A broad flat back is often associated with low defined withers, but not exclusively. Horses with this conformation are limited in the choice of saddle.

The tree needs to be fitted very carefully for this conformation – a flatter tree with flatter rails which is wide enough at the top of the arch to let out across the withers and with long enough points to get some purchase either side of the wither. Otherwise the saddle will sit too far off the back, and the saddle will slip forwards or to one side.

A wider gullet in the saddle that fits a horse with higher withers rarely works. If the fit looks right across the front, the back of the saddle will be off the horse’s back, causing all the rider’s weight to be taken across the points and the stirrup bars. Likewise, if the rails of the tree are at too great an angle, excess pressure will be taken on the outside edge of the rail. This can happen however flat the panel looks.


Bad Choice:

Balance lost: the saddle is tipping rider forward and causing strain in rider’s back. The rider having to hollow back to maintain position.
All of the rider’s weight is being taken by the front third of the saddle so there is great pressure from points of the tree and stirrup bars on horse’s back.
A forward cut girth is in use to prevent saddle going up neck but isn’t helping.


Good Choice:

Saddle sitting behind shoulder and not slipping forward, not impairing horses movement.
Rider is in correct balance and is able to work effectively.

saddle trees This is a “curlier” tree with a higher head and longer points: suitable for horses with a higher wither and more shape to their backs.

This is a “flatter” tree with a lower head and shorter points: suitable for horses with low withers and broad, flat backs.