Spanish Horses/ Saddle Fit/ Hoop Trees

Hello everyone,

This topic came up on another thread and I did not want to take away from the original poster, but wanted to answer some questions. One thing I have learned is that there are no absolutes with horses, so it is always best to work with a knowledgeable fitter in person. These are just some ideas on fitting the Spanish type horses.

I am going to be attaching pictures of my sister’s horse who is the bane of my saddle fitting world. One of the hardest thing with him and a lot of Spanish type horses is getting the saddle stable, but not inhibiting their movement. In general, they tend to be very board in their spinal processes and need a lot of space between the rails and at the head of the tree. Some are flat and some are actually deceivingly curvy.

Looking at him, he is appears to be a great horse for a hoop tree. However with a hoop tree, the saddle is even more unstable than normally. He is very sensitive and hates any extra movement of the saddle or rider. Because hoop trees tend to have shorter tree points, it does not support the front of the saddle enough for him. This can cause extra moment of the saddle.

He is also very mobile in his back and throws the saddle and rider around at every opportunity. The longer tree points in a saddle helps the saddle stay in place better. Having said this, he does do well in a saddle with a more open head (u-shaped) with space between the rails. Just not technically a hoop tree.

I hope this helps and let me know if you have any questions.


Oh Lordy Lord, my Spanish horse and I have been through saddle fitting/shopping hell. He seems to like the Amerigo Cortina, which has good room for his withers. His are more prominent.

The other thing is, that a lot of Spanish horses are overweight, and this doesn’t help the matter, IMO.

Short weight bearing area, tall and long withers, yep, he’s a dream.

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I will say though, it is a little bit of a peeve of mine when people recommend saddles saddles Spanish horse, because I want to say, “Which Spanish horse?” I know quite a few and their shapes and saddle needs/fits vary. I actually don’t know many in a hoop tree.

Yes they tend to be a little fleshy and have metabolic issues. Yes they do tend to not have a lot of space for a saddle. I should mention, this horse is a registered pony with the USEF. He is shorted back and one of his challenges to fit. They really are tricky. At least yours has a wither to hold the saddle in place.

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Yes, re the withers. When he was younger it was lower and he was possibly a little too plump. He grew a withers between 6 and 8 somewhere. I don’t know why I chose the compact model :sweat_smile:

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I completely agree that there are so many variations of their backs. I hate when people say this is a saddle for X bred. I have seen very narrow to XXW, curvy and flat, little wither to the tallest Tbs. There are no magic saddles despite what a lot of people think.


One of mine needs a hoop tree and quite a few of my clients horses need them too. We have a lot of draftx’s around here from the Amish. So I’ve become the ‘try a hoop tree!’ Advocate for my area. I probably annoy a lot of people.

And looking from the side id say this horse is a poor candidate for a hoop tree because he does have a wither. Your sister is lucky haha.

I agree, there are no absolutes with horses and saddles. But my original comment on the other thread was more of an in general, not a hard and fast rule. If I go find 1000 TBs, the majority, or possibly all, will need a regular A frame tree. If I go find 1000 andalusians, a much larger amount of them are going to need a hoop tree. If I got 1000 cobs, I could pretty safely assume 2/3 will need a hoop tree. Up until just a few decades ago these breeds were rare in the USA so hoop trees weren’t really a thing. A lot of saddle fitters don’t even know how to properly fit a hoop tree.

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I would say that 8 out of 10 of my Spanish clients go better in a saddle that is not a hoop tree. I do sell a fair number of hoop trees. I am in the Midwest, so a ton of quarter horses, Arabs, draft crosses along with halflingers, fjord, connmera crosses ect. I do not see a lot of Tbs or horses like that anymore like I did in Virginia.

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This is such a good visual. I had one of “these” horses (WB, not Spanish/Baroque) who, just by looking, many would have said he NEEDED a hoop tree.

This guy, pictured, is very similar in look, and I would not have said he needed a hoop tree

My guy fit very well in those “open A” frames, what I think you are calling an open U? Prestige for example - generally A shaped, but more like / \ than /\

That said, a couple of hoop trees did also fit him, because he also had actual withers, so lateral stability wasn’t an issue - Duett, and Black Country Quantum X

I am also finding this thread informative.

For U head plates are you talking like a Stubben U?

I have one of these big shouldered, short backed, no withered, big moving ponies and I’m having a terrible time with the saddle rolling.

I’ve been contemplating moving back to a western saddle from dressage due to the difficulty in getting fitters out with saddles on hand in his size. Not a big fan of the ship and test method as it’s a great way to use up your budget fast.

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I will draw pictures later to explain more.


My PRE went in a MW Black Country Vinici, and then graduated to a more generous MW Albion SLK LH. They’re all individuals!

My older lusitano has a Custom Wolfgang Constanze saddle. Works very well for him and has shorter panels to accomodate his short back. Younger one is going very nicely in a Trilogy Amadeo. Personally not happy with the quality of the Customs…

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. I don’t have a Spanish horse, but this is still a very interesting thread.

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I had the same problem with my Dutch horse. The saddles shut her shoulders down and rolled. Finally gave up and bought a good handmade western saddle…:roll_eyes:

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This is what I did

Could you share what saddle worked for your sister’s horse?

Of course. It really depends on where he is at in his development. She got him when he was 5 and was a stallion. After she bought him gelded him. He really is an every changing horse. His first saddle was a Fairfax classic. We expected changes in his shape due to him being gelded, changing discipline (was working eq to dressage) and change of location (mexico to texas) and change of turn out. kept completely in a stall for training until she got him.

After he grew out of the Fairfax, he went into a Black Country Native. A dippier hoop tree. Then as he grew and got stronger and his back flatten out, he went to a Black Country Hoop. Then as he stopped growing he decided to get a little bit of a wither. He loved the Takt 37, but my sister did not like. So now he is in a Ryder Native. She is very lucky to have a saddle fitter as a sister.


I’ll say! Very lucky! My Iberian is shaped more like CanteringCarrot’s than your sister’s horse, though he 100% is the same re: not liking any extra movement of saddle or rider, but I always find it interesting and helpful to see names and models of saddles listed.

i just had my horse wear a thin white saddlepad and notice the dirt is more pronounced on withers. So, i am guessing the saddle is too wide at the pomel for him? Opinions please…