Specifically looking at the Modena. I've been scouring used saddle sites for a 17.5 or 18 Wide, and coming up empty. Does anyone own a St. Lourdes, or has anyone at least seen/laid hands on one in person? I've found one on clearance in my size but I haven't ever seen one in person and leather quality is something that can't be determined via photo.
I'm actually looking for a saddle to show an arabian in HUS classes, but I prefer an all purpose because CCs are cut with a more forward flap for jumping, and I like to ride with a longer stirrup on the flat, so an A/P accomodates that better. It's harder for me not to perch in a CC saddle. I had been riding mostly in my dressage saddle over the winter and I found going back to the CC uncomfortable. (Nobody told me that once you go to the dark side, it's hard to go back! ) I know they don't have the traditional square cantle but my jacket will likely cover that.
So, if you don't like the St. Lourdes or if you don't know anything about that brand, is there another brand you would recommend? I prefer a more minimalist type of saddle. I had an old Crosby Mark VII that I wish I had never parted with. I've also been considering the HDR pro event saddle, and of course I keep checking for used crosby's and collegiates in my size and on my modest budget.
It was the Tango model, which is one of the cheaper ones. It was alright for the price, well made but not high quality leather, didn't break in in the two years I had. I did trade it back in for about the same as I paid for it though which was nice.
Ok I'll admit it, I have a St. Lourdes Modena all purpose saddle. To be honest I didn't have a lot of saddle selection, I ended up with this saddle because from the choices I had it fit my mare best. She's an Andalusian cross so wide back with some wither definition. I think its a great saddle for someone on a budget that wants a leather saddle that is well constructed. The fit is good for a lot of horses who are not extremes, the saddle is neither flat nor too banana shaped and the tree is adjustable by a saddler. The AP has a slightly deeper seat than other AP saddles I tried which is what I prefer. The flaps are forward so its good for jumping too.
The leather on the seat and knee rolls seems to be higher quality than the rest but it is still a nice looking saddle. I have the Cognac colour and I get compliments all the time on this saddle which surprise me. Yes some leather treatments help the leather soften & break in to fit you and your horse but I think this is all to be expected of a saddle in this price range.
thanks Marengo. It seems that this saddle gets mostly positive reviews.
One question about the flap leather...is it that porous leather (sort of like pigskin, like what's on a football)? That stuff can be stiff as cardboard at first but will soften up beautifully with enough work and time. It has largely gone out of fashion as most riders now want that butter-soft calfskin (which incidentally doesn't hold up worth a darn!). I would not be opposed to having stiff leather if it is that kind that will eventually break in, but if it's just plain cheap printed leather made to look like the good porous kind, well that could be a different story.
I really, really appreciate your help. It is impossible to determine saddle quality from internet photos, and in my price range that is the only way I can shop.
I have a close contact St Lourdes. I forget what model it is. It is much better quality than I would expect for the price tag, but it is definitely not as nice as high end saddles. The leather is fairly stiff, though mine did break in adequately. Also, I have a hard time keeping a balanced position in it over large fences, but it is fine for flat work and small jumps. The flap is not as forward as my long thigh needs. Not sure how balanced the AP is. Overall, I think it is a good buy on a tight budget, much better than other new saddles in the same price range.
Meaty Ogre I'm not sure about the flap leather, I've had the saddle for almost two years and whether its the cheap stuff or not its still looking barely broken in. I've used some good leather products to help it along too. I found this sales ad for two St. Lourdes Modena saddles that have a good pictures and a great close up shot. Maybe the images will be helpful.
Those are extremely helpful pics. I see that the leather comes waxed - Marengo did you strip it first before you cleaned and conditioned yours? The wax has to be removed in order for the leather to absorb any of the conditioner or oil.
Another thing that is hard to tell from the pics is the placement of the stirrup bar. I prefer the feel of my dressage and western saddles where the stirrup bar is further back, allowing the leg to hang naturally from the hip. Going back to my CC saddles I have noticed that the stirrup bars are so far forward that the saddle is really only comfortable for work in 2 point. My feet are just too far forward and I'm constantly fighting the chair seat, even with my stirrups longer. I realize that CC saddles aren't made for flatwork, and even though they are the more traditional saddle for hunt seat classes I figure there's no need to fight with one since I won't be jumping this horse. I'm hoping an all purpose saddle's stirrup bars are a little closer to the deepest part of the saddle so I won't be fighting to hold my position.
Yes I took off the wax coating first. I use the saddle primarily for basic dressage and trail riding, I found that the saddle bars are in a good place for my leg. However, saddles are really tough to buy without trying, both for the rider and the horse. I chose this saddle because it was the best fit of what saddles I could get a hold of to try on my horse. You said you saw the Modena on clearance, perhaps you could also find this saddle from a shop that would let you try it and return it if it doesn't suit you and your horse. Its a very reasonably priced saddle so the difference between clearance and not might not be that huge.
I've searched and been unable to find a retailer within 200 miles who has one I could at least lay eyes on. I'll probably end up going through Rick's (www.saddlesource.com) and trying a used model there, since they do at least offer a trial. Unfortunately I think there are only 3 saddles that meet my criteria and I'm not crazy over any of them.
The best way to saddle shop is to have a fitter bring you a truckload of ones to try, but I only know of two who frequent this area--one I wouldn't use and the other probably doesn't have anything less than $1500 on her truck.
I have found steals on e-bay before, but it seems the saddle selection there is lacking. Of course you always take a gamble there since most don't offer trials, but I got a gorgeous albion dressage saddle that way that I never would have been able to afford otherwise.