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Opinions of these two saddle brands please

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  • Opinions of these two saddle brands please

    Barn friend recently bought herself a new OTTB and I have been going along with her to the local shops as she looks for a saddle. Local shops carry the usual middle of the road brands and a few used saddles. Friend has convinced herself that she does not want to buy online, which is fine but limits her options. She has narrowed it down to either a Toulouse or a Bates. The Bates is in their new Luxe leather and seemed like decent quality. My impression of Toulouse has always been poor after watching another rider at the barn have the top layer of leather bubble away from the bottom layer on the flap and Toulouse not helping her at all with fixing it. I have been trying to talk her into looking at used on Facebook and CL, but she is also in a yank to get a saddle so I am guessing she will get either the Toulouse or Bates that are available right now at the tack shop.

    She is asking for my opinions but I really have none to give on either of these brands. Has anybody bought one in the last year? How are they holding up and riding?

  • #2
    Has she checked local FB tack pages or craigslist for private sales. I regularly see saddles listed

    Comment


    • #3
      I would encourage her to buy a used saddle to get better bang for her buck. Facebook usually has many listings ofrom local sellers.
      The toulouse and bates are very different in the way they fit. Toulouse are an A style tree. Bates are also an A style, but the A has a bend in it. You can see this bend by searching for “Bates adjustable gullet system” This means that many horses who fit one will not fit the other brand.

      Comment


      • #4
        Will the tack shop let her take one on trial to try it, and try the other if it doesn't work? That would be the only real benefit of buying from a local tack shop rather than online, being able to try it for both the rider and the horse.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Christa P View Post
          Has she checked local FB tack pages or craigslist for private sales. I regularly see saddles listed
          I have mentioned this to her, but I think she is in too much of a hurry to get a saddle to wait for something in the right combination of tree size and seat size to come up. She is currently borrowing a saddle from our trainer and she has expressed nervousness about that to me a few times.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by RainWeasley View Post
            Will the tack shop let her take one on trial to try it, and try the other if it doesn't work? That would be the only real benefit of buying from a local tack shop rather than online, being able to try it for both the rider and the horse.
            Yes the tack shop will let her try either of them. I am more trying to help her find out information on the quality of either of these saddles and if one is better quality than the other to try first.

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            • #7
              If you're speaking solely to the quality, I think you'll find that a Bates holds up better. Of course, quality doesn't matter if it doesn't fit the horse and rider

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              • #8
                I am in the encouraging her to buy a used saddle online camp. I have bought several online through both eBay and any of a number of used French saddle sites. EBay can be a little risky, but I got lucky. The others will let you try. I recently got a "real" (DelGrange made) PJ saddle for a steal. I had to pay a little extra for it for the ability to try it, but I am very happy with the experience. Quality saddles make ALL the difference

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                • #9
                  A lot of online sellers will allow a trial with full deposit. I bought a used Antarés through fb marketplace, and my seller was a dream to work with. Maybe show her this thread, let her see how many recommend widening her search a bit? A good saddle may well outlast her horse, so it's a pretty big decision.

                  Sorry I can't help with those two brands. I know from my own search last summer, there are a lot more Bates saddles out there than Toulouse, so probably a better-known brand. Might affect resale, if that's a concern for her.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Honestly there is no guarantee that either of these brands will be a decent fit for her horse. There is a lot more about saddle fit that just the wither gullet. Does she have a good independent saddle fitter on board?

                    Honestly I would never buy a low end new saddle. For the same price or less, you can get a high end second hand saddle, find a brand where the tree conforms to the horse's overall back shape, and get it restuffed to perfect the fit.

                    Yes, it takes some time. But unless the tack store low end brands are magically a perfect fit for her horse, then she is going to be selling it on at 50% loss in six months and looking for a better saddle to fix back problems created by the hasty purchase.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rhymes_with_orange View Post

                      Yes the tack shop will let her try either of them. I am more trying to help her find out information on the quality of either of these saddles and if one is better quality than the other to try first.
                      I haven’t had a bates but did have a wintec and it was a nice saddle for the price point, IMO
                      The Toulouse’s do come in styles that are supposed to be similar to the high end brands. However I have heard of others having leather issues.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                        Honestly there is no guarantee that either of these brands will be a decent fit for her horse. There is a lot more about saddle fit that just the wither gullet. Does she have a good independent saddle fitter on board?

                        Honestly I would never buy a low end new saddle. For the same price or less, you can get a high end second hand saddle, find a brand where the tree conforms to the horse's overall back shape, and get it restuffed to perfect the fit.

                        Yes, it takes some time. But unless the tack store low end brands are magically a perfect fit for her horse, then she is going to be selling it on at 50% loss in six months and looking for a better saddle to fix back problems created by the hasty purchase.
                        I understand all of these things. So far I have not been able to convince her to wait for a good used saddle to come along. I don't know what the agreement regarding the saddle she borrowed from our trainer is, but she is in a hurry to get something of her own and hand the loaned saddle back. I am simply trying to help her gather as much information as possible on the two brands that she liked the best from our local shop.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Neither of these have resale. Have friend shop on Line. Check preLoved. Uk site a
                          has amazing deals

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                          • #14
                            I like the Bates saddles. Decent quality and I've found they fit a lot of horses. I have a Bates Eventer that has been very useful. It would be better to find one used.
                            Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
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                            • #15
                              IMO Bates is the better quality, when I worked in a tack shop a lot of new riders would buy the Toulouse because it was inexpensive but they did not hold up well and many were unhappy with their purchase. New but low end saddles are not a bargain, better to buy used as everyone else has already stated.

                              Even more important than the quality is how it fits the horse. If your friend is more concerned about a fast purchase instead of proper fit, I feel sorry for her horse. Better she doesn't ride him at all then to ride in an ill fitting saddle.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I'm in the "buy used" camp as well, but if that's not an option:

                                1) Bates is the better saddle by far, BUT....
                                2) Bates and Toulouse are totally different fits. I had a Bates I loved but it was all wrong for my mare who went better in a French style saddle, like what Toulouse is knocking off.
                                "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I had a Bates for the longest time with my OTTB but after months (nearly a year) of proper diet/forage, exercise, vetting, etc. she just wasn't building any topline. Loved the Bates...it was an older Caprilli with the nice leather and was SO comfortable. I had a saddle fitter come out to take a look and she recommended the shimmable Mattes pad if I couldn't afford a different saddle at the time. We used the Mattes for a while and my mare was a bit happier (less bucking/crow hopping) but I eventually saved up and got a used Stubben about 2 months ago and she looks like a different horse now! Plus she's much less sour and stiff to work. Long story short, if it's a high withered shark fin TB like mine, at least get a shimmable half pad to get a better shoulder fit and wither clearance. A few hundred bucks for that half pad goes a long way! Of course, an independent saddle fitter's opinion would be super helpful in your friend's situation.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I get being in a rush. To buy a Bates or Tolouse new is to waste money, but if that's what she's got her heart set on... that's what she's got her heart set on.

                                    I personally bought a new used m tolouse as my first saddle. It was really lovely. It was a monoflap so as a hunter that sucked but nobody noticed it was a monoflap until I busted out my fuzzy girth

                                    It was comfortable and cleaned up well. It hadn't been used much, so it was pretty new. I just upgraded to a devoucoux. I rode in a couple different saddles while shopping (Antares, CWD) and preferred my tolouse in all honesty. But every saddle model of every different brand is different!

                                    I had no issue with the leather myself. I think it was a platinum marielle. I sold it for more than I paid for it..

                                    Good luck!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Don't waste a dime on a Toulouse. I've never seen someone buy one who didn't turn around and resell it 6 months later. Bates do not generally fit TBs well. The tree is too curvy.

                                      There are plenty of better used higher end saddles out there that would be better options. Black Country comes to mind. If you friend wants new, look at a Thorowgood T8 GP. It's a combo of leather/synthetic (which you can't really tell), is wool flocked and fits TBs very well.
                                      "Do what you can't do"

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by rhymes_with_orange View Post

                                        I understand all of these things. So far I have not been able to convince her to wait for a good used saddle to come along. I don't know what the agreement regarding the saddle she borrowed from our trainer is, but she is in a hurry to get something of her own and hand the loaned saddle back. I am simply trying to help her gather as much information as possible on the two brands that she liked the best from our local shop.
                                        Props to you in trying to help her get information.
                                        Godspeed to her, and fingers crossed she lucks out in finding a saddle -- with the rush she's in and lack of an independent fitter -- that fits her horse and doesn't cause problems that she spends MORE money on solving down the road.

                                        I do think Bates are the better saddles overall, but agree with others who say they and the Toulouse are different fits.

                                        If she does wind up being open to other brands, I'd vote for looking at Black Country, Frank Baines, Thorowgood, Albion, Passier, and/or County. Even some Pessoas might be good for a TB, or so I've heard.

                                        For my horse, the secret was getting something with shoulder/wither gussets to help clear his high and long withers. As an aside, my TB is very narrow-looking, but actually needs a wide tree. Nobody believes that until they look at the tracings of his back. lol. That could be something else for her to think about.

                                        -Signed, someone who is trying to undo the physical and mental damage she did to her OTTB while riding in an ill-fitting saddle and is now a Fit Nazi

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