I rode in one yesterday, on my VERY difficult to fit OTTB and he was very happy...for me AND FEI rider/trainer. I was surprised at how level the saddle sat on his very not level back (rises out of his wither toward the croup - not drastic, but does rise...).
Have been thinking that a custom would be the only way I could get a dressage saddle for this horse...retired horse ALWAYS went in Albions for both XC and dressage, but he isn't TB (DWB/appendix QH).
Thoughts on Albions...thanks!
~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan
I've tried a to nof saddles. I have an albion slk ultium for my gelding. I think its a great saddle. I really think they fit the horses really well. I think it puts the rider in the correct position. I have heard it is best for long legs.
I ride my mare in a schlesse link. the schlesse is better padded in the seat
I got one used this summer and I absolutely love it.
It sits like a dream.
I am trying to think of a minus but can't.
I have the standard lowrise tree.
The horses I use it on all have relatively flat backs and not a big difference between shoulder-size and behind the shoulder (though Albion also has trees that accomodate that if a horse has a deeper 'pocket' or higher wither).
One of my three is narrower than the others so he goes with a pro-lite pad as well.
Btw, I find the level of padding quite comfortable but you can order extra if you so desire.
I've been eyeing this saddle for a while too. Where did you get one to try? The only Albions I've ridden in are jump saddles (both I've loved). The comment you made regarding fit makes me think the saddle may not work for my horse...my horse's back is pretty much flat, after his long sloping withers (slightly uphill build).
Does it allow freedom of movement on large movers? The dressage saddles I've tried all tend to restrict shoulder movement more than the jumping saddles. I don't think it's a tree width issues per se...maybe the points on the tree are longer on dressage saddles? Though my horse hasn't outright complained, I can feel the edge of his shoulder muscle nudge the saddle ever so slightly...especially when he's really opening up his stride.
Also, do you have the "high head" or "low head" version? My guy has fairly prominent withers, but not really what i'd call "shark-finned". Are there any negatives to using the 'high head' version on horses that may not necessarily need it? I guess I'm wondering what other aspect of fit is different between high/low head versions...besides the pomel being higher on the high head.
I have an Albion Ultima GP. It has the same tree and leather as the SLK Ulitma dressage - just more forward/shorter flap. I purchased it new from my local Albion dealer about 1.5 years ago. I love it! It's extremely comfortable - even on 4 hour trail rides. The leather is grippy and really wears well too. It also fits my mutton withered/flat backed QH/Paint mare perfectly. I have the low head option.
I bought an Albion SLK Ultima for my mare last year after a long saddle search.
She is very finichy about what you put on her back and she LOVED the saddle. I also love it alot too and feel very secure and comfy riding in it.
I have even taken it out on the trails for 2+ hour hacks and found it very rideable for such a long time.
I would say if it fits you and your horse go for it!
I bought the Medium tree Low head. I ride a TB with shark fin withers so I use a mattes pad with 1 shim in the front pockets. This saddle allows plenty of freedom in the shoulder. I used Ann Forrest as a saddle fitter. She is not specific to one brand of saddles. She is out of Florida and travels all over to do saddle fitting clinics. She will find out your price range and find a saddle to fit you and your horse. Can't say enough good things about her.
I ride in an Albion Style, which I think was the predecessor of the SLK. It's a super-comfortable saddle, and I have a very hard time finding that as I have old injuries that are aggravated by most saddles. I trail ride in it and have even done a few low jumps in it.
The saddle fitter who was out yesterday recommended that I stick with the Albions when/if I go looking for a jump saddle. She does not work with any particular brand, but she just likes Albions.