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What to expect with a saddle fitter?

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  • What to expect with a saddle fitter?

    Hi all,
    I have a brand rep coming out next week to do a saddle fitting on my new TB. This is my first time working with a saddle fitter, so I'm just wondering what I should expect? I am very much a newbie when it comes to fitting saddles, so I will be relying on their expertise along with my trainers. Can brand reps also help you find used saddles through their inventory? Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Not to be harsh, but expect them to sell you a saddle. Or more specifically, to convince you to order a "custom" saddle. Are you sold on this brand? If you are still shopping around, look into finding an independent fitter who can put you in a variety of saddles.

    I have worked with a number of brand reps (most are not certified fitters, just took the training their company provides) and WITHOUT fail, each has SWORN that they could have a saddle made for me that would be just perfect for my horse (s). The problem is that there is NO one saddle that will be the right size/shape for all horses.

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    • #3
      My CWD rep had a truck full of various brands of used French saddles so I got to ride in many different ones. There was no charge for his visit and no pressure; I did not buy a saddle at that time. A few months later after more saddle shopping, I decided to go with a brand new CWD. I was lucky and it was perfect but I'm not sure I would go custom now, after hearing so many horror stories about poorly fitting saddles and terrible customer service. Don't let anyone pressure you into anything you are not absolutely sure about. And yes, most reps do have used saddles available for sale, I would suggest doing that if at all possible, so that you can buy a saddle that you can see fits both of you instead of hoping the new custom one is a good fit.

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      • #4
        I would get in the frame of mind that I'm meeting with a car dealer over meeting with a doctor. The brand rep is there to sell you the brand. Can they sell you something used or from another maker, sure- no different how you can buy a used jeep at a ford dealership but its likely not going to be their first suggestion.

        Fitters can range from a inch deep to a mile deep on their knowledge so it's worth doing some homework ahead of time. YouTube, COTH, and Google in general are your friends here. If you can, it would be good to have your trainer present for the fitting.

        If you have a budget, I would tell them what it is up front. I would also get a firm value on your own saddles trade in value if that is what you plan on doing.

        I agree that often, gently used is a better than brand new- especially considering you have a new OTTB who is likely going to change quite a bit in the next year as you put some groceries and work into him and you may need to make adjustments to the saddle in the near future.


        Congrats on your new horse! You're smart to get the tack sorted out early on!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Cocorona View Post
          I would get in the frame of mind that I'm meeting with a car dealer over meeting with a doctor. The brand rep is there to sell you the brand. Can they sell you something used or from another maker, sure- no different how you can buy a used jeep at a ford dealership but its likely not going to be their first suggestion.

          Fitters can range from a inch deep to a mile deep on their knowledge so it's worth doing some homework ahead of time. YouTube, COTH, and Google in general are your friends here. If you can, it would be good to have your trainer present for the fitting.

          If you have a budget, I would tell them what it is up front. I would also get a firm value on your own saddles trade in value if that is what you plan on doing.

          I agree that often, gently used is a better than brand new- especially considering you have a new OTTB who is likely going to change quite a bit in the next year as you put some groceries and work into him and you may need to make adjustments to the saddle in the near future.


          Congrats on your new horse! You're smart to get the tack sorted out early on!
          This is fantastic advice! Since you're working with a trainer, make sure they see the saddles on the horse and you riding in the saddles. I'm hoping you know ahead of time, but not all reps do free fittings - some charge a fee to bring the saddles to you to try, then usually take that fee out of the price of a new saddle. Some reps have access to a demo list or are consigning other clients saddles, some don't. My last piece of advice, is over communicate. Let them know what you do and don't like about each model, ask questions about fit, price, policies, everything. If/ when you do decide to purchase a saddle through them, whether new or used, make sure you read the contract!!!

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          • #6
            You should be asking these questions of the person you are doing business with. It can vary.

            Some reps carry a stock of used consignment saddles or rep more than one brand.

            Some reps are just hard sell on one brand and don't carry used saddles at all.

            Some reps understand saddle fitting more or less. Some reps took a two day course from the manufacturer and claim they can fit their saddle to any horse (not true).

            I source my own second hand saddles and work with an actual master saddle fitter who approves my choice and then reflocks for optimum fit. She made me a set of cardboard back tracings that I can use to evaluate saddles in the tack store before I bring them home to try out.

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            • #7
              If it turns out the rep does have something in inventory that looks like it might work for you and your horse, I would ask for a trial period of at least a few days (get the trial agreement in writing). I learned (the hard way of course) that just because a saddle is different and seems on the initial ride to address fit issues you might have been having, it can take several rides to suss out whether it is really better overall or if it just causes different issues.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Cocorona View Post
                I would get in the frame of mind that I'm meeting with a car dealer over meeting with a doctor. The brand rep is there to sell you the brand. Can they sell you something used or from another maker, sure- no different how you can buy a used jeep at a ford dealership but its likely not going to be their first suggestion.

                Fitters can range from a inch deep to a mile deep on their knowledge so it's worth doing some homework ahead of time. YouTube, COTH, and Google in general are your friends here. If you can, it would be good to have your trainer present for the fitting.

                If you have a budget, I would tell them what it is up front. I would also get a firm value on your own saddles trade in value if that is what you plan on doing.

                I agree that often, gently used is a better than brand new- especially considering you have a new OTTB who is likely going to change quite a bit in the next year as you put some groceries and work into him and you may need to make adjustments to the saddle in the near future.


                Congrats on your new horse! You're smart to get the tack sorted out early on!
                Best advice I’ve ever heard. I would add “research your specific rep” because so much of the good/bad customer service experience depends on how the rep interacts with the company. If you find bad stories floating around, be wary even if you like the saddle itself
                ~Veronica
                "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

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                • #9
                  I agree with what Pokerface said. And a brand rep is going to want to sell you a saddle they have their hands on - be it a trade in or custom.

                  What I expect from a saddle fitter:
                  First, a good saddle fitter should be willing to work with your current saddle unless you've specified you want to replace it or you know it's absolutely a hopeless fit for your horse.
                  1. discuss my horse - breeding, age and my riding and saddle types/styles (deep seat vs flatter etc), any budgetary constraints
                  2. examine my horse - check back, do tracings measurements etc.
                  3. show and discuss the saddle types they've brought out for me to try - interchangeable gullet, wool vs foam flocked,
                  4. try some saddles on horse;
                  5. ride in some, saddle fitter should watch you ride to make sure saddle fits properly when being ridden. Are there any adjustments that would need to be made? try more saddles.
                  6. Follow-up appointment a couple months after new saddle delivery to ensure proper fit - make any adjustments at that time. My saddle maker included 1 or 2 post-purchase fits. at which time fitter made a slight adjustment.
                  7. A good saddle fitter might have a few brands they favor but not one they solely represent.

                  I'm sure I'm not the only one who notices the revolving door of saddle reps so IMO it would be hard for a company to maintain consistency with saddle fit skill and expertise and customer service when so often reps move on.

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                  • #10
                    If shopping used: I have had better success working with a saddle re-fitter (the guy that actually reflocks or adjusts trees), than with a sales rep. I find they can help me know what to look for in a saddle, and then help me ascertain if a given saddle can be made to fit the horse in question.
                    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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