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In the market for a new saddle...help!

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  • In the market for a new saddle...help!

    Hi everyone!
    I am currently in need of a new saddle for this dude:









    The first two photos are from back in April, the next two photos are from September. Since September he has built a bit more of a topline, but his back pretty much looks the same. He's a 15.3h TB that I'm currently riding in a changeable gullet Collegiate Diploma in the medium gullet with a Back on Track pad under it. I had a saddle fitter out back in August and the saddle fitter said my horse was unevenly balanced so she basically unbalanced the flocking in my saddle to balance it, if that makes sense!! He moved much better for a few months and built up a good amount of muscle, but now the back of the saddle is not making even contact with his back and is rocking on him. Today he really objected to moving out and I won't ride him until I find a better fitted saddle. The chiro has been out numerous times for adjustments and the massage therapist has been out as well.

    I'm not interested in adjusting the flocking in my saddle again as this saddle really doesn't work for me either. It puts me in a strange position and I feel very unbalanced in it, so I can only imagine how my horse feels.

    Today I rode my friend's horse in her Wintec 500 and LOVED it. I felt secure, my leg was in the perfect position, but I felt free enough to pop out over some jumps. I've never liked Wintecs before, but this saddle just put me in this amazing, centered, balanced, spot. My current saddle is a 17, but hers is a 16.5...Could this size difference make a BIG difference in how I felt?

    I don't want a synthetic saddle for my horse but I'm not really sure what I want. I've gone to all the tack stores and sat in numerous saddles and don't know what's right. I think I like something, but then second guess myself. I'm looking for a saddle with a semi-deep seat, somewhat forward flap (5'7 with a long femur), "sticky" leather (my collegiate is so very slippery), and wool flocking for the adjustments that I'm sure will need to be made after purchase. I do low level eventing, jumping at 3ish, lots of hunter paces, and lots of long trail rides. My current saddle fitter can't get out for at least a month. I sat in an Ainsley Chester today (didn't like it), and an Amerigo Vega (don't think I like it). I have a call in to my local Stubben rep to try some of their saddles. I've been searching Ebay for something that could possibly work. My horse is in Southern NH.

    Any other rep/saddle fitter suggestions would be very helpful! My budget is $3000ish, with wiggle room for the perfect saddle.

    I guess I just don't know where to start.

  • #2
    Bates, made by Wintec (or vice versa...they're the same company!), depending on the model, can essentially be leather versions of Wintecs. So why don't you go ahead and start there.

    Also, if a Wintec fit your guy, I would be very surprised if the Vega came even close to fitting him. He needs a flat-tree. If you search for that term, you'll find lots of suggestions.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by GoForAGallop View Post
      Bates, made by Wintec (or vice versa...they're the same company!), depending on the model, can essentially be leather versions of Wintecs. So why don't you go ahead and start there.

      Also, if a Wintec fit your guy, I would be very surprised if the Vega came even close to fitting him. He needs a flat-tree. If you search for that term, you'll find lots of suggestions.
      This. Your horse needs a much flatter tree and panel than Ainsley, Stubben, Amerigo/Vega, or the Collegiate Convertible Diploma can offer. I also think you look like a very well-proportioned young lady of 5'7" who has a normal femur length and would be well served by riding in the seat size used by most people who are well proportioned at 5'7" (17.5" instead of 17"). I think you'll find that solves a lot of the "balance issues" that you've ascribed to your Collegiate Diploma; those are probably a combo of being in a too-small saddle and using a curvy saddle on a fairly flat-backed horse. Your poor thing! I bet it's a rotten riding experience.

      You are blessed with a king's budget. With that budget, you can go several routes that are all equally valid:

      1. Make a "lateral move" to saddles that are close to the ride experience of the Wintec 500 but not a synthetic saddle. The closest leather cousins to the new-style Wintec 500 CC or AP are going to be the Bates Hunter Jumper or Bates Elevation, both sold by Cheshire Horse and I think Pelham Saddlery sells them too. You could also try the Collegiate Nobility, which is a radically different saddle from the Diploma made for a flatter horse and for riders who prefer a more forward flap. That's an increasingly popular saddle for eventers with flat-backed horses.

      2. Decide to work with saddle fitters to identify some of the higher-end, more durable and customizeable options on the market. You could choose to work with in-person fitters who make barn calls, like Advancedsaddlefit.com (ask Colleen about the Detente Kestrel), Janie the fitter at Pelham Saddlery (ask about the Frank Baines Enigma), or Trumbull Mountain Tack Shop (ask about the Black Country Ricochet). And I'm sure there are others in your area who rep for other brands with possible candidates.

      You might also consider some products that hover in the middle of your price range, like the $2000 Smith Worthington Zephyr Monoflap (this brand is based in Connecticut--call and ask for Kurt) or the EDITED: whoops forgot about the wool thing for a sec and recommended the Equipe Expression, which is foam panelled. My bad! How bout I swap in another Smith Worthington with a flatter topline, like the Stellar Calypso (around $1800).

      Just try to stay patient. I know it's hard when you can't ride your horse comfortably, and December's a tough month to get a saddle fitter out. This is the second-most-busy saddle fitting season behind March/April, and people all over the country are scrambling to get a fitter into their barn.

      I would definitely not suggest calling out a Stubben rep. Their whole lineup is built on curvy trees with curvy panels. Heck, I just spent 20 minutes on the phone today with someone who DOES have a curvy horse encouraging her to keep looking at Stubben, but every saddle has its horse and your horse is not a Stubben horse. I truly think it would be a waste of your time and money.
      Last edited by jn4jenny; Dec. 13, 2012, 09:52 AM.
      Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        And I'm going to add to the mix the Wise-Air, which in the standard model is $2600 and works very well on my guy who doesn't look to me much different than your guy (j4jenny, correct me if I am wrong there). Also, check with Annette Gavin at www.hastilowusa.com as their used saddles are very well priced and will fit this type of horse.
        OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!

        Comment


        • #5
          Smart shopping

          Don't forget some of the on-line resources like Fine_Used_Saddles.com for "second hand" saddles.

          They offer saddles in GREAT condition, at less than you might think.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by scubed View Post
            And I'm going to add to the mix the Wise-Air, which in the standard model is $2600 and works very well on my guy who doesn't look to me much different than your guy (j4jenny, correct me if I am wrong there). Also, check with Annette Gavin at www.hastilowusa.com as their used saddles are very well priced and will fit this type of horse.
            I was just focusing on wool-flocked options local to New Hampshire, and Wise-Air is foam/air panelled and Hastilow's way down in Pennsylvania. But for the OPs sake, it's definitely worth noting that there are other brands she could theoretically try besides the ones I am mentioning. I'm just trying to keep it local to speed up her search and lower the UPS Ground time if she needs to mail-order something.

            But now that it's not 2 am , I'm cogent enough to add two more possibilities to the list: call your state's brand reps for County and Custom. Neither brand's offerings for your shape of horse will be in your budget at their retail prices (examples: Custom Saddlery Icon Aviator, $3700+ or the new County Sensation, which I think starts around $3500) but they might be able to hook you up with something in demo or used condition. A used County Conquest, County Innovation, Custom Icon Aviator, etc. might suit.
            Last edited by jn4jenny; Dec. 13, 2012, 03:02 PM.
            Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

            Comment


            • #7
              The BC Ricochet would be worth a look, as would the BC Quantum. The Ricochet has more curve to the tree and the front part of the panel is deeper - close to a K, but not *quite* that deep. The Quantum is longitudinally flatter with less panel in the front, thought it can be had with a trapezius panel if needed.
              Kitt Hazelton
              Saddle Fitter
              www.pantherrunsaddlery.com
              www.saddlefitter.blogspot.com

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                [QUOTE=jn4jenny;6714208]This. Your horse needs a much flatter tree and panel than Ainsley, Stubben, Amerigo/Vega, or the Collegiate Convertible Diploma can offer. I also think you look like a very well-proportioned young lady of 5'7" who has a normal femur length and would be well served by riding in the seat size used by most people who are well proportioned at 5'7" (17.5" instead of 17"). QUOTE]

                Thanks Jenny!! Here's a pic of me in my current saddle (17)
                Does this look too small? I'm going down to Smith Worthington this weekend-- I love the looks of that monoflap. I haven't seen anything at Pelham that I like-- sat in everything there last night. I also like the looks of that Collegiate, but I don't think they carry it at Dover. Going to try to line up a test ride in one of those from somewhere.

                Comment


                • #9
                  [QUOTE=finneas;6714504]
                  Originally posted by jn4jenny;6714208Thanks Jenny!! Here's a pic of me in my current saddle (17) [IMG
                  http://i1141.photobucket.com/albums/n582/marissamclaughlin/550860_752167428839_1905068805_n.jpg[/IMG]
                  Does this look too small? I'm going down to Smith Worthington this weekend-- I love the looks of that monoflap. I haven't seen anything at Pelham that I like-- sat in everything there last night. I also like the looks of that Collegiate, but I don't think they carry it at Dover. Going to try to line up a test ride in one of those from somewhere.
                  IMO yes, although it's not WAY WAY WAY too small or anything like that. I think a lot of less saddle-obsessed folks would tell you it fits fine, but from my perspective, it's a smidge small and just small enough to make a difference to your riding position. Part of the "look" is just the part of the trot stride at which you took this picture, but even if we imagined you really at the base of the stride when you're sitting as deep in the saddle as you ever go while posting the trot, we can imagine you leaning forward slightly as you are doing here. I suspect we'd be hard pressed to get three whole fingers' clearance behind your behind, and may brands recommend having four fingers or a whole hand. (I KNOW you were probably told 3 fingers by some trainer while you were growing up, but I do not make this stuff up, I promise. Beval's saddle fitting guide, and many others, will agree with me.) IMO the saddle is contributing to your forward leaning by being slightly too small, which is causing you to perch ever so slightly behind the balance point on the slope upward toward the cantle, which of course would encourage you to lean forward a bit since you can't really "get down in there." I suspect if you really tried to force the issue and sit in this saddle's balance point, your ankle and knee would shoot forward slightly ahead of the stirrup bar and you'd have trouble not posting your body right back behind the balance point. Again, I am splitting hairs here. I'm not saying you're riding on a postage stamp. But I'm saying I can see why you are not 100% effective in this saddle, especially when in general I see a rider with good equitation with a compliant, well trained horse. The final nail in this coffin? I bet dollars to donuts that if we put your stirrups up where Jimmy Wofford says they should really be on XC, meaning they make a 90 degree angle behind your knee, you'd have flap issues and these perch-on-the-cantle issues would get worse. You appear to be riding in your dressage length here, which is fine since that's what you appear to be schooling , but I'm saying I wouldn't envy you this saddle on XC. In theory the fix might have been as simple as moving you to a 17.5" Collegiate Diploma, but that won't work for the horse.

                  Now I'm going to sound like a jerk who's going back on my word, but hang with me. I do think that in many saddles, you will be best accommodated by a 17.5" seat. BUT seat measurement is not the end-all be-all of how a saddle fits your behind. You can take two 17" saddles and have one that fits a rider WAY more generously than another, for two main reasons:
                  1. Saddle models vary in the length of their cantles and the placement of their pommel. Smith Worthington, for example tends to put its pommel nail REALLY far forward so their 17.5" saddles often ride a little small. But that brings us to #2...
                  2. Saddles vary in the architecture of their seat and the length of their working centers. I can easily imagine that the 16.5" Wintec 500 felt much bigger and comfortable to you because it's got a U-shaped bucket seat with a long working center, which means that there's a whole lotta real estate for your behind/pelvis/legs in a geographically small area. So even though your relationship with the stirrup bar and the flap was probably not good in that saddle, you probably *felt* a little better in it than you do in a 17" Collegiate Diploma with its more vee-shaped, shorter working center. If you found this confusing, chit chat with Smith Worthington about working centers this weekend; their lineup has a wide range of seat architectures and they can show you what I'm talking about.

                  Good luck with your shopping. If possible, take a wither tracing + these pictures down to Smith Worthington with you. They have a good saddle fitting staff and will treat you well.
                  Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kitt View Post
                    The BC Ricochet would be worth a look, as would the BC Quantum. The Ricochet has more curve to the tree and the front part of the panel is deeper - close to a K, but not *quite* that deep. The Quantum is longitudinally flatter with less panel in the front, thought it can be had with a trapezius panel if needed.
                    Kitt, I'm glad to see you on COTH! Could you please say a little more about this, particularly whether the Ricochet comes standard with the not-quite-a-K-panel shape and whether it's possible to order the Ricochet with less panel in front? I've never seen a Ricochet without that not-quite-a-K-panel thing, but I thought that was a coincidence. It never occurred to me that that's just "how it is."

                    For that matter, some of the SMS fitters closer to my neighborhood prefer the Ricochet for a flatter topline and the Quantum for a more curvy topline. I know you've probably sold 10x as many Black Country saddles as most other SMS fitters and have worked with the brand for much longer, so I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on that. I have owned a Black Country Quantum that was quite flat in aspect--in fact that's why I had to get rid of it, my horse grew up and changed and became more curvy--but I have also seen the off-the-rack versions of the Quantum with quite a curvy tree in them, and I know the whole question is a little loosey-goosey since BC will mix and match pretty much anything from their lineup. Just trying to get a better feel for what's what. Feel free to PM if you prefer not to hijack this thread.
                    Last edited by jn4jenny; Dec. 13, 2012, 03:02 PM.
                    Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      jn4jenny, love your posts on saddle fit.

                      I wish I had the miracle answer, but all I can say is that when you get in the right saddle, you really will feel the difference. I rode for years (at Prelim) in a Stackhouse which I thought I liked a lot - but couldn't figure out why I always had a rugged time trying to really get my leg on and lock it in place. I tried a friend's Devoucoux Chiberta the other day and it was near-enough a life-changing experience. I've never felt so tight and secure in the tack. Something about the balance and the way the Chiberta fit me was fairly amazing; enough so that I'm currently figuring out if I need the new tree (and thus have to gulp-go-for-the-new-one) or can make a used one work on my two slightly differently shaped TBs.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        jn4jenny, it's been my experience that the Quantum fits a flatter back - or a horse with a big wither and a flat back. The tree on the Quantum requires a more modest front panel - they can put a trapezius panel on that tree, but not a K (or K-type). The trap. panel works well if you have a horse with "divots" under the withers. The Ricochet (which is sort of a hybrid; it's the Quantum built on the tree and panels of the Wexford) has more curve to the tree, and the deeper panel in front makes it a good choice for a more "dippy" back, or a big wither and a more curved back. I would imagine the Ricochet could be ordered with less panel depth in front, but have never had occasion to ask for that feature, since the deeper front panel has always been necessary on any horse I've fit with that saddle.
                        Kitt Hazelton
                        Saddle Fitter
                        www.pantherrunsaddlery.com
                        www.saddlefitter.blogspot.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kitt View Post
                          jn4jenny, it's been my experience that the Quantum fits a flatter back - or a horse with a big wither and a flat back. The tree on the Quantum requires a more modest front panel - they can put a trapezius panel on that tree, but not a K (or K-type). The trap. panel works well if you have a horse with "divots" under the withers. The Ricochet (which is sort of a hybrid; it's the Quantum built on the tree and panels of the Wexford) has more curve to the tree, and the deeper panel in front makes it a good choice for a more "dippy" back, or a big wither and a more curved back. I would imagine the Ricochet could be ordered with less panel depth in front, but have never had occasion to ask for that feature, since the deeper front panel has always been necessary on any horse I've fit with that saddle.
                          Do you think a BC Vinici jump saddle would work for this horse? If so, I'm going to send you and the OP a PM.
                          ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have a cobra jumping saddle that is lovely if you are interested.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              RunForIt, without seeing a conformation photo of the horse (at the very least), I'm afraid I can't make any determination on whether the Vinici jump would work or not. If you'd care to post some, or send them via e-mail, I'd be happy to take a look. As far as fit for you, it's a bit hard to judge from the photo, but as jn4jenny said, it may be a tad small ... though as long as the fit for the person isn't causing any major issues with position or comfort for them or the horse, I tend to let them tell me what they prefer.
                              Kitt Hazelton
                              Saddle Fitter
                              www.pantherrunsaddlery.com
                              www.saddlefitter.blogspot.com

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Kitt View Post
                                RunForIt, without seeing a conformation photo of the horse (at the very least), I'm afraid I can't make any determination on whether the Vinici jump would work or not. If you'd care to post some, or send them via e-mail, I'd be happy to take a look. As far as fit for you, it's a bit hard to judge from the photo, but as jn4jenny said, it may be a tad small ... though as long as the fit for the person isn't causing any major issues with position or comfort for them or the horse, I tend to let them tell me what they prefer.
                                Kitt, I'm talking about the OP's horse and I think she has pics in her original post....just wondering as I have a Vinici jump saddle and understand the rules for selling on COTH
                                ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Well, I went down to Smith Worthington today and took 3 saddles on demo- the stellar altaire, the zephyr monoflap, and a unnamed prototype. Not a single one worked for me or my horse. My horse was uncomfortable in all of them, and I felt like I was being split in half in all of them. I couldn't tell what felt right in terms of stirrup leather length. In the monoflap I felt like I needed to go up five holes from my normal jumping length to be comfortably in it. Similar experiences in the other two. I just could not get my legs under me in any of them and felt all over the place. After trying those saddles on him I went up to Dover and found a used Crosby Centennial that was a dream to sit in and put me in a great, natural position. I sat in a bunch of new saddles that didn't do anything like it. The panels on the Centennial seem way too upswept for my horse's flat back though... I didn't get it but thinking of taking it on trial this weekend. Jenny, I hope you'll weigh in here!
                                  Runforit-- I'd love info on the Vinici. PM me.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Kitt View Post
                                    RunForIt, without seeing a conformation photo of the horse (at the very least), I'm afraid I can't make any determination on whether the Vinici jump would work or not. If you'd care to post some, or send them via e-mail, I'd be happy to take a look. As far as fit for you, it's a bit hard to judge from the photo, but as jn4jenny said, it may be a tad small ... though as long as the fit for the person isn't causing any major issues with position or comfort for them or the horse, I tend to let them tell me what they prefer.
                                    Kitt- conformation photos in original post.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by finneas View Post
                                      The panels on the Centennial seem way too upswept for my horse's flat back though... I didn't get it but thinking of taking it on trial this weekend. Jenny, I hope you'll weigh in here!
                                      Runforit-- I'd love info on the Vinici. PM me.
                                      Coming from someone with a flat-backed horse....I wouldn't even bother with the Crosby. IT is unlikely to fit...they do have a very curved tree/panel.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by GoForAGallop View Post
                                        Coming from someone with a flat-backed horse....I wouldn't even bother with the Crosby. IT is unlikely to fit...they do have a very curved tree/panel.
                                        I know...I know. But it felt SO good! Back to the drawing board.

                                        Comment

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