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Old 04-17-2009, 09:29 PM  
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Best Saddle for a Heavy Rider

This thread is not about whether a heavy rider should ride, or what kind of horse he\she should ride, or whether a specific horse can handle the weight, or about how best to lose weight ... it is only about the choice of saddle.

I'll resist the temptation to mess around with "I have a friend who" malarkey and just say it's me, and I'm in the 300lb range. (ick, gasp! choke!) I want to trail ride. I have the horse, a draft, and I've had the painful experience of having an ill-fitting saddle. After finding one that worked, I had to sell it due to financial hardship. Now considering getting another ...

Seat-size wise, I would ride in an English 20", Aussie 20", or Western 18-19". Treeless saddles don't seem to come in 20" too often. Tree-wise I now know that my horse has about an 8" gullet ... thicker than the standard 7" of most full quarter horse bars western saddles, but thinner than the 10" gullet of most draft saddles. So I have to shop carefully whatever my decision.

English Style - I've been told that a heavier rider shouldn't ride in English because the weight will press down on just the 2 pads alongside the spine. Back when I was half my current weight, I really preferred English to Western (and had the opportunity to ride in both regularly on trail and off).

Treeless Saddle - I was told that a heavy rider should never ride in a treeless because the weight goes directly down onto the horse's spine. I'm also aware that regardless of the rider's weight, it's possible to feel "trapped" by the front piece & back piece to the treeless saddle, if the center squishes down too far. But treeless saddles have me intrigued because they are the most forgiving with respect to the horse's topology.

Western Saddle - As mentioned in the English section, I've been told that a western distributes weight better. But I'm really not so sure about that ... do the little square flaps at the corners of the saddle really help distribute weight better?? And they generally weigh more than English saddles ... The saddle I did have success with was a Tucker High Plains 18.5" seat. Nice saddle, but very pricey (hence the reason it was sold when I was on hard times!).

Aussie Saddle - These seem to be really popular with draft owners and trail riders. They seem cool to me, and the poleys look like theys should help a rider "stick" to the saddle better. I've only had the opportunity to ride in one once, and it was too small for me, and incredibly uncomfortable.

Have also seen things like troopers, endurance, etc. But I think I'm limiting myself to one of the above 4 choices ...

What are your thoughts? I occurs to me that these warnings I've received in the past about "don't use this type of saddle" have generally come from people not selling the type they warn me against ...
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Old 04-17-2009, 09:36 PM  
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A good solid western saddle would be the only option I'd pick. Be careful though that the bars are not too long for the horses back though. Once you get up into the larger sizes the bars are often too long for the horse the saddle is intended for. No fiberglass trees. A good well made roper may be your best option.

No the skirts don't really help that much on the sides, but they do along the back. Plus a western saddle has a much more horse covering tree than do either an english or an Aussie.

I would not consider a treeless or flex tree at all for anyone much over 150lbs.
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Old 04-17-2009, 09:43 PM  
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I am a heavy rider. I use a Kimberly Lite Rider.

I got it from here. I did the wither tracing and they made customized it from the wither tracing.

http://www.downunderweb.com/store/Sa...Kimberley.html

I really like the Lite Rider because it only weighs like 15 pounds in total. So it's not adding much more weight to my own bulk. I really like it a lot.

It's THE most comfortable thing on the planet.






I bought the saddle pad there too. It's the "Ultimate shapped" saddle pad.

http://www.downunderweb.com/store/sa...ds_shaped.html
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Old 04-17-2009, 09:44 PM  
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I had a coach once who was a large woman, and she seemed to like western roping saddles, good brands like simco, texas star and one custom.
Also, I think a lot has to do with the persons riding, I have see large riders really burden the horse by just sitting there like a sac of potatoes, but also have seen large riders look light as a feather on the horse, because they were actually riding and doing their part in weight distribution. From your experience you sound like you 'ride' which will already help the horse, but anyway back to the point, you could give roping saddles a shot, some come in hard seats and some in soft and they are very comfy... I used the same saddles for years even though they were too big for me... but sooo cozy and they tend to seat you very well.
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Old 04-18-2009, 02:58 AM  
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I weigh 220 lbs and ride in an older Billy Cook pleasure saddle. It wieghs a ton but it is comfey on me and fits my horses well. I ride the old style foundation quarter horse types. My hubby hates my saddle - he rides in a Griffith roper. I can handle his saddle but we had to put extra holes in the stirrup leathers 'cause my legs are too short.

I tried an aussie once - I used to ride english as a kid & thought I would like it. Nope, the pollies (sp?) that hold your legs in made me feel trapped.

What about a saddle for a Halfie? the tree should be right & halfies look like they have shorter backs.
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Old 04-18-2009, 05:25 AM  
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I too am a heavy rider with a draft. I had a cheap-o saddle that was a 17" and it was some kind of uncomfortable and way too narrow for Sampson. So, when it came time for me to shop for a better saddle, not only did I need something that would fit him properly, I just KNEW i was going to need a 18-20" seat (not an easy seat to find around here in the "used" department). I managed to find a roping saddle that is by far the most comfortable thing I've ridden in. It's made by American Saddlery (i think that's the name), and I'm really not sure of the reputation of this company, BUT, it fits Sampson wonderfully (for right now) and fits my butt...AND, it's a 16". I don't feel that I'm "spilling" out of the saddle, no extra butt cheeks anywhere and the horn isn't disappearing into my stomach...lol. My only hope is that as Sampson widens out that I can find another one similar to it that's as comfortable for me. Good luck in your hunt for a saddle....I know how frustrating it can be.
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Old 04-18-2009, 06:08 AM  
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Im plump but not to big for my horse. I have a older Big Horn roping saddle. I dont dally any steers or anything
Its just heavy. In the 500lb range
I got it for the comfort of my horse and myself. Im balanced and ride well. Ive noticed that some of the synthetic saddles dont fit my horse very well so its not going to be comfortable for him. I have a King brand synthetic and it slides on him. The gullet is 7" so its plenty wide, but its not a good fit. I dont think an English saddle should be a problem for your friend LMC. As mentioned, if you, I mean your friend can ride balanced it should be fine. Any saddle is going to be uncomfortable if you are sliding and flopping. Good luck finding a nice saddle

Rissa, thats a nice saddle The decoration is cute, lol
Funny story about the aussie saddles. My friend had one for her Mustang mare. Of course it didnt fit right and the horse was a booger about getting loose from her. Anyway, she took off through my yard and managed to get the saddle off. It was around her legs We still are not sure how she managed that. Only thing we can think of is she bucked and it went over her neck.She sent it back and got something else
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Old 04-18-2009, 07:04 AM  
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Yes, stay away from the treeless and flex tree saddles. I have a flex panel saddle (old Ortho-flex) that has been wonderful. It has a solid wooden tree to distribute a rider's weight, but the tree is mounted on a flex panel system to further balance the pressure.

The new Ortho-flex saddles, are, unfortunately, not the best quality. I know many dealers that stopped carrying them because the quality was too variable. Timberline and American-flex make flex panel saddles. I would highly recommend one -- but they aren't cheap, so finding a used one is always a plus. My saddle has fit everything I have put it on. This link:
http://www.american-flex.com/system%20discription.htm
shows how these saddles can even fit the kitchen table...
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Old 04-18-2009, 07:49 AM  
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I like the Big Horn Synthetic draft horse saddle.


http://www.horse.com/Big-Horn-Cordur...dle-WKS10.html

It is light weight and has a wide gullet. It is extremely comfortable. As to the pressure from the square skirt, the tree is where the weight of the saddle and rider sit, the skirt is really just asthetic.
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Old 04-18-2009, 01:31 PM  
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Thanks everyone for your input ... at this point in time, I'm still thinking more than acting ... I actually do have an English saddle that is just right for him, and I think will work for me as well. But I have never ridden in it, so I'm not entirely sure.
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Old 04-18-2009, 03:04 PM  
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I use an English saddle and while I am weighing less than I use to,I was always told it was more with position in the saddle and how you distributed your weight. The western saddle I had was heavy,and as the years passed it got heavier for me. I enjoy riding English but hope to find lighterweight western saddle in the future.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:39 AM  
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I have an Abetta synthetic saddle that i love and it fits a variety of horses - including our haflingers! I'll try to dig up pictures of it and post when I have more time. It's very comfortable and easy to lift.

We also bought new saddles that are western style and are on Flex Trees and we like them though I've only been able to ride in mind a few times since we bought it. I'm a heavy rider and this saddle sits very comfortably where some I've tried have tilted me forward. I think that might happen when your butt is spilling out of the saddle..lol.. I'm no expert but I'm not sure why it would not be advisable to use the flextree if you're heavy? I have pictures of those saddles posted on this thread:





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Old 04-19-2009, 10:41 AM  
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Something else to consider besides a fairly good fit for the horse is rider position and that you and everyone else rides balanced. A common fault amongst adult riders is allowing their own hip to collapse which causes the shoulder to drop, often the right side, if rt. handed. This results in extra pressure on the opposing side. One also needs to check that one hip isn't leading the other one. Either of these rider faults can actually cause lameness because the crooked saddle has bruised the trapezius muskle which lies underneath.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:28 PM  
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Instead of buying another saddle that may not work, you could buy a ThinLine pad for your English saddle and plan a fitness goal. I don't think you will do damage by riding while you are loosing weight. Just skip the no stirrups work for about 50lbs
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Old 04-20-2009, 08:59 AM  
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I am also a "heavy" rider, ( I generally stay around 250 but right now I'm about 275 and even got up the 325 last year due to medical issues) and I have found that the type of saddle doesn't matter as much as the quality of saddle and riding ability of the rider. I have ridden in english saddles, bareback, western saddles and plantation saddles and I haven't had any issues with my horses.

I ride mostly gaited horses ( and even a paso fino but my wife makes fun of me cause she says I'm bigger than the hores when I ride her) so the size of the horse doesn't matter either.

I also go on various lenths of rides from 2 - 10 hours without negative effects on the horses. So the length of the ride doesn't matter either as long as the horse is in condition for the ride.


One thing I haven't been able to get around though, is the pressure applied to the withers when mounting. So the only real advice I have for any heavy rider is to use some kind of aide ( mounting block , rock , anything will do) when mounting. I can still mount anything under 17hh from the ground but I don't unless I have to just because I feel bad for the horse to have 300 lbs hanging from and pulling on their withers.

David

I will say my uncle has a big horn roping saddle with a 20" seat that he really loves but that sucker weighs a ton.
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Old 04-20-2009, 09:24 AM  
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this topic has my interest too.im about 240.comfort for my horse is way important as we ride all day long.i just sold my trail horse cause she just got so tired after our rides.i got a big warmblood.perch cross.1500lb.yep she can handle it.
big thing is the saddle pad.some break down when weight is in saddle.im currently saving up for a prochoice smx air ride.ive heard they are they best on weight distribution and studies have shown they break down less.
treeless is very bad for heavy riders,ive heard.also flex trees are too.it will flex right down on horses back.i sat on an english and yep all that weight on those little bitty areas made me think my horse would probably not be a happy camper for long.ive also heard bareback isnt good either.no weight dist. help.i still do it once in a while but never for a long time.
im def not an expert,but have spent hours surfing net,and talking to tack people cause my horses comfort is #1.
i use the big horn trail.the leather one.16 inch seat with the extra built in cushion.heavy,but feels very solid,i sit well.could have went to a 17 inch seat,but i liked this so well it does fit ok.its full bars but flares a little at end,so has little more room for those wide shoulders.
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Old 04-20-2009, 09:28 AM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slim Pikkens View Post
Something else to consider besides a fairly good fit for the horse is rider position and that you and everyone else rides balanced. A common fault amongst adult riders is allowing their own hip to collapse which causes the shoulder to drop, often the right side, if rt. handed. This results in extra pressure on the opposing side. One also needs to check that one hip isn't leading the other one. Either of these rider faults can actually cause lameness because the crooked saddle has bruised the trapezius muskle which lies underneath.
hey,i have that prob.always constant effort to not do this.you are so awesome slim!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 04-20-2009, 11:19 AM  
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jjsimsez- I have seen those air rides collapse on long rides. The best saddle pad I've found (for long rides) is felted wool ( the purer the better. Look when you get one it'll say xx% wool) and I put a woven wool blanket under mine just to keep the pad clean. The wool will cost more but will last longer and protect the horse better.

David
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Old 04-20-2009, 11:25 AM  
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Quote:
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jjsimsez- I have seen those air rides collapse on long rides. The best saddle pad I've found (for long rides) is felted wool ( the purer the better. Look when you get one it'll say xx% wool) and I put a woven wool blanket under mine just to keep the pad clean. The wool will cost more but will last longer and protect the horse better.

David
thanks!!thats what i now have.guess i should stick with it.
i mount from a bucket.unless on trail,then i look for a stump,hill,or ...a kick in the butt.she is very tall for my short legs.

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Old 04-21-2009, 10:39 AM  
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I would go back to a Tucker since you had one and it fit. They are a little pricey, but you should not compromise fit, quality, and comfort for your horse and you, and could probably get a deal on ebay or something. I second to stay away from Flex trees of any maker. Good luck!

Last edited by CopperWalkin : 04-21-2009 at 10:45 AM.
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