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UK Saddle Brands

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  • #21
    What about a second hand WOW? They are the most adjustable saddle known to mankind, and I swear by them.


    • #22
      I had a Ryder Legacy saddle at one time, which I liked. They have various saddles and do flaps in 15, 16 & 17". I'm not sure of the cost new as my saddle was second-hand.

      They have various US stockists, see their website:


      • #23
        FatDinah the 5w Baines is equivalent to about a 36-38 cm Duett, and approximately 1-2 tree sizes wider than Bates/Wintec XW. It's roughly the same as the Pessoa/Ovation XCH gullets' XXW.
        "I once heard a client ask our vet if a horse's brain was as small as everyone says they are. Without pause, the vet smiled and answered: 'Maybe, but have you seen their hearts?'" --Alice Peirce


        • #24
          I am adding my support for a Frank Baines! I recently received my custom Elegance Deluxe dressage saddle from them and I am completely in love with it, and so is my pony. I worked through a local tack shop (who is a Frank Baines rep) and the whole experience from start to finish was wonderful. I even received my saddle a month earlier than I expected. My 14,2 quarter horse mare has not been an easy fit over the past 6 years that I have owned her (she is 12 now). Her shoulders are different sizes and she is relatively short backed, Add in my issues (i'm petite and short (5'2 1.2") and finding the right saddle for us both has not been easy. I trialed a Frank Baines from the tack shop and really liked it. Then I ordered my first custom saddle.

          The wonderful thing about Frank Baines is that they have so many options for each saddle type. For my horse, I had them do serge panels on the bottom, and gusseted front and back panels (you can even choose the size of the gussets). The front gussets have made a huge difference in freeing up her tight shoulders. I shortened the billets since she is a pony. For myself, I had them shorten the flap length to fir my short stature. There are also many other options including types of leather for panels, seat, and flaps. And one can add quite a bit of bling if they want.

          I paid $3000 for my saddle (I know it's a bit more than you wanted to spend), but honestly it is worth every penny to me and it is far less than some custom saddle prices. All my previous saddles have been used and I have always worked with a saddle fitter to make sure they were a good fit for my horse. However, they were never "just right" for her or me without tweaks or extra pads or just settling for good enough. That's why I decided to take the plunge with the Frank Baines. And so far I don;t regret it! From the quality of the workmanship to the customer service, they have been fantastic.


          • #25
            Brooklyn Born thank you so much for sharing all of that! I'm on a narrow 14.2 pony and am shorter than you are so I totally appreciate the challenges of saddle fitting!

            The closest Baines rep is at least 4 hours away from me. I don't know if they would be willing to partner with a local independent fitter. Given the number of options available, I worry a bit that an independent fitter may make a recommendation that the rep would not if they were seeing the pony in person. $3,000 is more than I want to spend but it is easy to lose a few hundred shipping saddles around.

            How long did it take from placing the order to receiving the saddle? Did you get any leather or "bling" upgrades or just the panel and flap changes?


            • #26
              I second the Bliss, but want to add that Bliss has a mid range of saddles called Loxley that it in at under 3k custom. I know several Arab people that were very happy with them. I have their off the rack line (only thing custom is adjusting the flocking) Cavaletti and it fit my Arab.


              • #27
                Hi Grace Like Rain

                Then I totally understand your pain! Fortunately my Baines rep was less than an hour away. Because she came down to my barn and did all the tracings and photos, if the saddle ultimately didn't fit, I would be able to return it . Of course it fits beautifully! You could ask the Frank Baines rep if they would partner with a local fitter that is closer to you. They might be willing to do that, or give you other options.

                If you go the Frank Baines website, they have a cool feature where you can Build Your Baines through a computer program. You actually design your own saddle with different leather options and colors, and it's free. It's fun!

                I ordered my saddle on October 21, and got it in November, a few days over a month later. Now my rep did say that it could take two to three months, and I was willing to wait. However, the Frank Baines company was shutting down for a few weeks over the Christmas holiday and I think they pushed my order through before they closed. I was thrilled it came early!

                I want to add that I also had a question about leather choices and actually messaged Frank Baines on Facebook about that, and they got right back to me the next day and fully answered my questions. I was very impressed.

                I chose buffalo leather for the major portion of the panels and chose nubuck leather for the seat and knee flaps. I also chose gold welting along the seat and cantle (just a bit of bling). And, as I mentioned, I chose serge panels rather than plain leather, for the underside of the saddle. I think the saddle might be a bit cheaper if you choose regular calf leather, but I'm not sure. I don't think the gold welting was additional.

                Even though I have only had it for about a month and a half, I feel this saddle has really helped my position and I'm pretty sure its working for my horse because everyone says her shoulders have never looked freerer. It is also incredibly comfortable.

                I tried an Adam Ellis as well (which might be a bit cheaper), but the fit didn't work for her or me.

                Good luck in your search and feel free to message me any questions. You can also check out Frank Baines's website and Facebook page to look for more info and feedback.


                • #28
                  Just want to add, some of these saddles (such as Ideal and Bliss, and probably others) are available custom - I know several people who have gotten Ideal saddles, custom fitted to them and their horses - for under $3k. And one or two that have gotten Bliss saddles in that same price range.

                  I was looking at the Ideal saddles (custom) when I shattered my leg - which ended all saddle shopping. They are well made saddles, and we have a rep in the area. A few trainers in the area (FEI level) have bought these saddles.

                  I think Frank Baines also customizes, although no rep in the area, so I haven't looked into that option at all, but they are well made saddles, and comfy. I rode in one a while ago when I tried out a horse, and was surprised at how comfy it was!

                  So you are not just stuck with off the rack with some of these less pricey options.


                  • #29
                    I have an Ideal and I've been happy with it overall. I have the Tonnishia model in the regular leather with a short flap. It was a custom build and with shipping, tax and an upgrade to patent welting came in around $3,200. I believe the Ideals are made to order so you don't save much by going non-custom, unless you happened to find a saddlery with some ready made floor models. I think the Tonnishia is a slightly more expensive model built for bigger shoulders and shorter backs so maybe another model would be cheaper. I see a fair number of Ideal Jessicas used online.

                    They're wool flocked so small adjustments are easy and I believe the tree can be adjusted 1 size up or down (ie. MN to M). I was a little skeptical about buying a new saddle and a less popular brand for a young horse (4 at the time), but I've been happy in the year I've owned it and my horse seems happy. Honestly the big name dressage saddles that hold their value have such a crazy new price point now I think the UK brands are pretty good deals even new. I did try to source a used one but there weren't many available in the US and the ones my rep had were crazy upgraded (buffalo, crazy stamping and welting, etc) so they weren't any cheaper than a custom ordered basic.


                    • #30
                      I just bought 2 new ones for my guys. One is a Takt saddle. It just happened to be that what I was going to order was already made, but the wrong leather for the original orderer. They remade the saddle and then sold me the incorrect saddle for a good bit cheaper. It is beautiful ( and brown). The other one was a similar sustation, but an ideal saddle. I know takt is made by frank baines.

                      The fitter I used is sorta independent. She is a rep for takt and custom and a couple others I believe. I think she also fits frank baines. Where are you located? if your close, ill send you her info.

                      Both are wool flocked. And great leather. I think the takt is higher quality, but also quite a bit more than I paid for the ideal. But I am very very happy with both.


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by GraceLikeRain View Post
                        Has anyone worked with some of the less popular (by US standards) UK brands? By less popular I just mean not the top 5 that appear in every ISO post or sponsored ad from a trainer.

                        Ones that come to mind include Heritage Saddlery, Adam Ellis, Frank Baines (I've seen a lot of CC saddles but not dressage), Kent & Master, and Fairfax (I've heard a bit more about this one than others).
                        5-6 years ago I went saddle shopping for Sir SpooksAlot. I tried brands from a local tack store that lets you borrow saddles, and had their independent fitter come out.

                        I LOVED the Frank Baines and it fit my horse like a glove (said the fitter), but Sir SpooksAlot bucked with it. I was so amazingly disappointed. WHY, SSA, WHYYYYY????? I LOVED the Fairfax when I sat on it at the store, but on my 4 year old at the time, my knees were jammed into the knee rolls (my horse has better balance now and I think I'd have a different experience now). Kent & Masters didn't work well for me, although I wanted it to.

                        One thing to note, MY back tracing was not as accurate as my saddle fitter's back tracing (we used the same stuff), something to consider.

                        I'm currently riding in a ...I can't even remember the brand (it was given to me), but I think it is English (says made in England). Euro.... ??? It has huge knee rolls which I don't like but my saddle fitter says it fits my horse really well and we manage quite well in it. It's not expensive - I can get back to you on the brand if you'd like.
                        Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


                        • #32
                          J-Lu Maybe it is a Euroriding saddle? I think they have some tack made in England. Only brand I could think of off the top of my head.

                          I own a Fairfax Gareth in the short flap option. I quite like the saddle, but it does put me in a bit of a chair seat. Therefore I think I will be shopping this spring. It fits my short backed horse fine. I am interested in their new Elias model for baroque/uphill built horses. I've seen some Gareth's on eBay (UK) for reasonable prices.

                          I wanted Kent and Masters to work, since the price is less, but it didn't work for me.

                          I'd LOVE a Black Country or Bliss, not there are no dealers or fitters of those saddles close to me.

                          I've heard wonderful things about Frank Baines, but again, no one with experience close to me.

                          I tried a Prestige Lucky Idol but the balance just wasn't right for me, but it was a decent little saddle for the price. Maybe something like the Passier Compact would be worth a look too?


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by CanteringCarrot View Post
                            J-Lu Maybe it is a Euroriding saddle? I think they have some tack made in England. Only brand I could think of off the top of my head.
                            CanteringCarrot YES, that's it! It is a Euroriding Titan II. The company is out of Germany but the saddle says "Made in England".
                            Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by Ceylon Star View Post

                              PREconvert just picked up a 5W AP by mistake off eBay, so might be able to give you a more accurate idea of how wide 5W is, but I'll throw in my two cents from my experiences with FB saddles over the years:

                              Depends on if it is a 5W in the V tree or their hoop tree. Most likely hoop, I think their V tree only goes up to 2W or 3W? Would be pretty wide for sure. One of the Wintec Wide model gullets would probably be a similar width but the Baines would have a better shape to it (the Wintec Wide in the wider gullets are REALLY flat/open and not very stable) My 10W hoop tree is more than 48cms and was made for my completely flat backed morganXhaflinger.

                              Their really wide hoop tree saddles still have generous wither clearance compared to other ultra wide saddles. Might need a riser for the highest shark fin, but should have no issues with slightly higher than average withers.
                              Hi. If you are still interested in the saddle, me know what measurements you’d like taken. This thing is nice looking but it isnt quite the centerpiece I would hope for in my dining room.


                              • #35
                                Realizing that selling a 5W saddle is not indicative of how hard or easy it is to get good resale value on a lesser known English saddle brand, I’m going to put in my 2 cents in based on reselling my daughter’s Albion Legend GP and Albion Original Comfort, and buying used Frank Baines’ and Ideal instead. The resale market is looking for adjustable lower end saddles or high end French saddles. An English sadddle is a tough sell and a cheap buy. I can’t get any offers for my Albion’s and they are priced very low. On FB, all the ISO’s are for adjustable or CWD etc. This isn’t a pity party, because I am benefitting from the lack of interest in used English made saddles by finding her a Frank Baines Eclipse for $350 and an Ideal International Event with Buffalo seat and rolls for $600. The one I have my eye on is only $400.

                                So what I’m getting at is, if resale is an issue for you, you might want to check out dressage FB pages and see what people are looking for used. If it isn’t what you are buying new, you might have a hard time getting it off your hands.

                                Now, they’d have to pry my Albion out of my cold dead hands, but I bought it for less than $1000 in like-new condition. And I am very very happy with the quality of the other brands I mentioned, so I’m not saying they won’t be the best saddle for the money. Especially Ideal - even new they are a lot of saddle quality for around $2K new. Just resale might be tough.


                                • #36
                                  Thank you for mentioning that because it is very relevant and a concern of mine. I've absolutely seen the trend of "what's the cheapest adjustable saddle you have" and the "who has a CWD for sale" disparity without much in between.

                                  I'd love to go used, even if it's not 100% the ride saddle for me at this stage. However, I can't get a flippity flapping independent fitter out here to save my life and she's looking like a tough fit for an "eyeball and guess" online buy. Both Trumbull and Pelham didn't feel that they had anything in that would be a good fit based on my tracings. The one independent fitter is also a brand rep and is pushing me towards her brand of saddles, which have as much resale potential as the UK brands at a steeper price tag. Weather permitting, I may be able to get someone out this weekend. They are independent..but only measuring for two specific brands on this trip (a little confused about that one).

                                  The idea of dropped $2-3k on a saddle that would barely get $1k just a few months later due to lack of brand recognition is hard to swallow.


                                  • #37
                                    Where do you live? I know a lot of fitters around the country and may be able to point you in a direction of a fitter.
                                    Jacobson's Saddlery, LLC
                                    Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Fitter


                                    • #38
                                      Ideal saddles are fantastic. There are tons of options and you can easily get something for well under 3K. I recommend buying straight from the UK, though. I tried going through a US fitter when I got mine and the US price was over 2k more from the fitter than the UK price.


                                      • #39
                                        Well, back to the drawing board. I had several more failed fittings. More concerningly, a few of the fitters seemed to struggle to see things like how a saddle impacted my balance or didn't seem concerned about a saddle being super-tight through the shoulders. Others were positive they had a great fit after looking at tracings and pictures only to immediately say no the second they put a saddle on her back. If they don't feel confident about tree shape off of this information, how could they ensure I partnered with the right Uk brand for an order?

                                        While I was open to ordering a saddle, this whole experience has me really gunshy. If I'm going to order a saddle I'd want to have the features that matter to me like shorter flaps or other things that would definitely prevent a return and could reduce the resale value. Even if I go completely stock, a lot of these companies have a 20% restocking fee which would be a ghastly sum of money to throw away because a fitter didn't know how to ensure the right fit.

                                        At this point I'm almost $600 into fittings, saddle shippings, etc. and am absolutely no closer to a viable option. The next option would be to ship down to "the person" for my state. However, a four-hour round trip plus $$$ fitting is seeming really overwhelming.


                                        • #40
                                          Dear OP. I'm sorry to hear this!!!!

                                          #1 - do your own back measurements match your saddle fitters' measurements? If future saddle fitters come out, I'd frame it as a question teaching you to make better measurements, and can they leave dimensions with you so you can practice, or compare your measurements to theirs. It's part of their fee of coming out.

                                          #2 - it sounds like you don't have good fitters in your area. Can Trumble or Pelham TELL you what models you should watch out for "on their sites" ( in other words, what do they think will fit your horse)? Again, MY tracings weren't as accurate as my fitter's tracing, and since she's independent and nice, she helped me. The original tracings I made and sent to those same companies were pretty off, said my saddle fitter. They told me they didn't have anything that fit my horse, either, and he's a typical medium, medium-wide fit for a warmblood. My traces were weird!!!

                                          #3. Are there any bigger shows in your area? Even Hunter/Jumper? Many times, reps who can fit saddles there can tell you what type of tree will most likely fit your horse and they can recommend their brands based on the measurements even if there are not saddles to try there.

                                          #4, Are there shows in your area? Do you have friends who show? Friends who ride dressage? Ask them if you can try their saddles. Either show up at their barn/show or ask to borrow. I have certainly lent saddles to people to try because saddle shopping is a hell most riders want to shield other riders from.

                                          #5. Have you tried a Wintec Isabell? The "old" style? It can't be flocked, but the adjustable plates are really useful. I showed my old mare successfully through Fourth level in a Wintec, earning my Bronze, a regional champ at third and reserve at fourth in this saddle and only had to change gullet plates. An Albion and a Black country fitter said "well, it's not a bad fit for your horse" even though I tried their saddles. The adjustable plates made ALL the difference. Now, this was the first generation of Wintec Isabells, and I know they've changed to fit "their version of typical ammie rider". I don't like the new ones, but I LOVE the old ones (that's just me). When I sent that mare to breed, I sold it on ebay for not a large loss due to years of use, and the new owner loved it. I would have purchased an old Bates if I could find one previous to my current saddle.

                                          #6. Ebay is another option. I lived for a while in a location with no real tack stores and my friends would often purchase something off ebay (the dressage community was pretty great letting people sit in their saddles at shows or clinics. No one had money to waste). If it doesn't work for you, you can resell it and the loss can be minimal. Something to consider.

                                          #7. Do you have a good idea of what works and doesn't work for your horse? Call around to places like the places you mentioned but also specialty places like Dressage Extensions. A friend used their advice to purchase a Hulsebos and it ended up working for her and her horse given her horse's conformation and it's features.

                                          #8, Saddle fitting can be HELL. For everyone. I had a friend who paid $4K for a custom Schlese, and after a year had it "refit to her horse as he developed" and hated the fit. She asked for the saddle to be "returned" to the old fit but it was never the same and she felt out of balance. (Oh, they charged her - boy did they charge her). Pretty much everyone experiences saddle woes!!

                                          #9. I'm so sorry you're stuck in hell. Saying my dressage prayers for you to get out of the hell we all know is finding the right saddle without shelling out $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
                                          Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation