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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 28, 2009
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    Summerville SC
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    Default WWYD: aging dressage saddle — refurbish?

    I have a 25 (or so)-year-old Kieffer dressage saddle. I bought it knowing it needed a reflock and that the billets were fraying. It has served me well for over a year but now the panels are getting too hard and I might as well get the billets replaced while it is in the shop. It was retrofitted with short billets, so I plan to get it refurbished with the longer billets.

    The saddle is magic. It fits 90% of horses and fits me like a glove. I adore this saddle.

    With that said, the reflock and billet replacement will cost $650 done with Kieffer (this includes shipping). I bought the saddle for $400 so $1050 is not a bad deal for a nice saddle. But! For $650, I could also upgrade my saddle choice.

    The saddler "near" (lol, three hours from me) will charge about $550 and I can either bring it there or ship it (so it would probably cost me around $650 also).

    So do I make the $650 investment in this awesome saddle? Do I take that $650 and buy a new (used) saddle? Or do I just stuff the $650 back in my savings account and wait until I can afford a brand new dream saddle?

    My saddle:

    http://lh5.ggpht.com/_jHqBIAYy2bc/TM...0/IMG_5013.JPG

    (Yes it's brown and, at first I balked, but I must say I love this saddle and I now love that it's brown!)



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 23, 2006
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    Vermont
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AzuWish View Post
    The saddle is magic. It fits 90% of horses and fits me like a glove. I adore this saddle.

    Based on that, I'd have the repairs done.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2008
    Posts
    4,227

    Default

    If I were you, I would go window shopping saddles at a large tack shop that has lots of consignments. Consider what you would/could be upgrading to. Examine used saddles in your price range. It may be that you'd love a nice new(er) saddle, maybe even a more recent version of what you currently have.... but you may also discover that anything that compares to what you currently have is out of the range of price you'd like to spend, or you may discover the sad truth that 'they just don't make them like they used to'.

    Many people, including myself, love their old saddles and regret the ones sold on.

    If I were in your shoes, and I had a specific saddle I knew I'd really like to upgrade to, then I'd hold off on unnecessary repairs (not to say sacrifice safety or horse's comfort) and pocket what I could until I could afford the one I wanted.

    But, if I went window shopping and saw that the grass probably isn't much greener anywhere else, I'd invest in something I know I love and will use for quite some time.

    (and, brown tack rocks!)
    “Let today be the day you stop being haunted by the ghosts from your past. What happened in the past is just one chapter in your story; don’t close the book, just turn the page.”



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun. 28, 2009
    Location
    Summerville SC
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    Default

    It's true that the saddles I actually want are quite a bit higher than $650. And to be honest, $650 is a bit steep on my budget right now, but these things have to get done ... and they might as well get done while I'm preparing for a hunter show over the next month.

    The saddle isn't causing issues yet for the horses I ride, but the back panels are becoming firmer and firmer, and I just think that's not fair to ask the horse to round up to something that isn't welcoming. Right now the chestnut in the OP pic rounds much better in my CC than my dressage saddle and I suspect that has to do with the flocking.

    Window shopping is hard for me. Closest large saddle shop is three hours away. Most are about three and a half hours away in Southern Pines. I live in a black hole when it comes to equine goods and services lol

    I think you guys have confirmed what I already know: eat the $650 and keep this saddle for another 25 years! Sometimes you just have to say it (or post it) to get your mind around it. I'm not telling the husband haha That's what personal savings accounts are for!!!

    Thanks!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 22, 2008
    Location
    Rochester, NY
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    2,035

    Default

    I have a Kieffer older than yours (a 69 model) that I bought this summer for a whopping $100. It is also magic, I plan on keeping it forever and ever, and when the time comes for repair and refurbishing I will pay $650, $750 or more to keep it solid.

    Those older saddles are still around for a reason. Keep it alive.
    bar.ka think u al.l. susp.ect
    free bar.ka and tidy rabbit



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr. 17, 2002
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    between the barn and the pond
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    Default

    I'd refurbish it. Maybe the billets first for safety, then the reflocking.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan. 5, 2010
    Posts
    2,152

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AzuWish View Post
    I think you guys have confirmed what I already know: eat the $650 and keep this saddle for another 25 years! Sometimes you just have to say it (or post it) to get your mind around it. I'm not telling the husband haha That's what personal savings accounts are for!!!

    Thanks!
    Depending on shipping, you might want to call Journeymen Saddlery in Middleburg, VA. They've done excellent work on multiple saddles for my wife and I... and I think we could get two of them done for that 650...
    Nudging "Almost Heaven" a little closer still...
    http://www.wvhorsetrainer.com



  8. #8
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    Apr. 17, 2002
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    Default

    yes- my billets were replaced for about 100, I think?



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar. 9, 2006
    Posts
    1,289

    Default

    I had to make that decision about my saddle a year ago. The saddle at the time was 11 years old. Leather was in GREAT shape. But the seat needed replacing. The panels needed to be rebuilt. And while we were at it I had the billets replaced.

    I asked the saddle maker if it was worth it. The answer was YES because it worked so well for both me and my horse. So for $800 I have a NEW saddle. One that I know fits. One that I know the history of.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan. 5, 2010
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    2,152

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine View Post
    yes- my billets were replaced for about 100, I think?
    I'd have to ask K regarding billets, I don't remember. She has 80% of the saddle work done. I'm trying to remember if getting my Stubben reflocked was 170 or 270, I think the latter... Either way, they did an awesome job for a lot cheaper than 650
    Nudging "Almost Heaven" a little closer still...
    http://www.wvhorsetrainer.com



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 13, 2005
    Location
    Columbus, OH
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    Default

    You are paying "dealer prices" for those services at $650. Compare that to using a qualified independent fitter, such as Kate Wooten in Tennessee, who could probably get you the same work for about $450-$500 including all shipping costs:
    http://www.englishsaddlefit.com/procedures.html

    If you can, pay whatever it takes to have the billets reattached to the tree with nylon (from which leather billets are hung further down the nylon billet) so that future billet replacements can be done by a local cobbler. Most of your repair cost is the cost of the teardown, so if you've already paid for the teardown for the reflock, might as well do yourself a favor for future repairs.

    You might also think of it this way: in its current condition, your saddle is virtually valueless; someone might give you $150-ish for it max. But if it were refurbed with a fresh reflock and new billets, it would easily command $300-$400 on the used market. So you'd get a lot of your repair money back at resale time if you ever chose to resell.
    Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun. 28, 2009
    Location
    Summerville SC
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    329

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Belg View Post
    Depending on shipping, you might want to call Journeymen Saddlery in Middleburg, VA. They've done excellent work on multiple saddles for my wife and I... and I think we could get two of them done for that 650...
    I'll have to check them out! Do you have contact info? I did a quick google and couldn't find a website.

    I think to have the billets replaced it would be around $395 at Kieffer (new flocking is $295), but they have this thing where you send the saddle in for a "midrange overhaul package" that includes that stuff and more for $550. Then $50 both ways for shipping.

    The saddlery near me is $350 for the reflock and $100 each billet

    Ruby, old Kieffers FTW!



  13. #13
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    Jun. 28, 2009
    Location
    Summerville SC
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    Default

    Wow, jenny, I didn't realize! I just e-mailed a few of the fitters (including the one you posted) and see about prices. I thought I was getting a good deal!

    I don't know if my saddle is value-less I bought it in this condition after all! haha

    Oh and I thought about it: I think I actually paid closer to $350 for it. But the ole memory is fading so there you go.



  14. #14
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    Jan. 5, 2010
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AzuWish View Post
    I'll have to check them out! Do you have contact info? I did a quick google and couldn't find a website.

    I think to have the billets replaced it would be around $395 at Kieffer (new flocking is $295), but they have this thing where you send the saddle in for a "midrange overhaul package" that includes that stuff and more for $550. Then $50 both ways for shipping.

    The saddlery near me is $350 for the reflock and $100 each billet

    Ruby, old Kieffers FTW!
    PM sent w/phone #. Don't think they have a website....
    Nudging "Almost Heaven" a little closer still...
    http://www.wvhorsetrainer.com



  15. #15
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    Jun. 28, 2009
    Location
    Summerville SC
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    Default

    Thanks, belg!

    With these "cheaper" prices, this means I can also put long billets on my CC sooner instead of waiting! No more bulges under my leg in either saddle then!

    You guys are great. Thank you!



  16. #16
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    Apr. 17, 2002
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    Default

    I heart my ancient Kiefer I paid 400 for, what I can say, pay it forward



  17. #17
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    Feb. 28, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzuWish View Post
    With these "cheaper" prices, this means I can also put long billets on my CC sooner instead of waiting! No more bulges under my leg in either saddle then!
    if the horse you intend to ride your cc saddle in 'holds a saddle well' or isn't roly poly, then go for it, but if not then you may want to think on adding long billets to your cc. There is a reason it isn't done often.

    Many cc saddles have very short tree points, this allows the extra movement of the scapula for jumping, but the tradeoff is less stability. Hence short billets and long girths, they tend to be more stable in many instances. If you put long billets on a short pointed tree and your horse is a bit pudgy, you may find yourself slipping or fishtailing around.

    Not always, and this is just something I've read in my travels so sharing it, there are lots of monoflap xc saddles out there so obviously its not a rule, but just wanted to share.
    “Let today be the day you stop being haunted by the ghosts from your past. What happened in the past is just one chapter in your story; don’t close the book, just turn the page.”



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov. 21, 2010
    Location
    NE Pennsylvania
    Posts
    125

    Default

    I don't know if it's feasible for you- but I had an Amish repair shop do my billets. It was $90 for all 6 of them. Can't beat that! And really nice quality work too...you'd never know the saddle was apart!

    As far as reflocking, IMO it would be better to have a saddle fitter who would come out and do it according to your horse. I use Gary Severson... I'm not sure if he still travels or not, but if you want his phone number, let me know. He's based out of PA and is awesome! And surprisingly cheap! I know his prices are different depending on different things, but he did mine for around $100.

    Just a thought!



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul. 25, 2003
    Location
    Boston Area
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    9,181

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    Gary is the best.

    New flocking and billets should cost less than $300.

    I don't think Gary does that kind of repair any more but Patti will (saddledr@aol.com) and she does a great job.

    Absolutely you should have the saddle flocked on site to fit your horse.

    I have had several saddles that are 25-years old. They were lovely, balanced saddles that worked. If you like yours as much as you say, I'd have it refurbished because you can't touch a new one of any quality for that price.

    Quote Originally Posted by RLF View Post
    I don't know if it's feasible for you- but I had an Amish repair shop do my billets. It was $90 for all 6 of them. Can't beat that! And really nice quality work too...you'd never know the saddle was apart!

    As far as reflocking, IMO it would be better to have a saddle fitter who would come out and do it according to your horse. I use Gary Severson... I'm not sure if he still travels or not, but if you want his phone number, let me know. He's based out of PA and is awesome! And surprisingly cheap! I know his prices are different depending on different things, but he did mine for around $100.

    Just a thought!
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun. 23, 2010
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    south
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    Quote Originally Posted by RLF View Post
    I don't know if it's feasible for you- but I had an Amish repair shop do my billets. It was $90 for all 6 of them. Can't beat that! And really nice quality work too...you'd never know the saddle was apart!

    As far as reflocking, IMO it would be better to have a saddle fitter who would come out and do it according to your horse. I use Gary Severson... I'm not sure if he still travels or not, but if you want his phone number, let me know. He's based out of PA and is awesome! And surprisingly cheap! I know his prices are different depending on different things, but he did mine for around $100.

    Just a thought!

    YES!!!! Me too. I paid 100 bucks for new billets, flap keepers, and restitching a few loose places. AND the billet leather was top quality. Pricewise, you can do alot better than $650.



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