Need to replace my old Antares with something that fits my TB better. Suggestions?
I've ridden in Antares saddles for years now, but the fit of my current Antares to my TB seems to have gotten worse recently, for reasons I don't really understand. Granted, the fit has never been ideal and I've always felt the panels were too curved for his back. For a while, the saddle seemed to be working pretty well with a Beval pad, but now I'm convinced that I really need to replace it. A few days ago, I tried a friend's older Butet, which fit my horse much better and surprisingly even put me in a better position. I had always thought that the blocks and the cushiness were making my more secure, so I was really surprised that my leg and seat were much more stable in the Butet, though I did miss the cushiness of the Antares seat. I'm looking for a high-quality used saddle that will work for both me and my boy. Can you recommend any brands/styles that you think I should look into based on the descriptions below?
What my horse needs: Winston is a big-bodied TB with a high wither and flat back who usually takes a medium tree. Even when he's in shape, he doesn't have the greatest topline. He's 15 now and in regular work (as an adult jumper), and I wouldn't expect him to change too much, though I am puzzled as to why my current saddle fit seems to have gotten worse lately.
What I want: I'm generally partial to french saddles and really like a narrow twist. I also have a pretty long femur, but I'm of average height (5'7"). I thought I wanted a cushy seat as well as knee and thigh blocks, but after trying that Butet, I might consider something different. The most important thing for me right now is finding something to fit my horse.
I was hoping that you guys could help me with some suggestions for saddle brands that might fit my requirements.
Funny that the butet Brit your TB... My butet was too narrow for my TB. He was really hard to fit and I bought him a custom antares(!never fit him right) and ended up in an older devocoux....like another poster said, if you like th e butet, go with it.
It always seems that we strive to find a saddle that fts both us and our horse perfectly. I've gave up trying to fit myself. I need a forward flap for my long thigh (I'm 5'8 and all leg) since all forward flaps seemed to sit on my horse's huge shoulders. So, I just found something that fit him and that I could deal with.
I have an ADT (Arc De Triomphe) Gazelle for my ottb. There are a lot of tbs at my barn at it seems to fit them especially well - or maybe its just the difference of going from a (very) wide tree to a regular one. Anyway it fits my guy really well and has knee and thigh blocks plus is a french saddle. The rep was very knowledge and helpful as well.
I had a very hard to fit TB (and a very picky one too!)--I bought a used County Stabilizer and had a fitter come out and customize flocking--I also ride in a shimmable mattes pad (for schooling) and shimmable fleeceworks (for showing) for just a bit more shoulder support and she loves it and is happy
If the Butet seemed to fit and you liked it as well, why not start there? Are you located any where near a Beval store? They come to the barn for my trainer and bring a truckload of used and new saddles with them. And despite their lack of padding in comparison to the Antares, I find them to be extremely comfortable for the rider, in fact I consider them to be one of the best in terms of both comfy seat and good feel with the horse, due to their lack of padding. Of course, it must fit the horse first as well.
A friend just bought a fully custom Black Country with the more expensive leather options for $3,000 and while it lacks the beauty of the French leather, its a good quality, attractive saddle and she was very impressed with the fitter's knowledge and customer service. A used BC should easily be within your budget.
Of course, I always considered my CWD the ultimate in comfort and luxury, and it fit several Irish sporthorses with very high withers "like a glove" in the words of one trainer, as well as fitting most of the horses I used it on. I had just the standard, medium tree.
Agreed, photos would be a help. Sometimes, big withers require a deeper panel in the front (like a K, skidrow or trapezius) and possibly a deeper panel in the rear. If you don't have a good fitter in your area, try working long-distance with a shop or fitter who's experienced in working that way - Equestrian Imports and Panther Run Saddlery both have a lot of experience in that area.
Thanks everyone for all your comments. I'll try to take some good pictures and post them. In the meantime, I'll be on the lookout for a used Butet in my area (Maryland/DC/NoVa). I also like the Black Country suggestion. I haven't seen them in person, but have heard great things. Judging from the pics, the optional trapezius panels look like they would be a lot better fit than what I'm working with now.
Trumbull Mtn has many Black Country saddles that you could take on trial. We are happy to evaluate fit long distance via photos and tracings. We also have some other possibilities. The options in panel configuration are quite suitable for TB's. I ride my own OTTB in a BC Quantum with wither gussets and a trapezius panel.
The trapezius panel is designed for a horse with "pockets" or dips below/behind the withers. If your horse just has a big wither, a K-type might be better. The trapezius panel has a sort of bulge or bubble in the area in front of the stirrup bar, whereas the K is just deeper throughout. You can see photos of each at http://saddlefitter.blogspot.com/200...g-options.html.
I've posted before about how much my TB loves my Delgrange Virtuouse. Plus it's very secure and comfy for me. Seems like a great saddle for TBs. Medium tree is a little narrower than other French brands and gives my guy ample wither clearance. Leather is gorgeous, better even than my old Antares. Plus the saddle doesn't lock you in. I'm in northern VA. PM me if you'd like to come sit in my saddle.