few days in a saddle that didn’t fit as well as I thought. After that she was sore and wouldn’t stop bucking on the lunge line. Something she had never done. She is short, curvy (sightly swayed from being out of work) and wide. 15H, and 18 inches from scapula to last rib. I live in a remote area and not a lot of saddle trial options. I have a Custom Saddlery, a Trilogy, a Wintec, and none of these fit. They are all too long and I think most of these push down past her last rib and possibly on her kidney. She was a saint the first day in the saddle but after that tender and bucking. I had a Friesian breeder recommend a DP but the trial is short and our weather is awful and it takes 4 months to get the one you want. Pegasus looks like a great fit and the Tad Coffin Smart Ride RX looks fascinating. Any help would be appreciated. I do not think a Custom or many of the traditional will fit her due to panel length and want a pretty standard dressage saddle. I love Custom I just don’t think it will fit her. I saw a lot of posts on short back but nobody actually put measurements.

My boy has a short back.

I was riding him in my beautiful I absolutely love old style county that fit his back but after a while he was not happy. As he developed the muscle on his shoulders the flaps were too long and pressing on it.

His pick is Mum’s old Syd Hill dressage saddle. It has short flaps. It doesn’t look like it fits me, but I am comfortable in it. It is the saddle he had picked. Sigh.

I have a VERY short backed welsh cob. I’ve been working with a saddle fitter remotely. I personally am very attached to my albion SLK and my albion style (very old model). Unfortunately due to the gussets on the SLK, though a 16.5 seat, it’s still too long for my guy. The 16.5 Style isn’t as bad but is longer than I think (and the saddle fitter) is best. I was told to look at Prestige, Roosli, Equipe, Sommer, Amerigo, DK and a few lesser known brands because they tend not to be as long. Of course you could always go custom and have shorter panels put on almost any of the UK made saddles; but for me the cost to do so makes that impossible. I picked up an ancient Roosli (16.5 seat) to get me through until I can figure something out (save up the money for something not as old that fits) and it is a much better fit length wise.

I was riding a very sway back/croup high horse with a very short place for a saddle right behind his withers. A few inches to the rear his back swooped up to his croup, sort of sagging.

My Pegasus Butterfly Claudia jumping saddle worked well for him, BUT I had to use a six-pocket shimmable pad and use two bridging shims on each side (Contender II BOT/ThinLine saddle pad.) The shimmable saddle pad that came with my Pegasus saddle did not work at all (8 pocket.)

The increased shoulder freedom this saddle gives the horse means that my seat bones move across the saddle more than with regular treed saddles. Full seat silicon breeches give me the ability to keep my seat where I want it in the saddle, with the other breeches/tights my riding teacher was always after me for being off to one side as my seat bones slid around in the saddle. Interestingly the horse really did not seem to mind that much when the saddle was off center, he was a defiant and obstinate horse who usually took advantage of my mistakes, with this saddle he sort of ignored that I was leaning more and more to one side when he had a golden opportunity to get rid of me. (I have MS and very bad side-to-side balance.)

I can also get my seat–pubic bone and seat bones, WAY more forward in this saddle, since there is no pommel to run into. Having my seat bones an inch or an inch and a half further forward made all the difference to this horse’s back until it got stronger.

I stopped looking for saddles when I got this saddle. Once I figured out how to ride in it and how to shim the pad properly for different type backs I have been able to fit it to every lesson horse I ride. If their back hurts I can get my weight off the weak part of their back and I can sit on the strongest part of their back, right behind the withers.

I have not tried the other saddles. I need to win the lottery to afford a Tad Coffin saddle, though I would dearly like to try one of his Smart Ride Rx trees on the lesson horses I ride.

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I havent tried the ones you mentioned but did try about everything else…WOW, Schleese Obrigado, Link, Mivera, HK, Albion various models, Dresch, Wintec, Stubben, Custom Coronado, Wolfgang,…treeless Moffett Vogue, Solutions saddle(kept this one as backup) and finally got lucky with a Custom Saddlery Santa Cruz with cut out by shoulders and the fancy memory foam panels with flocking under that.

I have a short and curvy backed Morgan mare with withers and out of all the saddles we tried she picked the Takt TSD-37. Before the Takt we had a Trilogy Amadeo and it was not a good fit in many ways - too long, wrong shaped panels for her, back, etc.

I currently ride my wide and short-coupled mare in a County Warmblood and love it. Look for models that are upswept on the back panels. Good luck!

OP, the Tad Coffin saddle is quite different from the others. It might fit your horse well. But I believe my skeleton didn’t like the tree (I think my skeleton doesn’t like anything but a traditional spring tree). The rest of my body and balance did like the TC. But I grew up riding in Prix des Nations, so I’m down with Very Little Saddle.

All this is to say that a TC has to be tried by man and beast. If there’s a chance you’d buy one, you can call Tad and have him send you one to try. He’s proud of his product and nice about sending folks demos if he’s got one and they are serious about buying.

I had a Tad Coffin dressage saddle. I really liked it as did a couple of horses that I used it on. I had no complaints about it until I got a bigger horse with a big stride, then suddenly I found myself wanting a deeper saddle with more support. The TC dressage saddle I compare to a jumping saddle with dressage flaps. The seat is open and flatter, so if you are happy riding that (and I was for a few years) then maybe it’s worth trying; however, if you find yourself needing a deeper seat and bigger thigh blocks, it may not be the saddle you want.

If you are needing a shorter saddle for a short back horse, there are other options. PDS, Kent and Masters make a short panel as does Passier and I believe Amerigo. You can also look at saddles that have an upswept panel like Stubben, Harry Dabbs are examples.

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If you can find used saddles, I have found you can get Roosli’s for reasonable price. The Pilatus is the old-style non-gusset saddle.

The Roosli I picked up is an ancient Pilatus and it is much better in length for my real estate challenged welsh cob when it comes to his length of saddle space. Unfortunately it’s a little wider than I like through the twist so it will do for now. It’s obvious though likely limited in age that it has left this is a very well made saddle.

Exvet - Roosli’s are Swiss-made and are excellent quality, “old-school” type saddles. There might still be life in the older Pilatus if you rehabilitate it.

I used to use Tanner’s Leather Oil…which was discontinued. I now use Hydrophane. The product that comes in the rectangular can is very similar to the Tanner’s product.


However…it seems to have become very difficult to find. There is another round product package that says it is the same product, but is a much heavier oil.




15.1H short backed mare but she’s flat and wide (not curvy). Used a Prestige D2000 on her but it caused tenderness because of the upswept panels and her being flat backed. Currently have her in al Albion Platinum and it just fits her real estate.
Schleese supposedly is a good option for short backed as you can get the seat built on a half size smaller tree? They are definitely a “love 'em or hate 'em” brand though so may be risky to buy without trying first.

I ride a short backed Polish Arabian. He has not been happy with anything until I bought a Throwgood T4 Cob saddle. He loves it and it fits me as well.


I use the Schleese Link2 on my curvy short-backed horse. I like it and it’s a well-made saddle, it is heavy.

Try a Patrick saddle, they are not that long and they have many different trees available

I have my very short backed horse in a Frank Baines Pirouette with upswept panels. Its a great saddle for both of us…

Thank you so much for the suggestions. I bit the bullet and ponied up the cash for a saddle made for my short-backed welsh cob. I figured since I sold on all my breeding stock and kept this guy he deserved a saddle made for him. We’ll see if it works out. I’m putting a lot of stock in a fitter that was recommended to me by other welsh cob breeders. I do love the Roosli and will do my best to see if I can restore it. It fits my 3 year old Morgan too and will hold on to it in order to at least have for him in his ‘formative years’.

So I have seen many threads on “short backed” horses but I was hoping to get more definition on what everyone is calling short backed? A lot of what I have seen called short backed is not nearly as short as this mare so I was hoping someone had measurements that are similar to mine.

I tell you what. Once I have my new saddle and see if it works or not, I’ll give you my horse’s measurements. The saddle fitter is putting the EXTRA short panels on my new saddle because my horse has so little real estate. I have his measurements so I can give you the exact details. I just don’t want to report on a honeymoon period or something that isn’t exactly accurate/representative of the situation. Let’s just say that the footprint is extremely small.