View Full Version : Do you Ride in...GASP...a KNOCKOFF? Thornhill's Vienna II or Courbette Bernina

Mar. 22, 2010, 11:41 AM

Mar. 22, 2010, 01:25 PM
I just got the Thornhill Vienna II upon the recommendation of Coreene and so many others on the board. The saddle is breaking in very quickly and is so comfortable. It reminds me of the Passier Grand Gilbert/ Nicole, which is what it is designed after. It does not force you into position but helps you maintain a correct, classic seat. As far as fit, it does have wither clearance, but my paint is more on the rolly-poly side without sharkfin withers. They have I thing 4 different tree sizes, I ended up getting the regular tree (32cm) and it fits my horse perfectly. The seat seems to run to size, I ride in a 16.5" close contact saddle, and got the Vienna in a 17" seat. The twist is not too narrow, not too wide. I bought it because I rode in a Passier for many years but just can't afford a new one right now, I got my Thornhill on eBay brand new for $800 including shipping, and honestly, I feel the quality is that of a $2k+ saddle. All of the reviews on Thornhill saddles I have read have been positive.

Mar. 22, 2010, 01:33 PM
I bought a corbette bernina the year they came out. It was a lovely well made saddle that fit a variety of horses that took a medium to medium wide tree.

It has been a while, but i still have pics of myself riding in it so i went back and looked to jog my memory. It sat me in a chair seat, i constantly struggled with it. Twist was medium/wide, flap was just too big for my leg, and i have a long thigh. It was a 17.5" and that usually is what i ride in. I always wondered if a 17" would have suited me better. I never tried one. I ended up getting too frustrated fighting the chair seat position that i sold it on ebay. A bonus, i bought mine new from England, saved a bundle, and sold it for more than i bought it a year old and "used."

I too have heard great things about the thornhill vienna and almost bought it for my cob mare, but my mare was adamant that she hates a fixed tree saddle, so she is in a treeless Startrekk.

If i needed a saddle right now, the vienna would be what i would seriously look at.

Mar. 22, 2010, 03:01 PM
I have the original Vienna by Jorge Canaves, before Thornhill.
Very narrow twist and perfectly balanced seat, although slightly narrow gullet width. I adore that saddle-have sat in the newer Vienna by Thornhill and loth it. It is not nearly as balanced nor does it have good quality leather.

Mar. 22, 2010, 03:53 PM
I love mine.

Mar. 22, 2010, 04:18 PM
Oh my I just picked up my first thornhill at a local tack shop. Its an original vienna, and it was on sale for $350, i picked it up for $325. It looked like it was never sat in. Amazing!!

I LOVE it. It is breaking in wonderfully, the leather is great- and it does remind me of the passiers, many of which i sat in @ the tack store before i laid my eyes on my treasure. Wonderfully comfy seat, narrow twist which I love. My horse loves it too.

In a perfect world it would've been an 18" but it wasn't and at this point, but for the price I got it in the condition it was in, i can make do until I buy my second thornhill :D

Mar. 22, 2010, 05:29 PM
I like the HDRs a bit better for position help and horse fit, (in the same price range) but the Thornhills can be a great fit for the normal wide horse. (I say "normal" wide vs. "stupid-wide" :lol: )

I had the Vienna II and it was good for me where I was at the time, very good for the horse, but the stirrup bar was too far forward for me personally. They have a couple other models that the seat balance and stirrup bar are a little different, worth trying if you need a set back bar. The Vienna also ONLY comes with a point billet. I don't use nor like point billets on my guys, so that's a consideration.

I too had chair seat issues with the old Courbette I had, but I would definitely take a sit in one these days if the tree shape were right for the horse. Again, I think the balance in the seat has changed in the newer models, and they have become more specialised. The old ones were basically all the same seat and tree, with just a different flap. ;) Courbette's quality is lovely, and really, I always thought of Courbette as the poor man's Stubben. I very much like their newer dressage models, alas, they only come as wide as barely-wide...

Mar. 23, 2010, 08:08 AM
I have no idea about Thornhill, but I have no respect for companies that make cheap knock offs. The key word is cheap. I think the worst violator is Toulouse. Companies that knock off use cheap materials, inferior trees, etc. It is just not worth risking my horse's back.

Mar. 23, 2010, 09:37 AM
yea... if my weight is going to be on the horse's spine, I'm not going to chance it with something that cuts the corners to become a saddle.

Then again... I freely pay $300 to have someone spend an hour and a half selectively fitting my horse and reflocking/adjusting the tree of my saddle, whenever it is needed.

I'm sure his chiropractic bill would cost more in the long run if I tried to skirt around and buy a knock-off saddle.

I mean, have you really seen a knock-off purse or knock-off jewelery that matches up to the quality of the original? And thats just an accessory.

Mar. 23, 2010, 12:53 PM
I had a courbette bernina, my first dressage saddle actually, and though I haven't ridden any customs I've sat in plenty and handled them. Though I wouldn't compare a bernina to any of the customs I've handled, I wouldn't say they're a cheap knockoff either, the bernina was plenty nice for its price point. I enjoyed riding it in quite a bit and my horse moved very freely in it. I assume that was due in part to the e-motion tree but cannot be certain. My horse did outgrow it though rather quickly. I was sad to sell it. I found the seat ran a bit small iirc, my 18 rode like a 17.5. If they made one that was wide enough for my horse I wouldn't hesitate to try one again.

Mar. 23, 2010, 01:11 PM
Re stirrup bar position: Sit in your saddle without your feet in the stirrups as you would to be in a correct ear, shoulder, hip, heel alignment. Be sure the saddle is balanced correctly fron to back with the deepest part of the seat in the center. Have someone look at where the stirrup hangs in relation to your foot from the side. The stirrup should be right where your foot is. If it hangs too far forward, then you may need an extended or adjustable stirrup bar. I have a Schleese Wave. The standard stirrup bar was 1" too far forward (I have a long femur). The Schleese representative took the saddle back to Canada with her and an extended stirrup bar was exchanged for the stock one. Typically, the closer the stirrup bar is to the deepest part of the saddle, the easier it will be to keep your verticle alignment without "grabbing" at your stirrups.