View Full Version : Saddle Spin-Off -- HDRs?

Oct. 14, 2009, 10:07 PM
I am on the lookout for a new saddle after the horse I am working at the moment very politely told me (by means of vet bills!) that he doesn't like my saddle!

The saddle I have currently is a Stubben Imperator. this isn't *my* saddle, but it's practically identical to the one I have (click (http://www.horsegroomingsupplies.com/pictures/files/2/3/9/7/8/old_near.jpg))

I am looking for a good cross country saddle with a regular or narrow tree that fits a high withered TB. I need a 17" seat and would prefer a longish flap since I don't quite want to invest in a dressage saddle yet. That's the next step :)

I've been eyeing the Henri De Rivels (click (http://cgi.ebay.com/HDR-Advantage-Cross-Country-Saddle-17R-Oakbark_W0QQitemZ280403126898QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH _DefaultDomain_0?hash=item4149542a72))

Does anyone have any experience with these saddles? Pros or cons?

I am open to suggestions but I am on a budget. I am planning on selling my current saddle in order to help fund the new one.

Any thoughts?

Thanks for the help in advance :)

Oct. 15, 2009, 09:02 AM
For what you want, I highly recommend buying a used version of an older model of some of the nice saddles. Courbette Pandur FS is great for flat and jumping, http://cleveland.craigslist.org/spo/1388116630.html

The older Kieffers could also fit the bill. I love them on high wither TBs

Using a saddle with a cut back head helps with the narrow issue, which is why I have liked Kieffers and Albions, the K2 is comfortable for flat work and jumping and can be had reasonable priced used http://equestrian.uk.freeads.net/leatherwork/2084252/k2--jumping-saddle-and-dressage-saddle-for-sale/view. The MTB fit or N/M fit works great on a narrowish high-withered TB

Oct. 15, 2009, 09:33 AM
I have an HDR dressage saddle. I'm fairly happy with it. It does the job. My only concern is that right underneath the pommel there is a weird fold of leather that kind of sticks out a little bit. Hard to describe, but because it is just a touch wide for my TB sometimes I think that leather fold presses on his withers. I don't use the saddle enough for it to be a real issue but I would just carefully inspect any saddle you get. I've heard some good things about the Toulouse saddles too for another brand to consider with a similar budget. I'm with scubed though...sometimes I wish I would have waited and bought a used passier or something similar.

Mach Two
Oct. 15, 2009, 09:35 AM
Buy something used that's a nicer quality saddle. I spent YEARS in the tack business, and sold some HDRs to folks who were occasional riders, but if you are going to event, you owe your horse and yourself a better saddle.

Here's my stock s'plaination: A used Mercedes or BMW or Lexus is still a quality car. A new Dodge Neon costs the same as an older, used quality car.
When the Dodge Neon is older, it is not worth 8 cents in Chinese money, but the better car holds it's value, because it's still a good saddle. The trees are made correctly, and the leather is quality.

I'm not slamming HDR, but if you saw one taken apart on a saddler's bench, you'd know what I'm talking about .

And I'm not talking resale, necessarily, I'm talking about what you put on your horse's back, and what you do to help your riding. I'd put money into a used Stubben or Courbette, or County, or Ainsley, one of the better Crosby saddles (not a Collegiate)

Oct. 15, 2009, 10:15 AM
What Mach Two said. That is EXCELLENT advice.

Look into the Courbette Vision, the Stubben Roxane or Stubben Siegfried, the Ainsley Chester, the Northrun Ashland, and the Crosby Equilibrium or Crosby Excel. With some judicious shopping, any of those can be had in your price range and are much better quality.

If you absolutely insist on something new, try looking at the Wintecs. They are modeled after the more expensive Bates saddles, so their styling/balance/workmanship is much better than HDR or other brands in that price range. The Wintec Close Contact and Wintec Pro Jump make fabulous entry-level eventing saddles. (Although if your horse is back sore, it may behoove you to go with a wool flocked saddle instead to allow greater adjustability).

Oct. 15, 2009, 11:31 AM
I've never found wintecs to work well on tbs, esp those with high withers; so if you consider one be really careful to check for wither fit, especially about an inch to two inches back from the pommel. In other words, they clear at the head of the pommel but hit further back.

Oct. 15, 2009, 11:40 AM
Thanks for the great advice so far, everyone! I have to sheepishly admit that I've never actually been saddle shopping. The saddle I have now was found by the lady I did a working student gig for.

I'm bummed it doesn't fit the horse I'm riding, it's a great saddle and I just love it, but can't justify keeping it if I'm not going to be using it.

I am very open to used saddles and I really liked the look of the Albions. I will definitely keep a look out for one of those. I figure if I'm going to invest in a new saddle I might as well get something nice that will last me for a long while.

I'm going to go to Dover tonight anyway just to take a look around, and I'm planning on perusing some local tack shops this weekend.

Oct. 15, 2009, 12:02 PM
I have an HDR Advantage that came with my pony. It also happens to fit my new draft cross so it's my regular saddle now as she's rather wide and I don't have anything else to fit and can't purchase anything else right now.
I really don't like it. I'm grateful it fits my mare but it's really slippery and no matter what I've done, on advice from trainers and even professional saddle fitters, I can't get it tacky or less slippery. When eventing, even at weenie levels, and foxhunting, it just outright sucks!
If I could I would get a used County or Black Country. My best friend just had her horse fitted at Trumbell Mountain in Vermont (can't say enough good things about the experience, i was very impressed!) and I would do that in a heartbeat! She came home with a County but ended up with a Black Country and I loved them both! I am also on a serious budget though and keep perusing Ebay for amazing deals!

Oct. 15, 2009, 12:18 PM
I have an HDR Showjump Pro. I was having a terrible time trying to find a jumping saddle that fit my mare and wouldn't cost me my life savings. I found this one in the Dover Basement for $300.00. Fits the mare, fits me so it works for us.

I was only planning on using it occasionally, but now it seems I ride in my jumping saddle more than my dressage saddle. Horse has yet to complain about it, so it may not be your "'Benz or BMW" of saddles, but it does the job and for $300.00, I'm not complaining.

Don't think I'd pay $900 for it, though, which is what they sell for retail, I think.

Oct. 15, 2009, 01:21 PM
Apparntly, there are different "levels" of HDR's as well... some are nicer, some are more economy type models.

I have a HDR Rivella Dressage saddle. A County saddlery rep, who is also the only saddler in the area, came out to evaluate my current saddles and try on some County's. Unfortunately, none of my jumping/AP saddles were working which I knew and none of the used County's he had were a fit and I couldn't afford a new one.

However, the County rep liked the HDR dressage saddle, said it fit one of my horses very well and was better made than he had seen in other HDR's. :confused:

Anyways, I ended up going to Trumbull Mountain to get jumping/AP saddles for my horses and was very very happy with the experience. They have a good amount of used stock and will help you find what you want that fits your horse. It might be worth going that route. I ended up getting new Black Country saddles and I'm extremely happy with them. Actually, I like them better than the used County's I saw...

Oct. 15, 2009, 03:53 PM
Vermont is quite a haul for me! I'm based in Virginia, so I'm lucky in that stand point because there are tack shops everywhere!

I picked up an Albion this afternoon and a County Eventer, I think. Can't remember off the top of my head at the moment. I liked the feel of both of them when I sat in them so we will see what Mr. Picky thinks. They are both medium trees, so I'm not sure that they will fit, but they may since my saddle was definitely a wide tree!

Oct. 15, 2009, 09:57 PM
I'm in Southern Ohio, and I just used Trumbull Mtn to fit an IMPOSSIBLE to fit horse. They were wonderful. Honestly, the best service I've ever gotten. They know their stuff, and with a few pics they know your horse. They do a great job of picking out makes and models that may fit your and your horses conformation from afar.

If the ones youre trying don't work out, give them a try.

I have had some very bad experiences with some of the saddle fitters that service this area, so these gals were great.

Oct. 16, 2009, 10:54 AM
Cannot say enough times how much better a used quality saddle is than a lower-quality new saddle, although you seem to agree.

I bought my SW dressage and Black Country eventer on eBay. I had done tons of research and new what I was looking for and had the time to take to find the right saddles. Plus, with the money saved, I can afford to have the saddles fitted. (Over new, saved about $1,500 on the SW and $1,000 on the BC.)

Also, not sure about the HDRs, but make sure you get wool-flocking. A lot of jumping saddles are foam filled. I might be wrong, but I just can't see the point of a saddle that you can't have fitted/adjusted to your horse. I think some of the newer models are coming out with foam and wool, so that you can adjust certain areas.

Oct. 16, 2009, 12:36 PM
Vermont is quite a haul for me! I'm based in Virginia, so I'm lucky in that stand point because there are tack shops everywhere!

I picked up an Albion this afternoon and a County Eventer, I think. Can't remember off the top of my head at the moment. I liked the feel of both of them when I sat in them so we will see what Mr. Picky thinks. They are both medium trees, so I'm not sure that they will fit, but they may since my saddle was definitely a wide tree!

You don't have to trailer to them. They have a website (http://www.trumbullmtn.com/) that you can order stuff from, and you can do tracings to help them fit your horse. :)

Oct. 16, 2009, 01:17 PM
Excellent, thanks for all the great advice! I'm definitely leaning more towards getting a nicer quality used saddle. I feel like with the used saddles, too, because they are more broken in, might be more comfortable for him anyway.

I'm heading out to the barn today to try on the two I picked up last night. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the Albion, but not going to make any decisions right away unless we have one of those lightbulb on, angel singing moments when I sit on him.

Oct. 16, 2009, 02:36 PM
I have an HDR jumping saddle and actually love it.

That said, when I was dressage saddle shopping (without a clue), I bought an HDR and my trainer HATED it! It put me in a chair seat and even threw off her position (she's a BNR) when she rode in it. For me, I need all the help I can get in dressage so that saddle did not last long.... :D

Oct. 17, 2009, 11:47 PM
I've ridden in a few different HDRs and found some quite comfy and others harder than rocks and very slippery. I have an old Nice saddle, which turned into HDR I believe, and I love it, in all it's pancake-flat glory. :) I can't get rid of it, though it's in semi-retirement now.

Oct. 18, 2009, 12:56 AM
I bought a used Albion Kontrol jumping saddle last year, and liked it so much that I ended up buying an Albion dressage saddle as well.

Oct. 18, 2009, 11:18 AM
I have a HDR Advantage that I got with my first pony. I used it when I did hunters up to the 3ft stuff and I have used it on my horse I have now. We are going training level. However, if she jumps hard or leaps off banks it does not give me enough support when it would have been nice to have a little extra something. My new Vega monoflap should be in soon! Good luck with your saddle search!

Oct. 18, 2009, 11:36 AM
I would def. recommened trying the Wintec CC. I have heard people who love the pro, but I love the CC. So far it has fit every horse I have put it on (massive belgian warm blood to a high withered TB). They arent too expensive (got mine used for 350 and it came with EVERYTHING). New I think they run for 600 something for the package deal. Its worth a shot and the likelyhood of it fitting the next horse you get is very high because you can change the gullets. I am saving up for the bates version :)

Oct. 18, 2009, 01:22 PM
I really don't like Wintecs, I rode in them a bunch in school and just never could get excited about them.

I've ridden him in the Albion twice and I feel like it's a pretty big no on his part. I didn't love it either. I also tried the other saddle, which was a Collegiate Senior Event, medium tree, and I didn't even ride in it because it sat too low on his back.

I'm going to take the two saddles back and try some others. Thanks for all the help so far!

Oct. 18, 2009, 02:08 PM
Coree, I worked with Trumbull Mountain via fone, sending pics on email and sending tracings via snail mail.

One of my horses they sent a perfect fitting saddle for him and me on the first try.

The other horse is extremely wide and we tried a few sizes up to XXW to see if something would work... nothing did so they ended up having Black Country make a saddle to template for him from his wither tracings and it came out perfect. It was awesome too because the saddle I got usually only comes in this really dark havana, but since I was having it custom made, they were able to make it in their oakbark/chestnut color leather which looks great on my horse since he is a chestnut leopard - the dark dark havana didn't look as well on him.

They were GREAT to work with and have some good used stock. I think it saved me quite a lot of hassle and money to work with them and benefit from their expertise.

Oct. 18, 2009, 11:35 PM
I decided to give the Albion one more chance today and actually thought he felt much better in it. We did about 5-10 minutes of trot out in the field and he felt great, toe-flicking, forward, nice and soft in the bridle, and even a few headshakes added in just to make sure I was on my toes. :rolleyes: A friend of mine (who is VERY well versed in saddle fitting) is going to take a peek at it on his back tomorrow and see what she thinks if I can get the tack store to let me have it for one more. Not jumping into buying it yet, though. I want to see some other options before I make a decision.

I've been on the Trumbull Mountain website and it's definitely something I will pursue if we can't find anything that works around these parts. Luckily, I'm not entered in anything, not much season left and don't see the point in pushing him to compete, so I'm just taking things really slow, lots of walk hacks with 5-10 minutes of trot, etc.

So my next question is, what kind of pads do you all like? Friend recommended Prolite pads, that's what she uses on all her horses and what I'm leaning towards. What about the sheepskin pads by Mattes or Fleeceworks? I've always drooled over them. I want to invest in a good, supportive pad.

Oct. 19, 2009, 12:31 PM
I have a couple Prolite pads and a couple Mattes pads. I also have a Fleeceworks fitted pad.

I have the sheepskin ones because I used to own a horse that required sheepskin. Don't have him anymore. But the Fleeceworks fits my saddles great, so if I ever show in any hunter stuff again, I'll use it.
I'm selling off the Mattes pads since I never use them.

I use my ProLite pads everyday. Actually just ordered a couple from the UK this summer. It was cheaper to buy them directly from there and ship them over than to get them from anywhere in the US.

Also, if you go with ProLite make sure you measure your saddle and know what size you'll need because the regular "half pad" for Prolite would probably only fit up to a 17: saddle. I have an 18" .. I ordered the "wide relief pad" which is wider and also LONGER. :)

The thing with the sheepskin pads is that if you use them on top of a saddle pad then you've lost all the benefit of having the sheepskin. But you still have all the hassle of caring for it properly.

If you want to just have ONE pad and want a good one for your horses back, then I'd go with sheepskin. If you want a little extra cushion on top of the pads you regularly use, I would go with ProLite. Or if you need to fill in a bit with a saddle that is just slightly too wide. What I particularly like about ProLite is that while they are shock absorbing and cushy, they don't just squish down to nothing like some of the other pads on the market.

Oct. 20, 2009, 04:58 PM
I have an HDR I got because my horse was out of work for a while, lost a bunch of top-line muscling and his County Symmetry ended up being too wide when he went back to work. I tried a few things, and the HDR Show Jumper worked out well for both of us. I was surprised that the 17.5 fit my long thigh (my County is an 18") and he was very happy with it. I competed at Training in it and took it out foxhunting with no problems. I oiled the tarnation out of it and it is still really soft and nice even after sitting in my trailer since Mister muscled up and 'grew' back into the County.

As far as a pad, depending on what is needed, I have a ThinLine, a Saddle Right pad and one of the Mattes non-fleece correction shim pad.

Oct. 24, 2009, 08:06 PM
HDR's are nice, but you will need to get a saddle that you can actually get the correct tree size you nee. Most horses (especially TB's with high withers) any more don't correctly fit in the normal tree sizes that you see in major catalogs like Dover or SmartPak. You will need to get a Stubben or Courbette (or a similar brand) that offers tree sizes from 27cm-34cm so you can make sure that it fits him properly. I would suggest a Courbette Aristocrat AP or the Stylist "Power". As for Stubben the Siegfried VSS or Roxanne VSS. Both websites have a closeout section for their saddles at very low prices.