Kent & Master's review - a fitting with a new horse
I bought a K&M for my TB gelding; sold a couple of months ago (and doing fantastic in his new home, btw ). I had written a couple of reviews of it when I got it, but I thought I'd update now that it's been a few months and since it's been reworked for another horse.
I just had the saddle fitter out to tweak the saddle for my daughter's large dressage pony (he's 14.2 and welsh/paint cross - he's really a small horse rather than a large pony). He has a nicely shaped back, but I was kind of worried that even though this saddle looked like a good fit to ME, she would say it wasn't working and we'd be back at square one. The good thing is, if this turned out to be the case, she has a strong market for this saddle (unlike my Verhan, which I've had for sale for months!).
So we plopped it on him after she did his tracings, and she looked, and I looked, and darned if it didn't look pretty good as-is (of course the gullet is adjustable and it's extremely easy to reflock, but I was worried about panel shape and length for his back). So she put me on him, and we trotted away...
She ended up doing a bit of adjustment on the flocking to account for some differences between his back and my TB, but she didn't have to change a thing otherwise. I've also been using this saddle on a mare that I'm riding, and it's very good on her, as well, and no need for shim pads (I think I just lucked out with these two particular horses - in that they are both weaker to the left, and so the changes she made seem to work pretty well for both of them). She was also really happy with the way the saddle is holding up, with me riding multiple horses.
I have the shallower seat option, and REALLY like that it's available in both a shallow and deep seat.
So several months after, and a couple of different horses as well, I'm very happy with the saddle.
Glad to see this update. I have been eyeing the K&M saddles myself. How do you think the leather is holding up with the initial wear and does the leather on the seat/flaps have decent grip? I hate slippery leather. Thanks for the feedback!
My horse clearly expressed a preference for it. We tried several saddles on him that all fit well according to standard fitting criteria, but he clearly like this one the best. I think it is the flexible tree.
The leather is holding up really well. I maintain it every week or two with Albion soap and conditioner and it is super. I use the synthetic webbers which I was concerned might cause scuffing but the saddle seems impervious. I don't find it to be slippery at all, but if ever a saddle is deemed "too slippery", Stuebben Hammanol will make anything sticky.
Weeeeelll. I use Lederbalsam on it, so if it were slippery, I couldn't tell . But no, as far as leather saddles go, it's not. It's not like my Verhan, but then that is old as the hills and has been balsamed for years, too. The leather seems thick and substantial, but doesn't bother my contact with the horse. And yes, every horse I've put it on so far has gone much better than in its own saddle. The only saddle I've found so far that I like better is the Black Country. For the price point, it's an awesome saddle.
I'd be curious to see photos of the saddles with some use. I looked at the K&M about, meh, 2-3 years ago and at the time really liked the design/fit but did not care for the leather. The fitter I was using at the time intimated the company might improve the leather on later editions. I was also looking at the H/J models so brown leather and not black. She had a demo and it really looks awful. Lots of wear on the flap. I was very turned off... but I'd like to consider this as an option for a dressage saddle in the future if the leather either wears better in black or has improved since the demo I tried. I'd love to see photos of how yours are breaking in, particularly the flap.
Mine does have some scuffing on the flap, and I attribute that to using wintec leathers on it (my daughter is riding in it right now, as it's on her pony). But nothing that I'd consider unusual. I'll try to get some pictures today. And it's totally cosmetic - it's not eating up the leather or anything. And I've seen those wintec leathers on other people's saddles, so I have some basis for comparison. I would NOT let her put them on my Verhan, for example - it would eat right through the calfskin.
Oh, and FWIW, this is a newer model, so you may be right about them improving the leather.
Also, what I consider reasonable wear and what you do may be different, too :P. My saddle fitter was very happy with the wear, because the saddle is used 2x a day at our barn, so it's getting a good workout! So it's holding up well for ME, but you may think that it's worn a bit more than you would like, too. But I consider it's worn pretty well for my heavy usage. There are some days it's been put on 3 horses, too.
The twist is not as narrow as my Verhan (which has a VERY narrow twist), but it's certainly not wide, either. The tree is not really U shaped, so I can't comment on it fitting a really mutton withered horse. Today I threw it on several boarder's horses just for grins and giggles. There is a morgan here that, would I have to fit her, I would need a Duett or other U tree, but she is truly barrel shaped. She needs to lose a lot of weight, as well, but was the only truly mutton-withered horse I could find to try it on (is not my horse!).
So it won't fit every horse, but it seems to fit a good cross section of those at the barn, (I'd put different gullets in, and would have it reflocked, of course). For the one with the really big dips in his back I would use shims, but short of a gusseted panel saddle, I don't know what I'd get off-the-truck to fit him anyway. My fitter was able to accommodate small issues with my horses back, but this one has some really impressive behind-the-wither dips :P.
Very helpful. Night and DAY better than the demos I saw.
Yeah, the demo *I* saw (and rode around in while mine was being made) had weird rub marks and an obvious line from the stirrup leather, so I was sort of 'meh' from an aesthetic point of view but my horse went *so well* in it and it sat like a dream.
Then my new one came and I was pleasantly surprised. It still sits just as great and the horse goes gangbusters, but I did get better leather than I was actually expecting.
Perhaps the demo is just an early model (since I think we use the same fitter?) and the new saddles really are made with noticeably better leather.
Is that the S-series surface block? I have the moveable block because my daughter and myself both have to use the saddle, but I really looked at that one, and if I buy another (which I will if I sell my Verhan) it will be that one