Do you have a local tack store? You need to go sit in a bunch and see what fits you and hopefully they'll have someone on staff that might help fit your horse. The Isabell fits a wide range of horses, and comes in leather, but will probably be $900-1000 used. However, that saddle doesnt fit all riders, i cant used it.
Passiers are good quality, but i cant sit in those either, too painful. But for some it's perfect.
No one will care if you show in brown. Its coming back in style, slowly... But more and more brown out there.
You might get a cheap wintec or thorowgood as a starter saddle until you know more of what you are getting yourself into and what exactly you'll want in a better saddle.
Passiers! I bought a brown one for an UNREAL low price and simply used Hydrophane darkening oil on it. It's now a very dark brown/almost black. I think they are some of the most comfy saddles around for me, and they tend to fit a wide variety of horses.
I was lucky enough to find a Cliff Barnsby "Raven" model on E-bay for $405.00 - excellent condition and it actually fit my horse and me perfectly! I am very pleased with it. But before I got it, I tried many different dressage saddles to find out what fit me and the horse first. It wasn't hard to do that as my instructor uses many different dressage saddles in her lesson program, so I just tried all her school saddles to find out which worked and which didn't. My saddle is dark brown and black, and I use a brown bridle with it.
OP, as was advised, you should go and sit in a bunch of saddles first, get a sense of what feels good. Also, take wither tracings of your horse to a tack shop and compare and see what might suit him. You and your wallet may love passier, but it might not suit your horse then you're back at square one.
At first, don't look at prices, look at what "works" for you and your horse. When you get an idea, then go shopping.
You can find lots and lots and lots of EXCELLENT used saddles for $700, crosby, niedersuss, barnsby, rembrandt/classic, ainsley, miller klimke, passier, courbette, toulouse, county, some albions, some black countrys, I just sold my stackhouse for $600, stubbens, thornhillss, duettes, smith worthington, berney brothers, stokes, etc, etc,.
lots to choose from, just a matter of what works for you and your horse
Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.
Absolutely sit in as many saddles as you can find. Dressage saddles fit riders differently than jumping or close contact saddles, mostly because many have deeper seats and a variety of block options and twists.
There are plenty of excellent used saddles in your range but you first need to narrow down your choice by what fits your horse and what is comfortable for you.
When I first started dressage schooling I preferred a deeper saddle and loved my Albion Original Comfort. Since then I've moved away from saddles that "hold" you into position.
Do NOT buy on eBay unless you know exactly what you want.
I won't bother repeating all the excellent advice already given. After you have a good idea of what will work for you and your horse, if cannot find it locally, here are some tack shops which usually have a good selection of used saddles...
Rick's has a fantastic selection and some VERY good deals!!! Rick's Heritage
I bought a used "Albion Original Comfort" for $900 4 years ago (I'm sure you can find one cheaper if shopping around). I was actually looking for a saddle to use out on the trail so I never even concidered buying a dressage saddle, but then I ended up sitting in it at the concinment store... WOW! What a saddle, I bought it on the spot. It actually feels like it has a pocket for each seat bone and I have never ridden in a more comfortable saddle- ever. Everyone who gets on my horse comments on the saddle, how exremely comfortable it is. Mine is also very hadsome, it is black & very dark brown.
Good look saddle hunting.
I recently got an E. Jeffries off ebay from England (I live in Eastern US) for under $400 including shipping. If you know what you want and your horse isn't too hard to fit, I highly recommend the online shopping thing. I think the most likely places to find deals are local tack shops that do consignment, but don't have a big internet presence or directly from sellers on area or local websites, including Craigslist. Good luck
Do NOT buy on eBay unless you know exactly what you want.
Agreed. But if you have had the opportunity to sit in/try several saddles, and you have found a model/seat size/tree width that you know works, eBay can be a fabulous resource. I got my older Passier GG through eBay several months ago. I began searching for that size seat/tree after I had found one through a tack store that fit me and my horse very well. The eBay seller provided the serial number, which I then sent on to Passier to confirm the saddle was being represented accurately. Each time I have sent a serial number to Passier, I've had a reply from Thomas within 8-10 hours. I got the saddle for a song (right around the price range stated in your OP) and it was in great condition.
Many nice Keiffers come it at around 600-800 used. I think Keiffers are very nice for the price...right now, there's a Kieffer Adjustable Rhein on Ebay with a buy it now of under $600...since its adjustable (by a dealer), and a med. tree (could fit a range), might be worth a look.
ETA: I agree with ASB that EBay is a good tool. I've bought and sold on Ebay since 02 and I'd say 90% of the time I got great deals and dealt with great sellers. Check the feedback rating, that is always helpful.
ETA2: Plus, Ebay is so fun to mess around on. I just found a Stubben Excalibur with all the fittings for under 900$, including shipping! Gotta love Ebay browsing.
I'm not sure what others think of the brand, but another one to check out is Ovation. I was able to try one belonging to someone at my barn who is buying a custom for her rapidly widening horse. It fits me and my horse perfectly, and is in your price range. I'm now anxiously awaiting the arrival of my friend's new saddle so I can have my "new" saddle! I was completely prepared to spend more, but the fit is so perfect for the two of us I will stick with it.
I've been borrowing a Circuit, and it's a surprisingly decent saddle for the price, which was low even brand new. It's just an 18", and my legs are far too short for it! The seat seems to work even for thin people, it just needs someone taller than 5'1" riding in it.
Originally Posted by Silverbridge
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