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March 25, 2007

australian stock saddle on young horse

Posted in: Horses for the horse crazy

Just to share, here is our 3 1/2 yr. old Gilford (arab/percheron) in his new saddle, after his and dad’s first trip out in it (first trip out this spring!) He was sweating like a pig due to really warm temps and still in his winter coat poor guy. I will report later on how the Aussie saddle does, it is new to us and to the horse. Sized for hubby dear who has ridden all these years in his daughter’s and wife’s smaller-butt saddles…

australian stock saddle young horse
Gilford in his new Australian stock saddle. (White thing above stirrup is protective fleece fuzzies I put on over the stirrup leather buckles.)

Although we’re not used to saddle horns (my saddle is an endurance style and Emmie’s is english,) we decided the horn would be handy for ski-joring. Plan is to snug the towrope to the horn, and run it under the saddle’s gullet and through the sturdy, integral hanging(?) ring at the base of the cantle. The skier-towing arrangements we saw centered the towrope on top of the horse’s rump in manners similar to this. (Given the speed of our snowmelt, it will be next winter before we get to try ski-joring again!)

australian saddle cantle ring
If anyone can tell me what this ring is REALLY for I’d appreciate it… it appears to be built into the saddle tree and is very strong. I’m guessing it might be to hang the saddle from a hook(?)…
MUCH THANKS TO SARAH (who Comments below) that this is a CRUPPER RING. A crupper is a strap which circles under the horses tail, the same as on a harness. Sarah says it would be useful for very steep downhills to keep the saddle from slipping forward!

And may I recommend Down Under Saddle Supply for their awesome customer service. Although this saddle was not even purchased from them, they bent over backwards to help me order the right size campdraft undergirth from them to fit Gilford, to the extent of my emailing them pictures and measurements, AND phone and email discussions.

Connie, I am just wondering - Why an Aussie saddle for Gilford? How is it different from a Western saddle that you would get locally? What made you decide to go that way instead of buying “off the rack”, so to speak! He looks so handsome in that black saddle!!

Why Australian instead of western (or English)?… a perfectly valid question.
1. We were primarily looking for a comfortable trail saddle for hubby.
2. Hubby said he’d be happy with one similar to my endurance, which is sort of western style but light weight. I wanted to be able to get it onto a 16-hand horse, and I KNOW how heavy western saddles are.
3. I have always been curious about stock saddles though I’ve never tried one. Back when I first went saddle shopping 14-15 years ago, I was considering Aussie saddles but came across the endurance style and loved it. So I was sort of presold on the Aussie concept– I liked the idea of poleys (those high thigh-pads) for a little extra security and stability in the saddle.
4. Another endurance-style saddle (essentially a light-weight western saddle without a horn) would have worked, but we were willing to try something different. (We also looked at Australian endurance saddles.)
5. At the time we were shopping, we were watching ski-joring, so decided a horn might be handy (though you can get stock saddles without horns.)
6. We had a small budget, so (eeek) were shopping on eBay. Hubby’s thinking was, it will be a low-use saddle (he usually drives rather than rides.)
7. I did some homework about Australian saddle fitment, how you ride in them, seat size needed for hubby, suppliers for parts etc.
8. The price was right, a new saddle with slight moisture-damage (which turned out to be insignificant.)

The extra security of poleys may come in handy when we start Glendale (now a yearling) under saddle, and people say that Aussie saddles are quite comfortable. With the poleys you supposedly don’t try to post very high. Your thigh is supposed to sit about an inch away from the poley. The stirrups put your legs a little forward of western stirrups, with somewhat bent knees. The saddle is designed to sit well forward on the horse. Ours weighs about 25-30 lbs., but is not as heavy as full-size western saddles.

We ended up ordering a new undergirth to fit our oversize Gilford. In the process, I learned that our saddle, which has an overgirth, requires a campdraft-style undergirth. And to complete the package, we are getting a wool seat-saver pad to save OUR seats!
Connie Moses– Blog: petArtistWithPeaches
website: PortraitsWithHorses.com (horse and pet portraits)

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