I've posted a couple threads now, but just in case, a little background:
Got mare 3 months ago. She'd been being ridden in a saddle that didn't fit her (way too wide, because all the other horses on the property are 18+ H Belgians and she's a 15H Percheron/Morgan) for who knows how long. No marks on her withers, though she has a patch of rough white hair in the middle of her back.
Tried my Thorowgood on her, which pinched her.
From there, decent into saddle fitting hell.
Very first thing I tried was getting a fitter out, but no luck getting any to reply back after saying they do come to my area, or others who won't come out for just one horse... and I live in a very 'Western-centric' area so no luck finding a group interested in an English fitter.
60+ saddles later, I have it down to two... I hope. I did end up working with a fitter with tracings and photos, driving myself back and forth 3 hours each time. He had nothing in his store even remotely close to fitting her, except a $3k or $4k one that still wasn't quite right. I'm really NOT a cheapskate, but I just ride trails... having a $4k saddle for that just feels stupid, especially since I ride through rain and gallop through giant mud puddles. He ended up convincing me to try adjusting my both too wide and too narrow Thornhill Trail saddle.
Well, it did help a little, but I still need a front pad for it, which seems to make it a bit too narrow in the shoulder. Also not sure of the panel fit (that was the too narrow part before, which he let out with flock adjustment).
Meanwhile, I've gotten a Tekna Club saddle with the quick change system, that I have a week to demo before deciding on sending it back. It actually almost seems right, though I'm waiting on a wider gullet plate.
I've not ridden in the Tekna yet (going over the demo program to see what it says about riding in it), but I know I *love* how the Thornhill fits and sits me. Just don't think it will work for her :/
Anywho, I have emails in to the saddle fitter, but he's verrry busy and it sometimes takes a few days to hear back. So looking for some opinions!
The Tekna (keep in mind it's brand new so is kind of stiff in places. It'll also be getting the next size up gullet plate): http://imgur.com/a/h4KNd/all
The Thornhill (this is post-adjustment. The pic of my hand in the space between the gullet and wither is after an hour ride of W/T/C, obstacles, and walking on the trail. And yes I am aware I need a longer pad... didn't want to start on that route until I had a fitting saddle): http://imgur.com/a/JpH9U/all
.... thanks, but believe me: I've watched that video and the videos after that 100 times. 101 isn't going to make saddles fit her any better. I am aware the Thornhill sits down too much, but is (or seems) balanced with the wither pad (and I don't feel thrown forward or back or anything). The Tekna appears balanced to me without anything. I haven't noticed any bridging along the panels, nothing bounces forward or back while moving, pressure feels even and across her ribs rather than pushing against her spine through the channel, and nothing seems to be pinching her (I think the Tekna may squeeze the shoulders a bit with my weight in the saddle, which is why I think I'll need to switch it to the X-wide). But I have a terrible eye and am probably missing something obvious and I'm so snow blind from trying so many saddles I don't even know what I'm looking at half the time. This is why I need more eyes. XD
I am not a saddle fitter, however, I have been to quite a few saddle fitting clinics and learned a fair bit. My personal opinion, if I had to choose between those two, is that I would go with the Tekna.
Of the two saddles, the Tekna appears to fit the best. I'm not sure you need the wider gullet plate, from the pictures looks like the clearance under the pommel is fine. The panel fit in the back on both saddles isn't perfect but it's better on the Tekna.
"My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."
Thanks guys! This is exactly the discussion I was looking for. I love the folks at my barn to death, but all they do is roll their eyes and try to throw more pads at the problem when I try to explain why this or that saddle isn't fitting.
Yeah, I figured the Tekna is best (or well... 'better'), but I so love the Thornhill... after the fitter said he could make it work, I hoped for the best -- hopefully I can make my money back on ebay! It's somewhat annoying that the $350 new saddle fits better than the $1200 new saddle specifically meant for wide horses, too...
The Tekna actually has a full five finger width between the panels, tapering down slightly at the back to like 4 1/2 fingers (though I'm a girl I have pretty big hands -- bit wider than a 'hand' measure). I don't think I've ever seen a saddle with a wider channel than that... at least not one that's not also almost completely flat, like the one she was in before. The Thornhill was four tapering down to three and is now just under four all the way down.
The reason I feel the Tekna might need the wider gullet is it currently sits almost 4 fingers above her somewhat high withers and looks just on the edge of pinching without any pad at all. Does that sound right?
BlueLodge -- thanks for that too, though I've read that one and watched a bunch of videos on Western, too! I agree on the Crosby: I had one I carried with me to lessons that I'd been given for free, that fit *every single lesson horse* with a good margin of error, from the ClydeX 'warmbloods' to the typey little Arab. Sometimes I had to fold back the rug for better shoulder fit, or put a lollypop pad under a really scoopy-backed one, but that was it. That was back in the days of a 16" seat though, which I've long since outgrown. I've tried like 5 Crosby's with no luck.
The only thing I *haven't* tried is a cutback/park/saddle seat saddle, which I've been told works well on scoopy-backed drafty horses. I really don't like how those sit from what I remember though, and haven't come across one I could try without buying.
(in case you couldn't tell: I have my preferences for saddle style - specifically dressage or AP leaning toward dressage flap with a narrow to medium twist - but at this point I don't care so long as it fits my horse and my butt!)