Do Gaited Horses Need a Special Saddle?
While it's true that gaited horses generally require a saddle that accommodates a greater range of motion, especially through the back, shoulders, and neck, this is an important consideration for all horses.
Gaited horses muscles move differently than those that are built to perform only the walk, trot, and canter. Most gaited horses are built to move each foot independently with even timing. This prevents concussion because there are always 3 feet on the ground when performing a 4-beat gait at speed. This is what makes gaited horses so smooth! This requires muscles that move in a wave-like motion from their loins up through the back, shoulders, neck and poll. Overall, it's a lot more movement than when a non-gaited horse is walking or trotting.
Hence the need for a saddle that allows these muscles to roll through their full motion without interference from a stiff saddle tree, or trees that are not ideal for the common "A-frame" pronounced topline that many gaited horses possess (which is another consideration altogether that we'll get into another time!).
Our Imus 4-Beat Gaited Saddles and Phoenix Rising Legacy Saddles are designed to allow complete freedom of movement from front to back and side to side. We have uniquely designed flexible tree bars that place the saddle more forward, with the front edges of the bars of the tree gently cupping around the shoulder. This frees up the shoulder and also brings the saddle more forward, off the tender loin area (another common area to see pressure soreness from saddles). Our saddles' trademark forward placement also places the rider in a position akin to what we ride when riding bareback, which is beneficial for many reasons.
You can learn all about our trees, specialized open-cell therapeutic shock absorbing Supracor material we build under the saddle, the bareback position, and much more HERE.
Gaited horses are our specialty but we fit non-gaited Quarter Horses, Morgans, Arabs, etc. all the time. To ensure our saddles are a great fit for both horses and their riders, we offer a flexible 14 day trial and expert fitting support both before you order and after you receive your saddle! If you've been questioning the comfort of your horse under saddle, try us first!