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Talk to me about Schleese...

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  • Talk to me about Schleese...

    I've done a search and scoured all the Schleese threads throughout the various forums, but I was hoping to hear some more current reviews of those who have a Schleese or had one in the past.

    While my dear horse seems relatively happy with our current saddles, I am becoming very clearly not. I'm struggling against the position I'm being thrown into, moreso with my dressage saddle than either of my jumping saddles, and it's making me less effective than I absolutely MUST be to get correct work out of this horse. The struggle partly caused by my horse being more suited to someone with a solid 6"+ more leg than I have (and I'm not short), but the saddle is not helping - it's hindering, causing me to want to pinch with my knees and tip my upper body forward and my pelvis down and back.

    I'm trying out a friend's Schleese (dressage) tonight, and will be trying out a Schleese jumping saddle on Friday evening. Both saddles have the Flair panels and I've read both good (great) and bad (horrid) things about them. It was not a brand I had ever previously considered and so am not as familiar with them or how they fit, rider-wise. I did sit in the friend's Schleese, but it was on her horse. I don't remember it being uncomfortable, nor do I remember being absolutely in love with it, but it was also on a much, much smaller horse with much smaller gaits.

    Reviews, please? And, for the love of all that is good...can someone please tell me the correct pronunciation of the name Schleese? I've heard at least 3 different ones and none sound particularly correct.

  • #2
    SHLAY-ZUH.. kind of. That is how the rep said it, at least. :]

    I have ridden in the Schleese Wave, Link II, and HK dressage saddles. I couldn't tell you any differences I recall, except that they all felt amazingly balanced and I loved them (but I don't have much to compare to besides Albion). Of course, I preferred the most expensive (HK)!

    I would personally have the Flair panels changed out for wool if I were to purchase one (one dayyyyy..maybe!). The really cool thing about them, in my experience, is how adjustable they are, and how they are "built for women". For example I know of a horse that is somewhat asymmetrical and the saddle was adjusted to fit his asymmetry. If I were to buy a dressage saddle now, it would have to be adjustable without compromising integrity of the saddle, since I have a 3yo that will undoubtedly grow and change for a few more years.

    The only negative I've heard about Schleese saddles (wool flocked) is that the further back stirrup bar may contribute to back soreness (on the horse's end). I'm not any sort of authority on that, just repeating what I had heard.

    Oh, and I rode in a Schleese jump saddle (don't know what model) and hated it, but that is most likely because it was an 18" and I ride in a 16.5" and was on an XC schooling on a horse I'd never ridden before with too-long stirrups. So take that review with a grain of salt.


    • #3
      I have a Schleese JES Advanced, built on a Hennig tree, which is adjustable by a saddle fitter.

      When I first bought the saddle I really liked the narrow twist it has and the more open seat. However, now I find the twist too narrow for me. I'm not sure why this is as I'm pretty sure I'm the same weight/shape as I was before. I'm using this saddle on my new horse and before I used it on a different horse, so perhaps this is why I no longer find it comfortable?

      The saddle itself is very well made with good leather. My particular saddle (the JES Advanced with a Hennig tree) would fit a flattish back profile and a highish wither. It seems to fit my current horse quite well (3/4 tb x wb), but I've been riding in my close contact more because of my issues with the twist on the Schleese I have.

      I've been considering getting a fleece seat saver to make the twist a bit wider for me to see if that helps.


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by Karosel View Post
        I've been considering getting a fleece seat saver to make the twist a bit wider for me to see if that helps.
        My issue with certain saddles (not the Schleese, at least not that I remember) is less about twist and more about the rise of the pommel - some saddles (like my current one) have a longer, sloping rise - the slope starts farther back in the seat - and some (like the Bates I sold a few months ago) have a shorter, quicker rise and a sort of "flat spot" to sit in. I like the flat spot seats, can't stand the long rise on my current saddle and that is primarily what is causing me to tip my pelvis and lean forward, to avoid the uncomfortableness the slope is causing me. Is the balance maybe thrown off a hair on the new horse? Or has your position changed? I don't seem to have a lot of preference for twists, but have discovered I have serious issues with the wrong pommel. Painful problems that last even after I've dismounted!


        • #5
          I have heard much positive about Schleese dressage saddles, less about the jump saddles. I personally had a bad experience with a jump saddle (in 1998). I prefer a narrow twist and the quicker rise as well. I can't remember if it is Lynnda at Classic Saddlery or Colleen at Advanced Saddle Fit who has a whole theory about the "rise" of the saddle and that being really important to rider fit. FWIW working student at our barn has custom Schleese's (he is Canadian) and loves the dressage, but is looking for a new jumping saddle
          OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


          • #6
            I bought a used Link a couple of years ago and finally had it adjusted to fit my horse last summer. I'd sat on a Wave at Rolex and LOVED it, but couldn't find one within my budget. The Link I found was on consignment at a saddle shop in Colorado and had been sitting there for awhile. When I came along with an offer, they cut me a really, really good deal I came from a County WB dressage saddle (no frills, no blocks, nada) to this one (blocks everywhere) and was a little on the fence about it until my trainer saw me ride it. She couldn't say enough about how much better my position was, so there you go- new saddle for me. I like the quality of the saddle and the fact that it is so adjustable. If I'm going to make that kind of investment, I'd like to be able to use it on another horse in the future, hence my interest in Schleese.


            • #7
              I hated the jump saddle I tried. Was like sitting in a deep-chair-seat inducing bucket. Worse than a stubben seigfried. Chair seat makes me pitch forward and pinch w/my knees. Haven't tried the D saddles.

              What saddles have you ridden in that you liked?
              Unrepentant carb eater


              • #8
                Oh, and the seats are SUPER wide. The edge dug into my butt in a weird place.
                Unrepentant carb eater


                • #9
                  I have a Schleese Eagle XC that is now a year old, and I love it. My horse loves it even more than I do. He's a very difficult fit, which is why I went with Schleese (the horse is basically one tree size in the front, and another in the back). The saddle is so secure and balanced when jumping and going XC, I really can't say enough good things about it. My horse started moving more freely immediately, and jumped much more comfortably, too. I'd say the only negative, is that since it is flocked with wool it needs to be adjusted annually (at least). So owning a thinline pad with shims is helpful.

                  I've heard of people having problems with fit, but I've only ever had Jochen adjust my saddle. If you can get him, I would definitely try to schedule for that.


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by Judysmom View Post
                    I hated the jump saddle I tried. Was like sitting in a deep-chair-seat inducing bucket. Worse than a stubben seigfried. Chair seat makes me pitch forward and pinch w/my knees. Haven't tried the D saddles.

                    What saddles have you ridden in that you liked?
                    I don't really know how to answer this, honestly. Until recently I never thought much about how saddles fit me as a rider - just used whatever worked for the horse and made it work for myself. I grew up riding in the old pancake saddles, then had a Stackhouse (I never loved it, but my position was good in it) and the Delgrange I have now (which is uncomfortable and pitches my leg back behind me on this horse). For dressage saddles, I love the seat on a Bates Isabell - hate Passiers and am growing to hate the Kieffer I now have. I didn't mind an old Albion (pre-Albion, Legend) but it's been a few years since I sat in one. I've honestly never sat in much else. I had a Berney Bros monoflap that worked for me, although again, I was never deeply in love with it. I rode in a friend's County (CC) on her horse, which I don't remember being awful either.

                    Besides the Bates, I've never really sat in a saddle I felt anything other than indifferent about.


                    • #11
                      I have ridden Schleese for the past 15 years and currently own three . I am also presently looking at purchasing a used Schleese all purpose type for trail riding. I prefer the Flaire system. I currently have a 10 (?) year old Wave dressage, an older Jane Savoie dressage, and a custom made endurance saddle. The custom saddle is incredible. It is so well balanced and I can stay in two point almost effortlessly. Each saddle is fitted for a specific horse. All are very good quality and I have never had a problem with any of them. I also have an older Passier for trail riding that I also like.


                      • #12
                        Well Schleese is known as the Dressage specialist, but they are working on a new jumping saddle which is supposed to be amazing based on the feedback from their prototypes!
                        I don't understand why stirrup bar placement would affect the horse's back? Stirrup bar placement is to accommodate the length of the rider's leg (the extended version is mainly for women because our upper legs are longer than our lower legs, which means that using 'normal' stirrup bars we'd be fighting to keep our legs back).


                        • #13
                          Put me in the camp of those who really really dislike the Schleese saddles. I rode in a dressage saddle owned by a friend for a little bit and it put me in a chair seat and gave me all sorts of unfortunate rubs, no matter if I rode with stirrups, without stirrups, longer, shorter, etc. Tried a jump saddle and could not for the life of me get my leg comfortably on the horse, plus I felt like I was swimming to get out of the tack over a bigger fence.

                          Now, take that with a grain of salt - I've ridden in a Kieffer dressage for years which is fine-not-amazing-but-not-problematic, and spent years in pancake flat, hard as rock Crosbys. That being said, I am currently seriously in love with the Devoucoux Chibertas I've jumped in - so all of that may influence what I like/don't like.

                          End of the day, I think saddles can be a pretty personal decision. I will say that the OMG-this-is-amazing reaction can happen with the right one, so if you don't think you've tried much that made a difference, it might be worth it to sit in a few more.


                          • Original Poster

                            Well, I'm happy.

                            Despite the initial feeling that I was sitting on a board, the ride went well. Like, better than any ride I've had on this horse, in terms of my own position - I was able to sit the trot without flapping, flopping, hunching, pinching, or scrunching up my leg, and the canter was pretty fabulous despite how out of shape my poor horse is. Even the quality of the walk was improved. He finally seemed to "hear" me clearly when asked for lateral work, too, and I was able to SIT UP STRAIGHT without fear of pain down below.

                            I'm going to put in another ride on it tonight, preferably with stirrups this time (yes, I rode in it with no stirrups last night), and then make a decision. It's just a hair too wide for him right now, but I suspect when his topline fills back out, it will fit nearly perfectly.

                            And I'll be trying out that jump saddle tomorrow. If it makes (allows) me to ride nearly as well as this one, I'm majorly sold.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
                              Well, I'm happy.

                              Despite the initial feeling that I was sitting on a board, the ride went well. Like, better than any ride I've had on this horse, in terms of my own position - I was able to sit the trot without flapping, flopping, hunching, pinching, or scrunching up my leg, and the canter was pretty fabulous despite how out of shape my poor horse is. Even the quality of the walk was improved. He finally seemed to "hear" me clearly when asked for lateral work, too, and I was able to SIT UP STRAIGHT without fear of pain down below.

                              "sitting on a board" Yes!!!! Exactly!! Like the broad side of a 2x4. I find my position is quite good when I ride in this saddle. My leg hangs nicely and I can sit up and deep well instead of my usual hunch BUT the 'edges' of the twist really hurt where my leg connects to my torso on the inner area (kinda an intimate area ). My first ride in the saddle I'm ok, but if I ride in it the next day it really hurts in that area (uppermost thigh/torso attachment area), because it's tender and feels bruised- no actual bruises tho.

                              I think I will order a fleece seat saver to see if that helps.


                              • Original Poster

                                Karosel, I think I could get used to the board feeling. I did feel like my hips had been widened a bit after I got off, not in a painful way, though. If it's going to make me ride this well all the time, I'm willing to build up a bit of a callous on my seat bones.


                                • #17
                                  I tried to PM you, but your inbox was full. Please PM me if you want to hear my experiences.


                                  • #18
                                    I had a Schleese JES Advanced dressage saddle. It was incredibly comfortable and lovely to sit in (although the seat was so "cushy" that it almost made it harder to sit my gelding's huge trot; it had a weird effect of somehow dissociating my seat from the horse's back, and I've heard others complain of a similar feeling). I purchased the saddle and was really excited because I'd heard good things about Schleese. I had the rep come out and fit it to my horse (which is not a cheap visit) and the result was a nightmare. My gelding is a tall but narrow Holsteiner with shark fin withers so he is a challenge to fit a saddle to, but he HATED that saddle. He was so uncomfortable in it and while I am no saddle fit expert, it was obvious that it was WAY too tight. I discussed this issue with the rep and she graciously (albeit reluctantly) readjusted the saddle, widening it slightly (at which point she thought it was too wide and would require some padding). Still WAY too tight. I've never seen a more uncomfortable horse than my guy in this saddle. The saddle ended up sitting on a rack for several years until I finally sold it.

                                    I've heard similar complaints in this area about Schleeses fitting poorly, even when they are fit specifically to the horse. Perhaps this is an issue with the rep(s) in our area, but I am certainly not the first to encounter this problem. I think that for those horses they fit, the Schleeses are great. For everyone else, not so much. There are A LOT for sale in our area, particularly my model (which I think is the most common?) so that should give some indication of how much turnover there is...I ended up purchasing a Windsor, as I had a girl in my barn with one that I had been borrowing, and it's been one of the best saddles I've ever had. My gelding loves it.

                                    Your mileage may vary, but I will never buy another Schleese.


                                    • #19
                                      I bought a used Wave the first time WEG was in Las Vegas and love it so much more than the Stackhouse or Von Neindorff mono flap saddles that I have. Had Schleese fit it to my horse.
                                      You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something… S. Jobs


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Well, it certainly must vary from horse to horse. BOTH saddles fit this horse fabulously - as in, marked difference in carriage and way of going, like riding a different horse. We tried the CC saddle last night and I have yet to see a better fitting saddle on him. I've never loved a saddle, but I feel like all is right in the world again.