I know there's been threads on this already, because I've answered this question before.
I put a saddle cover on it, stuffed it into a box and tapped the crap out of the box. I barely had room to write the addresses. Went from here to Alabama and arrived in good shape. I shipped it book rate with USPS.
COTH's official mini-donk enabler
"I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl
I shipped one to NY from VA just the other day. UPS, $20. I stick the saddle in a plastic trash bag and lined the bottom of the box in bubble wrap and shoved more bubble wrap all around the saddle so it couldn't move. Arrived in perfect shape.
ETA: I also had a FRAGILE THIS SIDE UP sticker on it.
I put a cover on the saddle, wrap it in a plastic garbage bag, put crumpled paper or bubble wrap in bottom of the smallest possible box to prevent shifting and reduce cost, put the saddle in the box (seat down), fold over the flaps, stuff more paper/bubble wrap in the box to be sure the saddle doesn't shift any, tape the heck out of the box, take to shipping office - I use UPS most of the time, but have also shipped with USPS and FedEx, insure the heck out of it, and send the saddle on its merry way. So far so good!!
FWIW, I was told to use the smallest possible box by a master saddler who sends and receives lots of saddles, so should know how to do it....
Definitely declare the value, will jack up the cost but it's better to be safe than sorry just in case. Also always include name address and phone number inside the box just in case and mark out any old address labels on the box and extra tape just to be sure.
I worked at FedEx Ground (in Damages and Quality Assurance) for an eternity, here are my suggestions:
-YES! Pack it in the smallest possible box!
-There is no such thing as too much tape!!! Top AND bottom!!
-Those "this side up" stickers mean nothing.
-It's ALWAYS best to use a brand new box. Not very green, I know. But it's stronger.
-Saddle cover THEN plastic bag, then big bubble wrap. boxes get soggy and weak on rainy days.
-Have your address, the address it is being shipped to, and the tracking number somewhere inside the box. Phone numbers too!
-If you are trying to save money, I'd go with FedEx or UPS Ground, or FedEx Express Saver. The postal service is damn near impossible to deal with for lost or late packages.
A note on having it 'professionally packed'. I noticed that the folks at my UPS Store like to put a saddle in a BIG box and then add lots of peanuts. If you have someone else pack - tell them to fold the flaps over, wrap the saddle in plasic and stuff it in a smaller box.