western saddle for tb

I’d like to get a western saddle for my medium/narrow tb. Any brand suggestions or suggestions on where to look? Dark, plain leather would be best. I’m thinking about that pony express thing, so it would be used for galloping. (Maybe some trail riding too)
Thanks for any suggestions.
I know this is endurance section, but I though you would know about such saddles for tb’s.

we occasionally work our Tb’s/WB’s in western saddles and occasionally the non riding spouses will get on and cruise around. I would suggest looking at saddles with a 3/4 tree as oposed to a fullquarter tree for the TB’s… you will need to try it with a good saddle pad and check the fit. a used dark leather one would be easy to come buy and less expensive since the lighter leather is what is trendy now. We dont usually use a back cinch but that depends on what exactly you are doing. Circle Y makes a decent saddle and they are easy to find used.
,I like Dale Chavez saddles but they are less common to find used.
I dont care for saddles wth the hard mexican style seat… like some padding in the seat, the swell ( fork) should be smaller or rounded since you are used to an english saddle and a low horn is handy.

after you buy the one you like, I would suggest turning the stirrups and fenders back and running a pole thru the stirrups, this will help train the leather to keep the stirrup perpendicular to the horse body so its easier to pick up a lost stirrup… ask the store to show you and remember you really do want to ride a couple holes longer than in a hunt saddle.

Thanks jumpytoo. I thing semi qh bars will be too wide. I can check as I have a semi qh bar saddle, but I assumed that it was too wide and am pretty sure that it is.

You can try a Gaited saddle or a mule saddle maybe. They usually have good wither clearance if your TB has high withers and have different shape/flair in the front that might work. I used my gaited saddle a few times on my QH before he muscled up and it fit him pretty well, he was only 3 at the time, though. The flair of the bars the full length of the tree will have to fit as well, but it’s worth a try. if you are close to a saddle store, maybe you could take your horse and try several different tree types. Barrel saddles are great for riding at speed, obviously. And they are very secure. I have an older Billy Cook, barrel saddle that I will never get rid of. Stay away from the newer ones, though. They just aren’t built as well. Good luck!!

Oh, that’s interesting. My friend has a 17 hand mule (my mare is 16.2 and they are the same color lol) so I can ask him to let me check the fit of the saddle he uses on her.
I mainly just want something to do that run once per year - and that’s in summer so I have some time to really figure it out.
This thread has helped a lot already. Thanks.


Just be careful when you try the mule saddle on your TB. If it is a saddle made for mules the tree will be very flat all along the back and that could cause back pain if you used it for riding much. Just trying it on will be fine to check width and clearance, of course.

I got a more specific one–how about a barrel saddle? My horse (OTTB) is 15.3 and change, and on the narrowish end of medium (he’s not the super-high shark fin, but he is not a fat old-fashioned QH, either!) He actually fits a McClellan saddle very well but I have no idea how that would be viewed, as legal equipment or not, plus while it fits him great (no surprise as it’s an old one and cavalry mounts had a big helping of TB blood) it isn’t such a fantastic fit on my butt

I actually was looking at the Wintec barrel saddle, as I like their dressage saddles, it’s cheap and very lightweight (light is another concern–the lighter, the better) but I don’t know if it comes in a narrow enough width.

Wintec western saddles are junk…

Westerns come in Old Fashioned 5 inch gullets. But they will be older saddles. Now days ,most saddle companies make semi-Quarter 5.75 inch and full quarter horse 6 to 6.25 inch width trees.
A friend of mine got an OTTb. Narrow in the back with shark fin withers.
None of his Westerns fit him. He was looking for an antique Western but in the meantime I sold him and old Smith -Worthington Hunt seat saddle that was about 75 years old. I put new billets on it and re-flocked it and put nice heavy stirrup leathers on it. It fit the horse perfect. He still has not found a Western big enough for himself. There have been several that fit the horse but were too small in the seat for him.
He has used a built up roper’s pad that has double layers on each side of the front and has a cutback in the top at the gullet. It helps his semi Quarter horse saddle but he is still looking for the “Perfect” Western saddle. In the meantime he is still using the Smith-Worthington. Most of the Wintec Westerns are way too wide even for regular horses.
Hope you find just the just right saddle to fit this horse.
Kind regards, Sadlmakr

gaited won’t work- too much flare in the shoulders and likely too wide in the gullet. Mule won’t work- Mules are A frames, TBs are not- he’s got withers but he’s got well sprung ribs too. Best fit I’ve seen, if you can find one, is a Bullard (maker) barrel saddle. Check the Barrel horse World board for ideas- those are appendix bred QHs in many cases with serious withers but then a nice broad back.

A few years ago, I decided I wanted a western saddle for my TB mare. Most that I tried on her sat on her withers. Thru internet search, I found a company called Crest Ridge Saddlery that I ended up buying a saddle from. They had me do some measurements as well as send them some pictures from different angles. The saddle has worked great for my mare.

Thanks for all the additional information.
Danceronice, lol, I learned to ride on a McLellan saddle and it was most uncomfortable at the time lol. However, you are probably right about the tree size and I’m sure it wouldn’t be so bad now that I’m not that skinny little six yo kid lol. But, I so remember that saddle.
Saddlmaker, that is sort of what I was thinking - that the old trees were more narrow - but didn’t know the specifics like that. Thanks. In fact I have a very old saddle that I will try on her. It’s probably an early 40’s western saddle. I can at least play with the fit on her.
Thanks for the additional information about the mule saddle. My friends mule is quite amazing, and unique I think. They said they thought (or knew - I’m not sure which) that she is a TB mule and that would really make sense in looking at her. I’ll ask him what he thinks as he did have a tall, narrow tb too at one time. That’s a very good lead and very good cautions.
I’ll follow up on simbalism’s Crest Ridge Saddlery suggestion, too.
Thanks everyone.

You may look for some of the smaller, custom saddle makers, too. Some of them still make their own trees.
I have a Trophy Tack saddle from Bixby, OK. Extremely nice. They do a lot of custom work, although they are more of a show place. I seem to remember when I lived in Tulsa that they had some atypical breed customers so they might be able to help.
There is another shop in Sand Springs that put a new tree in a saddle for me when mine broke on an old saddle but I can’t remember the name.
Have you considered an Aussie saddle? They are more adjustable. There is an Aussie fitter near where I live now, she lives in Apache Junction, AZ. You might try discussing with her.

I have the same type of horse.

Other than the Passier dressage saddle that is 25 years old, I have been using an Abetta regular tree saddle with a swayback pad to lift it and give enough clearance and it seems to work well. The one Abetta is a flex tree and I think it works nicely. Again regular bars but with the swayback pad (one with fleece bottom not that tacky too stuff) it fits him well.

Good luck!

I bought an OLD western saddle on ebay several years ago. It was cheap, but the leather was shot, though the tree was solid. One thing was that it did fit my TB. A friend found a Amish saddlemaker that built a new saddle for me on the old tree. At the time ,~8 years ago, it cost $450 and I was able to get the stirrup fenders cut shorter to accommidate my short legs :).

This could be an option if you can find an old, useable tree.


Hm, I wonder if I could get the Amish guy in Shipsie to make one cheap. (I simply won’t pay more than $3-400 for a saddle, ANY saddle. Not unless it were a silver parade saddle I was going to flip for cash.) 5.75" is going to be too big.

That or see if Wintec or one of the other synthetic brands are fairly flexible or easy to pad.

Try an Arab trail saddle too. I have a Circle Y Saraha with a Riccotti pad, it fits a lot of horses that no traditional (QH or semi-QH) saddles fit. I bought it for my Hanoverian with large shoulders and a big barrel, but with withers, it fit her perfectly. I have loaned it to others and it really seems to fit WBs and TBs with withers/wide shoulders. It also is shorter with round skirts, so fits horses with shorter backs well.

The key is the Arab tree has a narrower gullet to clear the withers, but has wide bars that clear the shoulders. My Ricotti pad a is wool felt with a wither relief cut out.

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Hm, I wonder if an Arab saddle would work–I should ask my friend who has Arabs (hers are not the delicate little park-types either) if I could borrow one of her Western saddles and see if it fits. Lucky’s certainly a lot closer to being built like an Arab than like a QH.

The arab tree saddles that I have seen (made by Circle Y) are made for really well-sprung ribs, I wouldn’t think they’d fit an average TB. They would be more likely to fit a welsh pony than a narrow TB. They are narrower-than-a-QH gullet, flat (very little rock) barred saddles, made for the round-type arab rather than a withered, narrow arab.

I have an old (made in the 1940s) George Lawrence Form-Fitter, that fits my very narrow TB beautifully. My horse chiro, in fact, told me it is the first time he’s ever seen a western saddle that properly fit a TB. The saddle is super comfortable (I can ride 8 hours or more without having bruised/sore seat bones) and it does NOT move going uphill, downhill, etc even with a cinch that isn’t really tight. For getting up and out of the saddle, you wouldn’t want a form-fitter tree (huge swells, designed to keep you in the saddle if the horse bucks) but you should be able to find something similar without the big pommel.

The problem is that trees that will fit a normal/narrow TB are simply not made commercially any more. A narrow semi-quarter bar saddle, with lots of padding, might be ok for a ride or two every now and then (read, will sore the horse if you ride more than once or twice a year).

The good news is that there are tons of ‘antique’ western saddles made from the 1920s to 1940s that do have a TB-appropriate tree, and they are sitting on display somewhere because they sore modern western horses.

The more common ones, like a Bona Allen or JC Higgins (Bona Allen made for Sears) are not quite as comfortable, but for once-a-year riding, the tree will fit the horse and you can put a sheepskin on the seat. Ebay usually has them for $100 or so. Look up vintage western saddle on eBay.

You may have to re-fleece the bottom, and have a couple of repairs made to make the saddle sound, but I know my local really-good western saddlemaker has 3 or 4 suitable saddles sitting in his shop, for $250 or so, that are sound as is or would need less than $100 in repairs.

There are fancy ‘name-brand’ antique saddles, such as Hamley or Porter, that can cost a lot, and they are worth $$$ if they are all-original. If someone has changed the fenders, or refleeced and re-saddle-strung the saddle, it might be worth a lot less. But a Porter, Hamley, George Lawrence or the like will really truly make your butt happy if you will be in the saddle all day.

Also, the older saddles have a smaller seat size, often because the cantle has a steeper (and more supportive to your lower back) than a modern western saddle.
So if you fit in a modern 15" western saddle, a vintage 14" saddle might work fine. My husband actually fits in the George Lawrence, which is a 14", and he rides in a 16" western roping saddle.
So don’t get really worried that all of these Bona Allen saddles are all 14", they’d probably fit :slight_smile: