I do think the rep makes a huge difference! DY - that is interesting about the concave/convex seat and rider bootie I wish I could have added about 8 more options to the poll - I had a list of 16 saddle makers I wanted to list!
Make two threads!
About the only time losing is more fun than winning is when you're fighting temptation.
-- Tom Wilson, actor & comedian
Will also add for those that are trying to make their Schleese work with a "new" horse - not every model (of any brand) will work with every horse. Each model brings something "special" to the table, and some horses will do better with one model versus another. My two horses require very different models, but they are both going so much better in the Schleese's than any other brand we have used over the years.
My Schleese worked fine for my young guy (and many other horses) until his shoulders muscled up. All the saddle needed was to be widened in that area, but, instead, without clearly explaining the intended alterations to me, the entire "undercarriage" was changed. I then had a ridiculous struggle to get Schleese to come and try to adjust it. He finally did, tweaked a little, and assured us that the saddle fit just the way it was supposed to. Wrong.
Well, I have to report that after all my praise of Schleese, we have had our first "malfunction" at the barn. Trainer's horse loved a particular model, but it wasn't right for the trainer, so Schleese built her a custom saddle based on a new model that supposedly would be perfect for both of them. Saddle arrived, flaps were too long, so it was sent back. Revised saddle arrived, and trainer's horse hates it. Every horse she tried it on hated it. So they are back to the drawing board for her horse (and a few other training horses in the barn that are built similarly).
Well I will chime in with a definitely NOT trendy or popular brand. I just got an HDR Austal (their top of the line here in America) and I am quite in love with it. It is the first saddle I have been in in years where it actually fits me (a major part of why I love it ). It is a monoflap with blocks on top (of course) but they aren't huge, however because they hit my leg in the right place they are very effective at reminding me if my leg creeps into the wrong place. It is calfskin covered, very sticky, nice amount of cush in the seat, and while the cantle is fairly high compared to say a passier, it is not a bear trap seat at all. This saddle was 1600 new and I would put it up quality wise against most 3000 saddles that I have seen. And my very picky tb has had no complaints so far and it has been about 3 months now.
Have to agree with you! I tried an HDR Austal and loved it! So did my horse. He is very short backed and it fit him well. Excellent quality too. I sold my HDR Pro Buffalo and plan on getting the Austal.
Lauriche and JP Giacomini (made by Lauriche). I especially love my JP with Flair panels.
I've found that all my horses love the saddles even if the fit is not perfect. My gelding will turn down what looks like a perfect fit in favor of the Lauriche that rocks slightly. He really likes the Flair though, as it moves with his shoulders. It's the first saddle he will stretch trot in, and he discovered a new gear of trot out on the trail in it. He's much more forward and sure of himself.
The twists can be a bit wide, but the JP works a bit better because it's smaller in the seat and I could remove the padding under the jockey flaps.
The seat is so open that I fit a whole inch down, which is a godsend for my short-backed youngsters and my very long leg.
My personal favorite saddle is an old Jeffries, but it doesn't fit too many horses due to the very narrow twist. Unfortunately, the narrow twist is why I like it.
I absolutely love Amerigo. Or basically anything designed by Peter Menet. Vega, Jaguar, etc. I got super lucky and found a special order XW Amerigo Pinerolo CC that fits my beast and love it!
I also have a semi-custom Black Country. Sadly, while the saddle works for my horse, my experience purchasing it from both the dealer and the company, was pretty terrible and I will never buy from them again.
Love, love love my Schleese. The fitting program is excellent (Jochen takes up to three hours if necessary), the "crotch comfort" saved m sex life and my hips, and the shoulder relief and shorter back has saved my horse. Best money I spent. Jochen is a very passionate and principled guy, too who is motivated by the love of the horse.
I voted others since I love the Verhans. Mine fit my horses like a glove, they fit me just as well & place the rider into the proper position. Also it helps that Bernardo lives within a couple of hours from me and will stop by to adjust the saddle as the horses topline changes.