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If you could buy your dream saddle.......

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  • If you could buy your dream saddle.......

    I have been riding in my old Stubben for about 15 years. The other day I rode in a Passier...on my mare who was being tried by a woman about my height. I could not believe how comfortable it was! Now my good friend, who is really quite an expert, tells my that Stubben does not exactly have a reputation for comfort, and that they also do not tend to fit the horse very well. So now, I am interested in what everybody rides in. Antares, Devoucoux and CWD are the three that she has recommended I look into. I am very tall and have a long thigh so will require at least an 18. I also think I will buy used as 5k is a really big price tag. I would love opinions and experiences. I ride all three in the same saddle. No dressage saddle for me. I also ride a TB. He is 16.3 and of medium build and medium width with the typical sharky wither. He is quite short coupled. Lower levels only. Thank you!!

  • #2
    I had a similar experience--hopped on my trainer's horse to warm him up for a jumper class and my ass immediately fell in mad love with her Antares jump saddle! Antares are very, very nice saddles. I'm not really that picky about saddles, but they are consistently (for me) very comfortable and keep me from struggling (more than usual, LOL) to stay in balance. I'm 5'8" with longer legs, too. Stubbens have never worked for me that well.

    You can find them used--I would *never* cough up for a new one! Check out Fine Used Saddles and other such places. I got an odd hybrid--the top was an Antares and the "underneath" (panels) had been rebuilt by CWD! It was only about $2300. I got a used Antares dressage monoflap on Ebay for $2000. I know that isn't peanuts, but it's fair for such nice saddles. I *love* them.

    Another brand I recently tried was an Albion and it was pretty stinking nice.

    But my real bit of recent tack excitement is a custom saddle from Heritage UK. For the price of one of the used Antares I am getting a brand new, fully custom dressage saddle. I posted about it a few weeks ago and shall again when it arrives--hopefully within a week or so!
    Click here before you buy.


    • #3
      I'm hoping the saddle I am anxiously awaiting to take delivery on is my dream saddle. It is a County Conquest with a short, high forward flap. Fingers crossed.

      Your friend isn't quite up to date regarding Stubbens. They have several new models that are fantastic, and rival the fancy French saddles you list above, at least in quality of leather and comfort. As for fit of the horse, well, it just depends on the horse. We ultimately could not get the fit quite right on my horse when trying Stubbens, despite how much I liked them. I would never hesitate to try them or suggest them, especially if you don't want to spend the huge price tag that comes with a new saddle in the makes you list.

      If anything, I would not go Devocoux, as they OFTEN fit horribly. I've seen "custom made" saddles not even come close to fitting the horse they were made for, and have seen and heard of a lot of horses with sore backs in their Devocouxs. CWDs are good and fit well. I don't know a lot about Antares except that they are pretty.

      Do realize that if you are a funny fit, like I am, you may struggle to find a saddle that actually fits you, used. I dug through used saddles for ages (off and on for years, really), and I don't think I EVER sat in a saddle that really fit me. Just be aware that shopping used can be hard for a hard to fit human.


      • #4
        I am lucky I have my dream dressage saddle. It is an older Kiefer. Stubbens and Kiefers both I have found can fit a horse seamlessly. Especially those hard to fit sharkfin wither horses. I'd rather have a comfortable fit for the horse than myself.

        My knowledge of Devacoux and Cwd may be outdated but last I checked they were stock foam which to me is not appealing ever. I like kiefer and stubbem because they are always sheepskin stuffed. I've been eyeballing BC saddles for a long time.. Just wonder if they fit hard to fit horses as good as they look.
        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


        • #5
          Everyone has their favorite brands. A lot depends on how you're built. The position of the stirrup bars makes a huge difference in the "sweet spot" of a saddle.

          My saddle fitter always told me that Stubbens (jumping saddles in particular) are very horse friendly. I always found they put me in a chair seat, but that's because my femurs are very long.

          My personal favorites are County and Albion. I am also interested in Black County -- I like the looks of them but haven't ridden in one.

          I, personally, am not a fan of foam paneled saddles. I've owned one (a Stackhouse) and it did not work on my horse who is very sensitive to saddle fit. Well, that's not exactly true. It worked when I bought the saddle but within a year my horse had changed just enough so that it did not work.

          The best way to figure out what works for you is to ride in as many saddles as you can so you can start to define what works for you.
          Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
          EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


          • #6
            Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
            I'm hoping the saddle I am anxiously awaiting to take delivery on is my dream saddle. It is a County Conquest with a short, high forward flap. Fingers crossed.
            Hope you love it! I sure love mine...and so does my mule. Mine is the extra long forward flap. We went through saddle fitting hell until the County rep came out and we put a Conquest on her. As the other poster above said, "my ass fell in mad love with that saddle" :P It fit my mule perfectly and she was a much happier girl after having patiently endured several saddles that did not fit her well or hurt her back. I tried it out hunting several times and was 100% convinced it was the right choice. Although it was hard to write that big fat check, I have never regretted it. I've had the saddle several years now and it remains awesome ... and most importantly, mule remains happy and pain-free. With any luck, it's the last saddle I will ever have to buy.
            I ride a mule. I paint dogs.


            • #7
              Ah, nothing brings out dogmatism like a saddle preference thread. yellowbritches, I seem to remember it on the thread where you found your County Conquest too.

              Honestly, I know it would be easier for all of us if these threads tended to converge into "Just buy ______! It fits every horse and rider out there!" Oh, to find such a product. In reality, there is a horse and rider for virtually every saddle on the market out there, and there is no miracle saddle that will fit every single horse and rider out there.

              Although there are some brands I personally like better than others for structural/design reasons, even brands that I "dislike" get recommended sometimes if it's the right match for that particular horse, rider, and riding goals. For example, Devoucoux has a structural limitation with the deeply recessed stirrup bars that is a deal killer for some horses, but I've recommended it to horse/rider pairs for whom it is not an issue because of the horse's conformation and the rider's unique needs for a certain seat architecture. Stubben may have a reputation for being "uncomfortable," but that discounts their newer products which are significantly more luxurious. Other than Kincade and some other extremely low-end dreck, I'm hard-pressed to name a saddle brand that I *haven't* recommended at some point to someone. Even M. Toulouse, which I largely cannot stand, occasionally gets a nod.

              Honestly, I think your biggest challenge is not finding a great saddle on the market. There are dozens upon dozens of them. Your challenge is to fit three horses well with a single saddle. Many saddle fitters would scream in dogmatic horror that you're committing an act of extreme blasphemy by even trying it. So I guess I'm going to saddle fitting hell for saying this, but I truly believe it: depending on the combination of horses, it can be sometimes be done effectively without endangering the horses' well being--especially if you engage in intelligent use of correctional padding. There are plenty of trainers who get along with just two or three saddles for a massive variety of horses that come through their barn.

              That said, many people muck it up royally and end up with sore horses, sometimes even horses with permanent body damage. The muck-ups usually fall into these categories:

              a) attempt this with a combination of horses that it should not ever be attempted with because their bodies are simply too different to be suited by a single saddle. Tree width and the overall panel tree/curvature are common bogey areas.

              b) attempt it with the right combo of horses and saddle(s), but don't learn enough about evaluating day-to-day saddle fit changes to use their corrective padding effectively to keep all three horses healthy and happy,

              c) make such massive compromises in the name of trying to suit the horses or the rider that they short-change the other side of the equation. Horses are not well served by a rider who can't balance effectively in the saddle. Riders are not well served by uncomfortable horses.

              I once saw a TV commercial about why people should hire a realtor when buying a home. The buyer looks at the camera and laughs, saying, "Before I met my realtor, I didn't even know how much I didn't know." This is how I feel about saddle fitters. Most of us don't even realize how limited we are in our saddle fitting knowledge until we start talking to someone who really "gets it" and excels at it. Good horsepeople care enough to ask questions and learn, so good on ya for that. But you say, "I also ride a TB. He is 16.3 and of medium build and medium width with the typical sharky wither. He is quite short coupled. Lower levels only." I so appreciate your effort to describe the horse verbally, but I could draw you 10 different backs, all of which would match your description, and all of which would necessitate a very different saddle. There's really no substitute for being there in person, and the next-best thing is excellent pictures of the horse standing square, facing forward, pictured from the side. If you are serious about good recommendations, that's the place to start.

              A final piece of advice: As in the car or house market, spending more *tends* to equate with getting more--but not always. At some point, you stop paying for increases in quality and start paying for marketing hype, customer service, hotness on the market, etc. If you want maximum value for your buck, the French and Italian saddles generally aren't it. I'm not saying they NEVER are--I myself ride in an Amerigo that I got one helluva deal on, I'm pretty sure I'm the one who pointed deltawave to that $2300 Antares/CWD freak hybrid, and the recession means we're seeing French/Italian saddles at lower price points than ever before--but in general, the better saddle bargains these days are made in Britain, Germany, or Argentina. But again, it helps to have someone involved who really knows the market because some British brands are marked up to the sky too, and certain German and Argentinian products are overpriced compare to their competitors.

              Best of luck with your search!
              Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


              • #8
                Funnily enough, the most comfortable saddle I have ridden in to date is a Wintec CC. And I used to love my trainer's Antares, but now the deep seat drives me nuts. I've ridden in a couple of Stubben saddles that ride much like the Wintec and I think I'll definitely go for a Stubben when I'm in a position to get a brand new saddle. I used to think my dream saddle was a Voltaire, CWD, or Antares....it's funny how things change!


                • #9
                  If it was you, jn4, and I'm pretty sure it was, thank you.
                  Click here before you buy.


                  • #10
                    Ah, nothing brings out dogmatism like a saddle preference thread. yellowbritches, I seem to remember it on the thread where you found your County Conquest too.
                    ha! I know, I know. I just have a hard time wrapping my around Devocouxs after watching a client spend a huge sum of money on a very fancy saddle that was "custom made" for her horse, that just DID. NOT. FIT. Not a little wrong....fundamentally, horribly, completely wrong. It looked like was made for a completely different horse. So, yeah. I have a little dogma towards Devocouxs


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                      ha! I know, I know. I just have a hard time wrapping my around Devocouxs after watching a client spend a huge sum of money on a very fancy saddle that was "custom made" for her horse, that just DID. NOT. FIT. Not a little wrong....fundamentally, horribly, completely wrong. It looked like was made for a completely different horse. So, yeah. I have a little dogma towards Devocouxs
                      So you don't really hate the saddle. You hate the customer service that comes with the saddle. Generally speaking, I do too. I honestly think that's more than 50% of Devoucoux's bad reputation for "not fitting horses"--the reps are putting the wrong saddles on the wrong animals.

                      As a simple example, I recently helped a local rider consider her options for the C- and B-circuit hunter ring. Price was no object for her, and the horse was fully grown and in full work. He had a wither/shoulder/back conformation that made the Devoucoux stirrup bar totally unproblematic, and this rider's body was well suited to the Devoucoux seat architecture. But I warned this rider that I trust the Devoucoux brand reps about as far as I can throw them; the only one I ever DID trust had finally had enough of that crap, and he now works for Voltaire. Sure enough, when the Devoucoux rep came out, he put every single Devoucoux in his truck on the horse to identify which tree/panel combo would work by process of elimination. And seriously, it is not rocket science to fit a Devoucoux. I had already told the buyer exactly which Devoucoux I would recommend and exactly which panel options I thought the horse needed. In the end, that's exactly the saddle that the brand rep recommended--but again, look at how he arrived at that conclusion. I would not trust someone to choose my $4500 saddle based on process of elimination, and I can see how in some cases that would go HORRENDOUSLY wrong and the custom-ordered saddle would be a joke/terrible fit.

                      Since you ended up buying a County , I'll say that I could say the same of some, but not all, County reps--and reps of all brands, really. My local County rep is very good at fitting horses; I don't always agree with her 100% on how she fits riders, but they are differences of opinion not markers of incompetence (example: she might put a rider in a 17" with an extra forward flap, and I'd put that same rider in a 17.5" with a forward flap.) I also think Michigan's County rep is very good. But I've heard horror stories about other County reps, seen botched saddle fits by County reps in other states, etc. So much of your experience comes down to the quality and talent of your local help.

                      Buying saddles is such a crap chute. Remind me again why I ever help people do it, especially from a distance? And no, that is not an invitation for PMs, kids. I am all booked up at the moment.
                      Last edited by jn4jenny; Feb. 10, 2013, 09:45 PM.
                      Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


                      • #12
                        I had a Devoucoux of scubed's for a while and ADORED it, but it was sadly just not wide enough for the boys, and was too small for me besides. It killed me to send that one back.

                        It is so very personal. Kind of like finding a spouse.
                        Click here before you buy.


                        • #13
                          I love my prestige event, though I am admittedly easy to fit. I've used it on several TBs and it fit them quite well. It's not great on the fat pony...
                          Yes, I ride a pony. No, he would not be ideal for your child. No, he is not a re-sale project...


                          • #14
                            I have an old Rossi y Caruso monoflap that fits me like its custom. Never seen one before or since. And it fits the pony like a dream too. Chanced into it on eBay and figured it couldn't hurt to try and man....amazing.


                            • Original Poster

                              Oops! Just to clarify

                              Not three different horses but all three phases in one saddle. Sorry to be vague. I am learning alot. Keep the info coming!


                              • #16
                                Whatever will fit my horse and long femur with stirrups up for jumping. Short billets. I like the Prestige Nona.
                                "With mirth and laughter, let old wrinkles come" (Shakespeare).


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by fibbermaggee View Post
                                  Not three different horses but all three phases in one saddle. Sorry to be vague. I am learning alot. Keep the info coming!
                                  My only word of advice is this:

                                  Don't try ANY saddle that you would not be willing to shell out the cash for new. Why do I say that?

                                  Because you will fall in love, and then you will endure the heartbreak of months of endless searching for that rare mythical unicorn of a saddle that someone just happened to take perfect care of and list on ebay in your price range.

                                  Maybe you find it and you get an awesome deal, but maybe you don't and you end up having to settle for second best, and if you're anything like me, in the end you'll be saying to yourself "I wish I had just paid the money and gotten what I wanted."

                                  Off my soapbox, and yes I think new saddle prices are high, but if I could do it all over again, I would just call the County rep and say "come take my money" and get my perfect saddle 4 years sooner and with a lot less buying/selling/trying in between.

                                  If you're a low level event rider and you want to do all 3 phases in one saddle, I think you also might want to set your sights on something from Ideal or Black Country that you can have made to spec, for way less $$...VXF111 has a gorgeous Ideal saddle that gets mistaken for a CWD all the time, is half the price brand new, and custom fitted all the way. I am looking into one, see re: County heartbreak above.

                                  Just make sure it's YOUR dream, and not something that others are telling you you SHOULD aspire to.
                                  Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                                  you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.


                                  • #18
                                    Right now I am using an older Stubben dressage saddle because it fits my horse. Ouch! The seat is like a rock, so I use a Mattes seat saver (luckily found a used one on ebay). My new jump saddle is a Stubben Excalibur with the biomex seat. Much softer, but still not cushy like some saddles. I like it though, and it fits my horse.


                                    • #19
                                      I absolutely *love* my Ideal Impala and I got a steal of a deal on it (half price brand new, not sure why but it fits). My mom also has an Ideal dressage saddle which is quite nice and if it weren't a larger seat size it would also fit my guy nicely.

                                      Ideals are rare in the states but they are fantastic saddles, on par with Black Country and others. I've ridden in a number of stubbens and they do fit great/horses go very well in them when they do actually fit, like all saddles their tree isn't for every horse. I find them a tad hard in the seat and many of them have a slightly wider twist which I am not a fan of but if I am really riding in them it is fine. I just sold a devoucoux chiberta which I adored riding in but it did not fit my horse at all. Actually one of the foam panels had even compressed unevenly so the whole saddle failed to sit straight.

                                      Personally I would never buy a saddle with foam paneling again, they might fit one horse but never another one and you can't fix it without spending a lot of money. So that rules out CWD and Devoucoux and probably a few others (don't feel like looking them up). I'll take a good fit over comfy anyway so my usual go to is tb, or like back, stubben, wider/flatter back Ideal or Black Country
                                      "I'm too sexy for my blanket, too sexy for my blanket, these mares-they should take it..." (J-Lu) - Featuring The Skypizzle Pony aka Classic Skyline


                                      • #20
                                        I love the new Stubbens with Biomex. It's also relatively easy to get a Stubben fitter out to your barn around the SE/Mid Atlantic, which is nice.

                                        I did ride in a Stackhouse recently that I loved. I had ridden in one previously that I did not like at all, but it was not made for me. That's the trick, though. If I had the money, I would get the custom Stackhouse because it's fitted not just to your horse, but also to you.

                                        In my experience, some fitters do a great job of making the horse comfortable, but don't take so much notice of the rider, and I"m sure vice versa is true.
                                        "Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom" Barack Obama