View Full Version : Saddle peeps, just a quick opinion...

Mar. 24, 2011, 06:31 PM
So we have a saddle in that has been on trial for one of my students who's been looking for a little while now. It is a Custom Saddlery Monte Carlo monoflap. It is a lightly used demo saddle in great condition. We had Fred from CS out and he flocked it just for this horse, who is a very special fit - extra, extra, extra narrow shark fin TB with large shoulders (right bigger than left) and a hollow behind the withers/shoulder. Saddle fits wonderfully, kid loves saddle. Two lessons, a horse show, and a few hacks and all is well.

I've been working on my people to make a decision about buying the saddle for three days now (we've had the saddle for 10 days) and they're still hemming and hawing. It's more money than they wanted to spend - $2400 ($3800 new) - not pushed by me, but by seeing what was out there in the $1500 and under range and not liking, really. But now they are concerned that if they are going to spend this much that maybe they should look for a used Antares, Devoucoux, etc... They are also concerned that they may not be able to sell the saddle when it comes time (doesn't have this horse anymore and it won't fit something else, goes to college, etc) because it is a CS saddle and not a H/J-land trendy brand and is a monoflap.

I tend to be of the idea that we actually have a saddle that fits horse, fits kid, kid loves and rides well in, where the actual maker of the saddle is 10 minutes away and can adjust for us as needed, and is a lovely saddle. I have told them that I won't tell them how to spend their money, only that I support the decision of buying this saddle. They know CS makes great saddles but I think they're somewhat lured by the idea of having one of the big name saddles that may be easier to sell.

Any opinions? Would YOU buy a Custom Saddlery saddle? Would you spend that kind of money on a non-"trendy" brand saddle? Would you buy a monoflap if all other conditions were right for you?

Mar. 24, 2011, 06:46 PM
I would absolutely buy it,in a heartbeat,AND I'd be thanking my lucky stars I found a great saddle that is a great fit for both horse and rider!:winkgrin:

Mar. 24, 2011, 06:57 PM
lurking from dressageland here, I am currently purchasing a bench made saddle that no one outside of England or hte east coast has heard of because it fits us and fits our horse. I am not worrying about resale value as we need a saddle NOW that fits our CURRENT horse. Who knows what will happen in the future. Having the manufacturer right down the road would be a giant plus for me. Buying an Antares might be nice, but if it doesn't suit horse or rider it isn't worth beans.

Mar. 24, 2011, 07:15 PM
I have never been hugely impressed by Fred... but if YOU feel confident it fits... and the horse and kid work well in it, I'd pull the trigger.

Mar. 24, 2011, 07:17 PM
Tell them that a well-made, wool-flocked monoflap is an easy resell in the eventing world. Granted, a narrow-treed saddle is never an easy sell in ANY brand, but your best odds are over in eventing land where people ride narrow TBs all the time and monoflaps are super trendy.

Not to mention that it's pretty silly to live for tomorrow. For all they know, the kid will still have the horse in college and/or will still want to ride in college, at which point they can pay a few hundred bucks to have the saddle widened to a medium tree and the kid can still use the saddle.

You might also remind them that finding a used French-style trendy saddle that fits the kid, fits the horse, AND is narrow enough for the horse + is wool flocked to accommodate this horse's very difficult fit is basically a pipe dream. To fit the horse correctly in a foam panel would require a custom set of foam panels, and many of the French brands are purposely fit wide. For example, there's no way in HELL you're going to get an extra-narrow horse fit correctly in the Devoucoux Arcade Normale tree unless the panels are fully custom for the horse.

So unless they want to look at the wool flocked offerings from Amerigo, the Prestige Arezzo, or the EXTREMELY rare French models that were built with wool panels as custom orders, they are looking at buying a used Devoucoux/Antares/etc. at $1800-$2000 and then putting $300-$400 more into it for a reflock to wool + custom adjustments from a saddle fitter, who will not do it for free because they are working on a saddle that's not their represented brand.

In short, if they go French, they're going to have to put in $300-$400 of adjustment work that they probably won't ever get back--not even on resale. So financially, it would be the same or worse than just keeping this $2400 British model.

Mar. 24, 2011, 11:53 PM
I'd want a signed piece of paper first............. ;)

Mar. 25, 2011, 12:05 AM
Yes, yes, and YES! I was recently in a very similar position. I found a very lightly used CS for sale, exactly what I had been searching for in a saddle for over a year, went back and forth on the decision to purchase primarily because of the price. I finally bit the bullet and bought it. I can honestly say that that was one of my best ever horse-related decisions. My horse's back is happier than ever, I'm thrilled, and I no longer have to fight my saddle. The "perfect" saddle doesn't come along every day, especially for those of us on a budget, but it is a worthwhile investment for any serious rider.

Mar. 25, 2011, 09:03 AM
As an aside, VX, you're officially the first and only person I have ever heard have anything to say about Fred and CS, from any discipline, so that's very surprising to me.

I am glad to see that I'm not crazy here and that most of you think that trying to replicate this level of human/horsie happiness will be challenging.

However, there are details that I didn't put out there while trying to be short that really do make a difference. My customers are not trying to be troublesome... there *is* a reason to be concerned about being stuck with the saddle and not being able to sell it. Without going into detail, the horse is leased and, due to problems with the owner, not under contract - therefore the owner could literally yank the horse out from under the kid at any time. We're trying desperately to fix the situation and have been for months, but in the meantime the poor horse is jumping around with an exceptionally ill-fitting saddle that literally sits ON his withers (and no, we don't have anything else around that fits any better). :( We just don't feel like it's fair to the horse to continue doing his job under these conditions and have decided to get a saddle even with the risk. They could buy give the money for the saddle tomorrow and the horse could be gone on Monday. Of course, we're all hoping this *doesn't* happen, but they would like to proceed cautiously just in case.

The saddle will also have some flexibility to fit a new horse or for resale. It is actually built on a medium/narrow tree, but it has a very high pommel that accommodates the withers and thick wool-flocked panels that have been made to fit his shoulders/hollow. It will never fit a wide-backed WB, but should at least be versatile enough to fit a relatively wide variety of mid-range sized horses. Before Fred flocked it for this horse, it had actually fit another horse in the barn very well too - we just decided that since this horse was the more challenging fit (the other is just a basic M-N) that he got the saddle. lol

Mar. 25, 2011, 11:03 AM
Its more important to get a good fit for both horse and rider, I say buy the CS saddle now. The thought of that poor horse jumping with such an ill fitting saddle makes me cringe. You could spend months trying to find the right high end French saddle, and then it still might not be as good a fit for this horse as the current saddle. If the lease doesn't work out and the horse leaves the client just has to deal with that.

Mar. 25, 2011, 11:39 AM
Greystone, before I say anything else, let me say that I'm with you 100% that they should just buy this CS Monte Carlo and be done with it. They could easily piss away $500 in shipping/reflocking fees/etc. by pursuing other options. They need to look at this as a question of "Are we prepared to put $2400 into a saddle purchase for our daughter," not "Are we prepared to put $2400 into a saddle purchase for this horse."

But if they're like all the people that I've ever helped with a saddle search, they want to evaluate every. single. option before they spend that kind of money. So fine, let's humor them in this post. We've already established that finding trendy French + narrow + wool flocked is probably not happening, so let's examine other options.

Firstly, I haven't seen the horse and I'm no professional saddle fitter, but there is usually more than one way to solve the Narrow Horse Problem. Given the shoulder asymmetry, it's pretty save to say that wool flocking will be involved no matter how you slice and dice it. But these honking wool panels like the ones on Custom Saddlery's tack may be optional. Sometimes, not always, it is possible to make it work with a custom flocked but otherwise fairly regular wool panel + some kind of correctional padding, like a sheepskin half pad. So for example, if the obsession is with finding something highly resellable, they could go with a wool flocked Amerigo or Vega with a medium tree purchased at $1800-$2000 + a $150 Thinline Saddle Fitter half pad + $150 in wool adjustment work by your local friendly saddle fitter to make this all happen. In the process they save about $400 and they've got a highly resellable saddle in their hands. This is what I did with my guy, who is technically a medium narrow.

But as that "can you possibly go medium tree" question comes down to how this particular horse is built and the advice of your fitter, I'll leave that topic alone and assume that the horse absolutely NEEDS a medium-narrow tree for the rest of this post. If that's the case, there are only four ways these folks are going to avoid the money-losing proposition of reselling a narrow saddle:

1. Buy the Monte Carlo as a long-term investment piece that will carry the kid through many years of riding and won't need to be resold. Resign to the fact that it will likely need flocking adjustment, or maybe even a tree adjustment, in the future to get it resold.

2. Contact your other local friendly brand reps to see if they have anything relevant to peddle. There are plenty of wool-flocked British brands with healthier resale values than Custom--think Albion, County, Frank Baines (although to be fair to Custom, it's pretty easy to move their dressage tack and that Monte Carlo is VERY French in its seat design, which will make it more attractive on the market.). You could play phone tag with saddle fitters til you're blue in the face, hoping to happen upon a better deal than the Monte Carlo. I would rather put a stick through my eye, but it's not my problem and maybe your clients want to go there. After a few frustrating phone calls, they might feel better about their Monte Carlo. ;)

3. Buy something else in a medium-narrow tree, but pay a lot less for it so that you won't eat your hat upon resale. If this is your kool-aid of choice, I'd be calling two saddleries:

Bucks County Saddlery in PA to talk about their 17" County Stabilizer with narrow tree for $1800. County trees run wide, so this will probably fit like a medium narrow. Remember that after shipping and reflocking, this is about a $2000 saddle. Is it worth $400 to gamble $100 in shipping fees back and forth?

Atlanta Saddlery regarding their Stubben sample clearance. For reference, most people would call a Stubben 31cm a medium tree. Notice that an awful lot of these samples are narrower than that. Atlanta Saddlery has a saddle fitter on staff if you need guidance, and Stubben also has brand reps and may have someone in your area:

4. Buy an adjustable-gullet wool-flocked saddle and Make It Work with reflocking. There are a few options here:

--Collegiate Convertible Diploma, which can be had as cheaply as $700-ish if you shop around. If this is your kool-aid of choice, www.mmtackshop.com has a 17" and 17.5" in their consignment inventory and they do have a saddle fitter on staff. If you can make this work, it would be quite the financial coup d'etat.

--Buy one of the British wool-flocked adjustable gullet models. The resale on these is heinously low, but hey if it's adjustable in the gullet and wool flocked and it fits the kid, the kid may have the saddle for a damn long time and not be worried about resale. If this is your kool-aid of choice, I'd be calling several saddleries: Hastilow in Pennsylvania and/or Dutchess Saddle and Bridle in New York regarding the Fairfax GP, the Fairfax Jump, and the Kent and Masters Jump (all of these retail around $1700 +/- $100 in accessories for the adjustable gullet). If the client will consider synthetic, you could also talk to either of those saddleries about the Thorowgood adjustables. You could also try Classic Saddlery in Michigan to see if they have any Classic/Rembrandt adjustable models in their used inventory that might suit.

Good luck to you and your clients. With any luck, you'll present them with these alternative options and they will go "OMG that sounds like hell" and buy the Monte Carlo. :lol:

Mar. 25, 2011, 12:57 PM
Is there any way to get the owner of the horse to sign a lease contract before they commit to buying the saddle?

It sounds like the saddle can easily be refitted to another horse should the owner pull the horse. That being said I have a hard to fit horse with the same withers & hollows but he is symetrical. I would purchase the CS since it is working for this horse & rider. For future horses it sounds like it can be adjusted to fit more than just the leased horse.

Finding a saddle to fit a high withered big shouldered horse with hollows is no easy thing. Add in the asymetrical shoulders and you are talking having to customize whatever you get or do some creative padding which has its own draw backs and expenses. If they have been lucky enough to find a saddle that fits the hard to fit horse and the rider go for it.

Mar. 25, 2011, 01:16 PM
Good luck to you and your clients. With any luck, you'll present them with these alternative options and they will go "OMG that sounds like hell" and buy the Monte Carlo. :lol:

Jenny, you're entire post just made me go, Oh thank the holy Lord that they just called me and told me they want to go ahead and buy this saddle! lolololol

In all seriousness, I knew that was what we were staring down and I just didn't have the heart to go through all that with this lovely saddle sitting in the barn and the actual maker around the corner - especially knowing every saddle we trialed would be eating away at the already-stretched budget!

Sonny, unfortunately, there is no way to speed up the lease issue. I have been trying since Thanksgiving to resolve the problem and while I do think I see the light at the end of the tunnel (and am PRAYING it's not an oncoming train!), I still think it will happen too late for our taste. I too am uncomfortable with how the horse has had to deal with the ill-fitting saddle - although, to his credit, the horse has been a perfect angel with no obvious issues - and just want to see him in something that fits him reasonably enough to be comfortable. This saddle is perfect because it is literally practically custom for him and yet will possibly fit other horses as well.

Also, Jenny, thanks for the info about the used Collegiates, because that's the saddle Fred had recommended for one of my other students who just got a 5yo OTTB who she will likely have for a long time but doesn't have a large budget for a saddle right now. I will look into that! :)

Mar. 25, 2011, 02:35 PM
As an aside, VX, you're officially the first and only person I have ever heard have anything to say about Fred and CS, from any discipline, so that's very surprising to me.

I've seen him do good jobs and bad job. I think it just depends how patient he feels on the day you get him. He's fitted MANY saddles at the barn where I ride... some have very nice finish work and fit well. Others weren't done with particularly good craftsmanship and needed readjustment (which he came out and did... for a fee).

He recently sold a friend of a friend a "custom" dressage saddle with was a terrible fit for her. I guess it fit the horse okay, but I don't know how on earth he thought she would ride in it. When it came in, it was pretty obviously too short in the flap (dressage saddle) for her leg and a little small in the seat too. She mentioned that and he assured her it would be fine. After she tried to make it work for a few weeks, she contacted him about how unhappy she was and he wasn't at all willing to work with her. She ended up trading it in for a County and losing a TON on the trade. I wasn't all that thrilled to hear that story.

I've seen him do a good job and a bad job-- just sort of a mixed bag. I like the saddles okay, and I guess if you're on top of things it can work out fine... but I certainly don't have total glowy feelings about him.

Mar. 25, 2011, 10:30 PM
Jenny, you're entire post just made me go, Oh thank the holy Lord that they just called me and told me they want to go ahead and buy this saddle! lolololol


YAY saddle:winkgrin: