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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb. 19, 2009
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    5,589

    Default to buy a saddle or not to buy a saddle...that is the question

    so I have been toying with the idea of buying my own saddle (I don't own a horse). I ride 2x a week, at one barn they have horribly small school saddles that my rather large butt and long-ish legs don't fit too well in. The one larger saddle they did have somehow disappeared. The other barn I ride at I use my instructors saddle which I feel bad doing because it is putting extra wear and tear on her personal saddle.

    So...what do you guys think? I only ride school horses so I wouldn't have a horse to necessarily fit a saddle to. I also don't want to spend a buttload of money on a fancy saddle. I was thinking of maybe getting the TOTD saddle the next time it came up.

    ETA:Any suggestions for cheaper, decent brands is appreciated as well. I haven't sat in many, I know the one I used to ride in was a Stubben, and my instructor's saddle is an Ashland. I do know I need a narrower twist because I have big thighs...wide twist is too uncomfortable!
    Last edited by KateKat; Apr. 6, 2009 at 02:13 PM.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 4, 2006
    Location
    New Hampshire
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    Default

    I hear your pain. The responses you're going to get are probably going to say "don't do it", but there is nothing worse than trying to ride in a saddle that is too small.

    If you decide you're going to do it, I would suggest that you buy a used one, that way it isn't a huge investment. I recently bought a saddle on eBay for myself (I do not own a horse either). I had ridden in this make/model saddle recently and liked it and it was relatively cheap - $600. I haven't tried it out yet as I still need to buy stirrups for it, but at least I don't feel like it was a huge investment if it doesn't work out, or doesn't fit every horse. Also, it's a Stubben and in very good condition, so I could probably re-sell it if need be.

    The hardest thing for you is going to be deciding what saddle is right for you, since you don't seem to have access to any that come even close right now. You might be able to go to a tack shop that has used saddles on consignment and go sit in a bunch. Most places will allow you to take a few out on trial.

    Good luck.
    -Debbie / NH

    My Blog: http://deborahsulli.blogspot.com/



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007
    Posts
    19,638

    Default Yes, and here's a good plan.

    Yes, buy your own if you can. It will help you ride better, learn to care for tack and think about saddle fit. These are all skills you might as well start to perfect before you buy your first horse.

    You might consider a saddle that comes with replaceable gullet plates.

    Used Bates saddles can be found around. Be careful about aging CAIR panels, however. You can also have them replaced with wool for a couple hundred bucks, making a pretty adjustable saddle that's perhaps ideal for your situation.

    But Pessoas (with foam panels that fit many horses well) are just starting to be made with change-out gullets. Their design is more user-friendly than the Bates. These will be around 2K.

    Newer Collegiates (less coin) have the adjustable gullet feature, too.

    So, go sit in many, many saddles until you find one that fits your conformation. Then think about price, your interest (or not) in caring for your tack, and the likelihood that the saddle you buy will fit a range of horses.

    But there is incredible Karma in buying the saddle before the horse. As a kid, I took lessons and that seemed to be all I would ever do while belonging to my non-horse family. I said F That and bought my own saddle. Two months later, I found a working-student gig that launched me into a much larger horse world. Don't know how this works, exactly, but it seemed that when I told God I was serious and wouldn't take No for an answer, He ponied up with an incredible opportunity. I wish the same for you.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 5, 2003
    Location
    New York/New Jersey
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    3,509

    Default

    I bought my saddle before I owned a horse. (Was just taking lessons on school horses with saddles that did not fit me well). Became a horse owner shortly afterwards - not sure if there's a connection there or not! Good luck! Have fun shopping!
    She wasn't running away with me, I just couldn't stop her!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 25, 2009
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    Rock Chalk!
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    Default

    Having a saddle that fits you will make a HUGE difference in your riding. If you can find one used, that is the best way to go. You just have to realize it may not fit every horse perfectly, but there are good pads that can be used. The adjustable trees are good if you're thinking down the road - I ride a Collegiate convertible (Alumni) and love it.
    A proud friend of bar.ka.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2008
    Posts
    1,961

    Default

    if i were you, i'd make the investment.

    i was/am in a similar situation, and riding in poor-quality and just plain bad-fitting saddles was really detrimental to my position and effectiveness.

    i would look for a saddle with a med-wide tree, so that it will generally fit the 'average' horse and can be padded up a bit for horses that are a bit skinnier or have more pronounced withers. and just always check saddle fit on each new horse you put it on. if it is a gross mismatch, use a school saddle or borrow your trainer's. otherwise, padding can help an "ok" fit, and won't kill a horse to be ridden occasionally in a saddle that isn't 110% perfect.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 21, 2006
    Location
    South Carolina
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    5,474

    Default

    Are you sure your RIs will allow this? And if so, will one saddle fit all the horses you ride in lessons?

    My RI allows students to ride in their own tack, provided the student's saddle fits the horse. In my case, sadly, the little paint horse's saddle fits my lesson horse like socks on a rooster. Far too wide, no wither clearance, and it bridges. There's not enough padding in the world to make it fit - there would not be sufficient clearance for spine and withers.
    I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct. 2, 1999
    Location
    Mendocino County, CA: Turkey Vulture HQ
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    17,515

    Default

    I bought my first saddle three years before I owned a horse, and it was an excellent decision. Buy used, get a medium tree, and it will probably fit many horses as well as the school saddles do.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb. 19, 2009
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    5,589

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' View Post
    Are you sure your RIs will allow this? And if so, will one saddle fit all the horses you ride in lessons?

    My RI allows students to ride in their own tack, provided the student's saddle fits the horse. In my case, sadly, the little paint horse's saddle fits my lesson horse like socks on a rooster. Far too wide, no wither clearance, and it bridges. There's not enough padding in the world to make it fit - there would not be sufficient clearance for spine and withers.

    Yes, they would be ok with me riding in my own saddle given that the fit is not horrible. In fact, the place where I use my instructors saddle kind of expects you to have your own tack, given that their supply of school saddles is pretty much non existent! And the other place, the school saddles can fit pretty poorly.


    I basically ride two horses in my lessons. One is your typical TP, the other has more of a WB build but has pretty prominent withers. So if I do get a saddle I think people's suggestions of getting the adjustable gullet is a good idea. Fingers crossed that if I do get one, its ok. I would hate to buy a saddle, even a cheaper one, and not be able to use it at either lesson. I'll start looking, see what my instructors say/recommend and use your guys tips. Thanks everyone!



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 21, 2005
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    1,217

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KateKat View Post
    One is your typical TP,
    You ride a toilet paper horse?

    I'm sorry, that just cracked me up!



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 19, 2009
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    Default

    HAHA...sometimes the fingers are working faster than the brain. Sad thing is, the "p" and the "b" are not even close to each other on the keyboard. Sigh.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct. 24, 2001
    Location
    Virginia
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    3,301

    Default

    If you like your trainer's Ashland, used ones can be had for pretty good deals on eBay. Depending on your budget range, if you know what you like, you can find some very good deals on used saddles.

    I had a saddle before I had a horse. I was in something like your situation--I was riding a couple of horses at a barn where most of the riders were younger, smaller kids and there weren't a lot of adult-sized saddles that weren't big all-purpose things. I had an Ashland for 4 years before I ended up buying a horse of my own. The saddle didn't fit her when I bought her, but it probably would now that she's filled out a bit; I rather regret having sold it, but I love the Beval Natural I have now



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2006
    Location
    Southeast Pennsylvania
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    Default

    Here I go again! I would recommend a used Stubben Siegfried. They do fit many different horses and I think they are a beautiful saddle. And VERY comfortable. A tree size of 30.5cm to 31.5 is their medium size.

    Just my $.02!



  14. #14
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    Oct. 2, 1999
    Location
    Mendocino County, CA: Turkey Vulture HQ
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KateKat View Post
    Yes, they would be ok with me riding in my own saddle given that the fit is not horrible. In fact, the place where I use my instructors saddle kind of expects you to have your own tack, given that their supply of school saddles is pretty much non existent! And the other place, the school saddles can fit pretty poorly.


    I basically ride two horses in my lessons. One is your typical TP, the other has more of a WB build but has pretty prominent withers. So if I do get a saddle I think people's suggestions of getting the adjustable gullet is a good idea. Fingers crossed that if I do get one, its ok. I would hate to buy a saddle, even a cheaper one, and not be able to use it at either lesson. I'll start looking, see what my instructors say/recommend and use your guys tips. Thanks everyone!
    Even though you don't have a horse, you should still bring it to a lesson, have the trainer look it over, ride in it, and try it out on the horses you ride now. Then you'll have an idea about what will work.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul. 4, 2006
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    New Hampshire
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dispatcher View Post
    Here I go again! I would recommend a used Stubben Siegfried. They do fit many different horses and I think they are a beautiful saddle. And VERY comfortable. A tree size of 30.5cm to 31.5 is their medium size.

    Just my $.02!
    That's what I bought! I rode in my trainer's and I liked it. I haven't ridden in mine yet, so I hope it works out.
    -Debbie / NH

    My Blog: http://deborahsulli.blogspot.com/



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec. 18, 2006
    Location
    NY
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by poltroon View Post
    Even though you don't have a horse, you should still bring it to a lesson, have the trainer look it over, ride in it, and try it out on the horses you ride now. Then you'll have an idea about what will work.
    Absolutely! Yes, buy your own saddle, and definitely try it in a lesson or two with someone watching you from the ground. I had my own saddle [bought used from a friend] w/o knee rolls and had ridden in it (about 1/week lesson) for a couple of years. Switched barns and after a few months my instructor finally convinced me to shop around for a different type, better fit, with knee rolls. It took a while and it was the highlight of my lesson group's week (what will she have this week?) I rode in a bunch of lesson saddles, a few other people from the barn, took a couple on trial, etc.

    When I found the saddle that fit ME, it was unbelievable. My instructor still makes comments like "I can't believe how MUCH better you ride in that saddle!" FWIW, I bought a used Bates Caprilli and I love it. I'd never heard anything bad about the CAIR panels until I read this board, but I'll keep my eye on them! I am only 5'1" so it was hard to find one that worked for my short thighs, but it was well worth the search!



  17. #17
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    Sep. 13, 2006
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    At the back of the line
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    Default

    Another 1 chiming in on a saddle that fits you.

    I bought a heck of a nice older saddle, adv. as just the right size. I only used it for shows (it was that nice) but I never felt right in it. Come to find out, it was 1" shorter than advertised (I didnt check it before a long time has gone by) and thats why I never felt secure. I ended up with a saddle 1" bigger than advertised (checked it when I got it but loved it anyway) and while its a little big for me one thats sized like I thought I needed is really a tad small. So I went with growing room!

    Buy one that you can return or see if someone local will bring it to you and let you ride in it. Ebay--youre screwed if it doesnt fit--you can always resll but thats not what you are here for. With all the peeps getting rid of their horses you shoudl find a good deal on one. Good luck.
    “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug. 28, 2007
    Location
    Triangle Area, NC
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    6,744

    Default

    i suggest picking up an ancient passier or stubben off ebay in your size for a few hundred bucks. you can't progress in a saddle that doesnt fit you and it's not worth spending mucho $ on something you dont need to last you the next 20 years.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  19. #19
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    Jan. 25, 2009
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    Default

    Be sure, too, to talk to your trainer. They will help you find one that fits you, help you decide between CC and AP, etc. You really can't go wrong with a good quality, used saddle that is in good shape. In many cases, you'll be able to resell it for about what you paid for it when you're ready to move up.
    A proud friend of bar.ka.



  20. #20
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    Mar. 8, 2006
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    Southeast Pennsylvania
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cranky View Post
    That's what I bought! I rode in my trainer's and I liked it. I haven't ridden in mine yet, so I hope it works out.
    It will work out! I've coveted these saddles for well over 40 years. (When they used to cost $240 !!!!)



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