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Bua Saddle For Jumpers

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  • Bua Saddle For Jumpers

    I thought I’d do a post for anyone who might be wondering about these saddles. I’ll start by saying I have no connection whatsoever to Bua Saddles. I just came across the company’s website during my saddle search. I'm going to provide a TON of detail because I would have been thrilled to find this kind of info when I was researching these saddles and really only found one post from last year over in the dressage forum (although that was very helpful and much appreciated).

    Right now I have a custom Del Grange that I absolutely love. But it’s 10 years old and needs some repairs, so I wanted another saddle so I could send the Del Grange off to get fixed (and because the Del Grange isn't going to last forever). But, all the posts I’ve been seeing about people’s nightmare experiences with custom saddles that don’t fit, awful sales reps, etc. made me a little nervous. I did get a couple of used saddles on trial but didn’t find anything that worked for me and for my horses.

    So, came across the Bua website. Wasn’t loving the lack of discussion or reviews out there, but figured what the hell, worth a try if I can find one to demo. I’m in Maryland and Bua has a rep near me (Melanie Ferrio-Wise). I emailed Melanie and she said she had the performance saddle (all leather, wool flocked) and the jump saddle (leather seat, fabric panels, and I think the panels are foam flocked). I said performance model and she sent it to me. She also sent stirrup leathers and a girth, which I needed since I've never had a monoflap saddle and don’t own a short girth.

    First look – a little weird looking, especially compared to the usual hunter/jumper saddle, but if you’re used to a monoflap it probably wouldn’t seem strange. Sitting in the saddle I’m not sure that anyone would notice the unusual design. I don’t know if you could get away with it in the hunters, but I’m a jumper so the non-traditional design didn’t matter to me.

    Fit - all 3 of my horses are similarly built WB with normal withers and backs, and my Del Grange fits all 3 well, as did the Bua. I have a Port Lewis impression pad and used that with the Bua on 2 of my 3 horses and got close to perfect impressions. Also tried the Bua on a friend's TB with very high withers and big hollows behind the withers and it sat fine and felt fine to ride in, but we didn't test with the impression pad.

    Riding - twist is very wide (there’s a narrower twist, which I think is just less padding), seat is very comfortable. I am normal height (5’7”) but extremely long from hip to knee and my saddles have always had extra long extra forward flaps. This saddle only has one flap option, and my knees are right up against the front blocks. There are two stirrup bars (jumping and dressage) so I started with the jumping one. I found that on one of my horses the stirrup leathers on the jumping bar feels best and on the other two the dressage bar makes my leg feel more secure. Also when I had the leathers on the dressage bar, there is much more room in the flap and my knee isn't up against the front block.

    Flatting is comfortable, especially if you can relax your lower back, the tree and seat design make it feel like you’re absorbing the trot and canter. Seat cues translate surprisingly well – I thought the cantilevered tree might be problematic in that regard but not an issue.

    Jumping, once I figured out which stirrup bar for which horse, feels good. My leg is not quite as stable in the Bua as in the Del Grange but as I get more used to it the difference has become pretty minimal.

    Two friends also tried the saddle. One loved it - she had the same feeling I did about absorbing the trot and canter. The other friend was mostly neutral on it (although she thought it was more difficult for her to relax her back in the Bua and it might have made her back sore (although that may also been moving jumps right before her ride)). One thing they pointed out that I hadn't experienced because I use the Devoucoux Comfort stirrup leathers (so there's just a nylon loop over the stirrup bar) but they both used regular stirrup leathers and found the 3 layers of leather plus buckle created an uncomfortable lump at the stirrup bar.

    Horse reactions - Horse #1 (has had kissing spine surgery, and both prior to and after the surgery has been particular about saddle fit) reallllly likes this saddle. His trot and canter are super relaxed and freely moving and he seems comfortable over fences.

    Horse #2 (with the Del Grange either needs a small shim on his right side hollow behind the withers or else I spend every ride stepping into the left stirrup to shift the saddle back to center) seemed neutral on the Bua, but even with no shim it stays centered on the horse, which makes me happy. I normally find his left lead canter fairly uncomfortable and hard to sit, but it feels much less jarring in the Bua.

    Horse #3 (Del Grange fits well with no shims or special pads needed) seems neutral, and I feel about the same on her in either saddle. She has a choppy little pony stride and it doesn't feel much different in the Bua than the Del Grange.

    So, to wrap up a long story, I ordered a Bua - performance saddle, brown leather, narrow twist, front blocks only. It'll be delivered mid-December. I figured, I like it a lot, one of the horses loves it and I doubt he'd be willing to go back to the Del Grange, it fits my horses well and seems as if it would fit a decent variety of others, if the need ever arises I can just replace a part instead of the whole saddle, I didn't have to worry about trying and returning a zillion used saddles or ordering custom and getting something different than I expected, and both Melanie and the company have been super responsive and helpful.

    If anyone has any questions, I'm happy to answer if I can!
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