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Saddle "Year"

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  • Saddle "Year"

    So, I am in the market for a new saddle. This is actually the first time I have the funds to possibly order a custom/new saddle, and I am getting fairly overwhelmed on making the right choice.

    My last purchase I had low four-figures and found a lovely Amerigo monoflap. Looking at the saddle year was not even in my radar, as a first saddle purchase. I just noticed the leather quality, seat size, and tree size. Those checked my boxes. Fast forward, several years (6 to be exact) this saddle is actually an '03 model, doesn't quite fit my current horse, particularly due to not being reflocked and widening over-time.

    I have a few options. I have had an Amerigo fitter look at the saddle and give me instructions on to whom and what specification to indicate to have it reflocked, get new billets, etc. It would "only" be a few hundred, but definitely considerably cheaper than buying a new saddle.

    Or, I can find a newer used or new saddle. I want to be more educated with this saddle purchase because I can spend a considerable amount of money and two, I want my horse to be comfortable.

    I think my current mind-set is that I would spend an indefinite amount of money for this silly horse if I can be convinced that it would make a difference, but I would also spend an indefinite amount until I couldn't afford to feed my own self and that's not smart.

    So my inquiry is, in something like a saddle purchase, like a car purchase, do you look at the year compared to wear & tear and use? Or is the saddle year, more of a consideration than I'm currently giving it? For instance, I have a particular brand that has a '16, '18, or I could get something brand-new each $1,000 increase in price. Both used appear to have very little wear and are the same tree size.

    This is a big enough investment for me, that I want to be very conscious of what I'm getting. But, I'm a little kid in a candy shop as this is the first time I've been able to consider getting brand-new high-end and spend upwards to 5/6k if convinced.

  • #2
    All wool flocked saddles need periodic reflocking. The flocking packs down. Did your fitter say the saddle would fit again if it was reflocked? If so that is your obvious sensible solution if you still like riding in it and if it's a wool flocked saddle.

    Otherwise as has been said many times on COTH, buying a brand new semi custom saddle from a rep is a crap shoot because the reps are often not that skilled at assessing fit or will lie to make a sale.

    If you want to shop second hand have a good independent fitter do back tracings first and show you how to use them. That way you don't waste so much time with saddles that will never fit. If you buy wool you will likely get it reflocked or at least tweaked after you buy it.

    Reflocking
    ​​my wool saddles costs me about $300.

    As far as year versus wear, obviously wear is what matters as long as you like the style of saddle. I lucked into a 10 year old Passier that was as new with just shelf wear for half of retail. It's now almost 20 years old and in wonderful shape, recently restuffed and new billets.

    The current high end French foam saddles seem to have a shorter life span as the calfskin wears out






    ​​​​

    Comment


    • #3
      If you love your existing saddle, I would have it repaired and re-flocked. I spent a few hundred dollars fixing up a used Antares monoflap that was of similar vintage a few years ago. I got it from a friend as I'd always loved it, and had some repairs done and had a fitter out to make some custom shims for my horse to make it an ideal fit. It was not wool so could not be flocked, but needed minimal adjustments (shim on one side until the horse built up muscle). It was money very well spent.

      When I replaced that saddle ( with no $$$ loss) as I needed something more versatile (i.e. to play more seriously in the h/j world), I, like you, was willing to spend $$$ money if necessary. After lots of internet searching, and chatting with people who had ordered custom/bought new...I eliminated it as a possibility. It was simply too easy to buy used at a fraction of the price, rather than pay a premium to hope and pray that it fit properly. Buying used allowed me to try the saddle that I was going to buy, rather than speculate about feel and fit for both human and horse. Now, this is easy for me to say as my horse wasn't a particularly tough fit. I was trickier, but still found lots of options.

      As a bonus, when I realized I needed something slightly different 3 years later, I sold the saddle and bought a slightly newer used saddle. I was out $400 total in that transaction, and that includes the shipping/custom charges for a saddle I tried and send back.

      The potential for losing money when saddle dealing is an important component to me. Life can be unpredictable, and you don't want to stick with something that isn't right down the line just because it cost you $$$, or take a significant loss that then limits your replacement budget. The horse that the saddles referenced above were bought for was retired at age 9, just months after I had bought that final saddle. Fortunately, the saddle has been altered to fit another horse I am riding regularly, but it could have gone another way. And then I've have been looking at a significant loss on resale if I'd purchase new. As a used purchase that was a good deal, I'm confident I could resell for its purchase price even 18 months later.

      Bottom line - I would completely exhaust all used options before buying new. Talk to friends, try their saddles, get a sense of what you like...and then hunt one up.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd have your Amerigo reflocked and replace the billets. Why mess around if you like it? IMO, the actual age of a saddle has little bearing on its value; what's important to me is if it fits my horse and puts me in a balanced position.

        I have also found that spending more doesn't necessarily get you those two qualities. It really depends on what YOU are looking for and what works for YOUR horse.

        Personally, I can think of much better things to spend $5k-$6K on than a saddle. And, if you do and you don't like the saddle (which unfortunately happens more often than you think), you've lost at least 25% in depreciation on that nice new saddle immediately. I long ago made the decision that I would only buy a saddle I could ride in and then I would buy THAT saddle, because there is no guarantee that the saddle you order will fit the same as the demo.

        Two cases in point. Friend #1 tried her trainer's saddle. It was perfect. She ordered the saddle with very similar dimensions, custom. It hurt her back so much she couldn't ride in it. Friend #2 tried a saddle she loved. Imported one from the UK and it still cost $4K. Hated it once she had it on her horse and road in it longer. Bought a second saddle (used) which worked better but still not great. Has both of them now on consignment. She was told the $4K saddle (Stubben) isn't popular enough in the US and will likely bring about $1500 on the used market. The other saddle, which she bought used for $1500 will likely sell for more, but she won't break even.

        The two most expensive saddles that I've owned -- Schleese and Stackhouse -- ultimately didn't work for me. Luckily I bought them both used and I was able to sell them for what I paid.

        Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
        EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

        Comment


        • #5
          I think saddles are similar to cars in that when you buy new, you are going to take a big hit if you need to turn around and sell in a short time frame.

          I think saddles are different from cars in that they really don't change that much from year to year in terms of features or function and while design elements may help to distinguish a '19 from a '13, the actual model year is largely irrelevant if the saddle has been decently maintained.

          I am in the camp that says only buy the exact saddle that works for you and your horse when you test ride in it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Actually saddles models do change from year to year depending on the brand. In addition if they are not massed produced they all will feel different because they are hand made.
            Jacobson's Saddlery, LLC
            www.thesaddlefits.com
            Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Fitter

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thank you. This actually does help a lot. I have 99% convinced myself not to buy new.

              One of the brands that I've been working with has a few used options, and will work with me to check the fit. I feel more comfortable with this, than buying from an individual seller and hoping for the best. I'll be able to sit in the exact saddle, take it on trial, etc.

              I did call and leave a message with the Amerigo/Contact to have my current reflocked and want to discuss my options. I do like the shape, flaps, and the saddle from the outside looks stunning. But, it's not the most comfortable to ride in. Aka the points of my seat bones get fairly sore. So, I'm curious as to whether she can also add some more "cushion" there as well.

              Thank you so much for your responses and being so patient with my questions!

              Comment


              • #8
                Are you sure the saddle seat is wide enough to support your seat bones properly?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by AskMyAccountant.17 View Post

                  I did call and leave a message with the Amerigo/Contact to have my current reflocked and want to discuss my options. I do like the shape, flaps, and the saddle from the outside looks stunning. But, it's not the most comfortable to ride in. Aka the points of my seat bones get fairly sore. So, I'm curious as to whether she can also add some more "cushion" there as well.
                  If the saddle is not comfortable for you, that's another issue. When I was recovering from an accident, and spent a lot of time at the walk, I found I needed to add a seat saver to my saddle. Not a perfect solution by any means, but it helped me stay comfortable. Here's a link to the models I tried. You wouldn't want to compete using one but these are both amazingly comfortable: https://equineink.com/2018/08/06/aca...in-or-gel-out/

                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Based on all the horror stories I've read on COTH with new custom saddles, I'd be very wary of going that route! Just way too much money to spend on something that will instantly depreciate, and might not even fit or be able to fit you and your horse.

                    I've also got an Amerigo of around the same age. A couple years ago, my independent fitter (who also does warranty work for Amerigo) took a look at it. He ended up pulling it apart and finding a broken gullet, which was replaced, as well as some flocking adjustments. He did mention that at one point, Amerigo reps (particularly in the US) were telling customers that they could adjust the trees as wide or as narrow as they wanted, repeatedly. This lead to lots of problems with broken trees. I don't believe mine was ever adjusted but yet, here I had a broken gullet. I would suggest you have your Amerigo contact inspect your saddle for any signs of this, due to its age and it being around during that time period. It was not expensive to get this done (and they might already have it pulled apart to reflock).

                    My fitter also told me that otherwise, the saddle was in fantastic shape and would last me forever. It's not calfskin, so the leather is sturdy.

                    I'm interested to hear about the seat, and what you find out about them adding some cushioning. I don't find mine uncomfortable in general, but on occasion I've had the same problem as you (probably when I was rehabbing and walking for up to 45 min at a time). I've also heard the Thinline seat saver is really nice, and might help with that.
                    I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SolarFlare View Post

                      I've also got an Amerigo of around the same age. A couple years ago, my independent fitter (who also does warranty work for Amerigo) took a look at it. He ended up pulling it apart and finding a broken gullet, which was replaced, as well as some flocking adjustments. He did mention that at one point, Amerigo reps (particularly in the US) were telling customers that they could adjust the trees as wide or as narrow as they wanted, repeatedly. This lead to lots of .
                      My fitter told me that a saddle can be adjusted 2-3 times but only 1/2 a size at a time. After that you can damage the tree. That's one of the reasons why I like Kieffer saddles with the resin tree. Those can be adjusted multiple times.

                      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bogie View Post

                        My fitter told me that a saddle can be adjusted 2-3 times but only 1/2 a size at a time. After that you can damage the tree. That's one of the reasons why I like Kieffer saddles with the resin tree. Those can be adjusted multiple times.
                        That's pretty much what he said the guidelines are now - up or down one (as in - medium to med-wide or to med-narrow). Previously some reps were telling customers they could go way up or down - like med-narrow to wide.
                        I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          As someone who is cursed with always needing an odd size or configuration and has to custom order by force not choice, I definitely encourage people to see if you can find a used option or repair what you have in a way that fits!! If you buy used, you know EXACTLY what you are getting, it's not a crapshoot. I've done custom orders with Voltaire, CWD, Der Dau, and Charles Owen, and three out of four of those orders showed up wrong and had to be remade (my helmet that I ordered showed up wrong three times . . . special!). One of my saddles showed up in the wrong seat size due to a glitch in the ordering app - my order paperwork and electronic receipt said one thing, but on the factory's end what came through was different. I waited 12 weeks only to have to wait for a reorder (they did expedite and get it to me in 5 weeks and gave me a loaner to use, but still!!). So, if you can narrow down exactly what you want and hunt for it, it is a better way to go.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Further update, I will be looking for a newer "used" saddle rather than having my current saddle adjusted. I spoke with the Repair/Saddle Dr (who if anyone needs, I will send her contact. She gave me such an in-depth response) Because of its age she did not want to mess with the tree which needed to be brought in 1-1.5 CM to fit my current horse.

                            To those wondering about the seat, she also said that because of the way this particular brand uses a foam and leather cover over the seats its not recommended to replace/adjust.

                            I'll keep you updated if I learn anything new. I think I'm going in the right direction.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by AskMyAccountant.17 View Post
                              Further update, I will be looking for a newer "used" saddle rather than having my current saddle adjusted. I spoke with the Repair/Saddle Dr (who if anyone needs, I will send her contact. She gave me such an in-depth response) Because of its age she did not want to mess with the tree which needed to be brought in 1-1.5 CM to fit my current horse.

                              To those wondering about the seat, she also said that because of the way this particular brand uses a foam and leather cover over the seats its not recommended to replace/adjust.

                              I'll keep you updated if I learn anything new. I think I'm going in the right direction.
                              Thanks for updating OP - good luck with your saddle search!
                              I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by SolarFlare View Post

                                That's pretty much what he said the guidelines are now - up or down one (as in - medium to med-wide or to med-narrow). Previously some reps were telling customers they could go way up or down - like med-narrow to wide.
                                My independent saddle fitter is against adjusting the wither gullets of a tree by putting the saddle in a press, which Schleese reps among others do constantly. She thinks it compromises the tree.

                                You buy the wither gullet that fits your horse and if needed you can stuff up the shoulders a bit.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

                                  My independent saddle fitter is against adjusting the wither gullets of a tree by putting the saddle in a press, which Schleese reps among others do constantly. She thinks it compromises the tree.

                                  You buy the wither gullet that fits your horse and if needed you can stuff up the shoulders a bit.
                                  I think one of the big issues is that not all fitters are skilled at using the press and you can end up with uneven-ness. I have never had a traditional tree adjusted but I bought a saddle that had been widened and it was fine, but my fitter told me things can go quite wrong.
                                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                                  Comment

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