High Country Halfbreed saddles


' HALFBREED' saddles combine the best ' half' of the Western saddle with the best ' half' of the Australian stock saddle.  They feature the western tree - with its large, stable weight bearing bars for the horse's comfort and fenders for the rider's comfort combined with the main safety features and comfort of the traditional non-fender Australian Stock saddles.  The key features adopted from the Stock saddles are the 'poleys' (thigh pads), which provide much greater rider security PLUS the use of a stirrup hanger over which the fender hangs.  This ensures that unlike the restriction often experienced with western fenders, the halfbreed fenders swing freely (halfbreed saddles are often called 'Swinging Fender Saddles' in Australia) and can come off in an accident.  This is a significant difference from a western saddle, where the fender goes over the bar of the tree inside the saddle and cannot come off, in the case of an accident where horse or rider gets hooked on the fender.   


All Halfbreed saddles in the High Country Range have the following specifications:


  • Top quality American skirting hides

  • Fibreglass coated, wooden trees

  • 3-3/4" (Kaimanawa V1 and Molesworth) or 4-1/4” cantles (Kaimanawa V2, Stockman & Deluxe)

  • Crupper dees

  • In-skirt stainless steel, girth rigging dees

  • Gel foam panels on the underside, for shock absorption 

  • Suede covered underside for good grip and stability on the saddle pad

  • A choice of fender positions for the traditional forward leg position or a balanced more vertical leg position

  • Free swinging fenders mounted on high quality marine-grade, stainless steel stirrup hangars, custom made to our design here in New Zealand

  • Solid brass hardware

  • All metal clips on the dees


Tree shape and fit:

All designs are available in a range of fits, including a generous wide fit, that is required by so many NZ horses. 

Seat size:

High Country Halfbreeds have thick padded seats, in three seat sizes. 

Each saddle size is referred to by its tree size (to be consistent with the sizing system used by most western saddle makers).  However, our designs with padded seats have 1" thick seat padding and their resultant internal seat size is approximately 1/2" smaller than the tree size on which the saddle has been built.

Design                                                       Saddle Descriptor/Tree size         Internal seat measurement

Kaimanawa V1 &  Molesworth 

SMALL                                                            13  1/2"                                        12  3/4"

MEDIUM                                                          14  1/2"                                        13  3/4"

LARGE                                                            15  1/2"                                         14  3/4"

Kaimanawa V2, Stockman & Deluxe                  (Not available in small size )

MEDIUM                                                         15"                                                 14  3/4"

LARGE                                                            16"                                                 15  3/4"

If you are comparing sizes with existing halfbreeds or western saddles ensure that you compare the INTERNAL seat measurements, not the saddle size descriptor given by the manufacturer. 

The internal seat size is measured from the front of the cantle foam at centre top, to the back of the pommel at centre front, so basically the space that the rider has available to sit in.  The internal seat size is the measurement that should be used when comparing saddles NOT the saddle/tree size.  

The tree size provides little guidance when trying to compare sizes between different saddles as some makes and designs have thicker seat foam deeper or shallower pocketed cantles. All 16" saddles therefore do not have the same internal seat size. 

IMPORTANT NOTE  If attempting to compare the size of any western or halfbreed saddle with another, remember to also consider the effect of a different rise in the seat.  The 'rise',  is the slope of the seat from the rear as it rises up to the pommel, as this significantly effects where the rider sits in the seat.  A saddle with a steep rise will push the rider right to the back of the seat pocket and will ride smaller than a saddle with a medium or low rise seat.  In the latter, flatter seated saddles the rider will be freer to move around more, will tend to have their centre of gravity about 1/3rd of the way forward from the cantle and these seats will feel bigger to ride in. So if you are looking for a saddle make sure you are comparing like with like. 

In addition to seat size, halfbreed saddles also need to be sized to thigh size, due to the presence of the poleys.  A well fitted High Country Saddlery poley saddle provides security but does not restrict the rider's movement in any gait.  Rising/posting to the trot should be easy and unrestricted.  On our saddles the poley is set at a relatively vertical angle (compared with traditional Australian stock saddles where poleys are usually more backwards leaning to lie parallel over the top of the rider's thigh when the foot is further forward).  The vertical poley on our saddles means the rider is not locked under the poley or prevented from posting to the trot or getting off the horse in a hurry.  

In our 'balanced fender position saddles', trotting is effortless as the feet are directly underneath the rider.  When fitting your saddle you want the poleys just touching the thigh lightly at the top of the rise when posting.  This provides security without restriction of movement.  The seat therefore needs to be sized so that the poley sits no more than 1" infront of the thigh when riding with the leg relaxed at the walk.  A larger gap results in a much less secure seat.  Alternatively, if the thigh is pressed against the poley at the walk, then the rider needs to go up a seat size.   

Riders with more prominent buttocks or curvature in their lower spine will sit further forward in the saddle so may need a larger seat size, even if they are of slim build.  Unlike in English saddles, thigh length is of less importance as we can provide saddles with a range of fender lengths.  Therefore riders who fit in smaller halfbreed saddles are generally those who are taller and leaner body shapes and riders with flatter buttocks, extra weight on the stomach tends to be less important in sizing.   In contrast, riders who find they are more comfortable in a larger seat size, are those who have fuller thighs, or who are slim but have more prominent buttocks.

The three available seat sizes equate roughly as follows:

Small - similar to a 14” western saddle & 16” English saddle

Medium - similar to a 15” western saddle & 17” English saddle

Large - similar to a 16” western saddle & 18” English saddle

Skirt length:

23” leather skirt length on the small and medium sized halfbreed saddles

23 1/2” leather skirt length on the  large halfbreed saddles

These measurements are the full length of the leather skirts, however the gel foam panels on the underneath side are the same length as the wooden bars on the trees so the contact with the horse is as per the following bar lengths.

Bar lengths:        This equates to the contact length on the horse

21.5” on the small and medium sized saddles

22.5” on the large saddles


The medium sized halfbreed saddles, with 1" padded seat top, are approximately 11.5kg mounted (including fenders, stirrups and webbing latigos). The fenders and stirrups make up 4kgs of this weight so for those riders very concerned about weight, the substitution of fabric fenders and plastic stirrups can save a considerable amount of weight. 

In our saddles, the very strong tree is around 4kgs in weight, the remaining weight is in the thick, quality leather and the brass hardware.  The weight has been minimised where ever possible. 

Some customers have requested a lighter saddle but the only way this can be achieved is to go to a lighter tree or to use thinner leather or synthetic materials.  The leather on these saddles is thick, top quality hide and will last for many years.  We are not willing to compromise on the tree or leather in order to save a few pounds in weight.  It is far more important to ensure that the saddle fits well throughout the underside of the horse's back to distribute the rider's weight over as big an area as possible.  This ensures minimum weight on any point of a horse's back.  



More interesting facts about the 'Halfbreed' saddle >>