Saddle Shopping Toolkit

Whether you’re in the market for a brand new, fully custom saddle or you’re looking for something more economical, you have choices. And lots of them! This page is designed to help you find the perfect saddle.

Before coming into the store, it’s often helpful to ask yourself the following questions so that we can help you determine which saddles are worth riding in and which are a waste of your time:

  • Why do I need a new saddle?
    Being able to accurately describe the situation you’re in makes it easier for us to help you select saddles to try.   Has your horse’s behavior changed recently? If so, have you ruled out everything it might be (lameness issues, teeth needing to be floated, etc)?  Does your horse appear to have developed sensitivity to girthing? Does he attack the cross ties when you approach him with a saddle? Is his back suddenly sore? If so, where?  Does it feel like you’re not balanced in the saddle? How are you imbalanced, and why?
  • What kind of saddle do I need?
    Determining the seat size, flap length/forwardness, tree width, and panel shape you and your horse require before coming into the store expedites the saddle search immeasurably. You’ll be able to rule out all the saddles that won’t work quickly.  On average, a horse with a defined wither will require more of a medium to medium-wide tree, while a horse without much of a wither will need a wider tree. Keep in mind, however, that every tree is different, so don’t allow yourself to become pigeon-holed to one particular size tree – you ultimately won’t know until you try it out on the horse.
  • What is my price range?
    If money’s an issue, it is always better to go with a high quality used saddle than to buy a cheaply crafted new saddle. You might be surprised to find that some of our new custom saddles are affordable, offering you and your horse a wonderful fit without breaking the bank.
  • What saddles are available?
    Browse through our website. All of our saddles, both new and used, are listed there. If you have a few picked out before you come in the store, you can call ahead to make sure they’re available for trial. Presenting us with a list of saddles that you’re interested in further speeds up the process so that you’ll be well on your way to riding in a saddle that works for you.
  • Do I have a wither and back tracing to bring with me into the store?
    Having these tracings on hand is a great idea, as we can actually take your templates and hold them up into the gullet of the saddle to get an idea of tree width and even the shape of the panels that might be best for your horse. You can either borrow a flexible curve from us or buy one from the local craft store. You can download instructions and watch a video on how to take tracings below.

When you come into the store, make sure you let us know a bit about your horse’s history. Has he had any lameness issues? Is he a young horse, or a horse that has been out of work for a while? The more we know about your horse the easier it will be to assess the kind of saddle that will benefit you the most.

Taking a moment to fill out the Saddle Checklist will also help immeasurably – we can keep that and the wither and back tracings on file in the store as we help you find the right saddle. Click on the link below to print up the checklist:

Saddle Shopping Checklist PDF

When Taking Wither and Back Tracings, Remember:

Flexible Curve Make sure you have the flexible curve bent in half before you begin.
Tracing Wither Take your first tracing at the wither, approximately 2″-3″ beyond the horse’s scapula (shoulder blade).
Tracing at T18 Your next tracing should be at the horse’s 18th Thoracic Vertebrae, corresponding to the horse’s last rib.
Topline Tracing Finally, take a template of the horse’s spine, going from the wither to the 18th Thoracic Vertebrae.

Trying out saddles but aren’t sure if they’re a good fit?  You can bring in pictures of your horse’s conformation and pictures of the saddle in question and it helps us get a better idea of what you’re talking about.  It’s almost as good a a farm call visit!  The following are examples of the kinds of pictures we’re looking for:

Conformation Pictures

Conformation back

Conformation photos are extremely helpful when used in conjunction with wither and back tracings.  Having the horse standing squarely, provide a profile of both the right and left sides, along with a photograph of the shape of his back.


Saddle Pictures

As always, the horse must be standing squarely for these photos, with his head in a neutral position, looking forward. Take shots from both the right and left, keeping the camera level. Use a straight line form a wall, if possible.  The next shot should be of the back, where the panels lie against the horse.  Be careful when taking this shot if your horse tends to be worried about what’s behind him.  Make sure that he’s looking forward, so that his spine appears straight.  Finally, a shot of the saddle from the front at each shoulder, so that it is possible to see if the tree points are lying in the proper place.


If you don’t want to bring photos in, simply Email us.