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Cheap saddle when you're used to something high end?

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    Cheap saddle when you're used to something high end?

    Sort of a niche question for everyone: I'm used to riding in high-end French saddles (last one and favorite was a CWD 2G with full buffalo... I had high standards and a very generous dad) but have an old low AO horse coming back to me for retirement. He's sound to walk and for trails, so I need a saddle, but that begs the question:

    What should I get?

    Options feel like buying something used (most obvious) but has anyone actually had luck buying a less-expensive new saddle, especially when performance isn't a huge issue? Obviously we don't need full buffalo anymore...

    No. Buy a used good quality saddle. You can get a used good saddle for less than a cheapo new one.


      Original Poster

      Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
      No. Buy a used good quality saddle. You can get a used good saddle for less than a cheapo new one.
      This is what I figured esp. wrt flocking, etc. that I'd be getting on a 10 year old CWD being better for his older back by a longshot


        Thornhill makes a good saddle for the price point. Not sure if that's uniform across all models, but I like what I've seen (and own a Germania Spring).

        Stubben often has sale saddles on their website for under $1500. May be demo, not totally new.

        And really, if the fit works for your horse, the synthetic brands are a good value buy.


          I trail ride in my Thorowgood and even go swimming in it. Much less maintenance that my nicer leather saddles. Its wool flocked and I could care less if it gets scratched going through brush or whatever when I'm out and about.
          "Anyone who tries to make brownies without butter should be arrested." Ina Garten


            How cheap are we talking?
            Keep in mind that a 10 yr. old old CWD is likely to have worn out panels.


              I like my Thornhill Germania. Wool flocked reasonably comfortably. I rode 6 miles in it Saturday and 8 miles on Sunday.
              if you are just trail riding you can always get a really nice sheepskin saddle cover or gel to provide a little extra cushion for your butt.
              a lot of endurance Riders use them
              Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


                The used high end market seems a bit soft right now. You might be surprised what you find if you hunt around a bit.


                  I got a super cheap saddle ($90 LOL) and my horse HATES it. Waste of money. Buy something nice and comfortable!


                    I’d recommend a Thorowgood. I normally hate synthetic, but I like them just fine and you can find a used one for super cheap. I got one for the baby OTTB as they are wool flocked and adjustable, so it should follow his muscle changes until he is ready for his big boy saddle. It is comfy enough that I am not in a rush to replace it. They have different models, so he is in the high wither option.
                    The Procrastinators Anonymous meeting has been postponed again.


                      "Cheap" doesn't necessarily mean "crappy". "Cheap" CAN just mean "currently out of fashion". "Cheap" CAN be higher quality than "New", if you purchase a high quality, older saddle, which is currently "out of fashion". Older style saddles that were top quality when they were built, were built to last many decades, no "planned obselesance", as is often seen in "newer" models, marketed to the high end "show crowd". Quality old saddles just don't wear out like many new ones do (no matter how much those "new" models cost). Older saddles can be rejuvenated, restuffed, if necessary. In an industry that trades in "style", what is "new" is designated as "necessary" to keep people "buying" and spending money. In truth, it is not "necessary" to buy into this, it is "optional". Find a saddle that fits your horse, and that you find comfortable, and is in your price range. It's not difficult. Keep in mind that comfort for a rider is dependent on the "twist" of the saddle, rather than the "softness" of the seat. And that the less "padding" a saddle has, the closer you are to the horse, thus, the more secure you are. This is not an "opinion", it's a law of physics.


                        I would buy an older, high end saddle - well cared for quality tack lasts for ages, and is going to give much better service than cheap new stuff.

                        I have a few older, well loved but still absolutely lovely high end saddles. (I have a bit of a hoarding problem, if I am being honest.) They have that wonderful "feel" that you only get from high quality leather. They aren't worth anywhere near what the new versions would cost, but they ride pretty much the same. And to look at them, you would mostly think they were a couple years old at most. There are plenty out there.
                        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                          Look around and see what's out there, especially as this is a horse you've had before and should have some idea of what fits it. I wouldn't go cheap-cheap, but there are so many used saddles out there now you shouldn't have to spend a fortune for something to walk/trail in, though a lot depends on what "cheap" means to you.

                          I'd probably start looking in the used upper-mid-range type saddles, like Bevals or Pessoas. I've done lower level XC in both a Natural and an AO, so they'd be fine for something like what you want, and are easily available under $1K. But if you know there's a specific model of higher-end saddle that you like and fits you, poke around, the pricing I've seen on stuff listed online looks all over the place, so you may be able to find something like a French brand for less than you expect.
                          A Year In the Saddle


                            Because the French saddles are designed to wear out faster, the calf leather that wears out and the foam panels that can't be easily refurbished or altered, I'd recommend going for a wool flocked saddle if you want something in the 10 to 25 year old range. British or German.

                            I just got a nice Passier jump saddle (AP designation but functionally a jump saddle) for $500 CAN and had it reflocked . I'd also recommend older County and Stubben. Not the 45 year old pancakes that sell for $100 to connoseurs but recognizable contemporary jump saddles. Often an older saddle has *not* been in continuous use its whole life either.

                            I understand Black Country is another good British brand but I've never seen one IRL.

                            These British and German saddles are high end. It's less than a decade since County was *the* Hunter jumper saddle and considered pretty expensive too!


                              I've bought two older Butets in excellent condition in the last few years for under $800 each. I would go for an older model of a saddle you already like.


                                I can relate to what your saying. My favorite saddles are the Voltaires. I do have an older Stubben that I really like. I think I paid $400 for it. If you wear a good set of leather half chaps you'll have the majority of the stick you're used to with the Buffalo leather. But you will have to condition the older saddles quite a bit to soften them up.
                                If at first you don't succeed, get back on the horse and try it again!


                                  I'd personally much rather get a better quality used saddle than a less expensive new one. I haven't been too impressed with what I've seen of the current Collegiates (though the older RD ones were fantastic for the price and if one of those will fit your horse, you can get it for next to nothing), HDR, M. Toulouse, Bates, Wintec, etc. Maybe it's because I'm spoiled with an older Courbette that is amazing quality, but I feel like a lot of the lower-mid grade saddles leave a lot to be desired. I guess they could get you by if they fit your horse, but to me, once you're used to nice tack, it's kind of hard to go back.

                                  I still feel like you get a better bang for your buck going used, though. The way I see it, if you could get a nice used saddle that happens to fit you and your horse for the same price as a "meh" new one, how can you go wrong with used? Plus, I think there will probably be less of a decrease in resale value since the saddle is already used.

                                  Most of my experience is with older saddles, but you can find older Crosbys, RD Collegiates, Stübbens, Courbettes, Bevals, etc. for really great prices used, and I find all of these to be great saddles. If one fits your horse, I'd snatch it up in a heartbeat if I were you.

                                  If you'd rather have new though (or you may be able to find one used that works for you), Ovation saddles are very nice for the price point. They're made by Ruiz Diaz, who made the older Collegiates for Miller's. I don't have a saddle from them, but I've been really happy with everything else from them I own, as I find it all to be a very solid and good quality product for a lower pricepoint.


                                    Originally posted by NancyM View Post
                                    "Cheap" doesn't necessarily mean "crappy". "Cheap" CAN just mean "currently out of fashion". "Cheap" CAN be higher quality than "New", if you purchase a high quality, older saddle, which is currently "out of fashion". Older style saddles that were top quality when they were built, were built to last many decades, no "planned obselesance", as is often seen in "newer" models, marketed to the high end "show crowd". Quality old saddles just don't wear out like many new ones do (no matter how much those "new" models cost). Older saddles can be rejuvenated, restuffed, if necessary. In an industry that trades in "style", what is "new" is designated as "necessary" to keep people "buying" and spending money. In truth, it is not "necessary" to buy into this, it is "optional". Find a saddle that fits your horse, and that you find comfortable, and is in your price range. It's not difficult. Keep in mind that comfort for a rider is dependent on the "twist" of the saddle, rather than the "softness" of the seat. And that the less "padding" a saddle has, the closer you are to the horse, thus, the more secure you are. This is not an "opinion", it's a law of physics.
                                    I completely agree with this! The only issue being that some horses just don't fit most of the older saddles that well since most tend to run narrow, but I haven't had a lot of trouble with mine and the horses I ride. However, all of my saddles are over 20 years old (I have a couple close to or right around 40) and I'm much happier with the quality and craftsmanship with them than with most newer saddles. My favorites are my older Courbettes, I don't feel like that leather quality or craftsmanship can be beat! One of them is getting ready to need the billets replaced, which by the looks of it will be the first replacement of any leather or part it's ever had at around 40 years old. Meanwhile, I see saddles that might be 10-15 years old with the seat worn through, torn knee pads, cracked leather on the panels, worn out billets, etc. I know care might play a part in that, but I wonder if today's softer leathers just wear out more quickly, like with bridles.

                                    I also agree about the twist and padding in the seat. My Courbettes have hard seats, but are still very comfortable and I find that I can not only feel the horse better, but that they're also nice and secure. I have a 20-ish year-old Crosby with a padded seat that isn't as comfortable as the hard seated Courbettes. Still nice, but I prefer the Courbettes.

                                    I feel like a quality made old saddle is a gem. They're the best value you can get as well if they fit you and your horse!


                                      Here is my newbie two-cents;
                                      In general, I would think a good used saddle. However what "good" means is something to consider.
                                      I've been looking at anything used from Voltaire, Tad Coffin, Butet, Devoucoux and other really nice brands. Also have looked at others including the Bates Collegiate, Toulose, and even Wintec. Here is what I think;
                                      A saddle that is too old is going to need re-flocking, padding, etc. and will have dried leather parts, and stiffer flaps, etc. Not to mention the look.
                                      I would look for something not "too used", so you have some quality/safety. The looks of things matter to me personally, so not too scuffed up, etc. appeals more to me. I know your guy is coming out of retirement, but still, you both deserve a nice ride!
                                      I agree that the really cheaper new saddles do not seem to be very good at all, and I'm thinking I need to be near or over $2000 to get into something I would like for a new saddle. (or, then spend that much on a high quality, less-used saddle) To find the perfect CWD or Devoucoux (sp), at a fair price, it would be "high" for used, but not new pricing.

                                      This is like cars, you drive it off the lot, and it's still perfect, just 20% devalued. Another 10K miles and you save an additional 10%, but thereafter, you will have a tradeoff for new features and no maintenance, or to not have new features, and expect some cost added going in.
                                      Because I'm old-school, a great used UK saddle, (in black, gasp!), would be good for me, as my needs are more simple, and the name does not matter to me. I think the Thorowgrood saddles are more every-day over there, something like Black Country or Fairfax saddles might command less of a premium on our shores, over, say a CWD, Antares, or such.
                                      A Passier, or Stubben, or Butet would be great, I think, if you can find the least wear, and best price.
                                      Isn't that the whole trick tho?? !! Budget / Time/ Quality. kills me.


                                        If you’re only trail riding him you could consider looking for used mono flap saddles by a maker like devoucoux. They tend to be a whole lot less expensive but still just as comfortable. I actually prefer a mono, used one in my jumper days and had to sell it when I switched to hunters. I’ve seen really decent looking used monos for $1000-1500 before. Same quality French saddle just less. They’re super light too which is nice.