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Lucky(?) Me. I have a budget and get to saddle shop- help!

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  • Lucky(?) Me. I have a budget and get to saddle shop- help!

    I mentioned on the Stubben Black Monday sale thread that instead of going for one of the deals today, my mom has talked me into waiting another month for the money from my grandfather's trust to get dispersed, at which point we will order the exact right saddle instead of a maybe right saddle. I'm feeling incredibly blessed and thankful right now that my mom is helping me out with a purchase that I would not otherwise be able to do (without living on Ramen for months and months).

    Anyhoo, suggestions for saddles to try? I want to keep the price range under $3500-ish (wiggle room, but I don't want to go full custom brand new CWD for $5000! ). Right now, a Stubben Zaria is the only thing I have officially tried (Toby was in love, I loved it until I really jumped and galloped...need more forward and shorter flap), and the Stubben rep will be bringing me some things to try that will be better suited for both of us after the first of the month.

    That being said, if I have a budget, I might as well shop. So, suggestions? I need quite forward despite being little (5'3" but looooong femur)- my dearly departed Berney Bro TW was the perfect forward. Also things like the Barnsby Diablo, and the Albion Kontact/Kontact Lite. The Devocoux Ioldy was GREAT for me (but I WILL NOT do a Devocoux). I prefer minimal blocks but will reconsider if they are placed right and work for me.

    Toby runs medium narrowish (he's sized at a 29 with Stubben) and prefers THAT tree or more "English" type trees (likes my Berney despite it being a touch too wide and he went in a Stackhouse in his old life, and seems to really like my Neidersuss, whatever that means). He's little (15.3 and short coupled), but doesn't have a terribly complicated back...just a little on the narrow side.

    I prefer wool flocked but will consider quality foam. I would prefer dual flapped instead of mono, but I'll get over that for the right saddle.

    Right now, I am lining up a demo from Wise. Stubben will be here in a couple of weeks. I am going to talk to the L'Appogee lady that my vet told me to call months ago and see what she suggests/has, and trainer-friend suggested I at least talk to CWD since it is the end of the year or maybe they'll have a used that will work within the budget. I may touch base with Albion, just to see if we can get a better fit (though, I fell out of love with the Albion).

    Next question. HOW do you really TRY a saddle?!?! This is, really, a first for me. The dearly departed Berney was in the tack room and I rode in it for a few weeks before buying. The cursed Berney that replaced it was just made to the specs of the old one (but mono-flap). I did try a few saddles in between the death of the old one and the replacement, but pretty half heartedly and only used saddles (I am more than open to used, too!). When I tried the Zaria, I got it left with me for a few weeks to give it a good ride, on the deal that I would oil it and break it in. But, HOW exactly do I decide if a saddle is good if someone shows up with 10 saddles to try within a couple of hours? Any suggestions on THAT?!

    I'm excited to finally be looking for a GOOD saddle. But I feel like this will be a lot like horse shopping for myself and be awful. And, when a dear friend told me months ago that she hasn't liked a saddle since 1996, I thought I was going to shoot myself...so, I'm really nervous!

  • #2
    Berney redux

    What about another Berney? I recently bought the International, but had them "enhance" the knee rolls a bit. As you know, great saddle, if a little unpadded for the rider!


    • #3
      Wise-Equestrian with the forward flap
      OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


      • #4
        You could still try my Phillippe Fontaine and have a couple thou left over for something else if it works!
        Click here before you buy.


        • #5
          I tried a lot of saddles before settling on my Albion K2. The saddle fitter brought a car full and we just kept on. Since you only have a short time with each saddle I think the biggest thing (after establishing that it's comfortable at W-T-C) is to get up in 2 point and see if it's still comfortable and supports your position. If it passes THAT test then pop over a couple of jumps.

          There were a number of saddles that passed the WTC test, a few that passed the 2 point test, but only a couple that were secure and comfy over a fence. There was one that was great to get up out of, but then finding the seat on the other side was like "hey, where'd my saddle go?"

          Congrats on your saddle shopping, always fun!
          Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

          The Grove at Five Points


          • #6
            Defnitely lucky you!

            How about keeping this thread alive as you go through the experience of saddle shopping with a more than decent budget? I'd be interested in a blow-by-blow diary/journal blog on what each saddle fitter does and suggests for one horse and one rider.

            I've personally been impressed with the construction quality of the Black Country saddles and they are almost infinitely customizable.
            "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
            Thread killer Extraordinaire


            • #7
              When I have tried saddles, I sit in them on the horse quickly to find favorites, then I gallop and jump in the ones that I liked on first pass. Never been lucky enough to have access to XC jumps, but the process has worked pretty well.

              Have fun, and enjoy the process!


              • #8
                I asked my trainer for recommendations at a lesson, on the way home sat in the Stubben Roxane BOB happened to have, decided it felt ok, and found one on Ebay that night for exactly my budget

                Probably not ideal but it worked out for me.


                • #9
                  Check out Mike Corcoran Master Saddlery.


                  I too am not "tall" (a whopping 5'6"), but long femur and my trainer didn't want me in too much of a forward flap (like an Ainsley Chester). I ended up with an 18" and I really like the fit. The event saddle fits the bill nicely and I can still do flatwork without the blocks getting in the way. It's got that nice balance of a real seat, but plenty of room to get up and out when you want.

                  In comparison, my trainer's County event saddle seemed to have MASSIVE knee blocks. I've never felt "claustrophobic" in the Corcoran.


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
                    Defnitely lucky you!

                    How about keeping this thread alive as you go through the experience of saddle shopping with a more than decent budget? I'd be interested in a blow-by-blow diary/journal blog on what each saddle fitter does and suggests for one horse and one rider.

                    I've personally been impressed with the construction quality of the Black Country saddles and they are almost infinitely customizable.
                    I'd be happy to blog about the process!

                    Black Countrys popped up my list. I've never ridden in one, but I've seen them up close and personal and liked them (seemed heavy, but it was a big saddle for a big person).

                    I don't want to do Berney again. I LOVED my old one and a part of me died with it, but I'd really prefer to work with a person who can have their hands on Toby to help get a good fit.


                    • #11
                      I'm in the saddle hunt as well. Will PM you about my old saddle in case it suits. But I find that saddle shopping is exactly like horse shopping. You'll know within 5 min if it's the right one. Then you need to jump some fences at height and check out the gallop position (can you get out of the thing and into 2 point easily) and then you know.

                      I am only jumping fences at 3' and below... might go training some day. So I'm at the lower levels and can take a lot of leeway in a saddle that perhaps someone at Intermediate can't tolerate.

                      I look for comfort.... does it kill my crotch? My seat bones get poked? Do I want to sit in it for hours at a walk on a trail ride? Seriously if it's not comfy at the walk forgetaboutit.

                      Can I get up into 2 point well? Does my knee snug down into the knee flaps and give me a pivot point? Cause my lower leg to swing back when I jump (bad points) Does my lower leg touch the horse? Can I communicate with him?

                      That's how I try a saddle. Takes maybe 20 min.

                      I'm in saddle shopping mode for the new beastie as well. I want a show jump style, close contact, flatish seat, wool flocked, knee block, 1/2 to 3/4 panel saddle. I don't want thick padding between me and the horse (like the Black Country panel on the Wexfod) My horse is neither TB like nor WB like in his back. Sort of an inbetweener. SO I have to find a tree that will fit him and work for me... in other words b/c he has withers and high croup he'll never go in a flat seat saddle. But I would like to stay away from super deep seats.


                      • #12
                        Agree with others - you'll know when you sit in it that it's the one. I bought my current saddle after having a 7 month break from riding - I literally had sat on my horse a grand total of 3 times prior to the rep coming out. All I had to do was pop over one little jump and I knew it was "The One." I was a little worried once I got riding fit again, my opinion would change but a year later and the WonderPony and I still love it. Good luck!
                        Our journey - http://charlieandmeeventing.blogspot.com/


                        • #13
                          I am also saddle shopping.... for both dressage and xc. I am in love with my Luc Childeric DAC dressage but it is a bit wide for Mick and I am going to look into getting another in a M tree. I just canot find one anywhere used right now.... and I'm not going to buy a new one. It is very close contact and it fits everyone... I don't know how their jumping saddles are in terms of fit though.

                          I realize that the Devoucoux is known to not fit horses well, and mine fits only one of my young horses to a tee but doesn't fit anyone one else. I don't have the luxury of fitting each horse with their own saddle, so I use a Pessoa daily, that fits everyone, and then use a Mattes Correction Pad with the Devoucoux for events where I'm jumping prelim or above.

                          Can't wait to hear what you find, although I am a strictly a monoflap person, and it sounds like you prefer the dual flap.


                          • #14
                            Definitely try the Voltaire Design saddles if you're shopping. They might be a little out of your budget, but they do occasionally have used saddles in stock.

                            I have the Lexington and will likely never ride in anything else: http://en.voltaire-design.com/lexington_saddle.html.

                            But if you're committed to a dual flap saddle, you should try the Palm Beach: http://en.voltaire-design.com/palm_beach_saddle.html. I do know a few eventers with this saddle, so it's possible.

                            You can also custom make something. My friend has the Palm Beach seat with the Lexington flaps. They are a client of mine, but I'd probably be a customer anyway!
                            Take Your Equestrian Business to the Next Level: http://www.mythiclanding.com/
                            Follow me at http://mythiclanding.blogspot.com or http://twitter.com/mythiclanding


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by mythical84 View Post
                              Definitely try the Voltaire Design saddles if you're shopping. They might be a little out of your budget, but they do occasionally have used saddles in stock.

                              I have the Lexington and will likely never ride in anything else: http://en.voltaire-design.com/lexington_saddle.html.

                              But if you're committed to a dual flap saddle, you should try the Palm Beach: http://en.voltaire-design.com/palm_beach_saddle.html. I do know a few eventers with this saddle, so it's possible.

                              You can also custom make something. My friend has the Palm Beach seat with the Lexington flaps. They are a client of mine, but I'd probably be a customer anyway!
                              I was actually admiring the Elkton at Fair Hill- http://en.voltaire-design.com/elkton_saddle.html THAT'S more along the line of the forward I need.

                              I'm not against monoflaps, but I just don't love mine. If I can find what I want in a dual flap, that's my preferred method, but I'm not married to it!


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by mythical84 View Post
                                Definitely try the Voltaire Design saddles if you're shopping. They might be a little out of your budget, but they do occasionally have used saddles in stock.

                                I have the Lexington and will likely never ride in anything else: http://en.voltaire-design.com/lexington_saddle.html.

                                But if you're committed to a dual flap saddle, you should try the Palm Beach: http://en.voltaire-design.com/palm_beach_saddle.html. I do know a few eventers with this saddle, so it's possible.

                                You can also custom make something. My friend has the Palm Beach seat with the Lexington flaps. They are a client of mine, but I'd probably be a customer anyway!
                                I just revisited their website. I like the look of the Elkton as well. They are located in Palm Beach. If we want a custom fit, do they take wither tracings? Also, what are their price ranges?


                                • #17
                                  Ah, I see it's going to be one of those threads where some people just show up and recommend a brand they personally adore. I admire people's enthusiasm. I've also seen it wreak havoc on other people's saddle searches. I love my Amerigo but it doesn't meet your stated criteria and from what you're describing of the horse, it's not a great match for him either.

                                  I wouldn't recommend Voltaire in this situation either, even though I've recommended it to others here on COTH. Here's why:
                                  1. They're pricey. Think Devoucoux and CWD pricey. Like, starts at around $3500 and goes up from there.
                                  2. They're a very new brand, just three years old, which means very limited demo/used stock and the reps are very reluctant to sell you a demo. We're seeing more and more of their more popular models on the used market, meaning the Voltaire Lexington (which competes with the Devoucoux Chiberta) and the Voltaire Palm Beach (which competes with the Devoucoux Oldara). You CAN find them, but the chances you'll find an Elkton...? Go ahead and call but don't hold your breath. I'll even PM you with some info that makes that phone call go more smoothly.
                                  3. You said British, you said custom, you said wool. Like Devoucoux, Voltaire will not customize the tree or tree width; you get the Arcade Normale or the Arcade Ouverte, and they'll build you a custom foam panel under it. This is not what you described as ideal.

                                  If you were hell-bent on looking at French stuff, then I'd agree that L'Apogee/Luc Childeric and CWD are probably your best bet for the list of constraints you've given. At least they have a variety of trees, including some British-style trees; they will customize the tree size AND the panel; and CWD even offers a wool panel option. But finding "just the one" among the French brands, in your budget, is going to be a challenge. Personally, I don't understand why you'd go on that goose chase when there's tons of British tack that's comfortably in your price range. Unless there's something you're not telling us, like "$3500 really means $4500."

                                  So let's review the constraints:

                                  1. Price under $3500-ish, probably a firm ceiling at $4000?
                                  2. Seriously, no-joke forward flap. Not slightly forward, but FORWARD. FORWARD, dammit!
                                  3. Good fit for a medium-narrowish horse in a British English-style tree.
                                  4. You like wool. You have some reservations about foam but would consider the right custom foam brand.
                                  5. You like dual-flapped saddles but will consider a monoflap.
                                  6. And you want a pretty kickass saddle for the money, one that you can be proud of and expect to last for many many years.

                                  My hitlist based on this criteria, from "most likely to make the angels sing for horse and rider" to "yeah I guess that meets the basic criteria too." I'm constrained by not knowing much about your horse's topline, so I'll just mention all comers:

                                  Frank Baines Elan and Enigma - I don't often recommend these for short people, but I do recommend them for people who are really into the forward flap thing. I think you'll be blown away by the leather quality and workmanship on these; there's a small club of top brands with exceptionally good leather (CWD, County's bull leather, Stackhouse custom saddles) and Frank Baines is in that club. The Baines saddles have similarly fluffy, Thoroughbred-friendly wool panels like you see on the Albion Kontact Lite. The Elan is dual-flapped, the Enigma can be built as a dual-flap or monoflap. Highly recommend if you want top quality for the money, fully customizeable (like most British brands). Yes, they will push the flap more forward for you if you ask nicely, but their stock photographs don't reveal how forward these flaps are right off the rack. Retails around $2800-$3000. In your area, call Bill Wood at thesaddlefitter.com.

                                  Hastilow Concept Jumper - an unsung hero of the British saddle world. It's got two features that most other high-end British brands haven't touched yet: 1) a fairly intelligent user-adjustable gullet system that not only flexes up front in the tree points but also flexes along the saddle's bars. It's built on a similar tree to the Thorowgoods, so although this particular product is new, the tree has stood up to years of consumer testing.
                                  2) The tree also includes some synthetic elements, like carbon fiber, that give it what Hastilow calls the "Bio-Kinetic tree" ride. I thought that was marketing BS until I saw it on a horse in motion, and you really see and feel a difference in how this saddle translates information from horse to rider. It's not better or worse than a beechwood/steel tree, and it's hard to describe because "bouncy" is the totally wrong word for what's happening and how it feels, but no question it's a different feel from a beechwood/steel tree. (As an aside, CWD's building some models on carbon fiber trees, and those give a similar effect--but CWD is building carbon fiber + foam and that's a different effect than carbon fiber + wool.) The Hastilow Concept Jumper retails at $2920, and like most British brands, they'll bend over backwards to customize for you. Annette Gavin, the head of Hastilow's representation in the US, is a Society of Master Saddlers fitter and will treat you right. I recommended this saddle recently to someone who was lusting over the new County Sensation but couldn't afford it, and she is delighted with her Hastilow Concept Jumper.

                                  Black Country - I'll merely say "Yeah, this is good suggestion, I just think you'd like Hastilow and Frank Baines even more." You may take a shine to the Tex Eventer or the Vinici Tex Eventer, maybe something else in the lineup too like a Quantum with a custom extra-forward flap. If you were hoping someone would bring a whole mess of them to your barn instead of mail-ordering one, Annette Gavin at Hastilow USA (mentioned above) reps for Black Country as well. You could also ask Patty Merli if she plans to be in your neighborhood (she too is a Hastilow + Black Country rep) and rumor has it that Bill Wood, discussed above re: Frank Baines, sometimes carries a few Black Country saddles (he used to rep for them). http://www.pattymerlisaddles.com/

                                  Custom Saddlery Monte Carlo Dual Flap and Monoflap - this brand has traditionally been known for its dressage saddles, but they're making jump saddles now and doing a nice job. Don't reject it when you see the stock photos for the Monte Carlo--that's the "standard forward" flap, but they also make an "extra forward" and "extra extra forward" flap. I believe COTH's RunForIt has one of these for her Rasta and likes it very much. I've heard nothing but good things, and no surprise since it's one more of those awesome brands coming out of Walsall, England. I will say that personally, I think the Monte Carlo is a much better product than their other jump saddle, the ICON Aviator. Custom gives a full 10-day trial on all their saddles. Fully custom at $3750-$3850, including Buffalo leather.

                                  Ready for a shock? I'd look at the Pessoa Monoflap XCH, which is wool-flocked and much nicer than most of the other crap they've made lately. It retails at around $2100, has an adjustable gullet, and synthetic-wool-flocked panels. It's not going to outlast the British brands I've described above, but it's nothing to sniff at either. A good value for the money.

                                  Recommended with reservations: You perhaps did not consider the Prestige Eventing because you assumed it was foam-panelled with no customization, but surprise! They're making it with a wool option now, and the wool panels are actually built differently (better suited to the way wool distributes weight, IMO) than the foam panels--meaning it may be worth the extra dough to buy the custom wool option at $3775 rather than just buying any ol' Prestige Eventing and reflocking it to wool. I recommend with reservations because I don't know if this will be suitably forward-flapped for your tastes. Paul at VTO Saddlery is a longtime Prestige dealer and can give you the skinny.

                                  Good luck with your search!
                                  Last edited by jn4jenny; Mar. 7, 2013, 05:39 PM.
                                  Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


                                  • #18
                                    Jenny, your knowledge never stops amazing me... how on earth do you know so much about saddle fitting? Are you a saddle fitter yourself? Just curious (and a little jealous maybe )


                                    • #19
                                      I would like to start a Jn4Jenny fan club.

                                      I agree with the Frank Baines options. I have a foam Reflex that I love, and am interested in getting the same saddle in wool someday.

                                      Fine-used-saddles.com has a couple Enigmas right now.


                                      • #20
                                        I really like my Black Country Ricochet. I had to have the flap customed ordered to be extra forward, but it was still reasonably priced. As you know, I lurrrved my Diablo but it no longer fits Cass (and mine didn't fit Sir Toby).

                                        The only quibble I have with the BC that I still tend to grip with my knee, especially when I'm trying to put leg on, but it also may have to do with the fact that my horse is a 2x4 with a mane and a tail.

                                        I know Countys are $$$$, but if you contact the VA dealer, she usually has a bunch of demos on hand.

                                        Also -- I sat in several Prestige Eventers, but none of them came close enough to fitting my leg. Unless you're lucky enough to find an XXL flap, they might not work.
                                        Road to the T3D
                                        fri [fri:] fritt fria (adj): Free
                                        skritt [skrit:] skritten (noun): Walk