Suggestions-Close contact saddle for short backed horse short rider? Back pain.
Hi. I'm looking for suggestions for a friend. She is short--five foot-sh and petite. She has back problems (having back surgery this week in fact) and is concerned about the "deep" seat saddles putting pressure on her back--she would prefer a shallow seat. She wants a very close contact saddle--I don't think there is such a thing as too close for her.
The horse is a British riding pony/Hannoverian cross. I call him a hony--14-3ish. You can see him and his back conformation below. He is not particularly thick barelled--pretty proportionate for his height. I worry about saddles being too long on him.
Anyway, these are some pretty particular criteria. She just tried a Kieffer Lusitano with a shallower seat and found it not close enough in contact. While price is always a consideration, for now don't worry about it--sky's the limit for purposes of this discussion.
I am in a similar situation, but both the horse and I are a bit taller. I don't have facebook, so I can't look at your photo. What size seat does she want? If she can use a 16", pm me. Another saddle that has been suggested is the black country celeste. Haven't tried it yet. I will have more info hopefully after the para clinic in Maine at the end of Oct. check over at the disabilities forum for feedback.
I have a Passier that I love, it's a Grand Gilbert, 17M regular seat, but they have other models that she may prefer. My horse is 15 hands and short backed, and he really seems to like this saddle. I come from a saddle seat background, so I prefer a saddle without much to it. I love this saddle, and I feel that it puts me in a great position without seat belting me in. The only thing I would change about the saddle is the thigh blocks. They're a little larger than I would prefer, but after the first week, I got used to them and they no longer bother me at all. There are other Passier models that she could look at that are similar but have other options. In general, the Passier owners I've chatted with have found that these saddles often fit a variety of horse shapes (within reason).
I have a Vogue dressage, though it does come in GPS and GPT. The GPS is more like an AP saddle and the GPT is more like a CC. The GPT also comes in a lower cantle version in Cognac, which is very pretty but costs more than the regular GPT does.
Both the Vogue and Fhoenix are soft tree saddles, and made completely out of foam. It does get hard in the cold, but there are ways around that.
I have a fractured L5 and the Vogue is the ONLY saddle I can ride in. Mine is a 17", which works very well on my very short backed sensitive Welsh/Arab mare.
The Fhoenix is less pricy, though the twist isn't quite as narrow as the Vogue is. Its also easier to find a used Fhoenix than Vogue. There are 2 versions of the Fhoenix, the older saddles and the newer saddles. The newer ones have a narrower twist than the older ones do.
I've also ridden in a variety of treeless, and the Vogue is the most comfortable by far. The Freeform saddles are nice, but no twist and the seat is hard. And the Barefoot and Torsion saddles I tried were quite uncomfortable for me and my ponies.
it's not the edge of the earth, but you can see it from here
Ancient Passiers, PT model. Usually (mis)advertised as a "PS Baum" which is the tree type, or "Hannover" which is the place it's made.
Shallow seat, very close contact.
I never tried the Vogue, but I found my Fhoenix to actually feel quite deep in the seat and very supportive. The Passier certainly lets me move around more. The Fhoenix DID get me back riding full force, and keep me riding, when I could ride in nothing else with a degenerative hip. Eventually the horse bulked up so much I couldn't take it and went back to treed.
The Stubben Schulthies (sp?) and Tristan are also very close contact and the old ones had a shallow seat, not as sure about the new ones.
I went up an entire inch and am more able to find the 'sweet spot' where things don't hurt with more room to move around. However, this takes more abs too.
Depending on her injury/surgery, finding the right twist and stirrup bar position could be just as important--if not more--than the actual depth of seat.
monoflap for close contact. stubben makes an excalibur, black country made one irrc wasn't that deep and the sweat flap was cut away, I once saw a really lovely and older bates haute ecole that was a monoflap and was quite shallow a seat, my jp giacomini and lauriche are both shallow, my lauriche quite close contact, the jpg I'm not so sure of.
there must be an older kieffer monoflap somewhere out there. also, tad coffin makes a dandy close contact dressage saddle.
but if $$ was no object, I'd invite mr Stackhouse over and have something built to suit
1. Get a thinline pad to help take some shock out. It helped my lower back pain better than anything.
2. I just purchased a treeless Startrekk Icelandic. Flatter seat, treeless, its as close as it gets, and its wool flocked, so you can have it adjusted and no hardening like the foam ones do in the winter. It fits my two large ponies superb (length is not too long and mine is a 17.5"), even miss part shark fin, i guarantee it will never hit a wither the way they are designed. My advice, take the plastic ribs out for better close contact feel. Riding with them in feels just the same as a treed saddle. Super soft seat, i could ride in it all day.
It looks like her horse has a slightly forward girth groove too, so that icelandic will really stick it behind the shoulder and keep it there, which was my problem on both of my girls. I tried the standard startrekk dressage model, much longer in the seat, deeper seat, but slid over the shoulder and tipped me into their ears. The Icelandic is great. They run $1500-1750 from the US rep: http://www.saddlingsolutions.com/ST.html
Abby is great to work with, the trial period is a week with a demo saddle that you can ride the crap out of. Highly recommend to at least try it.
I've used my Vogue on my wide Haflinger with no issues, so I'm thinking the Vogue might be better.
I have an Ultra ThinLine pad, which helped a little, but no where near as much as the Vogue saddle. There's also something called a backsaver pad, made by the same people who make the Vogue & Fhoenix saddles which is similar to the ThinLine but thicker, and I felt like it does a better job.
The Vogue, and I think the Fhoenix too, have removable knee blocks. I use mine without them and the HS Bow Balance stirrups.
Another advantage of the Vogue/Fhoenix over other treeless saddles is that it doesn't require a special pad, like most other treeless saddles do. The hardening seat issue can be easily solved by keeping the saddle in a heated room between uses or placing a hot water bottle on it and covering it before riding.
Startrekk treeless saddles do not require any special padding either... Mine is used on both a stupid wide sausage welsh cob mare, flat back with no wither and mega forward girth groove 13.3h, and a wide welsh x with high shark fin wither and a curvy back, 14.2h. Both of these horses are fairly short backed, the cob being the worst.
I went with the startrekk over the vogue/Fhoenix because it has more of a twist, those were also over my budget unless i waited another couple months to save. Startrekks do not have removeable knee blocks, but its knee block is supportive without being ginormous. The leather is THICK and hardy, but not slick. My instructor had the vogue on trial, she couldnt figure out a way to make it not slip on her sausage mare, ended up with a custom huslebos. I also thought her vogue looked rather large under her, chunky flap, etc... But i've seen photos where it doesnt look that way with other people, so i dont know what that was all about.
If she starts looking at treeless, tell her to stay clear of the Freemax dressage that is sold on ebay. I have that one too, but it is much too long over the back. Its only saving grace is that it is foam and really applies no pressure at the cantle of the saddle and moves with the horse. Its VERY close contact, but the leather is a little slick, the seat is very deep, and there is no twist whatsoever, you DO have to use special padding with it, and i cant keep it off a wither for the life of me. Very nice saddle for the price, nice leather, and works great as my trail saddle on the sausage cob, shark fin girl it does not work for.
The Arabian Saddle Co saddles i can recommend. Never owned one, but have ridden in a couple. They have fit many wider shorter backed arabs very well. I cant say they were super close contact in feel though. Nothing beats a treeless.
If you get the NON ultra thinline, its thicker, i dont know what they are called they just dont have the Ultra in the name... But i've never tried the seat saver, dont know if its the same thickness or not..
I have severe longterm back problems. For me, a huge difference was switching to a saddle with the CAIR air panels. It totally buffers the pain that otherwise can shoot up my spine. So it is helping my back, not just my horse's back. I also add a thinline pad. For short riders, I recommend the Bates Innova. Otherwise, you can also check out the Bates Caprilli with CAIR. I even know a young rider who is a three-day eventer who uses the CAIR jumping saddle model.
I was seriously considering a bates innova, and the standard block did fit me nice, i'm 5'3, but have bigger thighs, well not really, but i guess too big for the contour block flap.
I was swayed away from it due to a saddle fitter telling me the innova is not designed for a shorter backed horse as the panels do not flare away adequately or something similar to that. Its a lovely saddle, sat me very nicely, but i will admit, after that, i did not try it on my short backed mares after trying so many that did not work.
CAIR panels have very mixed reviews as to if they "help" a horses back or not. I rode in an Isabell with cair and never noticed a difference to horse's back pain progressing or lessening. I have owned two saddles with FLAIR (VERY different in feel from CAIR) and i liked the FLAIR panels better, though very bouncy and may have been cause to more stress to my lower back than needed until i got used to them and stopped stiffening. My horses did seem to love their FLAIR paneled saddles. You can have FLAIR put in anything, you are not limited to only wintec models with CAIR. I believe it costs $450. I had it in an Otto Schumaker and a WOW. Though i recommend riding in something with FLAIR before having it installed on your saddle, you may not like the feel, or you may not even notice... I noticed on the Otto Schumaker, the WOW, didnt notice at all.
WOW saddles are fairly close contact, but a different feel too. I LOVED my wow, but my cob mare decided she didnt anymore in the configuration i had and i couldnt seem to get the help at the time to get it corrected. Both of my mares went in the WOW until the cob developed more in her shoulder/back and needed different shaped panels.
The bates Caprilli dressage may work well, i had a friend who still uses one after 9-10yrs on her lusitano who is short backed, though it is wool flocked. I havent ridden in that, not sure that its got a real close contact feel. I know the Isabell does not, or at least not enough for me! Really couldnt say about the Innova, i only sat on it in the store.
Another one i sat in and loved was the Dover Warendorf SP, it was very close contact in feel. I'm not sure how it would have fit the shorter backed ponies, that was around the same time i gave up and went treeless to fit the sausage mare as treed saddles just werent cutting it.
I personally ride in a Tad Coffin dressage saddle which has a nice flat seat and small knee blocks. When I was shopping for a flat-seated dressage saddle, I tried a ton of old Passiers. They didn't fit my leg at all too forward/long flap for me and I'm 5'4.