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Saddle shopping

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  • Saddle shopping

    I'm looking for a new saddle and I was hoping I might mine some of the collective wisdom here.

    I have a grade gelding, if I had to guess I'd say he has a good bit of QH in him or he's at least built that way in that he has a flat back and a "massive" (as the saddle fitter called it) shoulder. He does have a decent wither and the saddle fitter recommends a 32 cm tree. His girth channel is also very forward.

    I've been riding in an 18" Kieffer Achen II that has been fitted to my horse. I never felt that it fit me as well as it should which is why I started looking. I had the opportunity to test ride a gently used Smith-Worthington (I can't figure out what model it is) 18.5" saddle and I couldn't believe the difference. It has a medium twist as opposed to a narrow one and I no longer feel that the saddle is squeezing me up out of the middle. It also seemed like my horse was much more free through the shoulder.

    I really like this saddle. I was able to ride out a huge spook in the wind the other day without coming off. I'd have eaten arena dirt if I had been in my saddle.

    I also intend to test ride two Thornhill saddles, the Vienna II and the Klasse. Does anyone have any experience with any of these saddles? How do any if them stand up in the long term? I've fallen in love with the Smith-Worthington but that could be just because it's so much better (for me) than the Kieffer.

    My budget is in the $1000 range (give or take). I'd appreciate any input anyone is willing to share either on these saddles or on other models in my price range.
    "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple” – Barry Switzer

  • #2
    I have two Smith Worthingtons, and really like them. Keep in mind that they have an adjustable tree - you'll have to ship them to CT to have it adjusted, but they can do it from wither tracings. It's a nice feature if your horse changes shape, or you change horses down the road.


    • #3
      I test rode a Klasse on my broad-backed ASB. I really liked the saddle for *me.* It has really big external blocks that extend all the way down the flap, so for me being a tall rider, it held my knee back SUPER nicely whereas most of the blocks do nothing as my knee is several inches below where they're supposed to fit. It kept me in perfect form and was super comfy to ride in, though I must admit I haven't ridden in many dressage saddles in my life. The only thing I didn't like about it for how I felt in it was the twist was just a bit narrow for what I'd prefer, but that's totally personal preference.

      As far as how it fit my horse- it has a pretty narrow panel behind (under the seat), so it concentrated the pressure into too small an area for my horse, whose back is broad and flat- he needs a very wide panel under the seat to distribute the weight. It also rocked a little bit, it has a pretty curved tree and is a little bit banana-like, so if your horse has a flat WB type back it won't fit that either.

      The saddle fitter I have worked with said that the Vienna II would probably be our best bet for a tree similar to my Berlin all purpose (which fits us like a glove), but I have yet to find one of those to test ride.

      I also test rode a Thornhill Danube, which I didn't care for as much, it tended to push my leg forward and into more of a chair seat, as there was no block there to help, and I think the seat/stirrup bar ratio is off a little bit for me. The seat was super padded though, like riding on a marshmallow. The tree on that one did not really agree with my horse very well either, it was a size wider than my current saddle and seemed like it felt more narrow actually through the shoulder.


      • #4
        It is rare to see a rider who is truly passionate about the horse and his training, taking a profound interest in dressage with self-abnegation, and making this extraordinarily subtle work one of the dominant motivations of his life.\"