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  1. #1
    alter-real Guest

    Question French Style Saddles?

    Maybe the world has past me by, but would someone please explain to me what a "french" type/style close contact saddle is (versus what other style?)

    I've looked at photos of hunter/close contact saddles that appear to have french names, those made by english saddlemakers, and to be honest with you I don't know what differentiates them. I'm seeing similar flap shapes, flap forwardness, etc. Maybe things aren't so black and white as time has passed. I'd appreciate any assistance anyone can provide.

    Thank you in advance!



  2. #2
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    "French saddles" has sort of just become a catch-all name to refer to high quality close contact saddles. Saddles like CWD, Butets, Antares...

    So if I'm trying to compliment my County saddle, I'd say "it's as nice as a high end French saddle," and if someone asks what the best saddle they can get for $1,500 is, I'd say "look into getting a used French saddle."
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  3. #3
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    It also refers to the french leather, which is soft and high quality. Yes, you can find good soft leather from any country but I think they were the first to use such fine leather. In comparison of 'english' leather which is more slippery and harder to break in.

    Also, french saddle are usually more comfy on the seat part as opposed to german saddle that were more stiff and hard!



  4. #4
    alter-real Guest

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    So it seems that you're telling me that there's no difference between French or English saddles (like flap position, seat depth, etc.) just leather and real/perceived quality difference?

    Well thanks folks - I appreciate the information (and feel less out of the loop)!



  5. #5
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    One thing that in my experience is different between a French saddle and an "English" saddle is the tree shape. You're more likely to find a curved/"banana shaped" tree in a French saddle than others. Look at a Devoucoux- particularly the Biarritz- versus a Smith Worthington, for example. Both nice saddles, but very different shapes.
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  6. #6
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    When I was saddle shopping last fall, all of the french saddles I was interested in had foam panels -- I don't think any were wool flocked.



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by alibi_18 View Post
    It also refers to the french leather, which is soft and high quality. Yes, you can find good soft leather from any country but I think they were the first to use such fine leather. In comparison of 'english' leather which is more slippery and harder to break in.

    Also, french saddle are usually more comfy on the seat part as opposed to german saddle that were more stiff and hard!
    Soft, yes. High quality, maybe. Durable, definately not.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TarheelJD View Post
    When I was saddle shopping last fall, all of the french saddles I was interested in had foam panels -- I don't think any were wool flocked.
    While foam panels are standard on many of the French saddles, they can be ordered with wool instead if that is your preference. I think CWD even advertises that on their website someplace.



  9. #9
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    Some of the hardest, slipperiest saddles I've ever ridden in were French saddles. Can't say I was all that impressed.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ravencrest_Camp View Post
    Durable, definately not.
    Tell that to my 10-year-old DelGrange. Even after pretty heavy use, it looks like I just took it out of the box. It's finally starting to show a bit of seat wear.

    My friend's Antares has been beat to death and still looks fantastic.

    To add to what others have said, the quality in workmanship on the French saddles is second to none. Look at the stitching, balance, symmetry, quality of the leather and you'll have your answer.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by alter-real View Post
    I've looked at photos of hunter/close contact saddles that appear to have french names, those made by english saddlemakers, and to be honest with you I don't know what differentiates them.
    Try a hands-on experience. I think it's more difficult to observe quality from a photo.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ravencrest_Camp View Post
    Soft, yes. High quality, maybe. Durable, definately not.
    If you expect a calf leather saddle to look as good after ten years of riding daily in jeans as a grain leather saddle... you might want to revise your expectations.

    Not saying that this is what you did or do, Ravencrest- but the type of leather plays a big part in its durability. Many of the French saddles have calf leather or a calf option. It's softer and less durable.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renn/aissance View Post
    Not saying that this is what you did or do, Ravencrest- but the type of leather plays a big part in its durability. Many of the French saddles have calf leather or a calf option. It's softer and less durable.
    But most also offer a grain option, which is what my CWD is, with a calf seat. After 5 1/2 years it looks almost new, although I admit I am obsessive about caring for it, and never ride in jeans.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by BAC View Post
    But most also offer a grain option, which is what my CWD is, with a calf seat. After 5 1/2 years it looks almost new, although I admit I am obsessive about caring for it, and never ride in jeans.
    That's a great point and I should have been more clear when saying that the calf is an option.

    My Devoucoux is full calf, my old Antares was grain with a calf seat. My sister's CWD, I have no idea what it is, but it's gorgeous and it puts up with her. I want that one.

    While we're talking about leather- my gosh, if you want durable, buffalo!
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by BAC View Post
    But most also offer a grain option, which is what my CWD is, with a calf seat. After 5 1/2 years it looks almost new, although I admit I am obsessive about caring for it, and never ride in jeans.
    I should have mentioned that my DelGrange has the calf seat only.

    I wouldn't expect that a saddle made entirely of calf would hold up well.

    I do ride in jeans so my DelGrange is starting to show some wear around the pommel after 10 years. But nothing really significant.

    It IS fairly well cared for. Gets cleaned with gylcerin at least 3-4 times a week.



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renn/aissance View Post
    One thing that in my experience is different between a French saddle and an "English" saddle is the tree shape. You're more likely to find a curved/"banana shaped" tree in a French saddle than others. Look at a Devoucoux- particularly the Biarritz- versus a Smith Worthington, for example. Both nice saddles, but very different shapes.

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  17. #17
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    I MUCH prefer the French saddles. I used to have a County, then rode in an ANCIENT Hermes which I eventually sold for a Butet. Got convinced to buy a Prestige and after a year I went back to a Butet. Now I have found my perfect saddle, which is a Luc Childeric Model M.

    The difference for me is the TWIST of the tree. The French saddles seem to have a much narrower twist in my experience, which gives me a closer feel. Comparing the saddles side by side it is hard to appreciate this, but I can REALLY feel the difference when I ride.

    And that Hermes was probably a good 30 years old and had been left outside in the rain, and my Butet's were both well over 10yrs old and still in great shape.
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  18. #18
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    Most of my experience with French saddles has been with Childrics. They are very popular around here.

    I find that the Childrics are gorgeous and super soft when you buy them. But the ones I have seen that are a few years old, look "tired"



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