Here at Saddlewise-Southwest in Plymouth, we sell saddles. Our shop is our website. We post pictures and descriptions of saddles - we have 80 for sale. We can post to you when paid for and we can also help remotely with fitting, but the final decision is yours. We've saddled over 14,000 horses in our mobile business as former saddlers/sales fitters - we have a lifetime’s experience.
This website aims to offer a selection of used saddles. Each one is fully checked for usability. The tree is sound, any minor stitching has been done, flocking topped so it stays in place whilst your horse gets used to it (flocking moves!). We’ll replace straps if they need replacing, but the price can rise considerably if all straps are replaced. If you clean and care for the leather without over oiling - or riding very wet - they can last another 20 years. They are priced according to wear and tear. There are plenty of pictures of each saddle, so you can choose what value they are.
It is for you to judge from the pictures what you might want – please look carefully. GO by PICTURES not my description as your measuring may be different. Our saddles have been flocked to completely fill the panel, as they were designed. The saddles are boxed and sent through P4D. This company has 2 tracking numbers for every parcel and they’re quick responders when it comes to any problem.
FITTING THE SADDLE
Some people choose to fit by D>D. Dees are stitched on in different places. We prefer to size my saddles by tree-width to point of tree to point of tree, as many makers actually do (e.g. a Stubben marked 28 is exactly that point to point of made tree, 28 cms. We measure each saddle’s tree points in inches (you’ll need to decide which way you want it done) using a blue drawing curve from W H Smith. It is 16” end to end. It represents a 16” tree arch in saddles - be aware that at the end of this wooden or fibreglass tree, there is a flexible point leather added to hold the tree pocket and for the positioning of the panel to the underside of the tree frame. You measure where the wood or tree is squared off. This equates to 8 inches from the centre of the pommel to point tree as the blue curve. If you measure point to point, the inner aspect of this is the measurement of the tree required for the angle of the frame. The width sizing is the distance between 2 points. It is taken at the central rotation place of the horse’s scapula (shoulder blade).
A measurement here relates to the bone measurement - it does not change (if it does, it’ll be by no more than half an inch) in relation to the flesh between the flat bone and ribs. It is the slope / angle of the tree fit that we strive to match, it being the foundation for level weight distribution when it comes to the rider. It is then measured across the curve points on the inner aspect - 10-14 inches or its equivalent in centimetres (I have only ever seen 2 at size 15” across the 14,000 horses that we’ve saddled over the years).
Please refer to our terms and conditions before reading on.
The saddle fit does not end there. Difficulties may arise due to the changes in shoulder muscle. Whether the muscles are strong or not strong, they must be taken into account when it comes to saddling. Then there is the final shape under compression which is dependent on the saddle being levelled. This also varies immensely depending on the cause-and-effect of the rider’s weight. Different riders WEIGHT will always affect the saddle and how it fits. If the saddle does fit and looks reasonable with no girth, then place your hand in the centre of the deepest part of the saddle and rock side to side. If the saddle feels firm, that’s suggestive of CORRECT fit. MOVEMENT OR SLIDING INCORRECT FIT.
When you girth up the saddle, it may lift at the back and compress muscle at the front, from pressure pulling down of girth which has possibly atrophied and become weak. Fat horses/ponies don’t show any atrophy until pressure has been applied! In some horses, the area behind the shoulder shows dips. Many refer wrongly to the horse being high-withered! This is previous wastage on muscle fibres due to constriction of blood flow under weight.
Now you have to fill in the nooks and crannies in order to restore your horse’s balance by making saddle level. Our saddles are sent out fully flocked - they would be level as intended upon the perfect horse. We have seen and advocated the use of ‘Stephen’s gel-eze wither pads and full gel-eze saddle pads. They prevent flat constant pressure in one place and encourage / promote blood flow in these wasted areas and can promote strength in weight-carrying muscles.
MAKE SURE THE SADDLE IS HIGH AND LEVEL ENOUGH IN ORDER TO:
Prevent his shoulder from pushing the tree back from pushing against each shoulder blade at each stride, causing swivelling across his spine and bruising.
Prevent it pushing back (as he points his toe in balance)
Enable him to track up correctly (back foot goes into space of forefoot!) and allow him to lift and arch his back at each faster stride
Must have clearance over wither, with weight of rider, and after 20 mins check as weight compresses and lowers saddle.
And the saddle when watched in use, rides level, under rider, horizontally following through, pommel to cantle (they lift a little at back in trot at first as horse rounds his back in each stride). When fully ridden after period of use under same rider, this will disappear, and saddle will have adjusted itself to rider’s weight AND to horse’s back muscle tone.
The horse may be anxious when it comes to the saddle because if dips were large, it would have caused pain previously, and leave them apprehensive to it happening again. Adjustment time out hacking is advised not forced schooling. Little and often.
CHECK THESE STATEMENTS APPLY TO WITHER CLEARANCE
There must be clearance. There is NO defined amount as it changes whilst riding.
The horse - depending on level of fitness - will dip his back where the muscles are not strong enough to lift the rider. This might not occur until 15 minutes into the ride, when compression further causes weakening of those muscles. The saddle will drop further, and the girth will become looser. Always tighten girth after 15 minutes, this will tell you how much you have compressed his muscle.
It may drop just in front of the shoulder as these muscles weaken.
The flocking in the saddle settles with heat and compression, flattening and sitting lower.
Re: all new or nearly new saddles - the flocking, which is there for comfort but also to prevent the horse feeling any of the framework (a softly flocked saddle is dangerous in this case), will move and migrate to the area of the panel that’s not under as much compression. This would suggest a high pommel clearance should not be dismissed. If the size is correct, it will definitely sit lower after some time has elapsed.
Your job is to keep your horse / pony balanced and to enable him or her to become elegant when it comes to movement and natural not forced outline... You have to ensure that the saddle is level at all times. It is not feeding / schooling that gives self-carriage and demeanour, it’s lack of fear and being comfortable in balance and able to carry your weight and move freely.
Saddles must be changed gradually so no new saddle and a day’s hunting! It would be a disaster and will cause a sore horse. Treat a new or used saddle like different shoes. Ride little and often, gradually increasing work. Don’t canter round and round in circles for half an hour - that’s asking for trouble. We have seen this done many times by “experienced” riders! When the horse has had enough, they dismiss a suitable saddle – pretty much saying that they don’t like it!
A horse that has a dishing action when it comes to the front legs is most likely twisting his shoulder to avoid the saddle, namely where the tree points sit too low and are restricting the rotation of the shoulder. In effect, the saddle acts as a straitjacket. It prevents the horse moving correctly or comfortably. A culture has developed when it comes to fitting and it involves only fitting to a number of fingers in the wither gap. It means nothing - there are too many variables:
The weight of the horse
The weight of the rider
The fitness of the horse
The condition of the horse
The rider’s style
Soft flocking compressing (sometimes in the first 15 minutes) – over time, it always migrates to the rear of the saddle