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  1. #1

    Default More Custom Saddle Tears

    So I bought a saddle on the advice of an “independent” saddle fitter that works for a couple of different well known saddle brands… perhaps those being compensated by said brands should not advertise themselves as “independent,” but that is another can of worms.

    Anyway, the saddle does not fit the horse that I ordered it for. It has little pommel clearance with no rider, then when I am mounted, there is even less. When I pointed this out to the saddle fitter, they advised that I use what amounted to a pommel pad to provide additional clearance. This fit and the solution were almost identical to the saddle that I already owned – a saddle that the fitter had already viewed and we had already discussed that I would like something that would fit the horse better.

    So in my eyes I was sold a new saddle that had the same issues as one that I already had. I tried to communicate with the manufacturer, and was told that I had to go through the rep that sold me the saddle. Then the rep said there was nothing they could do shy of replacing the saddle with a different size, but they said the different size likely would not fit the horse either. So why did the rep sell me THIS saddle for THIS horse?! Since I am paying them for their expertise, shouldn’t that be the moment where they step in and say, “You know, I don’t think this brand/model is going to work for this horse, let’s try something different.” So frustrating…

    Of course the company refused to take it back, claiming it was a “custom order,” even though the only customizations on the saddle are additional d-rings and a forward flap.

    The whole experience has left me very angry and highly distrustful of the whole saddle-fitting scheme. I know I am not alone in my angst – there are many, many similar stories out there about the battles between buyers of custom saddles and the manufacturers.

    Why does it have to be this way? I always thought that saddle buying should be a fun, happy experience that slightly softens the blow of the $$$$ we spend on these saddles. Why is this still acceptable business practice?

    Any words of wisdom or advice are always greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar. 6, 2002


    Well, if the only real true customizations are a forward least that gives you a better chance of selling it on your own to someone else.

    I'm sorry. I'd be bending that fitter's ear til the cows come home.
    What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what
    lies with in us. - Emerson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 25, 2001


    I've had similar happen, although it was only a full-reflock so I was only out $250. I still had to take a loss on the saddle, too

    I will never pay a fitter again until the saddle actually fits the horse. (Of course, I ride in Ansur now, and this is one of the reasons.)
    "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep. 30, 2006


    Similar situation here too...

    Would love to see a brand offer 100% satisfaction guaranteed. If you aren't happy with the saddle for ANY REASON you can send it back!

    Are there saddle companies out there that will do that? Anyone know or have experience with these?

    Sorry about your luck. It sure is an expensive lesson to learn.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 14, 2012


    This is why I wont buy anything from anyone else but CWD. I just can't take the headache anymore. This saddle buying business is such crap!!!!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan. 31, 2007


    Think Bachus has the right the saddle when you see it on the horse...not before. Get in writing a money-back gar. if you are not satisfied....or just buy used.
    I have taken my horse to the tack store to get a saddle fitted properly- she must of thought- what a lame trip we just had!
    Sorry to hear, but it reinforces what I think about saddle fitting- buyer beware!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 16, 2010


    Quote Originally Posted by MorganJumper848 View Post
    This is why I wont buy anything from anyone else but CWD. I just can't take the headache anymore. This saddle buying business is such crap!!!!!
    I had a HORRIBLE experience w/ CWD. They took no responsibility for a saddle that didnt fit (bridging too tight tree etc...) other opinions (well respected chiro/vet who had to do qite a bit of work on this horses back to get him comfortable again...)confirmed it didnt fit..the fitter they supplied was unfortunately not very knowledgeable- glad you have had better experiences with them...I did have another horse that has a saddle by them that worked out very well so it may have partially been that we had a tricky backed horse... seems like everyone has had a bad experience w/ someone!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 27, 2001
    Washington, DC


    Quote Originally Posted by Sad Saddle Buyer View Post

    Why does it have to be this way? I always thought that saddle buying should be a fun, happy experience that slightly softens the blow of the $$$$ we spend on these saddles. Why is this still acceptable business practice?
    This made me laugh - do you know anyone who thought saddle shopping was fun and happy? This board is littered with stories of waiting months, being stuck with an expensive dud, etc etc.

    I see it now with one saddle fitter locally who I think is honest but incompetent. She recommends a saddle or two or three and then spends months trying to make it fit, to no avail. Why people continue to use her baffles me.

    I finally found someone fabulous so they are out there but....

    I agree should not be hard to sell. At least the used market is fairly lively.....
    The big man -- no longer an only child

    His new little brother

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 12, 2007
    Andover, MA


    And this is why I have never bought new. Ever.
    You have to have experiences to gain experience.

    Proudly owned by Mythic Feronia, 1998 Morgan mare; G-dspeed Trump & Minnie; welcome 2014 Morgan filly MtnTop FlyWithMeJosephine

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 14, 2000

    Default Argh

    Your story is identical to what happened to a friend of mine a few years ago. Ironically, I had a great experience with the very same saddle fitter.

    I think a very straightforward conversation with the saddlefitter is needed for your own piece of mind.

    I cannot offer much consolation, but I hope you can find a saddle that fits and a saddle fitter who will get you set up properly.

    My experience with finding a saddle was awful until I found the saddlefitter who could help me.

    If I need to get another, I will absolutely try the used routine again as painful as it was. I had boxes of saddles shipped from Rick's and Pelham, and went to Middleberg Tack Exchange every week. The company that helped me a bunch and ultimately sold me my Black Country dressage saddle was Trumbull Mountain.

    Sorry this happened to you - its expensive and only fun when its over and you are out riding!
    When I pull on my boots, I know who I am

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2002


    I feel your pain. I spent an obscene amount for a semi-custom dressage saddle that the rep claimed fit. It made my horse so back sore that she needed vet treatment for it.
    I took a huge hit when I resold that saddle myself. Very expensive lesson.
    My current saddle fitter does not sell any saddles but will assess the fit of anything you are considering buying and will tell you kind of features you should look for when shopping- love her.
    I am with asterix- I know no one who thinks saddle shopping is fun.
    Sorry you are dealing with this
    There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul. 24, 2006
    Seattle, WA


    This is why I'm so leery about buying a custom saddle. All of my Counties (with the exception of one) have been demo saddles that fit my horse well and so I've bought them on the spot.

    I tried a CWD on my youngster at the last show and it fit him well, but it didn't fit me at all. The rep explained what I needed in terms of a custom fit for me and asked if I wanted to order that. No. I want to ride in the saddle first (none of the "custom" things were unusual and wouldn't be "custom" in the sense that something would be made expressly for me). I will not pay a large amount of money and trust that the saddle that shows up will fit if I'm not able to feel it first. And I would have been okay riding in a different saddle that maybe didn't fit my boy as well if it had meant feeling what she was talking about.

    I will likely end up going with a County again since the rep I was working with is willing to work with me in that respect.

    But unless you're buying what you're sitting on it's all kind of a crap shoot. I love having a saddle with a beautiful fit, but I hate saddle shopping!
    Forever exiled in the NW.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov. 7, 2006
    Knoxville TN


    Saddle buying isn't much fun in general. I try to make it a lot easier by only working with brands that have great customer service. Custom Saddlery, for example, lets me take the client's special order saddle back if they hate it. They also give me enough demos that I can leave the saddle that the client is considering, with the client - I've had people keep a demo saddle for a month or more before I get back to them on the next round to collect it. New saddles that aren't adjustable in the tree are another major PITA - I won't sell them. There's no point. It's SO quick and easy to drop the panels and make a tree adjustment with the right equipment, there's no reason for anyone to be struggling along long-term with something that doesn't fit.

    (However, having said that, I hope none of these complaints are about me ! I do often recommend shimming the front of a saddle temporarily until I can get back to do the refit. Sometimes even with a new saddle, I will leave shims so that when the front flocking compresses after ten rides or so, the client can temporarily prop up the front until I get back to it. )

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep. 26, 2010


    A very well-known and truely independent saddle fitter told me that he advises people to buy the demo saddle if it fits their horses. This person has seen far too many problems arise when they order something that was supposed to be like the demo, but with small modifications, only to have it arrive looking like it was made for a different horse.

    I went through problems with custom saddles and would never go that route again, ever.

    I would fight with the company to get your money back. They sent you something that didn't fit. They should take it back. What did your contract say?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan. 6, 2006
    Durham NC

    Default I had a good experience with Stubben

    I had a stubben fitter come out. The saddle I ended up was not custom but it was the size that we thought would fit. When the saddle arrived it did not fit. Stubben took it back no question sent a different model which did not fit either. Stubben took that one back. We discussed going to custom with padding added but I decided to try a different brand. I have to say that Stubben really tried hard to help me and even sent a second fitter to try to find something that could work. The tb had a very high very long wither and I never found anything that fit him well but the people at Stubben really, really tried and I came out with just paying for the fitting.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec. 9, 2010
    Greensboro, NC


    I'm in the same boat. The demo fit almost perfectly, but we made some slight modifications when ordered new....and it doesn't fit. The rep is trying to make it work and thinks that she can fix it. However, we shouldn't have to work this hard to get a $$$ saddle to fit. I will never buy a brand new saddle again that I can't trial first.

    It will be very interesting to see how this particular company handles things. I have a feeling that I will be left with a $$$ saddle that doesn't fit and will have to sell it myself.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2007
    too far from the barn


    I had a fitting done by a rep from a specific company who reps their own saddles and some relatedish ones (Hastilow). She was great about having me try a bunch of both new and used saddles and I ended up buying a quite inexpensive (~$1000) dressage saddle that fit both me and my horse quite well. I then had her look at my Wise-Equestrian jumping saddle. Other than saying that she thought it could use a shim behind his right wither because there was more of a hollow on his right side than his left, it fit him very well and there was no reason to change. So not all saddle fitters are just trying to sell you a saddle. I too pretty much always buy used, but was ready to go new to finally find a dressage saddle I like (I have 5 used ones to sell that I have bought over the years and this is after selling 3!). I don't think I would ever go full custom though, I just can't imagine spending the money all at once on a single saddle.
    OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2004


    i would NEVER EVER buy a custom saddle for this very reason - seriously.

    i am sorry OP for your woes. i would call the owner of the company and complain directly to them. then i would call my credit card company and have the charges reversed for damaged merchandise.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct. 6, 2002
    Philadelphia PA


    I had great experiences with an independent saddle fitter for years. She was always very willing to work with what I had, no hard sell, etc.

    Then, I decided it was time to buy a new custom saddle for horse #2. Of course I went through her. New Black Country Quantum with all the bells and whistles. When she was out fitting that saddle, I had her recheck horse #1's saddle. It was a Jaguar that she had done many minor adjustments to over the years. Never any mention of it being the wrong shape. At the time, the horse was 12. She said the saddle was a titch wide, I could either used a shimmed Mattes pad or she could adjust the tree to the tune of $450. I had a long discussion with her about the fact that horse #1 was older, his back had changed very little in the 3+ years she'd been working with him, and I was willing to spend money to get the fit right. I asked her repeatedly "do you think his back is going to change" and she said "no." She left with the saddle.

    It came back, and never felt right from the day I took it out of the box. Meanwhile, there were a series of delays with the Quantum and I started to get the feeling that business was a little tight (she said as much to me and told me she didn't have the capital to get in demos, etc.) I figured maybe the issues with my Jaguar were my imagination and she could just take a look when she delivered the Quantum.

    When she did, she declared that the Jaguar was completely the wrong shape and nothing could possibly be done to make it work. Meanwhile, my horse got seriously backsore-- to the extent he needed $1000 worth of diagnostics and injections. So now I was $1,450 in the hole on my Jaguar. And the poor horse!

    I communicated my disappointment to the fitter. She disavowed any knowledge of our discussion about the Jaguar getting fitted because horse #1's back wasn't changing. She claimed his back had radically changed, even though the wither tracings I had 2x/year for 3 years up to and including the day she took the Jag to adjust it showed nothing of the sort. She suggested I buy a brand new saddle, either Black Country of Albion.

    I was pretty upset and told her any budget I had for a new saddle was reduced $1,450 thanks to the go-round with the Jaguar. She then told me my horse needs a crazy configuration in a Quantum, but if I wanted to-- I could look for it used. I called a zillion tack shops (including Trumbull), all of which told me that the configuration I was looking for didn't exist. I ran about 40-50 saddles by her via email (would have paid her to come out and check/adjust them if any had met muster). She rejected each one, again claiming that the only thing that would work was the bizarre configuration from Black Country. I asked her to call and actually confirm such a configuration existed. Weeks went by and she didn't.

    I finally gave up, called out a different fitter, 2 demo saddles fit him perfectly with no adjustment and I bought one. No need for any special configuration. Original saddle fitter lost my business entirely and it's a crying shame because we previously had a good relationship and I referred tons of business to her. The only explanation I can come up with is that after I shelled out for a new saddle for horse #2, she thought she could get me to do the same for horse #1. I can't otherwise explain why she became so bizarre.
    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2000
    Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt


    Whatever happened to the kits that made casts of the horse's back? And there is a gadget that does thermal imaging as well.

    Do saddle fitters use those things?
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire

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