Western saddle for a pony?

Hello! I currently have a Welsh X mare, 13.3 hh, a little on the chubby side. She is without a saddle that fits super well. She is a pony, so there are not a lot of whithers on her. She also has a shorter back as most ponies do. I have never really bought a saddle so specific before, so I have no clue where to start. I would also prefer to find a used saddle somewhere as this mare is just for trail rides and such. Does anyone have any ideas on what could work for her? A gullet size? When I place my typical horse saddle on her, the back of the skirt sticks up a little bit and the saddle is almost too long. There is also a huge gap between the gullet and withers. That gap goes all the way through the saddle until about the middle of the seat. The saddle is finally laying on her at that middle section under the seat. I am pretty sure this is not very comfortable for her, but I also don’t want to spend loads on a brand new, custom saddle. Thanks in advance!

Not sure what size passenger she will carry, but she is not tiny at 13.3H. Probably very short backed with pony blood. So I would look at youth size saddles, 14 inch seat length,. Also Arab tree saddles that can be wide but not high for flatter withers. Round skirt saddles that are shorter than square skirt saddles, no corners to poke her in the flanks. You might find some in barel racing saddles, though those often have high cantles, which might make a tight fit for an adult.

Saddle you describe has too much curve in the bars along her spine. Saddle cannot “sit down” flat on her back. May come down too far on her withers when girthed up, forcing the rear of saddle up in the air. Not what you want on her for more than a minute or two, it will sore her up fast.

Any large western stores around? Taking a CLEAN pony there, they should be able to help fit her with trying on used saddles they have in stock. They can point out features that fit or why they do not fit HER. Run your hand up under the saddle to find pinch points, hand should slide along easily, even with rider sitting on her.

I won’t lie, saddle fitting can be difficult. Even western saddles should fit a horse over a bath towel, not need a heavy blanket or thick saddle pad to fill in gaps. I have extremely short backed horses, it runs in the breed. I looked at a LOT of western saddles at multiple shops, tried on at least 100 before finding a saddle that fit her and myself! Yeah, I am picky but we were going to spend a lot of hours using that saddle. And that same saddle later fit 4 other horses of the same breeding and body style. I do use a heavy pad in daily riding to protect backs, but it doesn’t change the fit. No sore backs here.

A suggestion if pony is meant for a kid to ride, is adding a breastcollar. Kids try but may forget things like checking girth after the first 20 minutes, then about every hour during a trail ride or at a show. Horse will dehydrate with long times under a saddle on rides, girth loosens. The breastcollar can help prevent saddle turning completely under the belly. Saddle kind of just hangs off to the side while kid swings their legs down to step away. Then everyone waits as kid gets saddle back into place, tightens the girth and gets back on. Have to say the kid never seems to forget to check girth regularly after!! Both my kids experienced this happening, despite previous reminders. Both were quite embarrassed, but never had it happen again! Horse was a saint, was stopping as saddle turned, waited calmly to get things fixed. Same horse both times. Once with an English saddle, once with a western saddle. Both times he had a breastcollar on because “I required one” on any kid horse they rode. Same with helmets worn every ride.

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I would suggest going online and find one of those saddle fitting/mapping free instructions. Some good western sites have them.
It also helps to have the appropriate bendy angle finding tool. It’s all explained on the saddle sites.
I wanted a western saddle for a weirdly shaped ASB. After reading about how to measure them and getting the correct angles for
all the parts, I felt comfortable enough to order some good quality used saddles online.
It’s not hard once you’re given instructions and map out your pony’s back.

A saddle with a round skirt will help with length issues… You will benefit by measuring her yourself so that you know the gullet size she needs. www.marystack.com has a good saddle measuring tool that I bought when was saddle shopping. It made a world of difference. It measures in cm or inches.

Thank you all so much! I wish it was easier as saddles can be so expensive as you get into specifics. I will try measuring her here soon. Not sure if any of you have knowledge of this place, but the only saddle shop around is Chicks Saddlery in Delaware.

I have bought from Chick’s and have had no problems with them. Bought both in person and on line.

You’ll want a round skirt for a short backed horse.

I have a 14 hand Rocky Mountain mare who is mutton withered and built curvy and round. I got a Crestridge saddle for her and it’s worked well for years. They’re helpful with photos and wither tracings and so forth. Look them up online.

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Hi everyone! So I put a 7inch gullet, 15inch seat saddle on the mare and this is what it looks like. I’m really not looking to spend the money so does anyone have any saddle size recommendations like a smaller gullet or type of saddle?


A safety point is lack of a connecting strap or string between the girth and back cinch. Without a connecting strap the back cinch can swing all the way back into her flanks. With some horses this can trigger a bucking fit!! It surprises horse who is not used to being touched back there.

Second part of being safe, is tightening that back cinch to snug NOT tight, so back cinch is not hanging down loose. I would be afraid horse could get a hind foot in back girth in the picture! Remember front cinches loosen over the time you ride. Back cinches also loosen in time, so they may need to be taken up a bit when you snug up the front girth. Or you can totally remove the rear cinch and not use it at all.

I think the front of saddle may be too wide. Saddle seat looks downhill in the front. Is horse shorter in front than in hindquarters? Hard to sit still if you are riding downhill all the time. Remember that tall cantle means getting your right leg HIGH to clear it as you mount up. Same thing with dismounting. Looks like a barrel racing saddle with such a build, to hold you in position at speed. Probably not going to allow much shifting during a long ride.

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@goodhors sorry about the back cinch problem you noticed… I usually do have a connector and keep it more snug, I just threw it on for the photo haha. And yes it is a barrel saddle. The problem I have is that she has no withers, so the saddle has nothing to sit on in the front.

Hey there!

You’ve gotten some really good advice here, we’re just jumping in to add that a lot of stores will offer saddle fittings to make sure that your horse has the best fit possible. We even offer to evaluate tracings for free, to help make sure that your individual horse has the best tree size for their conformation. We can make recommendations for any of our four saddle brands (Reinsman, Circle Y, High Horse, and Tucker.)

As for the photo that you posted, do you know the tree size? Gullet size is measured on the bare tree and is not a good indicator of fit, but if you know the tree size (regular/SQHB versus wide/FQHB) that will be helpful to anyone who can help with saddle fit. Without being able to see her back without the saddle it is difficult to diagnose any saddle fit issues, but it looks like the saddle pictured is too wide for her, so it is settling down and only the top tip of the bar is making contact. This could be exacerbated by any hollows behind the withers.

Also, you’ll want to make sure that the rear cinch is a little bit tighter than that and hobbled to the girth so it doesn’t become a bucking strap. We have more information on our Youtube channels and websites but are happy to help however we can.

Call Kim at Galloping Grape in Warrenton,VA. She is pretty good at finding saddles to fit and has a large selection of used one. She’s great.