I'd like to purchase a new saddle but ride multiple horses - suggestions?
Hello! I train at a hunter/jumper barn and have been using their (old, worn) barn saddles, and am interested in purchasing my own. The only catch is - I ride multiple horses. Has anyone tried any of the adjustable tree versions of saddles and if so, any brands you recommend?
I see what your thought process is, but my feeling on the adjustable trees is that they are nice to be able to adjust...like 1-2 times a year. You are NOT going to be wanting to adjust the tree multiple times a day - it is a fairly easy process, but still takes at least 10-20 minutes, and there is wear/tear on the screws, saddle, etc, each time you do it. Little bit of a PITA.
Best bet (IMO) to buy a generous medium tree saddle that you like and fits you. Then buy an array of half pads to have available to help you fit the horses the best you can - a shimmable half pad (like Mattes/Thinline), those cheapie Roma lift front or lift back pads, etc. This scheme should work unless you are riding a lot of XW horses. Kuddos to you for thinking of saddle fit.
Adjustable trees are better if you are riding one horse for awhile...then switching to another. They really are a pain to change and you still have the issue with if the tree shape isn't right or if it won't get wide enough
I'll say Tad Coffin as well
I've had mine on everything from a rail thin TB, halter bred qh to a draft cross and it comes the closest to fitting everything that I've seen.
It might take some looking but you can find them used for 1000-1200,
I've had friends with mixed experiences with their Tad Coffins. These are very close contact saddles and they sit very close on the horse's back. If you are riding horses for relatively short periods of time, then a slightly ill-fitting saddle won't bother most of them. If you are riding horses several days in a row or for longer stretches, I might go with a saddle that's a bit more comfortable for a horse. I know more than one person who ended up soring their horse's back with their Tad.
If you are riding mostly warmbloods, I'd go with a MW rather than a M tree and buy one of the saddle pads with shims to allow you to adjust the fit. A saddle that's too narrow is unfixable. A saddle that's too wide can be helped with the right padding. If you are riding mostly TBs, then a M tree should be fine.
If you are riding multiple horses you are most likely better off with foam panels than with wool.
I did have one of the early adjustable tree saddles -- a Rembrandt. It was okay to adjust (it used an Allen wrench) but keep in mind that just because you can adjust the tree doesn't mean the saddle will fit all horses.
Once again, the type of horse you ride can influence the type of saddle you buy. I had an Albion that fit every warmblood shaped horse I rode, but my TBs never liked it; my Ainsley Chester was the opposite. It works very well on the TBs but not great on the warmbloods.
The best combination would be a wool flocked saddle that has an easily adjustable tree (turn a screw type, not the changeable gullet plates) and a judicious selection of shimmable pads.
For a shimmable pad, Thinline is the most versatile IMO. Their full pads have three inserts (front middle rear) which gives you more adjustability than their half pads which use two inserts to cover the weight bearing area.
Thinline material changes thickness very, very little between its loaded and unloaded states, which means your saddle fit will not change very much from what you see from the ground to what you get once you sit on the saddle.
What is your budget? I loved my Tad Coffin, but if they exceed your budget, I'd recommend any wool-flocked Beval saddle (the older Devons, World Cups, Naturals, etc.) in conjunction with a Thinline pad.
I had a similar situation to you. I had a Tad Coffin but couldn't get one to fit me (16.5 seat 18 leg) so now I have a Butet and use a wool pad on every horse, it fits me well and every horse pretty well too.
I found that my older GenX has fit everything I've ridden, from large ponies to thinner TBs to the bigger warmbloods and drafty types. Any minor fit discrepancies can usually be taken care of with good use of saddle pads, as long as the saddle isn't too narrow.
I have a new Bates close contact... I can't recall if it is the Elevation or Hunter-jumper.
Either way, this saddle rocks. It is about $1800 taxes in and I received a free gullet set, cover and leathers.
I don't think you would want to change it overly often. It takes me about 7 minutes to change and I have had the adjustable gullets since they first came out.
One pro and I know there is alot of hype about this but I LOVE the CAIR panels.
I find it really does eliminate pressure points as they say so even if I don't quite have the EXACT fit, the saddle conforms to the horse's back and springs back to the neutral position after the panels cool down.
Tad coffins are wonderful for fitting horses, I also find my new luc childeric fits a lot of horses. Anything with propanels will help, I think both CWD and Devoucoux does them.
as discussed on another thread, pro panels is just a fancy expression that saddlers use instead of saying standard panels... pure marketing.
All brands can offer "pro panels" since they all have a "standard panel" option.
And by the way there really is no reason why a pro would need "pro-panels" considering that the panels are in contact with the horse, not with the rider. If anything they'd need a pro seat to help them with the long hours in the saddle.
Many riders aren't pro and still ride multiple horses, especially those who don't own a horse. These riders need a saddle that can fit a variety of horses just as bad as the pro do....
Personal preferences on quality saddles: Delgrange, Voltaire or Butet