Scarfada Saddle

Operating a trail riding operation for six years, the topic of saddle fit became an all-consuming obsession. If a horse became back-sore, he was no longer usable - sometimes for months. Good saddle fit is imperative to the success of any equestrian business - but it is seen very quickly in horses that are ridden for long periods of time over undulating terrain.

Maestro like many baroque horses has huge shoulders and is fairly difficult to fit a saddle too.  
This handsome registered gelding has worked many years as a dressage horse in Slovenia, before souring and napping when asked to work in the arena. He came down to Italy, and became a trail horse - with his dressage saddle swapped to a western saddle. He was a great trail horse, and a very well schooled mount for riders of the higher levels ;but he was a nightmare to saddle correctly.
In the last years with him he wore this saddle - a wonderful leather Scarfada saddle that was lent to us from a horseman that aquired it directly in the Maremma. 
The Butteri saddle is very similar to the Vaquera saddles in Spain, and the saddles used in the Camargue region of France.

The Maremmani cowboys (Butteri) developed three working saddles. The Maremmano saddle (or Sella col Pallino), the Bardella (a treeless and extremely comfortable working saddle) and the ex-military Scarfada. 

The Scarfada (featured above in the pictures with Maestro) is the most commonly seen of the three saddles these days. A deep and padded saddle that was used in the Italian cavalry last century;this saddle is always used with a breast plate and crupper – essential also due to the width of the saddle. In the front, the saddle is doted with thick, padded knee rolls – and the height of the pommel and cantle of the saddle make sure that the rider is held securely in the seat  even when he is riding an unruly horse. This saddle is well padded underneath with horse hair that molded softly to the horses back. Many Butteri will not use saddle pads – though modern riders generally place a light pad underneath to soak up sweat.

The shape of the saddle allows for air to circulate around the horses back – and this saddle is especially suitable for a horse with a high (shark) wither. Modern-day endurance saddles have a similar shape.
This type of saddle is very heavy and they generally take some time to settle down and mould to the shape of the horse and rider. Once set, they are very comfortable and perfect for long distance riding and working equitation.

Maestro worked very well in this saddle and clients loved the feeling of riding in an 'armchair'.