I ride at an all-CWD barn and had the rep come out today. It would be my first saddle.
I tried a bunch of demos and liked the flat saddle and straight flaps. On all the demos I tried, though, I kept hitting the pommel. Rep says that this will be fixed by getting an 18" instead of the 17.5" that was the demo. But I tried an 18" forward flap that the trainer had and still had the pommel issue.
Everyone at the barn says I should just get the CWD flat 18" and they will fix any problems if that still doesn't work. What do you guys think? I feel like I should try some other brands first to see if that fixes the pommel issue, but I am admittedly a novice.
If you think I should try other brands, what should I try? Hermes and County? I am in Houston in case that matters re: reps.
p.s. --- To avoid any misunderstanding, the CWD rep was great, the saddles seemed very well made, and I am a novice so I don't really know what I'm talking about anyway.
I had a problem with hitting the pommel on the CWD's I tried as well. I went with a 17.5, flat seat, with a wide twist. Totally eliminated my hitting the pommel. See if the rep has one you can try. The one I tried with a wide twist was a monoflap, but I was able to see if that would work for me. My rep said people who are used to Antares (my other saddle) a lot of times like the wider twist.
Pommels in CWD do cause problems for some people. My saddle doesn't bother me and I don't feel I really hit it but the holes in my undies say different! Haha. I really like my saddle and it's comfy for me and I stay in good position, this only started when I got panels redone and now it sits a bit different.
My friend had an antares and I REALLY hit that thing but she loved it.
I would probably suggest a different saddle brand though for you as I have read a lot of people having the complaint of the pommel being all up in their business.
I found a lot of inconsistency from saddle to saddle with CWD, even when they were supposed to be the same. The first one I got was actually dubbed "the crotch killer" by my trainer, and we sent it back. The second one I got fixed the crotch issue but the flaps were sewn on at different angles. Both were flat seat saddles.
After some further fit issues with a new horse, I traded the CWD for a Voltaire, which fit both the horse and I from the start. And no crotch issues- the pommel is quite low and balance is great. Very happy with it.
I have a whole thread about my CWD pommel issue! I've now tried flat seats, deep seats, bigger seats, more/less forward flaps and I have the same issue in all of them. My advice is to check out some other brands before spending that money. I haven't had any issues in the past with the pommels on Devoucoux Biarritz and Antares saddles.
You ride in a "CWD only" barn (how lovely for your trainer, the kickbacks for her must be impressive!) and you didn't like how the saddle felt. What do you want us to say? It's your prerogative if you want to shell out big bucks for a saddle you don't fit because your trainer says so. I wouldn't. But then again, I don't ride at a barn where the trainer tells me what the tags in my panties need to say... so maybe you need to talk with your trainer about other alternatives. She can research their "trainer incentive" programs and see if they work for her. There are lots of lovely saddle brands, and surely your trainer could use some of their gear free too???
There is nothing wrong with NOT having a $$$$$$ saddle, and finding one that fits you AND YOUR HORSE is what's important. Do you have a horse that you need the saddle to fit? That's where you should start. Also, some saddles will never work with your conformation, and no matter all the tweaking done to them, will never fit you.
"On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."
I would certainly try other brands. I've never liked the idea of an entire barn riding in the same saddle brand...no one maker is going to produce saddles that fit every rider and/or every horse. The barn I'm at now has mostly Countys and most people are happy with them, there is no requirement, or particular pressure, to have a County though. County saddles and I have never gotten along, so I have something else. No big deal.
I'd try everything you can get your hands on...borrow, take on trial from tack shops and online sellers, etc... You could contact an independent fitter (not affiliated with any particular brand) and see what they suggest for you and the horse. If this is your first saddle, what were you riding in before? Did you like it?
I'm fortunate that I live in an area with a number of tack shops that carry used saddles and allow trials...I went in, told them what the horse I was riding was like, told them I wanted a close contact saddle, had them look at my general body type and took pretty much everything that might fit out on trial, 1,2 or 3 at a time (a couple didn't charge a credit card to trial, just held the number, which made this much easier)...ignoring the brand name or price and just seeing what I liked. You can narrow down from there and become more focused in your search.
I came back to riding after 28 years off a few years ago! The last saddle I'd ridden in was a, flat as a pancake, Crosby PDN. Saddles had changed so much that I really had to start from scratch to find out what might work for me. I ultimately ended up with a couple of used Devoucoux saddles.
It could be that some configuation of CWD will work for you, but I wouldn't be spending what a new CWD would cost on the assumption that if you just get an 18" seat it is sure to work if nothing you've tried so far has.
If everyone in your barn has a CWD, borrowing other brands will be hard for you. If anyone has an older saddle they replaced with a CWD lying around, ask to borrow that. A saddle doesn't have to be for sale for you to try it to get an idea of whether you like that type of saddle. Borrow from friends at other barns. I loan my saddles out to people who are looking for a new one and don't know where to start...within the barn and outside of the barn, locally, if I have some connection to them and have reason to believe I'll get it back (friend of a friend, friend's student, etc...). People trialing saddles, at all barns I've been at, will usually let someone else try their trial saddle too. Start asking around and put the word out that you are on a saddle hunt. Don't be afraid to ask, I asked all kinds of people if I could try their saddle (assuming the general tree size and shape was likely to be appropriate), people usually say "sure", especially if you are willing to work around their riding schedule and you are careful to return it promptly and cleaner than when you borrowed it .
I am looking at a used CWD flat seat but I am used to riding in a Butet flat seat. The comments on the pommel issue scare me. Am I going to hate the CWD pommel then? I don't want to have to compensate my position so I don't hit the pommel.
My crotch feels a little raw just reading this topic. I worked for riders who had (various) CWD saddles...did some flatting and a lot of hacking (read: hours of walking on a lump that wasn't really the same shape as me). There was a lot I liked about these saddles....the leather, having flaps that actually fit me, the rest of the seat, whether the flat or deep option. But that rubbing was a deal breaker. I made do when it was other peoples saddles, but if I were dropping my own money, it wouldn't be on a CWD. I would totally recommend them for people that are comfortable in them. But....
It sounds like you are not. You say you are a novice, but this is your body and you need to trust it. If you were trying on shoes, would you go with a pair that squishes your toes horribly just because it was your first pair of pumps. It might be a tough conversation to have with your trainer, since you are in an all-CWD barn, and she's going to miss the kick back on this one. But a saddle is a big investment and being comfortable and having the right fit is so important to your enjoyment and advancement in riding. Your trainer needed to understand this.
I unfortunately haven't ridden consistently in other high end brands, so it's hard for me to make specific recommendations. Just try anything you are able to sit in. Antares make a few varying seat options....just the other day I was in one that was a thumbs up, and one that felt like I fell in the toilet bowl. Childerics seem to have their own shape, and I did quite like the one I tried. Just get your butt in whatever you can so you can figure out what works for you.
OP: Definitely try to get other reps in the barn so you can try saddles, and also see if the CWD rep can bring back something with a less, ermmm, painful pommel. Is this for YOU or for your HORSE or both?
Nothing wrong with being a novice and buying a saddle! We all bought our first car at some point, right? You didn't buy the first one the salesperson brought out, you test drove a couple different models and maybe even went to a couple different dealers. Did some online research, asked friends. Sounds like you are on the right track. FWIW, I have a Devoucoux Oldara, which the rep said people either hated or loved because it has a very wide sort of different pommel. She was one of the haters of the saddle and said it was like sitting on a toilet paper roll. Me? LOOOOVE it. I can squish my butt down into the tack and feel super secure, and post without fear of my girl bits being damaged. I've had lots of saddles and rode in even more, and I had a problem with ahem, damage, esp on nappy horses. I also rode in an Antares that was entirely too small, but had no interference at all. So try other saddles.
As an aside: Devoucoux reps have notoriously bad reputations, which I've also experienced, but once you get a saddle from them if you go that route, the main office is the way to go for everything. My rep sucked soooo much, but I bought my saddle from her and then did everything else through Joe at the main office.
So back in December, after posting this, I wound up getting a Pessoa so that I would have something to ride in. I loved the Pessoa, but CWD trainer hated it and made the CWD rep (who was awesome) come back with exactly the CWD that was supposed to work for me (SE01 flat seat 18" 3L flaps all calf both blocks).
Much to my surprise, the pommel issue was gone and the saddle is noticeably better at keeping my position than the Pessoa was. The all-CWD trainer and another trainer who I know both love it for me even though they disagree about everything else. So I am officially a CWD convert and urge anyone in a similar position to trust the rep when they say something will work even though all the demos were unpleasant. I bought the actual saddle I tried, so I can't speak to the comments of others about how sometimes you don't get exactly what you ordered when going custom.