farrieremily

Using tracings to get an idea of tree width

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I have a huge mare I believe needs a draft tree. 

I have her tracings and pictures to sent to a saddlery but before they go can I get a measurement to help me look for saddles now?

I’m not sure where I need to measure across the tracing to get a correct idea of width. 

Is there a recommendation like two inches vertically from the top?

I’m going to add the side picture of her if anyone has any suggestions.

 

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I'm not your guy, but there's a lot of saddlemakers on here. They should be by shortly!

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I would take the tracings and take them with you to look at saddles.  What would you measure?  There is really no reliable way to measure the width of a finished saddle, because there is no real reference point once the tree is covered up.  Even holding tracings up under a saddle, I find to be of limited value. It will eliminate the ones that are the furthest from fitting, but the best option is to try saddles on horses.  

Your mare looks like she will be a challenge to fit.  It looks to me like you are going to need a saddle with a lot of rock to the bars, and I daresay it's going to be next to impossible to find a factory saddle to fit. Is she a draft cross, and of what age is she?

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She’s a percheron/french saddle horse cross.  She’s around 15 years old from what we were told but could be a couple years older. 

She was retired from show jumping, bred once and hasn’t really been ridden five years. I know the sway is a big factor but if we can’t find anything wide enough it won’t make much difference. 

I’m planning to cut her tracings from card stock to compare to saddles today. 

My 10 year old is looking to show her in 4-H.  We had to start with a custom 66” girth but managed to make do with my saddle for the time being. 

 

(She’s not really 32 and shaggy like the first picture implies)

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She is a very good looking mare under saddle.  I could see the Percheron influence in the first picture.  

There are saddles out there that will be wide enough, but what I find with the drafts and crossbred horses is that the bar angles are wrong, even if the width works.  I have personally not seen any good quality "draft saddles", so cannot comment on whether they come closer to fitting that an extra wide saddle made for light horses.  So in short, the point I'm trying to make is that the bar angle and rock are going to be more important than the width.  If the angle is correct, the change in width lowers or raises the front of the saddle.  

While your mare does have quite a bit of dip in her back, her topline may be able to be improved through muscle building exercise and training.  My personal recommendation is to find a knowledgeable saddle maker in your area and enlist his help in determining what will end up fitting.  Even though a custom, handmade saddle may be out of your budget, many makers will still help you find a correct fit in a used saddle.  It will save you time, money and many headaches in the end if you can do so.  I sincerely wish you the best of luck.  I started out with Percherons, have owned many, and still have a great fondness for the breed. Your beautiful mare deserves the best chance you can give her in order to be a successful partner with your daughter. 

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That makes sense. Thank you. I’m kind if in a weird area, we have lots of riders but few tack shops and I don’t know of a single saddle maker/fitter.  My English saddle has an adjustable and gets very wide but still sits too high in the front which is what got us thinking wider tree to help level it. 

I would be willing to haul an hour to the tack store but it’s all used and changes frequently. I may explain to the owner and have her call when ever a good possibility comes in.  Some of the trouble is we want to find a show saddle. Trail would give us a lot more try on chances.

Does anyone know of a saddlery near SE Michigan/NW Ohio?

Closest leather guy I know is four hours but doesn’t really do tack that I’m aware of. 

I’m sure Indiana would have someone too.

 Thank you again, your advice really is appreciated.

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Your best bet would be to ask around in your area. Sooner or later someone will have a recommendation.  I hesitate to recommend anyone whose work I haven't seen, or that i haven't been impressed with just by looking at pictures.  I thought someone from that area might see your post and respond, but apparently not.  There are some parts of the country that are more sparsely populated by saddle makers than others.;)

Just a thought, you could try asking for a recommendation on social media.  I am getting a larger and larger percentage of my work that way.  Good luck.

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Hi there,

Living in Western PA now, also having problems with tack and saddles.

have two TWH with short backs and high withers, bridging is a problem. I don't want to transport horses days to fit saddles. Have decided to find a tree maker that will try to work with me, and make my own or find a saddle maker.

I'll be following

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Almost any good saddlemaker will work with a long distance customer to get a good fit.  It is a little more challenging than being able to see and fit the horse in person, but it is done all the time.  If a custom saddle is in the budget, feel free to PM me to visit and for more info.  Most of the tree companies will work off a set of tracings, but the guys handmaking trees often offer more options and provide a superior tree.  There are exceptions however, because I just paid close to $700 for a handmade tree that not only has absolutely the poorest workmanship I've ever seen it wasn't even what I ordered.  So it pays to do your homework.;)

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Thanks Big Sioux,

Budget? what is that? Going to have to do a lot of this myself, the tree will be a problem. Sorry about that tree a lot of money for something inferior.

 

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My budget was going to be a big chunk of tax return but my husband is going to be laid off for a month or so and there goes that plan. 

At least we know before it’s spent. I’ll probably beg around for a saddle we can borrow and pad this year and save for something next year. I still need a pony show saddle but at least he’s generic fat pony shape and a common fit. 

Free horses seem to cost more than the ones I pay for!

If I do find any info I will post here. 

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1 hour ago, farrieremily said:

Free horses seem to cost more than the ones I pay for

That was the funniest thing I've heard all day, and also the most true!  None of them are cheap to keep, but the free one do seem to end up costing a pile!

I am sorry about your husband's impending layoff.  Tough to keep ahead of expenses when income is cut or disappears.  

4 hours ago, Geary said:

Thanks Big Sioux,

Budget? what is that? Going to have to do a lot of this myself, the tree will be a problem. Sorry about that tree a lot of money for something inferior.

 

Not having enough to budget for anything seems to be a common complaint these days!  Everyone is scrambling for money.

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Farrieremily,

Not sure where you are exactly - but you might try Jon Watsabaugh. He was in Iowa a few years back.

Really talented Saddle Tree maker and also a Master Saddle maker. Super easy guy to talk to.  Regards Billy

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If you are still pursuing this issue, I have a few ideas to offer.  First, are you interested in a western or English saddle?  If English, there are saddles available that come with various gullet irons that can be changed out to fit the wither of your horse.  Also, as noted by Big Sioux, your horse appears to have an extreme dip or "rocker" that needs to be accommodated. This will be much easier to accomplish with an English saddle which is much shorter and relies a cushion of "flocking" to support the riders weight behind the withers.  Western saddle trees bars are longer and must conform to the horses back along their entire length of about 22".  Fitting this horse with a western saddle tree is going to be a challenge.

If you are going to pursue fitting this mare with a western saddle tree, I recommend that you find a competent saddle or tree maker that uses the Lane card system.  This system uses a series of templates to map the shape of the horses back, thereby informing the tree maker how to best fit the horse.  You could buy a set of these cards if there isn't a saddle maker nearby that you can visit.  Alternately, you could consult with a saddle or tree maker that can trial fit a number of bare trees on your horse.  From the picture you posted It does not appear that the width or angle of the wither area is that extreme, however the rocker or dip in your horses back may pose the largest challenge.  That too can be determined with the Lane card system.  I suspect that the rocker required by this horse may exceed the practical limits that any tree maker will build as it is unwise to build a tree and saddle that will only fit a unique horse (After the horse is gone, the saddle will live on to sore every horse it is used on).  If that is the case, your best option may be to fit the horse as best you can and finalize the fitting process with a customized pad.  You can buy pad systems to fill in the void under the bars where your horse's back dips away, or you can have an experience saddle maker make one.

In summary, you will have a much better chance to fit this horse with an English saddle.  As stated in a previous post, you will not find a tack-store western saddle that will fit this horse acceptably.   Fitting a western saddle will be very challenging and require that you get some knowledgeable help.  Good luck.

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On 2/21/2019 at 9:52 AM, Billy H said:

Farrieremily,

Not sure where you are exactly - but you might try Jon Watsabaugh. He was in Iowa a few years back.

Really talented Saddle Tree maker and also a Master Saddle maker. Super easy guy to talk to.  Regards Billy

That’s a bit of a distance from Michigan. But thank you, I may be looking to get my English saddle worked on/restuffed to sit better on her. 

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On 5/26/2019 at 1:00 PM, EdOdgers said:

In summary, you will have a much better chance to fit this horse with an English saddle.  As stated in a previous post, you will not find a tack-store western saddle that will fit this horse acceptably.   Fitting a western saddle will be very challenging and require that you get some knowledgeable help.  Good luck.

Thank you, fortunately my daughter has little interest in riding Western so we are simply making due for the hour or so she may be in a Western saddle. It works. They aren’t doing more than walk trot at this point. 

I have an older Rembrandt English saddle with a crank/screw type system for adjusting the tree. I’m pretty sure it goes as wide as any one were you swap the gullet. It’s not close to wide enough. 

If I can find some one close enough I may see about getting it reflocked/stuffed to suit her better. It’s probably time to redo the billets anyhow. 

Edited by farrieremily

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