Saddles, Saddle-pads and Saddle-bags
Traditional Mongolian saddle - click on photo to enlarge.
Long Rider Comments
Click on photos to enlarge
For an overview of saddles, please see "Long Rider Saddles: Questions and Answers" by Len Brown, Long Rider and inventor of the Orthoflex saddle.
For a fascinating history of saddles, and clear instructions how to test if your horse's saddle fits correctly, please see "Saddling for the 21st Century" by Lisa Stewart.
Prior to his departure in 2012 on a 10,000 mile journey from Canada to Brazil, Filipe Leite met with Brazil’s legendary Long Rider Pedroca de Aguiar. Having ridden thousands of kilometres through the hot tropics of South America, the older equestrian traveller advised Filipe on how he had avoided saddle sores by using a unique saddle pad of his own devising.
With his journey now completed (2014), Filipe wrote to Guild to explain how Pedroca’s saddle pad had ensured that none of his three horses ever suffered from a saddle sore.
Filipe explained, “I used a thick foam pad! It's the same foam used to make couches. I would go to stores that sold fabric and foam and buy a foam pad the size of a saddle pad. I would then glue fabric on the top side (saddle goes on) to prevent it from ripping, and the side that went on the horse's back I left untouched. I learned this trick from Pedroca; he did the same on his trip. In hot weather - it's miraculous, it works so well. No saddle sores. No burns. Nada! When the foam gets dirty or old, you just throw it out and buy a new one for twenty dollars. It made my ride 80 per cent easier!”
|I bought the
Malibaud saddle after having checked
out many different brands (which were either too expensive or just not good
enough). I heard about Aimé
Mohammed, a young artisan saddler who did excellent work for a good price.
I got in touch with Aimé and was enchanted by the
quality of his leather, the very deep seat, and the lightness of it the
whole ensemble (about 5kg, or 10lbs). I put the saddle to the test in
my ride across Turkey, and was delighted with it: strength and
complete comfort for both horse and rider! Annick Armand
My mare and I have now been on the road for two weeks, and have reached the Syrian-Turkish border. So far I have been remarkably satisfied with the Randonné saddle! It is comfortable for my mare and for me as well, even after 10-12 hours in the saddle. There are many fastenings for the saddle bags, and it is indeed very light and easy. So far we are very happy with it!
|As I was getting ready to begin my ride from California to Texas, I knew I would need a special saddle. I have a lot of trouble with my left knee which has been broken twice and with my right leg which was broken two years ago. I needed to find a saddle that had a free swinging fender to allow a full range of motion for my legs. I found it in the Steele Mountaineer. It is an endurance saddle and mine was in the western style. It was also a concern that I was riding a Quarter Horse with low withers and a wide back. This saddle was perfect. I had full contact with my horse because there is not a lot of heavy skirting as on my western saddle. In combination with a saddle pad that had full side silicone gel inserts, it was a fabulous fit on my horse. I never had a single minute of pain in my legs, even after grueling 25 mile days in extremely rugged terrain. My horse was never sore backed from the saddle. It has a deep seat and more than enough dee rings to attach additional gear. The saddle stayed in place no matter how steep the trail was up or down. It is the most comfortable saddle I have ever ridden, bar none. Steele saddles come in a variety of styles, both English and Western style. They have something to fit every need. I recommend them highly. Check them out at www.steelesaddle.com
The only thing between me and my horse was a good saddle - the Tucker saddle. I travelled 5000 miles in 16 months, which really put the Tucker saddle to the test.
Howard Saether and Janja Kovačič
|I (Howard) always wanted to have a western saddle, and while we were in Texas we tried many. One day while we were looking at saddles in a shop, they also had Australian saddles, and Janja wanted to test one. To make a long story short, we ended up buying two Australian stock saddles of the brand Dundee Rancher. They were much cheaper than western saddles, and we are very satisfied with them. We have added a Brazilian sheep-skin on top, and we are quite convinced that this really have "saved our asses" so far! The only problem with the saddles is that the wood in the stirrups is not strong enough. It has broken in three out of four, but the leather still keeps them together.
When I bought my little paint mare "Prisca," she came with a very old western-style saddle. I had never ridden such a saddle before, because it looked too heavy to me, and I didn't think it would fit a horse with big withers. But I tried it, and realised that I had been completely wrong! Not only was it comfortable, but it was very handy for attaching the saddle bags, had a horn to put the ropes on, was not as heavy as I had thought, and this model could fit any horse. Don’t ever tell me to ride with something other than a western saddle now!
I recently went on a horse trip around the island of New Caledonia. I used a special western saddle made by Guichard Sellier in France. It is lighter than a normal one, and has got more places to attach saddle-bags etc. On my next trip I will use it again.
|I used Vetbed Gold as saddle
blankets. Easy to wash and fast to dry, nice to sleep on, no
bacteria can live in this material, so I had no problem with
diseases. None of my horses had any back injuries, or even signs of
My cinches (girths) were of pure mohair. Easy to wash and easy to adapt to the size of a new horse.
|I used a Kimberly Poley Australian stock saddle, made by Bates
and marketed in NZ by Weatherbeeta. It
is a traditional design with plenty of dee rings etc, but
on a light nylon tree. Fantastic - both for me and the horses.
It has a replaceable gullet, so it can be altered to fit different
horses. The only caveat for a
Long Rider is that the screws
on the end of the gullet panel once worked loose.
I was near a saddler who took no time to resolve the problem - but
were I to do another journey I would find out how to do this myself before
Saddle bags - Heavy Canvas bags over the horse's shoulder are kinder than those over his loins. (made by Les Wilkins).
blanket - Use only wool.
No nylon or foam rubber or other manmade fabric which will break
the hair or draw the horse's back on long hot days.
I tried a polypad - lovely on a dressage horse but hopeless for the
a spare high density foam sleep mat.
It costs only a few dollars, is very light, and should you
find a sore back start to arise, you
can cut it to size, cutting out a hole over the pressure point
to allow it to heal. (Don't
put extra padding in to try to relieve a saddle sore - that increases the
pressure which was the root of the problem in the first place!)
Back protector - I also had a Heather Moffatt foam back protector, marketed by Feedmark UK. Much lighter than a standard gel pad, this is foam with a memory and really eases pressure points - worth considering.
saddlebags; they're great. We had to modify them a bit because of the
Vaquero saddles we were using. But they are very strong and tough. The only
thing that can really damage them is barbed wire. The saddlebags come
with a lot of straps and clips, so they are easily adjustable. The
bags also left more then enough leg room. We put the Ortlieb
Rack-pack behind the saddle and bound two
5 litre bags together to make front bags. This worked pretty good. But
we bought the Rack-pack one size too big so they moved a bit, which caused a
lot of trouble.
Also, we used the Deluxe Stowaway Pommel bag made by Easycare. Now the Ortlieb bags are all waterproof, easy to clean and they had more than enough room. And the Easycare Stowaway bags had two bottle holders and two small compartments to put stuff for easy access but they are not waterproof and not super strong.
All in all, Ortlieb makes great bags and I would recommend using them.
As for the Easycare Stowaway bags, they are not bad and worked well with our set up.
Finally, we had to make sure to always have something under the bags so they didn't rub the horse. We used sheepskin.
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