When we discuss fitting a wider horse, gullet size can sometimes become a consideration. Although, what the actual gullet size is, is a question that cannot be answered in the traditional sense. Since the pommel is not connected to the cantle, the pommel moves with the horses' shoulders in contrast to a rigid tree saddle. The size of the pommel or width at the gullet does not vary. Although it is safe to say that the endurnace pommel is a bit wider than the trail and barrel pommels.
Ordinarily, I would suggest using the Endurance pommel for a wider horse. Otherwise, the western pommel will fit most horses very well. When we discuss fitting a high-withered horse, the saddle peak can become a consideration. If the saddle will be used on a high-withered horse, I ask the saddlery to peak the skirting, which is the pad section directly under the pommel. The higher peak does not rub across the withers this way.
In addition, the customer has the option of using the Skito Equalizer pad. By using the Skito pad the saddle is brought up higher over the withers because the pad has an open channel down the back. The combination of peaking the front of the saddle and using the Skito pad, in effect, results in the same lift that cut-back pads have on saddles by creating the necessary clearance over the withers.
Sports Saddles Can Fit A Wide Variety of Horses
These saddles do an excellent job of fitting a wide variety of horses. I know of several instances where the same Sports Saddle is used effectively on two different breeds, such as Fresian and Arab. A friend up the road used his first SS, which he still has, on his Quarter horse and later sold the horse and bought a Foxtrotter. The Foxtrotter is tall and narrow and the SS fits him fine too. Another friend of mine uses her SS on a Haflinger and her two Standardbreds. To assure correct fit you may want to try a Demo saddle.
I use my SS on a round Rocky Mountain mare and a good friend of mine uses her SS on two Walker/Rocky mixes. Other breeds that work nicely into the Sports Saddles are Icelandic, Quarter Horse, Walkers, and others. The Sports Saddles go a long way in fitting a wide variety of horses. The main consideration is the conformation of the animal. In the case fo my Rocky, the trail pommel is not wide enough for her. She trips frequently and looses her nice even gait. I discovered this years ago and since then use the endurance saddle. I have the stirrups placed in the trail rider rigging as I like my legs a littel more forward.
One customer came to me with an older Walker with a sway back. This horse had been bucking going down hills and generally acting very fussy when being saddled. We met at a local trail and she tried out the SS model I left for her. The first thing she noticed was that, for the first time, the horse stood quietly while being saddled. Then, approaching the first small embankment to the creek, the customer said, "this is where my horse really acts up and even will buck". The horse went down without even tossing his head. As the ride continued the horse moved out quietly and the owner said the gelding gaited better than ever. She thought that the horse was just a poorly gaited horse but discovered that with the SS the horse's gait improved a great deal. She realized the SS would greatly improve the quality of her riding experience and she bought a SS.
People ask if the SS fits all horses. But the question should be this, Is it appropriate for all horses? There is one type of horse that should not be considered for use with the Sport Saddle. That is a horse with a prominent backbone. The rider will end up sitting on the horse's spine which in the long run will not be healthy for the back. If the horse is just a lttile bit A-framed and the rider is fairly lightweight, AND with the use of a Skito pad that creates lift over the spine, the saddle can be used with caution. Check the horses back everytime before you ride and check it again after you ride. Look for any swelling along the spine or anything else that seems out fo the ordinary.
article was printed on page 8C in the January 24, 2001 edition
of "The Country Today", an agricultural publication
produced in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.