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experience with Hastilow, Fairfax, H&S on OTTB?

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  • experience with Hastilow, Fairfax, H&S on OTTB?

    In november I dropped $$$ on a County Solution jump saddle. I absolutely love the supple leather and giant blocks for XC but an independent fitter came out and said the tree points are too short so theyre sitting directly on his back and the flocking looked fine because its not even touching him. She told me when she shimmed it up, that it put me too far back and too much weight on the cantle because the flaps are too short for me, making it unusable. Another fitter said the panels are just way too narrow for him. County rep sold the saddle to me, charged me to flock it, and said it was good to go. It was important to me, because i'd dropped a lot of money already on bodywork and injections for my guy's sore back. I was willing to buy new, but the rep said the demo fit, and why not save a few dollars. County doesnt stand by their demos at ALL. They say they are sold as is. I asked if there was absolutely anything they can do (flocking, changing the blocks so it fits me better, switching it out with some extra money) and they said no, I could buy a new one if I liked. They said reps dont even look at the fit for the rider, just the horse. So they pushed a saddle on me that doesnt fit and I'm back at square one.

    The biggest issue is that my horse has EPM. He is back in training after treatment, but his topline is gone and he is uneven right now. I know that will change with work. I also know relpase is very common, so we could build up the muscle and he could lose it again. Possible cycle of that for years. Fitter recommends i get an adjustable tree for that reason and thinks Hastilow, Fairfax or H&S would be a good fit. I was looking at the Hastilow monoflap which looks nice, but the leather doesn't look as supple as I'd like. It looks kind of like Stubben leather (not sticky at all, gets somewhat smooth and slippery). Of course I always lean toward that french feeling leather. I'm bummed because my county feels so so nice but just doesnt work - and after talking to the rep and someone from the company, I will never buy a county again, its wild they wont stand by a $4,000 saddle because it was "demo". My fault, i should have read the paperwork. Anyway, thoughts on Hastilow for that big shouldered baby ottb?

  • #2
    I would be (insert unprintable word here). If you are looking for a short-term solution, you might pick up an old school Passier. My daughter's old Passier GT saddle fit my young OTTB really well. I wanted a jump saddle, so I grabbed PS Baum for under $300. That might get you through the rehab, at which point, you can see what will fit him well.

    I tried a Wintec on him, as well as my old Crosby dressage, and he clearly preferred the Passiers.


    • #3
      I ordered a custom Heritage Bespoke from Matt Harlowe in January and have been happy with the fit and balance of the saddle. I paid $1600 including customizations, girth, and shipping. The leather quality is not French quality but is breaking in well to be grippier. I updated my breeches collectiom from the slicker Kerrits everyday type to fullseats and higher qualitu knee patch.
      My horse is relatively simple to fit but absolutely objected to the County trees recommended by the fitter. Matt is reportedly connected to the County people, has a variety of trees to choose from, and can likely upgrade the leather to something more grippy.


      • #4
        I have a Hastilow Concept Relfex I think. I had an independent saddle fitter come out when I was looking for a new saddle. I think it's well made, well priced and pretty comfy. When I sat in it, I felt like a "lego" locked in place, and felt that it put me in a better position. my other saddle tilted me forward. 3 other people in my barn have them now including our trainer. According to my fitter you get 1 or 2 follow-up fits included in purchase. One of my trainer's ship in clients ordered one, and she it came in wrong - her horse is an extremely difficult fit, but Hastilow made it right by her and she's delighted with her saddle. I will say, I was able to purchase the saddle I tried. It was not necessarily a demo as it didn't have any marks on it, but I liked that I didn't have to order so what i sat in and what she adjusted to fit my horse was what I got. According to the saddle fitter the adjustable gullet is very easy to adjust and she's made so adjustments to the flocking as well.


        • #5
          Try the Fairfax- I think you might like it. The leather is really lovely (at least, on the original saddles)- calfskin like the french saddles. And I found it allowed for lots of adjustment in the fit for both horse and rider. (FWIW- I found that the balance point was back a bit far for me-- but I prefer a really forward balance point as is found in the french saddles (also found in the saddle I ultimately ended up with-- Black Country Solare).


          • #6
            I currently ride in a 17.5" Hastilow Concept monoflap borrowed from my trainer. She has graciously allowed me to use it since it was determined that the saddle my lease horse came with does not fit her.

            It has a medium wide gullet in it and is currently working well for -

            1) lease horse - grade TB with a textbook A frame shape at the tree points but non-TB like moderate wither and short flat back

            2) trainer's TB - more classic TB shape with more prominent withers

            3) another rider's TB - also a more classic TB shape - similar in build to horse 2

            As far as leather quality, it seems nicer to me than the most mid-range English brands but not as soft as most French brands (with which I have little to no experience). I also feel it puts me in a bit of a chair seat, but my position is very much a work in progress, and I have not ridden enough horses in enough saddles to necessarily know when the balance point is "right". I have ridden lease horse in a Kent and Masters jump saddle with a 17" seat size with same MW gullet and while the horse seems happy enough in it, the seat is definitely small for me, and my chair seat tendency is much more pronounced.


            • #7
              I got a Hastilow Concept about five years ago for my short backed, big shouldered OTTB and was really happy with it. He is very hard to fit and is a real princess about saddle fit. Soundness issues have made it so that I no longer need it for him and I had it readjusted to be used on my warmblood who is also a real trick to fit (everything slides forward). The leather isn't as nice as my Albion SLK Ultima was, but it is a close second and nicer than some of the other dressage saddles in the barn. It has worn very well especially considering the use it has gotten. The service for the saddle has not been a problem either, and I had a previous very bad experience with a high end saddle company and will ride bareback before I touch one of their saddles. I would buy another.
              Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds



              • #8
                I have hastilow dressage and jump saddles for my short backed, big shouldered perch/tb. Leather has held up to hard use, saddles look great, and they are well balanced. I certainly don’t find them “slippery.” Definitely worth a look
                The big man -- my lost prince

                The little brother, now my main man


                • #9
                  Out of curiosity, I went to the County webpage and listened to owner talk about all his Reps being highly trained people who undertake the Master Saddlers saddle fitting course etc etc. So therefore, regardless of being ex-demo, the saddle was fitted by the company rep and that person obviously failed to fit the saddle. Saddle isn't wrong, fitter is.
                  "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths


                  • #10
                    When I was looking into their training, it was a 2 week at most course. Then they are certified after 6 month of saddle fitting on their own. Some of his reps are really good some need more. I initially trained with a County Rep before moving onto the SMS. As with everything, look into what the certification actually means. (My info is about 5 years old about the course, so it could have changed)
                    Jacobson's Saddlery, LLC
                    Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Fitter


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by Willesdon View Post
                      Out of curiosity, I went to the County webpage and listened to owner talk about all his Reps being highly trained people who undertake the Master Saddlers saddle fitting course etc etc. So therefore, regardless of being ex-demo, the saddle was fitted by the company rep and that person obviously failed to fit the saddle. Saddle isn't wrong, fitter is.
                      I believe this rep also markets herself as independent. It's absolutely a possibility that my horse changed due to his EPM, I understand that. I called the company directly to see if they could do absolutely anything at all. I was willing to pay more/a percentage to do a swap out, would have paid to exchange for smaller blocks, etc. I was really surprised they didn't even begin to offer to look at the saddle, just told me to buy a brand new one if I wanted better service. They said they'd just hired another fitter so I could pay to have her come out and look if I wanted.

                      The company told me that County fitters never look at the fit of the rider, just the horse and that's all in the paperwork - but never directly said to me and I didn't realize that. Independent fitters always watch me ride and tell me if they think the saddle's balance point is right and I'm good or sitting in a chair seat, etc. This fitter also specifically said the saddle fit my leg. She should have been more transparent that she wasn't in the business of finding a good fit for me, just "for the horse". I asked them point blank why they didn't stand by their product or care that the customer was happy. In our 10 minute call, she said "it's in the demo paperwork that saddles are sold as-in and thats why you get the 7 day trial" at least 7 or 8 times. The sad thing is I recommended this saddle to a friend and she's also now dealing with a sore back due to the short tree points. I'm not blameless of course, but saddle fit has always been tricky for my eye - thats why I pay professionals.

                      It's frustrating that the best way to sit in all the different brands is to call the rep out, but then you're dealing with a salesperson, not someone looking to fit your horse. I really disliked the way the CWD rep talked to me about my position, but to her credit she at least admitted that the saddle really didn't work for my horse.

                      Anyway, they've lost a customer in me. Thank you all for the feedback on Hastilow. A fitter is out in September so I look forward to trying them myself.