Not all horses have the same four gaits, walk, trot, canter, and gallop. There are a variety of different gaited breeds which expand upon the traditional gaits into what is called an ambling gait or a pace. Because of these additional gaits, gaited horses can prove difficult to find a good fitting saddle. The traditional western saddle can pinch the shoulders and hinder these additional movements. In addition, traditional western pleasure saddles are long in the skirt and can cause weight distribution problems in the traditionally shorter backed and uphill build gaited horse. So the gaited saddle is designed with these factors in mind; taking into account shorter back and uphill build, additional movements in the ambling gaits, and a more A shaped frame.
The gaited saddle's gullet is a 6 ¾ “ wide, which is between the average quarter horse and the stockier quarter horse. The shape of the saddle's gullet is more of “A” shape, rather than the traditional “O” shape of the quarter horse saddles. The tree on the gaited saddle also flares out at the ends to accommodate the additional shoulder movements of the ambling gaits. This allows the scapula more range of motion. So the tree and gullet create an overall picture much like a tent, which is perfect for the more uphill build of a gaited horse. The top of the tent allows for higher wither clearance and the bottom flares of the tent allow for more range of motion through the shoulders.
The bars are also different in a gaited saddle versus a traditional western saddle. The bars in a gaited saddle are shorter, which allow for more flexibility. This additional flexibility aids the horse in it's ability to amble gait. A traditional bar can cause a gaited horse discomfort while gaiting, thus hindering your horse’s natural movement.
The gaited saddle also takes into account that gaited horses are typically shorter in the back, than a standard quarter horse. Because gaited horses are shorter backed, the traditional western pleasure saddle is typically too long and thus distributes the weight of the rider incorrectly. In a gaited saddle, the saddle skirts are shorter and the panels are steeper to distribute the rider weight correctly and prevents any pinching through the topline.