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Favorite saddles vs. least favorite, and why. Help me shop!

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  • Favorite saddles vs. least favorite, and why. Help me shop!

    My "princess" and I are hunting a new saddle. She's an OTTB, built narrow, reasonable withers and nice back, but built like an upside down V.

    My only high end saddle experience is County, and the one I have is too wide, so it's been sitting. My rep is in the process of ordering in models for me to try on her and sit in, but in the meantime...….

    I recently trialed an N2 Vincitore. What I loved was it put you in a fabulous position. I felt instantly balanced and not fighting my position even when she gave a spectacular leap sideways at the canter, I barely moved. Gotta love that. It was a very nice saddle, and I felt like it was well padded for the horse - gave a lot of good weight distribution.
    What I HATED was the wide twist. Like, extra wide! The first day I rode in it, I thought 'well, I can make this work' but the second day, when missy was leaping about, I got rubbed raw everywhere you shouldn't be..... so saddle went back.

    She would seem to measure narrow, or N/M. But I hesitate to go Narrow because we all know horses change (and can do so quickly) and I am not in a position to be buying new (used) saddles on a frequent basis.

    Other saddles I've put on her: Albion (seemed to fit, wide twist, I didn't ride in it); Niedersuss; WOW.

    Then, reading and viewing saddle fitting videos and info online, is just leading to more confusion. Regarding TB's, one says "oh they are almost always narrow" another says "don't be fooled by their topline they actually usually take a wide".
    So which is it????? OMG!

    I've been told to stay away from Stubben as their leather is crap nowadays and their spring tree makes it seem like you are sitting on a trampoline.
    I've also been told Custom ain't that great.... altho I have ridden in a couple that I liked (but not on this mare).

    I've had the mare 2 years and knowing nothing I owned fit her, I bought a Wintec to get us thru. I have adjusted the gullet every direction, even with the help of my saddle fitter (bless her). I went to the narrow gullet, which when placed on her back seemed "perfect" but after riding in it awhile, she seemed sore in her shoulder/wither area. So by this point, I was so frustrated I went back to a medium gullet and just pad it up some. She seems okay with that, for now.

    Anyway. I would love some feedback on brands - pros/cons (and yes, saddle fit is unique to each person, I know this), brands you love/hate and WHY, which ones have wider or narrower twists, which ones have trees that run small or large as compared to what they stamp (since there's no standard among manufacturers)….and any saddle fitting tips!

    Much appreciated!!

  • #2
    A barn friend of mine has been working with the Saddle Geek remotely and has found it very helpful for down selecting which saddles to trial: See https://www.thesaddlegeek.com/ and https://vimeo.com/saddlegeek

    I reviewed my friend's fitting video and it was very thorough and helpful for general education, too.

    I have found that Passiers fit a lot of TBs/horses with a real wither who are not broad tables, plus they have a fairly narrow twist. Many are available used at a good price/with a trial (ex. Grand Gilbert).

    Comment


    • #3
      I am riding in two different Passier dressage saddles on two different horses and a Passier jump saddle. These are all about 20 years old so less bulked up than current saddles but not the very old pancakes either. They fit me and my horse, I feel at home in them. They are also fairly inexpensive second hand.

      Its very hard recommending a saddle though because the seat and stirrup placement need to be right for you, and also if the saddle doesn't fit the horse the rider will slide around too.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Obsidian Fire View Post
        I've been told to stay away from Stubben as their leather is crap nowadays and their spring tree makes it seem like you are sitting on a trampoline.
        Nope and nope. Spoken to you by someone who does not ride in a Stubben I'd guess. The leather and craftsmanship is impeccable--for a 125 yo company to stay in business that long it can't be with crap leather. You can also upgrade to their "deluxe" leather if you are concerned.

        And the spring tree has give--it more takes the shock than gives you bounce. To be honest I don't notice that much difference in their spring tree than in other saddles--but I bet the horses do!

        I started out with Stubben--bought THOUSANDS of dollars of saddles when this or that trainer said "this is what you need" (Prestige, Custom, Albion). I came back to Stubben and will never leave. The shape of their head plate is PERFECT for horses with high withers, BTW. (I also had a L'Apogee that I really liked, but as a foam flocked saddle once it doesn't fit, you are hosed. Lesson learned with that one, too). Stubben now has saddles in every price point and even their most expensive saddles are still a few grand (yes grand) less than some of the other brands you have mentioned.

        I suggest having a Stubben fitter come bring you some to try--you might fall in love!
        From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.

        Comment


        • #5
          My favorite saddle is my Black Country Vinici. I don't think the twist is particularly narrow, but it's a monoflap, so even with the wide hoop tree, it rides narrower.

          Even if the Vinici doesn't work for you (it comes in a non-hoop tree too) you might look into the brand, because they frequently have wither gussets, and also offer drop and K-panels, which can be really good for TB type conformation, because the panels fill in the dips behind the withers, keeping the saddle level, and allowing properly angled tree points. I think your confusion on the narrow tree thing is because some people try to put a horse in a narrow tree when really what they need is a medium to medium-wide tree with wither gussets and a more appropriate panel configuration.

          I recently sold a Black Country Eloquence with K panels and wither gussets for about $1,100 and it was in super condition, so they can definitely be had on a budget. Seat design is similar to the Vinici, and it's made for a horse that is straight front to back. The Eden is their curvier tree.

          Comment


          • #6
            I love, love, love Black Country saddles. I've ridden in many and they've all been super comfortable! The quality is good too.

            I currently have a Fairfax and cannot complain about it. It is not my favorite, but it works for us.

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            • #7
              I agree Stubbens work very well with high withered tbs. 3 of the 4 saddles I ride in (2 event horses) are Stubbens.

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              • #8
                I saw some dubious coated leather on the inside flap on a newer Stubben Roxanne that I trialed a few years back, but the tree rode the same as any other saddle. Passier also says it has a spring tree. The Stubben I tried wasn't a good fit for my particular horse's back, but otherwise it would have been a fine choice for me. I don't think the tree bounces any more than any other saddle and the visible leather was just fine. I think there was a problem with leather supply in Europe right after the mad cow scares meant a lot of livestock was destroyed.

                I would also check or discount your "I've been told" sources. Someone rides in one model of a brand that doesn't fit their horse or doesn't fit them, or they pick up chitchat based on older models, or they are reps for a certain brand, and then they get to pronounce on all of those saddles forever more.

                The only way for you to tell, is to try out a saddle and see if *you* like the ride and *you* think the leather looks good.

                I tend to think of Stubben and County as jump saddles, and Passier as a dressage saddle, but obviously they all make both kinds of saddle and do it well.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Pony Fixer View Post

                  Nope and nope. Spoken to you by someone who does not ride in a Stubben I'd guess. The leather and craftsmanship is impeccable--for a 125 yo company to stay in business that long it can't be with crap leather. You can also upgrade to their "deluxe" leather if you are concerned.

                  And the spring tree has give--it more takes the shock than gives you bounce. To be honest I don't notice that much difference in their spring tree than in other saddles--but I bet the horses do!!
                  The person who made this comment is someone who rides upper level high end day in and day out and is beyond PICKY about what they sit in and is my former trainer. Those were her comments and I asked her because I trust her judgement and because she does this for a living she would know what her clients are riding in and how they are wearing. This is a person who wears saddles out.

                  Now that said, I do agree that **I** need to put my own hands on (and seat) and make up my own mind. And I don't ride to her level even in my imagination! LOL. So it might work fine for me. Its just when you are plunking down how much money to trial a saddle (and therefore tying up funds) you want to go for the "most likely" choices.

                  Which is why I'm out here asking questions and picking brains!!

                  Keep it coming...

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by outerbanks77 View Post
                    My favorite saddle is my Black Country Vinici. I don't think the twist is particularly narrow, but it's a monoflap, so even with the wide hoop tree, it rides narrower.

                    Even if the Vinici doesn't work for you (it comes in a non-hoop tree too) you might look into the brand, because they frequently have wither gussets, and also offer drop and K-panels, which can be really good for TB type conformation, because the panels fill in the dips behind the withers, keeping the saddle level, and allowing properly angled tree points. I think your confusion on the narrow tree thing is because some people try to put a horse in a narrow tree when really what they need is a medium to medium-wide tree with wither gussets and a more appropriate panel configuration.

                    I recently sold a Black Country Eloquence with K panels and wither gussets for about $1,100 and it was in super condition, so they can definitely be had on a budget. Seat design is similar to the Vinici, and it's made for a horse that is straight front to back. The Eden is their curvier tree.
                    This.....^^ I think you are right. Thank you for putting it in understandable words. This is what's been nagging me, and why I've been pilfering any saddle I can get my hands on just to set it on her back and see how it sits.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I've met one TB that I know of ever who was in a narrow tree saddle, and even then I can't say that it *should* have been in a narrow tree. Both that I've owned were in a medium tree. I know of one now who is in an XW!

                      I myself seem to like Italian saddles (and my current horse agrees) so we've got a Prestige dressage and an Amerigo jump saddle. Both give ample room for withers and large shoulders. Mine is also fairly flat-backed behind the wither. I also prefer flocked saddles so they can be adjusted when needed. My current horse doesn't actually change much now, so I get an annual check, although he went through maybe 3-4 saddles after he came off the track and changed shape.

                      The Prestige I have (Passion K) is a medium twist with an open seat (not as deep as some) and a decent-sized block. I also feel very secure in it.

                      I know of at least one in our barn with a Stubben who is very happy with it (and it's a fairly new model).

                      I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Another TB owner here who's a fan of Black Country. I met with an independent fitter last year and after going through everything he needed, she recommended BC. I ended up ordering a custom Eden with the drop panels. Nothing was extra except the piping. Saddle is beautiful, comfy, and fits my horse really well. My trainer also has 2 TB's and 2 BC saddles - one for jumping and one for dressage.
                        "Horses are too spency!" - Mom

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          One problem with “favorite saddles” is that a well fitting saddle can be a favorite, but the same saddle on a horse it doesn’t quite fit can be miserable. I’m running into this with a dressage saddle I loved dearly, and it’s fit a few horses to varying degrees and worked, but I just rode in it for a week on my mare and even though the fitter thought it fit her decently and was worth a try since I already owned it, it is terrible for both of us (which we would have probably realized had I actually gotten on while the fitter was there, but I had only put it on as an afterthought as the fitter was leaving and I was in too much of a hurry to have her watch us go in it).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have a Schleese Wave with shoulder relief and short panels for my OTTB. We love it but I know Schleese can be hit or miss depending on the fitter you get. Several people in my barn have Patrick saddles and they are very well made and have options to handle higher withers without compromising width for should space. I like a narrower twist and these are the two brands at my barn that I can ride in without hurting.

                            i also have friends that like their Equipe saddles but I’m curious to see how the memory foam handles over years of changing horse shape.

                            Good luck! Saddle shopping is a pain!
                            Becky & Red
                            In Loving Memory of Gabriel, 1998-2005 and Raalph, 1977-2013

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Dresch, anyone?? Found a used one that looks like it might work. I think I'll spring for a trial just because....

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I've got 2 and love them! That said I have a Tristan(?) on the wider short backed pony and the new Verdades on her brother who has more withers and a shorter back. They have a lot of trees and everyone I know who has one loves theirs. Leather and quality is great!

                                I really liked my Hennig as well but it didn't fit either of these two, machine line was too high and it was a little long. Though bought used it had fit the horse it was bought for well.

                                LetItBe
                                Last edited by LetItBe; Aug. 13, 2019, 07:22 PM. Reason: grammar
                                Crayola Posse: Violet Blue

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Barnsby saddles, used as they are now out of business, can be an amazing fit and deal for TB types. Amazing leather, most are woodflocked and great fit for sportier horses.

                                  I love Custom, super comfortable for me and my horses (I have a long femur and they are perfect balance points). I believe the Everest is made for more narrow horses but double check with a saddle doctor to make sure.

                                  Disagree regarding the Stubben, they have lovely leather and wear like iron. The older ones used to be like iron to sit on but the new ones are much better. I like these and find most horses like them.

                                  I find pretige saddles to sit nice on a demo horse (in the store) but don’t work for me. The balance point is off on my horses; I’ve ridden in friends and they drive me nuts. Just not for me, the twist is a bit too wide, I can’t sit up and I feel like I’m struggling to keep my leg where it should by. YMMV.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    It is interesting to watch how saddle brands are also part of fashion - for several years I see the same brands at barns, then people switch to another brand. Many people believe that 'only' the new saddle will improve their riding.
                                    No Stubben for decades, not popular anymore. I see a lot of Custom at the moment, some Benz and Fichtbauer, for people with less budget Prestige.
                                    I pet and hug my Roosli. Fits a lot of horses and my saddle fitter said, don't ever sell this saddle.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Obsidian Fire View Post

                                      The person who made this comment is someone who rides upper level high end day in and day out and is beyond PICKY about what they sit in and is my former trainer. Those were her comments and I asked her because I trust her judgement and because she does this for a living she would know what her clients are riding in and how they are wearing. This is a person who wears saddles out.

                                      Now that said, I do agree that **I** need to put my own hands on (and seat) and make up my own mind. And I don't ride to her level even in my imagination! LOL. So it might work fine for me. Its just when you are plunking down how much money to trial a saddle (and therefore tying up funds) you want to go for the "most likely" choices.

                                      Which is why I'm out here asking questions and picking brains!!

                                      Keep it coming...
                                      I also ride upper level (and lower level--FEI horse and young horse). My coach does too, and probably owns at least 6 Stubben saddles. Silva Martin rides FEI in a Stubben. My point is what you said at the end--YOU need to sit in the saddles to decide. Your friend who happens to ride FEI has what I would consider and outlier type of opinion on these saddles.
                                      From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Pony Fixer View Post

                                        I also ride upper level (and lower level--FEI horse and young horse). My coach does too, and probably owns at least 6 Stubben saddles. Silva Martin rides FEI in a Stubben. My point is what you said at the end--YOU need to sit in the saddles to decide. Your friend who happens to ride FEI has what I would consider and outlier type of opinion on these saddles.
                                        Yeah my trainer isn't a big fan of Stubbens but she is sponsored by Hermes. If I had a Hermes I probably wouldn't like my Stubben so much either!

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