Custom Saddlery Process?
I'm interested in buying a Wolfgang Solo or Icon saddle from Custom, but I'm a bit perplexed as to the process.
I looked into local fitters and I am right in between 2 of them. The better one is about 150 miles away. However, it appears that she charges a farm call plus mileage simply to even show up for me to try the saddles and possibly spend $4000, then ANOTHER farm call plus mileage to tweak the saddle after it's delivered.
That means I would be spending almost $5000 for a bench made saddle without even that many options when all the service fees are included.
I really like the looks of these saddles and would like to try one, but the nonrefundable $250 just to try them out is astonishing to me. The same deal even if I fit by mail as they expect the customer to pay to ship one demo back and forth at a time.
Am I misunderstanding something about this process or is this the way it is? I will probably be considering other makes that will at least do the initial consult for free if so. It's too much money to spend to not like the saddle and be back to square one.
I'm afraid that is the process. You are paying them to come to you - if you can find them at a tradeshow (horse show or event), then there is no fee. You can do your own tracings, or again, take your horse to her.
I was a little surprised when I went through it too - honestly, I have no problem paying them to come to me to try saddles, but figured the cost of fitting should be included in the saddle IF I bought the saddle (and that was how it was when they first started out, but as they grew and added fitters, they had to find a way to pay the fitters).
If it is any comfort, this is how the Albion fitter in our region works, and a few of the other custom fitters as well.
I will say, last time I had the Custom fitter out, I got to try all their models, AND she had some used models available, so I could have picked one up for less then new. And they have a fabulous trade-in policy, so if you don't like that model in a few years, you can trade toward another model - their trade allowance is quite generous. So it was actually cheaper then trying a bunch of saddles through the mail and having to ship them back.
ETA - I'm not defending the charges, I agree, I think when you but a custom saddle (of any brand), the fitting should be included, but in our area, some of the other fitters charge even more, and also charge that on top of the cost of a saddle. I really do love my Custom Advantage saddle - I've tried a ton of saddles, and nothing fits me OR my horses as well.
We had a local fitter that didn't charge me anything to bring out saddles to try. I ended up buying a nice used one in great shape. I did pay to have the used one fitted to my horse. I guess it was just because she didn't have to travel?
Anyway, I do love the saddle and I was able to have the same saddle fitted to use on my 15.1 Appaloosa and then on my 16.1 draft cross. To me that's the biggest benefit of the more expensive saddles--no need to buy a new one if you change horses.
I would be fine with it if the cost included any or all of the following:
Originally Posted by MysticOakRanch
1. A loaner saddle of the model I'm buying to use while I wait 12 weeks for them to make one.
2. The final adjustment and delivery of the saddle was free.
3. the cost of the initial appointment was included in the saddle cost.
Just paying for it seems ridiculous when at least the Albion fitter will come back out and fine tune the flocking for free.
She charges a $75 per person farm call and a $75 fee for an initial appointment. Then .55/mile which could be split among others if there were more people, but I don't think there are as there's only 6 boarders at my barn. The appointment cost would be roughly $320 just to try the saddles.
I, too was interested in a Wolfgang Solo about two years ago. I was having a heck of a time getting a Custom rep to even return a phone call or email. It was literally a month before anyone contacted me. In the meantime, I found one for sale online that was 2 years old and, if it fit, a fantastic deal. I decided to take a chance on it and it turned out to be a gorgeous saddle. Last week, a local saddle fitter (independent - not a rep for any particular brand) came out to check out the fit on my guy and she LOVED my saddle. Went on and on about the quality of the leather, the condition, the softness of the wool flocking, etc. She told me if it did not fit my guy (it does!) she could sell it for me in a heartbeat. I have heard mixed reviews about the customer service of Custom, but they do make some excellent quality saddles! Good Luck!
Contact independent fitters in your area to find out if any also carry the CS saddles - some of them may allocate fees differently (but likely will also not have as many of the CS saddles to try), do always ask for a model size & width list to make sure there will be suitable saddles for you & your horse.
You might also contact County as they do apply some of the fees to any new saddle purchase & fitting on the new saddle is included in the purchase price.
AFAIK any saddle fitter that travels more than an hour or so, will charge a call fee (sometimes it may be just the gas costs) - obviously if there are enough clients enroute, this fee may be worked into the fitting/assessment fee.
When I calculated shipping costs to have assorted saddles brought in & even just my gas costs driving out to collect & return various saddles (none of which even came close to fitting), I'm way ahead paying a saddle fiitter.
OP - please PM me for any info about your two adjacent fitters - they're most likely people I know pretty well.
From my perspective, as a Custom Saddlery fitter ... I only do TN and Kentucky. I have started charging a farm call for trying out the saddles - just my usual $55 local or $65 if I've driven 4 hours (Of course, the 'away' trips are always groups of appointments - clearly I can't drive a whole day for a single $65 appointment !)
All the fitters are independent, so we charge according to our area. My area, and my clients, do not support charges as you described, that's for sure, but obviously in very high cost of living places, I can imagine the whole process getting pricey.
What I do, is I charge the trip fee for the initial trying of the saddles - which might take hours, because we have gazillions of them, or it might take the regular 90 minute visit time if we're fairly sure which tree is going to work for you. If you go ahead and order the saddle, then if at all possible I leave you one to ride in. Then when your saddle is due to be sent out, we liaise and either have it sent to me and I deliver and fit it FOR FREE, or we have it sent to you and we both make sure that I've seen it and fitted it before your 10 days trial is up. I don't charge for this. It's included with the saddle.
So far I have never had to leave someone without something to ride in. This is tough though, and getting tougher. I generally only have one example of each saddle. I mean each saddle, not each different saddle option and seat size ! So if you have my Solo ... I can't demo or sell another solo for three months ! That's the problem. Until custom's production has pumped up to match its demand we're all kind of 3-months-short of what we need. It's just that demand suddenly peaked for us in early Spring this year and we're running like crazy to catch up with it !
I LOVE our product, in terms of dressage saddles, I have seen nothing close. I love the company too - little things like always being able to call in and get an extension on the trial period if the client hasn't been able to ride, knowing that the company will never charge your credit card until I personally have seen you in your saddle - for me, that makes everything so much nicer. They really are a super-nice family company to work for and with. I don't love some of the fitters' pricing policies in other areas, I must say.
If it helps, feel free to call me and I will try to fix things for you. I'm sorry you're having such a hard time getting to try them :|
Yes, that's the way they work and I think it's total bunk. I have an older CS and like it, but I have to say that some of their policies a recent bad experience with the owner (again!!) have left me with a BAD taste in my mouth. :( If I can find a different company/style that I like better, I will buy from them, won't go "Custom" again if I don't have to. :no:
That is what I am beginning to hear but I don't see any other manufacturers with buffalo saddles that look nearly as nice as their vienna models :( I really want one, but I just can't seem to find another maker besides county who does a good external block buffalo monoflap.
Originally Posted by Dune
if my local CS rep were anything like Kate, I'd be looking at CS too :yes:
Instead my "Kate" is a County rep :winkgrin:
I hope that saddle companies treat the "Kates" as the treasures they are!
KateWooten, I did send you a PM when you have a moment.
My local Custom fitter is fantastic.
My first 'trial' appointment was $125 plus mileage. She stayed with me for almost 3 hours. First she looked at the horse and watched him jog. Then I sat in every saddle on the wooden horse to analyze fit for me. Then I tacked up and rode in 6-7 of the saddles while she watched. This included adjusting the trees on her demos so they would fit the horse. I was fine paying what I did for this.
I couldn't decide between two, and she had no appointments scheduled over the weekend, so she let me keep both for two extra rides for no charge. I dropped them off to her when I was done with them.
We placed my order for an Everest, and then she came back out (free) to set me up with a demo saddle while we waited for mine. The deal was that the demo was free if I ended up buying the saddle I ordered, but I would be charged a monthly fee if I ended up not buying a saddle from them.
My Everest came in a bit ahead of schedule, and she came back to fit it. I paid mileage for this visit, but no other fees.
I then rode in my saddle for the alotted 7 days, and loved it- so I kept it and didn't have to pay anything for the demo rental.
I now pay mileage plus fitting fee every 6 months for her to check it. Totally worth it in my book.
Trilogy's elite leather option is buffalo leather. I gave up after dealing with Custom for 9 months of progressively worse fitting saddles and went with Trilogy. Great saddle and it actually fit my horse the first time. No charge to come out the first time or deliver the saddle and fit it. To be fair the only money I was out with Custom was the cost of returning 3 saddles (and these were the loaners) after the local rep was out twice to do the tracings!
Originally Posted by wntrwhte
Not trying to solicit business for Borne' "Sankey" Saddles, but they make totally custom drop dead gorgeous saddles with tons of tree options for the horse, and seat options for the rider. I worked with Candy Frazer, she was terrific, the total price of the saddle included her fitting, travel time, etc....
You might check Borne' out as another option for hand made saddles.
Not impressed with these at ALL. Even though they're supposed to be totally custom saddles, they also sell you on the Mattes shim pad when you get your new saddle, "so it can be just perfect". Uh, isn't that what tree size and flocking is for??? One came to a sponsored rider with a couple parts on backward. :confused: She was so knowledgeable she just kept riding in it, but told me how horribly MY CS fit (obviously trying to sell her product). Hint to sellers: Bashing someone else's product isn't the way to sell, especially when the fit isn't the issue it's the customer service, but whatever. ...:rolleyes:
Originally Posted by Snoball 1
atlatl, where did you learn that Trilogy's elite leather is buffalo? I have had 3 of them and never been told it was buffalo, the leather was bad on one of them, and on another it was nice but not equal to the buffalo saddle I have ridden in. The website doesn't claim it is buffalo either (at least that I could find)
I think the key takeaway is one should like and trust their rep regardless of what company they work for. No doubt all the saddles are decent. I had a heck of a time with 3 "custom" saddle fitters, and now have a Custom Saddlery Wolfgang Solo and a Kieffer that I love. I got great customer service from both people, but after the 3 previous wingnuts, I had very high standards! I didn't pay an extra $1000 for fitting my Wolfgang Solo. I took the tracings myself-then got the saddle and had it tweaked by my rep. It was perfect for my very hard to fit guy! Some of these saddle fitters just take a weekend course which is fine if you have an easy fitting horse, but not fine if you own a hard one like mine. Good luck-saddle shopping can really take its' toll on your sanity!
My saddle fitter reps for Albion and she is great. It's $250 to have her come out but that includes having the flocking adjusted to fit my horse. If I buy a saddle from her, I do not have to pay $250 + the cost of the saddle. The farm visit fee and the adjustment to fit my horse are included in the cost of the saddle. The Albion SLK/SLK Ultima run around $3800. She does not charge any extra fitting or farm visit fees. If you purchase a new saddle from her, she comes out to do tracings and lets you ride in different models. When your saddle comes in, she comes back out to do a final fitting. All for the cost of the saddle. :winkgrin:
I just got her out to refit my SLK and it cost me $320 for her to come to Southern NJ from Quakertown, PA, adjust the flocking to fit my new horse, and replace billet straps. :D
Sorry for the delay in responding. The Trilogy rep told me it was buffalo. I thought it was on the website but just looked and couldn't find it. There are two grades of leather available. It sure looks and feels like buffalo to me. I'm having mine adjusted this week, I'll verify and get back to you.
Originally Posted by out west
Verhan does a Buffalo leather dressage saddle that is very nice and wears well but is not a monoflap nor have external blocks.
Originally Posted by wntrwhte