I've been a longtime fan of Antares. I just love them, they're comfortable, they fit me well, and they fit my horse well.
The problem? I've had two with broken trees. This appears to either be a trend (based on the info I've seen on the forum), or the few people that it has happened to have been very vocal about it. The second time it happened I wanted to blame it on my horse taking a fall off of a jump, but to be honest, it was making the dreaded squeaking noise prior to that and I just didn't want to admit it to myself because of my loyalty to the brand.
I have been on a horse hiatus for the last few years (in which I sold my saddle), but I just got my horse back from a lease. Now the journey of saddle shopping starts. I have never bought used before, but finances necessitate it at this time.
Are the Antares really becoming that unreliable? I found one almost identical to my old custom, but now I'm scared to buy it. I also found a very nice demo CWD for a good price from CWD, and they say purchase comes with the "perks" of buying new (as in free adjustments if necessary and a free girth or leathers). I'm leaning towards the CWD.
Please tell me your Antares horror stories so I feel better about my potential decision of abandonment.
My only problem has been with the rep, too eager to sell and when saddle did not fit properly, very hard to get out to check the fit and then no options but to trade in or spend more money on different pannels. Done with foam saddles
I had an entirely different saddle problem with Antares but the way they dealt with it (or I should say, tried NOT to deal with it) left a very sour taste in my mouth. I did end up getting a refund - finally - but would not purchase from them again.
I know quite a few people who have CWDs and love them. I don't think you could go wrong there.
********** We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
I also had a bad experience with Antares which is detailed somewhere around the forums as it was a multi-month, multi-page affair. I like the saddles, but I can't say much for the service. And now that I'm hearing about more and more broken trees, I don't know that I like the saddles, either.
"I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
- Harry Dresden
I had broken tree horror stories as well... And my saddle disappeared for 6 months at one point... Oh and they put calf skin panels on my buffalo saddle.. The whole thing was a mess. Love my saddle but unfortunately the other problems outweigh it, and I will not purchase another one again.
Although I love my now 10 year old Antares that, by the way, still looks fabulous, my allegiance changed over the winter to Superior Saddlery after I had to spend $800 to get my Antares to fit my horse (needed entirely new panels). Wasn't really Antares' fault, as I bought the saddle used, but the overall style of the panels on the Antares when I bought it was such that I was told it wouldn't really fit any horse ever, much less my TB mare. (Only about a thumb's width between the panels, overall balance tipped the saddle forward.)
After my saddle went to Superior Saddlery, it fit as close to a dream as I could possibly get without spending $6,000 on a new custom.
Any saddle purchases I make in the future will be from SS.
Actually had no problems with Antares customer service, surprisingly. I emailed them about the fit issue on the email from their main website, and was called by one of their fitters (NOT a rep) within an hour. He came out, looked at my horse, didn't charge me because my trainer is sponsored, and gave me a solution to my problem that WORKED and was within my budget.
*shrugs* Not bad, Antares, not bad.
If you like the CWD, get it. I tend to think (now I may be imagining this) that the older (so pre-2005) Antares are substantially heavier and more durable than the newer ones (when I pick up mine and then pick up a friend's that is from '08ish on, mine feels heavier), so maybe they were using a different leather supplier and/or tree material? But I don't know, this is speculation.
The tree on my 4yr old antares started squeaking one day. It somehow broke. Trying to get ahold of antares to fix the problem took months and trying to get them to resolve the issue was even worse! I still haven't gotten my saddle back!! While I love their saddles, I won't buy another antares again. The customer service is just awful.
Ugh. My Antares issues are well documented on COTH, but here is the short version:
1. Bought saddle. It was squeaking when I tried it with the rep there, and he claimed it was just the leather (which would have made sense since the leather was new).
2. A few months later, the squeaking is worse. I begin to suspect broken tree. After much harassing of the rep, I send the saddle to HITS, they have a saddler open it, and, yes, it is broken at the pommel. They send my saddle to France. It is gone for 6 months. They send me a used saddle to ride in in the meantime - it ALSO has a broken tree at the pommel - same break as my saddle had (I noticed it right out of the box and never put it on my horse). Rep comes to pick that one up and I show him where it is broken. They send me a new saddle that supposedly has the same specs as my own saddle. It isn't even close to the same and does not fit my horse at all. SO, I wait for my saddle to come back. Antares did give me some leather strap-type goods to compensate me for my troubles, which was nice.
3. Saddle comes back. They have changed the billet configuration, which they were not supposed to do, but I don't care. I ship back the other non-fitting saddle (which I was never able to use anyway). I ride in my recently-fixed saddle for the next, oh, two years or so.
4. Antares calls me asking where one of the two saddles they sent me to ride in while mine was being fixed is. WHAT? I never did figure out which one they were looking for, but one was picked up by a rep and one was shipped back. I explain to Antares that both saddles were LONG ago returned to the company and that one was broken so perhaps that one is missing because they scrapped the piece of garbage. They never return my call, and never bring it up again.
5. After about 2 1/2 years of having my saddle back, the NEW tree breaks, this time at the "waist" (under the seat area). Unbelievable! Get that one fixed (still under warranty), and then sell it. Attempted to get the company to buy the piece of crap back from me at the FMV if it was not broken, but they were complete asses about it - actually suggested that it might be my riding or my weight or something that is causing the trees to break (Yeah, good call, idiot. I've been riding my whole life, and I'm 5'6" and 130 lbs. - I'm not sure what they think I could possibly do to break trees this often - and in two different places no less!).
Anyway, I HATE the company and will never do business with them again. EVER.
My only problem has been with the rep, too eager to sell and when saddle did not fit properly
I don't have a "horror story," but this ^ was my experience. I liked the saddle for myself, but it didn't fit my horse at all. The rep seemed to just shrug it off and be like "oh we can just take some off the panel here and no problem" (which I was having trouble visualizing what he was talking about). Was a little too sketchy for me.
Originally Posted by rustbreeches
[George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis
If you have the money for new, & a fabulous rep (who is not leaving/transferring for the duration of your tree warranty), then give it a go as you l.o.v.e the saddle.
If you find a used saddle that still has at least 3 years remaining on the tree warranty & a fabulous local rep, give it a go as you l.o.v.e the saddle.
(make sure to inspect the tree before buying, I supect it is much easier for the original purchaser to get a response from the company).
If any part of the "fabulous local rep" is missing, buy an Antares only if you can afford to replace tree/panels etc & have an alternate saddle to use while your beloved Antares is away in Repair Land ...
My kid loves Antares saddles - they just fit ... HER
- the equine part, not at all, he'd need a lot of tree/panel adjustments, and the rep is not exactly local, the company has NO demo saddles that would fit during any of the we'll fix that for you scenarios, after everything I read about Antares Customer Service, & then the "faulty tree" shipment (heartily denied by the very nice, very surprised no-so-local rep ), even the lovestruck kid decided Antares was not for her
Now if you have The Horse for which Antares designs their tree (& panels - unless panel replacement is in your budget), buy that nice, used Antares with the newly inspected tree & minimum 3yr tree warranty (& put aside $$ every month for a potential tree replacement). Insist that the rep bring you a replacement saddle that fits (remember you have The Horse so this should be simple enough ...) before you ship yours out for repair - keep a paper trail of everything etc, etc.
My saddle rule is "stay away from anything foam filled and French."
Then again, I prefer having a qualified Master Saddle Fitter (takes three years minimum to get certified) drive to my place, give me several different brands and options to test ride, custom build what my horse and I need, and then hand deliver and personally ensure the fit (as opposed to just mailing), for half the money.
Really puts spending $4.5k for something that is not adjustable that a single-brand, uncertified rep sends me via a box into perspective.
the overall style of the panels on the Antares when I bought it was such that I was told it wouldn't really fit any horse ever, much less my TB mare. (Only about a thumb's width between the panels, overall balance tipped the saddle forward.)
This is, shockingly, what happens when you take a universal set of foam panels and slap them on something that is designed to have as narrow a twist as possible, because riders (ie the "checkbook controllers") go on and on and on about narrow twists and the horses, whose spines are X UNITS WIDE (which is physically impossible to accomodate with stirrup bars that are X-3 units apart and that's just how it is), can't talk.
This is a common problem among various brands of the "foam filled and french" persuasion but they are selling to people who honestly believe that their saddle fits everything they ride, despite the fact that pretty much universally the gullet is way too narrow and the panels are far to A-angled (more narrowness for the rider!), not to mention the total and universal absence of gussets.
However, options like "front gussets" and "rear gussets," to say nothing of K panels or Trapezius panels, or having different tree SHAPES for low, regular, and high witherered horses, while tremendously improving your fitting options across the spectrum of equines, mean you can't just slap the same cookie cutter set of panels on the same tree that varies only in seat size and possssssibly slightly in width (but not shape!), and it is cheaper instead to just make the same exact thing and sell it for $4,500 over and over again and send it to people in a box.
While I agree with a lot of what meup says about the "French custom" saddles (which often end up being more semi-custom) I do have to plug Devoucoux here- he loves their standard tree, which is why I called Devoucoux in the first place, but the rep really listened to my explanation of what the horse likes and paid very good attention to the horse's body. Foam panels, yes, but foam panels that were custom-fitted to the horse (on-site at one point, by one of their master saddlers.) Wide gullet, a trapezius panel, and what mvp called at one point a "cathedral-style" pommel that comes absolutely nowhere close to his withers. Now, that saddle doesn't fit any other horse on this planet! But it fits mine.
Prior to the Dev I had an Antares, purchased used. It was a good fit at the time I bought it (Julian was great!) but as my horse's topline developed, it was no longer a good match. I thought I needed basically the same thing but with a few tweaks to the panels. What I wanted and what came in the box were two totally different things, and what came in the box didn't even remotely fit. The rep suggested a few adjustments that made it clear he'd failed geometry class.
"I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
- Harry Dresden
We have had at least three Antares in our barn that developed a substantial twist towards the left (i.e., the front of the right flap is 1.5-2" in front of the left flap). I talked to a rep down at Thermal, and he said that sometimes a bolt (?) that holds the tree parts together comes off, but that it wasn't worth it to have the saddle fixed, just buy a new one. My saddle was about 10 years old when I noticed it, but the others were only a couple years old. There was no "pop" and no squeaking, so I don't know if the tree broke or something just came apart. So then I bought a CWD, but I never seemed to get it broken in during the 5 months I rode in it. I bought a new horse who hated that CWD (but loves my trainer's CWD) and I eventually ended up with a used Antares Spooner that the horse liked. It's held up ok so far.
And all I ever owned were "cheap" saddles (Crosby, Ainsley, Collegiate, - etc) and never had a tree twist or break on me. I couldn't imagine spending so much money, to only have to junk the thing after a few years.