Shortly after blogging about it, I was in a tack shop for something else, and saw an older saddle on consignment for an unbelievably good price. I took it with me on loan to try it out on both my horses. (Any good saddle shop will either let you take the saddle on loan, or offer a return policy so that you aren't stuck with a saddle that doesn't fit.)
I was lucky in that the saddle did fit my younger horse, the one with the wider withers, who is currently in training. It's not a perfect fit, but it doesn't feel like it will pinch or otherwise hurt him, so it will do nicely as a first saddle.
In determining the fit of the saddle, I relied heavily on a series of videos I found on YouTube, which described English saddle fitting more thoroughly than anything I've ever seen before. There are nine videos, each of which deals with a different aspect of saddle fit:
- Wither clearance
- Gullet channel width
- Full panel contact
- Billet alignment
- Saddle length
- Saddle straightness
- Tree angle
- Tree width
And none of this, of course, takes into account whether the seat fits the rider. Who knew that fitting a saddle to a horse could be so complicated, or that an improperly fitting saddle had so many different ways to hurt your horse?