It's only a hunch, but I keep having the feeling that my horse might be happier in a saddle without gussets - something with an upswept panel in the back. I'll also admit my curiosity with Stubben probably stems from Catherine Haddad's blog last year. Anyway, I want to test my theory- but can't afford to call Stubben and get him a second custom saddle unless I know it will work (and sell the first one). I'm thinking about picking up a cheap old Stubben (or similar) to ride in for a month or two as a test.
The trend at the barn is very much towards giant gussets that distribute the weight- so I don't have anything to try out. I found one Stubben Scandica (with gussets, circa 2010) which fits him very well. It's a 30cm tree.
I'm hoping to gather any info I can before gambling on something cheap from ebay or the like.
Any Stubben experts know how a 2010 30cm would compare to some of the old Tristans or other models with those type panels? Has the tree size changed over time? Do half panels impact the fit? Are they good? Anyone have a good source of older saddles, other than ebay? My tack shop doesn't accept saddles without blocks on consignment anymore. I don't care about what blocks/pads it has, if any, it just needs to have a medium to flat 18" seat.
I have ridden in the tristan special for the last 8 years and I love them!! I have an 18 with 31 tree and it fits my wide shouldered TB well. I think the old trees run the same as the current ones (the distance in cm between the end of the tree points is the tree measurement).I have tried other peoples saddles here and there and I can't believe how much better I ride in the tristan. The horses react so quickly to my aids in this saddle, there is nothing to get in the way of communication. Love the half panels because it allows my knee to be right next to the horse, don't think it really impacts the fit on my horse. LOVE the open flat seat. I just saw two of these saddles on ebay for $800 each. Bakerssaddlery.com usually has a couple. I have found that canadian tack shops tend to have these saddles more than the u.s., so look for canadian consignment shops. One tip, with these schulthies tristan specials you need to follow the whole saddle system, put the sticky stuff on the top of your boots, lightly coat the saddle with stubben saddle soap(has to be stubben, others get slippery) before every ride, and use full seat leather breeches. That really makes a difference. And if someone has cut off the overgirth, have it replaced. Gotta have it.
Wouldn't call myself an "expert" by any stretch of the imagination, but definitely a big fan of the Stubbens. I grew up with a Siegfried that saw me through my junior years. Now, almost 40 years, later it's too small for me (16.5", 31 cm.) but still in top shape and with a reflocking worked perfectly for both my kids to learn and show in. Yes, well cared for they hold up forever!
I was thrilled a few years ago to luck into a used Tristan Special at the local consignment shop. Looked brand new and has been worth every penny of the $1000 I payed at the time. Same 31 cm. tree as my old Siegfried and fits our broad backed/no withered Fjord better than anything else we tried (and he can have a huge, free shouldered trot far beyond what his confirmation would have you guessing at first glance.) Horsie definitely liked it too. You could see the instance change (way more freedom in his movement) from the reasonably well fitting Passier that my daughter had borrowed from her coach while we searched for a dressage saddle.
From past and present experience that 31 cm. seems to fit a lot of horses well. Before I bought this saddle I did call Stubben USA to ask more about it and they were very helpful in answering questions. They confirmed that the tree sizes are still the same as years ago. Give them a call if you have concerns.
I agree with the above post - love the position it puts me in (or should I say lets me find) as well as the close feel of the horse; almost as close as bareback. the down-side is yes, very close communication with the horse, but that's also the up-side! It has made me so much more aware of how I ride and made me much the better for it.
I was not aware of the "whole system" she talks about. I've just cleaned as normal with saddle soap and ride in ordinary knee patch britches (not a big fan of full seat.) Never had any issues. If I've ever felt imbalanced/out of position it's definitely been from my own tensions or short comings; not the saddle or the horse as I seem to be able to fix it fairly quickly with a good lesson or coaching.
Good luck. Saddle shopping can be a major PITA. If I had to do it again, I'd be headed straight to a Stubben first.