I've been looking at all the higher end saddles and love the Antares. I know that SmartPak has their Jumping saddle but is there really that big of a difference between their and one that you would buy from the Antares dealer?
Does anyone have any pictures of their Antares they purchased from SmartPak?
I have an older Spooner, not purchased from SmartPak, and it's lovely. I had to order it from the Antares dealer because I needed a short flap. When I compare my Spooner to others, my saddle doesn't even look like a Spooner. The grain leather on the new ones don't seem to be as nice at all.
Just from my observations, the Spooners are a little closer to the quality of the old, NICE Pessoas than the actual Antares/CWDs/Devoucouxs. Still nice saddles, but not the same as what you would get from a rep.
Also, the level of customization you can get in a Spooner is way limited compared to what you can get from a rep... many more options from the company rep than from Smartpak (understandable, Smartpak keeps these saddles in stock, they are not made-to-order).
If you can get the Spooner in the size configuration that works for you and your horse, go for it! But don't expect it to be exactly like an Antares jump saddle.
Just on a side note, I agree with the above poster who said that the Antares quality has gone down hill. My Antares is from 2003 and is definitely a heavier, more substantial and more durable (touch wood!) saddle than some of my barnmates' saddles they purchased a year or two ago.
I have the Antares jump saddle from SmartPak and I love it! I don't have a rep near me so I just ordered a test ride one from there to try and loved it so I bought it! My trainer who heavily sponsored by CWD and very well known throughout the show world rode in mine the other day and LOVED it! I say get the test ride one that has free shipping there and back and then you can see if you like it or not.
You might be better off trying to find the exact Antares configuration that you need (flap length, forwardness, seat size, tree size, etc) and then try to find a slightly older, used one in good shape. You'll save money and probably end up with a better saddle.
I have an older model (2005) but have ridden in the Hampton and I did not like it. Nor did my horse. As soon as we trotted off she made that very apparent.
Of course saddle fit is very personal to the rider and the horse, so your experience may vary. Take them for a test ride to really find out. And I agree with skyy....I had a rep come out and we figured out my size, but she didn't have anything in my price range. I was able to find used and affordable on my own and haven't looked back!
As far as I'm aware, Smartpak sells the Antares jumping saddle (as well as the Spooner). The jumping saddle I believe is the same as the jumping saddle that the company sells if you buy directly from them, however, when you buy through Smartpak you do not get the custom fitting that is included when you buy through Antares.
So, if you need a medium tree saddle in a standard size/flap, you could easily go through Smartpak. If you need help with fitting or need customization for yourself or your horse, then in that case you would need to buy a custom version of the same saddle from Antares directly. I don't believe that the Hampton Classic is still being made/sold by Smartpak, but that was a very nice saddle for the money.
Thank you everyone! I'm at Rolex and had the opportunity to talk to the rep as well as the reps for CWD & Devocoux as well. I literally loved a bunch of aspects about each but I think I'm going with the Antares if not, the CWD was certainly second.
I think my best move would be to have the Antares rep come out to the farm and have me actually sit in a bunch of them and RIDE, not just sit on the little stand and that way I can get my measurements and what seat I like and look for one on my own.
I think that way I can better determine if I really like the brand vs CWD!
I never knew saddle shopping could be so frustrating!!!