View Full Version : Saddle Shopping on a Budget

Oct. 7, 2009, 07:24 PM
Okay, I'm saddle shopping on a budget. I'm looking into a great looking barn for training and lessons and would like to have a properly fitted saddle before I begin boarding. I will be doing small hunter shows as well as eventing, so keep in mind a cross country ride when making comments on saddles please. I'll be doing more hunters than anything, which is why I post here.

My budget is ~$1000, give or take. I will not be purchasing a saddle until around December. Thank you future DH for taking care of my saddle budget :D

These are what I'm looking at for trials:



I'm really leaning towards this:



I'm 5'1" with short legs and medium/larger weight. A 16" saddle is too small, a 17.5 is too big. Should I go for a 17"?

Oct. 7, 2009, 07:37 PM
Id probably go for a 16.5" saddle or a 17".

Saddle wise I wouldnt get a new Circuit. The leather on them is so thick and hard, and BRIGHT RED! I know 2 people who have them and totally regret it. No matter how much oiling or riding is done to the saddle it just stays as stiff as the day it came. And it wont even darken with Hydrophane Darkening oil.

If you could find a used one (made before 2006 or so) I would get it. I had one made right before they "updated" their line of saddles, and it was my favorite saddle until the tree broke.

I dont know much about the M. Toulouse saddles though.

If you can try and find a used nicer saddle within your budget. Ebay is a great tool :)

Oct. 7, 2009, 07:52 PM
My trainer picked up the BdH from Dover for 999.00 and loves it. Before that she had the Crosby XL which I bought from her that is wonderful, we call it "the coach!"

Tha Ridge
Oct. 7, 2009, 09:04 PM
Hate the Circuits.

You can get such a nice used saddle for $1,000 and there are plenty of tack stores with lots to choose from that will let you take things on trial.

I looked at your other topic and I think something like this would work well for you: http://www.allthebestusedsaddles.com/17-beval-gladstone-592.aspx

Oct. 7, 2009, 09:17 PM
Lesson one of budget saddling: $1000 is not going to buy you much in the NEW saddle market. You will make some kind of unpleasant compromise: leather quality, fit for horse, fit for rider, or longevity. A lot of folks are going to get their hackles up and say "Well MY Toulouse/Collegiate/Dover Circuit/etc. is GREAT." Yeah, it's great for now. I bet it's less than 3 or 4 years old too. Ask them again in year five and see who's still happy. You're also paying a massive markup to go new. That $999 Circuit is worth $600 after oh, half a dozen rides. And you'll eat that $300 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if and when your horse objects to the saddle fit.

Moral of the story: BUY USED. $1000 will get you a used saddle that retailed at $2000-$2500 and still has plenty of years left. Bates, Stubben, and many other quality brands go regularly for $1000 in tack shops and on Ebay.

Lesson two of budget saddle shopping: It only takes one or two botched rounds of sending trial saddles back and forth from a saddlery to blow 1/3 of your saddle budget. And it will only take one round of back soreness with your horse and half a lost season of lessons/competition to make you think that "steal of a deal" was not so great after all.

Moral of lesson two: Get a saddle fitter involved so that you can at least make educated guesses about an appropriate match. With places like Trumbull Mountain that will help you do fittings from a distance, there is NO excuse not to be getting advice about how best to accommodate your horse and your own body.

Lesson three of budget saddle shopping: Budget for corrective padding. A $130 shimming correction sheepskin pad will fix many saddle fit "evils". It's cheaper than buying a custom saddle.

Oct. 7, 2009, 09:18 PM
I had a M. Toulouse girth and hated the leather. So I am prejudiced against their saddles.

I agree that you are better off trying to find a good used saddle. My favorite site is usedsaddles.com - I worked with them when purchasing my saddle. You can also send them those two saddles of yours and they'll put the cost of them towards the saddle you want. Heck - the have a new Beval Gladstone in your price range if the other poster thinks it would be good for you.


Oct. 7, 2009, 09:19 PM
For that kind of budget I would definitely lean towards used. You can get a really nice quality used saddle for about $1000. Any new saddle for that price will only be okay quality.

Oct. 7, 2009, 09:26 PM
A $130 shimming correction sheepskin pad will fix many saddle fit "evils". It's cheaper than buying a custom saddle.

After educating myself as much as possible on saddle fit (especially on panels - TB shape vs. warmblood shape...TB shape needs banana panels...WB shape needs gussetted panels) I took 3 saddles out on trial. I then enlisted the help of a saddle fitter to help me whittle down my choices.

All 3 of my choices were in the $1000 price range...used...and wool flocked.

Cost me about $150 to have her help me decide which fit my horse the best...and then she was able to custom flock the one we decided on to fit my horse exactly. What we picked was just a tad bit wide for him so she added stuffing to the front. The end result was a fantastic, fit like a glove, perfectly balanced masterpiece. Best $150 I ever spent. MUCH better than spending the money on a correction pad. To me anyway.

Oct. 7, 2009, 09:36 PM
Be very careful with M. Toulouse saddles.

Some have decent leather and some are absolutely cardboard.

Trust me, you'll know when you touch the leather. Dont look at it and be like, oh it just needs to be oiled. If it looks like and feels like cardboard, dont do it!!

Some though have decent quality leather, so just make sure that your getting a good model. I believe the one that I got that I thought would soften up and never did, is the celine. The premia though, I believe has okay leather.

Oct. 7, 2009, 09:40 PM
.Cost me about $150 to have her help me decide which fit my horse the best...and then she was able to custom flock the one we decided on to fit my horse exactly. What we picked was just a tad bit wide for him so she added stuffing to the front. The end result was a fantastic, fit like a glove, perfectly balanced masterpiece. Best $150 I ever spent. MUCH better than spending the money on a correction pad. To me anyway.

You ride him 5 to 6 days a week without any vacations and he never falls out of shape? He never gains or loses weight? He doesn't grow up and mature, and he'll never get old?

I believe in saddle fitters too. The saddle fitter who fit my horse's saddle works with dozens of Grand Prix riders. And you know what she said? That the horse's back is a living changing thing, and that unless you have a saddle fitter in your barn every week you should probably own some kind of correctional padding. For example, my horse came out of last winter a bit pudgy but also had a topline coming in, so for a few months there he was wider than usual. Thank goodness I'd had the saddle fitted to accommodate a sheepskin pad underneath--I just took the pad out during that "pudgy" stage, and as he came back into eventing fitness, the pad went back in. I would consider THAT money very well spent, especially compared to riding my horse in a too-narrow saddle or paying $300 to have the saddle widened.

Oct. 7, 2009, 09:42 PM
Buy used! I got a fabulous almost new Beval Natural for $900. You CAN find a very nice used saddle on your budget.

Oct. 7, 2009, 09:43 PM
i love the toulouse premia. it works perfectly for my legs (i have long legs though, so in your case it might be different).

Oct. 7, 2009, 10:50 PM
Another vote for looking into quality used saddles. I used to be a be advocate of the Dover Circuit saddles, but as someone else said, when they "updated" them (i.e., switched over production to another company), the quality really went downhill. They used to be very nice saddles for the price, but no way I would consider one now.

For $1000, you can get a nice used saddle, that will be better quality and better balanced - and already broken in!

Oct. 7, 2009, 11:08 PM
Definitely go used. I bought a used County about a year ago, and besides actual horse, it was the best money I have ever spent. The leather quality, durablility, balance, and overall appearance are far superior to any "new" cheap brand saddle.

I also noticed that you were looking primarily at saddles that seemed to have a bit of a deeper seat---for cross country I am guessing. Now this is just my personal opinion, so for you it may be completely different, BUT I actually prefer a flat seated saddle for that kind of stuff. I rode eventing for about 3 years in my trainer's bucket seat Stubben and hated it. I am far more secure in my pancake County! But, that is just my personal preference, your's may be completely different. Take it into consideration though.

I would definitely invest in a saddle fitter. I sent wither tracings of my pony to Trumbull Mtn. and they gave me a free "consultation" and suggestions on which size tree, etc. They were great help!

Oct. 7, 2009, 11:57 PM
i have a m toulouse annice and it is amazing. the leather is so soft and it fits my horse really well. i had a bates and thought it was awful, so whoever said bates, ugh. those do not fit warmbloods well at all. my toulouse is much better. and i have a toulouse, crosby and bates and the toulouse is the best and the least expensive.

Oct. 8, 2009, 08:21 AM
I purchased a Dover Circuit Elite about a year ago as my in-between saddle. My old Crosby PDN didn't fit at all for either myself or my horse and I didn't have the money to get a custom or semi-custom made up (I need a 16-16.5 seat and an extra long, extra forward flap). The Dover saddle was a good compromise for me as I got it on sale for $150 less than the normal list price. The leather isn't the nicest, but it's oiled in nicely enough. When I first got it I cleaned with Horseman's One Step after every single ride and conditioned the "rough" leather with Passier Lederbalsam twice a week. The leather has softened but I do have to condition it once a month to keep it soft. With my PDN, it needed the conditioner mayeb twice a year, if that. If you have your heart set on new, then the Dover isn't a bad saddle. If you really want high quality though and can find one that fits you I would say definitely go with a nice used saddle.

Oct. 8, 2009, 08:45 AM
don't go by sizing, because they can vary between saddles. ( I can ride in my daughter's 17 forward flap County - but my 18.5 reg flap Antares also fits) Def buy used, save more if you can. I saw your old pics on another thread, and IMHO not a single one of the saddles fit, I don't think the 17.5 was to large either. I would figure out what brand fits your horse, and then go from there.

Do you have tack shops in your area with used saddles, if not, there are many on line. But I would first figure out how your horse is built - have a pro come out and figure out what she needs, then take it from there. It may cost about 100.00 to have a fitter come out, but you won't regret it. Also - and I use County as an example, they may have used saddles that could work. Again, prob more than 1000, but def worth it. Nothing worse than riding a horse in an uncomfortable saddle. Been there done that!

Oct. 8, 2009, 09:23 AM
definitely go used and go with either local (and don't be afraid of craigslist; just be careful- I found my used prestige eventer on there) or an online place like trumbull mtn that can help you with fitting and give you some test ride time. Really with the seat sizing you will have to ride in the exact model of saddle to see which size you need. Even within a brand the way the sizes run/feel can change from model to model (for example I ride in a 17 prestige eventer for jumping and it is a perfect fit but the Prestige Top I borrow in 17 is huge on me). I am one of those that prefers to allow space in the saddle fit at least for something like a sheepskin half pad as it allows for the horse to muscle up more. Better a little wide and corrected with a half pad than too narrow and pinching. Be patient and take the time to find exactly the right saddle as it is well worth it. As someone who compromised and later regretted it I wish I had just waited for exactly the right saddle (which I now have....love my prestige and want more :winkgrin:)

Oct. 8, 2009, 09:41 AM
You ride him 5 to 6 days a week without any vacations and he never falls out of shape? He never gains or loses weight? He doesn't grow up and mature, and he'll never get old?

Point taken. But in my case - he's 10...matured...he does get ridden 5-6 days a week...and at this point in his life, his weight and shape stay relatively stable. :) He's the only horse I have/ride so makes sense to custom fit my saddle to him.

I can see your point - but my preference is not to have to ride with a sheepskin pad or any sort of correction pad. I use a square cotton pad under my saddle and an ultra thinline pad. Anything more than that - I hate the bulk. Even of a sheepskin half pad. Also less to worry about at shows - no need for a home correction pad...and a show correction pad. Just less crap.

But I can see the value if you have a youngster that is changing shape of having the saddle fit to accept a correction pad if need be.

Oct. 8, 2009, 12:35 PM
I got a really good deal on a Pessoa GenX that Dover had on it's what I call scratch and dent sale. the original price was $1500 but they had used it on the test ride program and it only had a couple of use marks on the bullets. Couldn't have been ridden in more than one or twice and I got it for $1000 and I love it.

I tried the Circuit Elite and I agree that the leather was much to hard. Wasn't happy with it so I sent it back.

Oct. 8, 2009, 12:41 PM
PLEASE buy yourself a nice quality USED saddle made in England, Germany, France, or Italy. I promise you will be so pleased with the wear on your quality saddle as opposed to the Indian saddles. I have an Hermes from the 1980's that is going to kicking for another 20. I can't preach enough about the importance of buying the best quality tack possible!

Oct. 8, 2009, 09:30 PM
First post- yipee! :)

I have a Circuit Elite myself and I love it. The leather broke in very fast and it's very comfortable. I will say, if you are taller, (5'7, hmm, probably on the tall side.) go with the Elite EQ. It's the same version, just meant for taller riders. I totally love my Circuit, it's nice quality and very nicely priced. Dover's summer sale, the Circuit Elite was on sale for $699 with a free bridle. (Which, in fact, was very nice quality.) BdH is supposed to be nice as well.

Hunter Mom
Oct. 9, 2009, 01:55 PM
The long and short of it - buy the nicest saddle you can find that fits. If it fits you and your horse and you are happy with the quality, don't get all messed up about what brand it is.

We have folks at my barn who ride in Ashlands, Collegiates, Bates, Bevals, Crosbys, HdRs and Pessoas. Every one of us LOVES our own saddle because we took the time to find something that fit us and fit our horses.

Oct. 9, 2009, 02:01 PM
I am in the same situation you are. I have my own saddle, but take lessons and don't board yet. However, I have the M. Toulouse Noelle saddle (http://www.smartpakequine.com/ProductClass.aspx?productclassid=4426) and LOVE it. The seat is sort of grippy and keeps you in place very nicely. Also, it's a GORGEOUS saddle. I have had it for about 2 years now and have no complaints. I believe I paid around $1000 for it including leathers and irons.

Oct. 9, 2009, 04:22 PM
I've ridden in Toulouse saddles and actually really like them. The only part of the Noelle I dislike is the lighter color on the seat and knees.