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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."
    Quote Originally Posted by tidy rabbit View Post
    Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community.


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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.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

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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.


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  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.


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  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.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

    Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
    Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.



  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!
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

    Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
    Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.



  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.

    Patience pays.



  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.
    Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. - William Jennings Bryan

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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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  19. #19
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    I am a complete newbie to this forum, but have to throw in my two cents about French saddles. I have a medium-wide Philippe Fontaine that I just love. Having very little natural cushion in my derriere, the seat is oh so soft and cushy, and the leather is lovely. However, the saddle fitter said it is way too narrow for my new Thorobred. Who would have thought. So it is on consignment and I am looking for a replacement. I did try some HDRs at the trainers and compared to the PF, they are like sitting on a board. Any suggestions? Anyone?



  20. #20
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    I have ridden in a hand full of French saddles (own two) and have owned and test ridden English/Argentinian saddles for comparison. There are so many differences. As mentioned above, the leather and craftsmanship cannot be compared; French saddles are heads and shoulders above the rest. Also balance. Granted you have to find the saddle that works for you particular conformation, but generally they put you in a better position and balance better on the horse. I would say they are a bit more fragile than some, but obviously grain leather will last longer than calfskin. I have a 1986 Butet; grain leather with calf seat and knee pads. The grain is so worn down you can hardly tell it's grain any more. There is just very minor loose stitching at the bottom of the flap but otherwise in very good shape for it's age. Also have a 2005 CWD (also grain with calf seat and knee pads); it has some flap wear and a split in the seat, but all other visible areas are perfect. It does not look like it was well taken care of before me, so I find it's cosmetic flaws to be appropriate. If you take care of them, they'll hold up just find. PS, I HATED my HDR. Most horrible ill fitting (for horse and rider) saddle I've ever sat in. May work for some, but I thought it was poorly made.



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