Swinging Fender Saddles
Swinging fender saddle is an Australian stock saddle used all over the world for many different activities which demands long hours in the saddle and a more comfortable seat for the rider. Swinging fender saddle is suitable for starting young horses as it is more comfortable for everyday pleasure riding and is also used for Australian campdrafting competitions and stockman challenges.
The swinging fender saddle is designed for security and comfort in the saddle. It has stylish roots from the English saddle in the design of the seat, panels, fenders, and stirrups. Swinging fender saddle has a much deeper seat, higher cantle, and knee pads in the front which make it a very comfortable and secure saddle for the rider how to ride in rough conditions or spend long hours on the horse.
The swinging fender saddle is kept on with a girth attached to billets under the flaps, simmer to those on a dressage saddle. A surcingle passing over the seat of the saddle is also used to provide more security and safety. The backside of the saddle is usually secured by a crupper. A breast collar is sometimes added. A saddle blanket or numnah is used under the swinging fender saddle to absorb the sweat and to protect the back or the horse.
Origin of the swinging fender saddle:
Initially, the swinging fender saddle was a park-style saddle similar to the modern English showing saddle, with set knee rolls and short flaps. However, this style of saddle did not suit the tough Australian surface and did little protect the rider’s legs from sweat. Thus the flaps were lengthened, thigh and knee pad added, the seat deepened and the cantle raised. A famous saddle maker developed a design that was popular for a number of years, but the design over time became too extreme and lost favour to more conservative styles.
During the early days of a buck jumping in Australian rodeos, riders in a modified stock saddle using a crupper instead of the flank cinch used in the USA. Ladies stock saddle were traditionally made with a pigskin seat and with longer, pigskin covered knee and thigh pads.
As the Australian stock saddle evolved the knee pads were moved away from the knee to a position on the saddle further up the leg. However, they are still called kneepads but are positioned to contact the upper part of the rider’s thigh. This gives the rider much more security. If the horse stopped suddenly or the rider moves forward, he locked in under and behind the kneepad. The seats of the saddle are also redesigned. The one thing that has remained constant on the Australian stock saddle is the stirrup bar. The stirrup bar has proven to be a great safety feature. The stirrup leather or fender strap passes over it and is held in place by the upward curve at the rare end of the bar. This allows the stirrup leather or strap to slip off and release the rider in the case of fall and drag situation. It a stirrup iron gets caught on a post or a tree stump or any other item securely attached to the ground the stirrup bars design allows it to bend in an outward direction when the horse pulls away from whatever it is caught once again allowing the release of the stirrup leather or fender strap and ensuring horse and rider safety. The original stirrup leather was 1 ¼ “in width. This remains the standard even today for an Australian stock swinging fender saddle.
The original stock saddle was built on a curved timber tree with a steel framework to prevent distortion and spreading of the gullet of the tree which is shaped to a horse wither but if not made strong enough will spread allowing the saddle under the rider's weight to come down on the horse's sensitive backbone and shoulder area. With new technology becoming available in the mid-1960s different materials were adopted to saddle tree design. These include fiberglass, carbon fibre, Kevlar, and polyurethanes. Most of these products were a great help to saddle makers. Saddles could be made stronger, lighter, and closer contact. While the saddle was vastly improved by the use of these new materials saddle making became a huge industry in Australia. The new technology improved and streamlined production methods.
Today’s Swinging fender saddle still has the original design features of a dished seat and the Australian kneepad. The stirrup bar is still in use but the narrow 1 ¼” stirrup leather is replaced by an American style fender eliminating pinching and increasing strength, security, and safety. The underside of swinging fender saddle in now sheepskin-lined and much more close contact than the old-style hair stuffed panels of a century ago. Swinging fender saddle has become lightweight, close contact, and improved in strength. While its physical appearance has changed it has maintained its distinctly Australian features built into it by the original designers over a century ago.
The craftsman of the swinging fender saddle knew the demands then of the Australian bush and those demands are the same today. Those craftsman sure were right when they designed and invented the unique Swinging fender saddle.
Fitting a swinging fender saddle on a horse:
If the saddle does not fit properly to the horse then the horse gets hurt. This is a simple and pain fact. The longer the loose fitting saddle is used the more hurt your horse feel. Sometimes riders do not realise they are using a loose fitting saddle and do not associate the signals a horse is giving with the fact that the horse is getting a sore back because they are riding in a poorly fitting saddle.
When a horse feels pain and discomfort from a poorly fitted saddle they show certain behaviour like:
- Horse moves away from you when you try to fit the saddle.
- Trying to nip the rider as the saddle is being fitted.
- They start stamping the ground.
- And also start swishing their tail.
Another important point to remember is that a horse with a sore back will not only perform poorly but can be very dangerous thing to ride on. It is very important for you and your horse’s health that the saddle will fit your horse correctly.
Australian saddles fit differently on a horse than Western and English saddles, and a different fitment approach is required. Be certain to find someone with the appropriate expertise regarding Australian saddles and how they should fit your horse. Australian saddles sit more forward and more comfortable on a horse’s back than traditional western saddles. The stirrup are also attached in a more forward position. This puts the rider’s centre of gravity and weight in a more forward position rather than the middle of the spin. The girth should be 1” to 3” behind the horse’s front legs. This position is unquestionably for more comfortable for most horses and greatly enhances horse performance. Before undertaking a long ride with your new saddle, we suggest many shorter rides allowing the padding to confirm and adjust to your horse.
The ideal fit for the swinging fender saddle is that the front and back of the saddle should be level rather than the front is kept high or low. This will distribute the rider’s weight evenly over the horse’s back. Do not just consider the front and back of the saddle, also look at the seat itself. The seat in the saddle is nice and level. To determine that the saddle is fairly level, just eyeball it, there is no need to use a level. It is not always possible to get this perfect textbook fitment shown here. However, if the front is a little higher or a little lower, you will be okay, as long as you did not have the extremes. Several of the downsides of the saddles are made with deeper seats and higher cantle, so naturally, the back of the seat will sit slightly higher than the front on these models.
When the saddle is levelled, there should be even contacted along with the panels at the front of the saddle. There should be two to four inches of clearance between the top of the withers and the top of the saddle. If you don’t have enough clearance between the top of the withers and the saddle, the front of the saddle is obviously sitting too low on the horse. Therefore the clearance should be moderate so that the saddle is even from both sides.
In riding position, adjust the stirrup leather length so when you are sitting in the saddle your thigh runs parallel with the kneepad. You’ll ride longer on the stirrup with your feet forward and heel down. You should place 25% of your weight in each stirrup and balance in the seat of the saddle. This ensures an even weight distribution on the horse’s back. If your horse is developing sore spots, you always need to consider two points, saddle fitment, and the rider’s technique. When posting in an Australian saddle, you need to use a much lower post than you might have been taught by your riding instructor. You have to make a few riding adjustments in order to enjoy the many benefits of an Australian saddle. After you master Aussie Riding, it is unlikely you will ever want to ride Western or English horse ever again.
Swinging fender saddle brands:
When you are looking for a Swinging fender saddle you will first need to decide what type of Australian riding you are planning to do. Swinging fenders are categorized by their intended use, the material from which they are made, the techniques which are used to build the saddle, tree types and more. There are additional choices you can make regarding tooling or stamping, colour, types of leather, rigging position, and cantle height.
Some famous brand and features of swinging fender half breed and cross breed saddle are as follows:
- Tekna Swinging fender saddle w/Adjustable Gullet:
- Brand new from the famous Tekna range.
- Easy care features, synthetic material that is lightweight and so easy to clean!
- Gullet plates available in wide, medium or narrow with adjustable.
- Please note: this saddle uses a ring buckle girth or a 2 buckle cinch.
- Tekna Swinging fender saddle w/Adjustable Gullet & Stirrup Bars:
- The popular Tekna Swinging fender saddle now comes with stirrup bars, allowing for more fender movement.
- Available in traditional brown, this saddle is also ideal for pony club riders who require a stirrup bar set up.
- Features easy care, synthetic material that is light weight and so easy to clean!
- The saddle comes fitted with a medium Gullet Plate.
- Please note: this saddle uses a ring buckle girth or a 2 buckle cinch.
- Horsemaster Swinging fender saddle:
- GG Rider Swinging fender saddle poley:
- Manufactured using synthetic material to provide long life and easy care, with the added advantage of being lightweight.
- Full fibreglass tree is designed to give horse and rider unsurpassed comfort.
- These synthetic saddles resist sweat and dirt more easily than traditional leather.
- Sidney Hamilton Half Breed Saddle:
- Australian made.
- A close contact saddle, handcrafted from finest leathers.
- It is designed for competition, pleasure riding.
- The fender is mounted on a stirrup suspension bar, to allow riders to get their legs forward.
- Available in wide and medium gullets.
- Ord River Campdraft Saddle:
- It is carefully made with high quality leather and levelled.
- Basket weave leather embossed features across the saddle.
- Further details with contrast stitching and solid brass hardware.
- Swinging fenders with stirrup bars and in the event of an emergency, the fender is able to come off.
- Solid alloy stirrup.
- Ord River Half Breed Poley:
- A swinging fender saddle designed to give comfort for both horse and rider.
- Swinging fenders are attached to the full fibreglass tree, which gives the rider easy leg movement.
- A style of saddle used extensively by leading campdraft competitors and outback stockman.
- Flinders Swinging Fender M.ll:
- The mark 11 features an improved seat to give a better position.
- It’s hardware is made up of brass throughout and an improved fleece has been used as padding.