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CWD Saddle - Give Them Another Chance or Make The Switch?

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  • CWD Saddle - Give Them Another Chance or Make The Switch?

    Hello all!

    I decided to come to this forum again for some advice. To give you all a little background before I get into the nitty-gritty: I have ridden in and owned a CWD saddle since 2013. My relationship with the brand started off very rocky due to some problems with the first rep I ever came into contact with (sold me a saddle that didn't fit my horse, sent it off to be "fixed", received a saddle that still didn't fit, told me I needed the more expensive model (the 2G), refused to give me full price for the saddle that never fit towards the purchase of the other model, and then after finally receiving the new model, found out that that one still didn't fit). My experiences with the rep that replaced her was much better, and after two years, I finally got a saddle that fits. The new rep was honestly a joy to deal with and was so knowledgeable.

    About three months ago when I bought a new horse and needed my saddle readjusted to fit the new one. I called the previous rep that I loved and was informed that our area had a new rep. Ok, no problem. I give the new rep a call and have her come out for a fitting. She comes out, with her supervisor since she is new, and decides that my new horse needs the shoulder to be widened and more padding to be added to help with the saddle bridging. Her supervisor checked behind her and agreed. I was a little skeptical as the saddle is already pretty fleshed out in the shoulder since my previous horse was a tank. They assure me that this is the necessary adjustment, so I said ok and sent my saddle off for repair. A few weeks go by and my saddle comes back. All seems fine - horse is moving well and saddle doesn't have any obvious signs that it does not fit. (This was about two months ago.)

    A month ago I noticed that my horse has started developing a white mark on the top of its withers. Ok, no need to panic. I was thinking that it could be from a blanket since the horse is new to me and we just began blanketing a week prior. I changed the blanket and thought all was well. Nope. The white mark keeps getting more prominent, and added on to that, my horse has started to show discomfort while being ridden. Nothing crazy (no bucking, rearing, or any other dangerous behavior - just tail swishing and raising the head when asked to move forward). I finally came to the conclusion that it must be the saddle that is laying on its withers causing the white spot to appear and the behavior to surface, so I sent a text to the rep.

    Waited a couple of weeks - no response. Called - no response. Texted again after two more weeks went by and received a text saying that she will try her best to get out ASAP. Rep still hasn't come out and I am getting tired of waiting while the problem is not getting fixed. I don't have another saddle to ride in, so I have tried using a half pad to help in the meantime since I suspect that it is too wide and is laying on the withers. Of course, that is not a long term fix, and I am weary to even ride in the saddle as I do not want to hurt my horse.

    I really like how my saddle fits me, but I just can't keep riding a horse in a saddle that doesn't fit. I have honestly become extremely irritated with everything. I have invested a lot of money into the saddle to constantly be disappointed by the company's customer service. I would be more forgiving if this was the first time this mistake had happened, but this is a longterm issue that I just can't seem to avoid. The reps are so inconsistent and seem to be lacking proper knowledge on saddle fit. I already feel bad for my poor horse for not recognizing that it was the saddle sooner. I don't know if I can go through this whole process again as I really can't keep sending my saddle off, having to wait 6 weeks without a saddle, and then finally receive it to realize that it doesn't even fit.

    Sorry for the narrative, but I guess what I'm working up to is this: Should I let the rep come out again and try to fix the mistake, or should I start looking for a different saddle instead? What would you do in this situation? Any recommendations for other saddle brands if it comes to that?

  • #2
    I think I’d prefer an independent saddle fitter look at the fit of the current saddle. (ie not the CWD rep assessing the fit of the CWD saddle they sold you at an upcharge). And I ride in a CWD. 🤷🏼*♀️


    • #3
      It’s all about the rep, unfortunately. I probably have had the same reps as you (in So Cal) but for me the issue is that CWD just doesn’t make a saddle that fits my horse. The rep always tried to upsell me a 2G, but I really couldn’t afford to invest any more in a saddle. As it was, I worked summer school to buy the saddle. It’s not something I could afford on my regular salary.

      I ended up buying a Voltaire. They make a panel that works for my high withered horse.

      It sounds like time to cut your losses. I did like the new rep. I believe she honestly tried to fit my horse. They just don’t make the right panel and maybe it’s against company policy to admit that.
      A helmet saved my life.

      2017 goal: learn to ride like TheHorseProblem, er, a barn rat!


      • #4
        It seems that CWD has had issues with finding qualified reps all over the country.


        • #5
          You couldn't give me one, so I am probably not the one to ask 😂
          "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


          • #6
            I don't know how many times I've read on this forum about riders whose horses are--sometimes suddenly--resisting work under saddle. When saddle fit is suggested as a cause, the response is often "Oh, the saddle fits him well." No way to tell if that assurance is based on good information.

            Please research independent saddle fitters in your area. And I emphasize INDEPENDENT. Brand reps are notoriously under-informed about real saddle fitting, and they tend to quit and get replaced frequently. An initial fitting session, if done properly, takes about two hours and requires measurements of both you and the horse sitting still (static fit), as well as you and the horse under saddle (dynamic fit).

            People are always asking what brand of saddle they should buy. That's the absolute wrong question. The real question is which saddle fits both you and the horse?


            • #7
              My experience with repaneling by CWD wasn't great, either. I sent it back a second time, and in trying to fix the bridging, the material they added caused the channel to get too narrow along my horse's spine. So, I basically wasted the time and money trying to have them fix it. I sold it through Highline Tack and switched to a Voltaire Palm Beach that has been great. *IF* you want to spend the time to try to avoid having to get a new saddle, bypass the rep and go to the supervisor that came with her, or call the main office and find out who the team lead for your region is. Going up the chain is probably your only chance of getting it fixed.


              • #8
                You couldn’t give me one, either. All I have heard is negative. I have ridden in several and not a fan. I’m a butet person myself, so.


                • #9
                  INDEPENDENT saddle fitter is indeed key. I have a friend who had your exact experience except with a different Big-Name Saddle company. She finally ditched the useless Rep and got a highly recommended independent fitter out who informed her that neither saddle, that the Rep was trying to tell her fit and then get her to buy, actually fit her horse, at all.

                  Apparently there's a lot of snake oil being sold in the Big Name Saddle via Rep. business these days.
                  Power to the People


                  • #10
                    Switch. I currently have a CWD but I had problems ordering it so I will not be getting another.


                    • #11
                      Our CWD rep in Virginia is amazing. She's not just stuck on the brand since she also carries a large stock of used saddles in other brands. Sounds like other areas haven't been so lucky.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post
                        It seems that CWD has had issues with finding qualified reps all over the country.
                        Honestly I think all the major brands are having trouble finding and keeping fitters. I wanted to buy a used Devoucoux at one point. I knew exactly the saddle size I needed and it's one they commonly have on their trucks used. I contacted several reps and they each said "oh yeah I have 3 or 4 of that, I'll send you specs!". Great. It should have been a stupidly easy sale, I knew what I was looking for, send me one on trial and we'll just find the one that fits the horse and I'll pay for it. Done. I literally never heard from a single rep again after that. I ended up finding a used CWD in a traveling tack shop at a horse show and buying that instead and it's been great, no reps involved.

                        To be fair to the reps, it tends to be a lot of ambitious young ladies who want a job in horses that doesn't include riding and think selling high end saddles could be a fun way to meet lots of cool horse people, you get to talk to BNT's, put saddles on some really nice horses, and exchange a bunch of money. It is, for a little while. It is a really hard job. The amount of travel involved for a fitting to then not sell anything on top of the numbers they are required to hit every month cause them to have a very high drop out rate all over. I don't think I've seen one in our area last more than a year before bagging it and finding something else. We knew one of our area Devoucoux reps personally and she lasted something like 8 months before she gave it up, she just couldn't meet the numbers without bending over backwards to do it.


                        • #13
                          My CWD had 2 panel changes before I sold it and replaced it with a new CWD through Pik and Louie. I have no idea why my original was the way it was but the new one fit straight out of the box, no break in required.

                          Bit Chair:


                          • #14
                            If 3/4 times you ate at a restaurant there was a hair in your food, would you even be asking us if you should give it a 5th try?
                            "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                            • #15
                              Look elsewhere, I think you know that's what you need to do.

                              Look at any other brand you want, as I cannot make any specific suggestions without seeing your horse. But be mindful of the Leather In Motion Group. They own CWD, Devoucoux, and Butet. If you were disappointed with your experience with CWD, expect nothing better from the other two. They are going to have similar sales tactics and poorly trained reps.

                              Also, go on the internet and read as much as you can about saddle fit. There are lots of articles about saddle fit, like this one for example: There is also a really great instagram account called Her stuff is very visual and I find it extremely helpful.

                              And ask whatever reps you talk to a ton of questions. Tell them you want to see something that fits. Do not accept "We will custom make something perfect for this horse" as an answer, because that's a major indicator that you are dealing with a snake oil salesman.


                              • #16
                                I completely agree about finding an independent saddle fitter. The we use at my barn is terrific and always works with what you have first. And usually likes to come out a few months later to make sure the adjustment is still good. When I decided to bite the bullet and get a new saddle - I gave her my budget and she showed me several new and used saddles different brands within my budget. No issues whatsoever.


                                • #17
                                  I agree, I had an original multi-brand saddle fitter tell me my horse's specs and try a bunch of brands on her. They were convinced one type of saddle was perfect, but my horses hated it within 2 days. However, it helped me understand what kind of shape and the specs I needed. I found a used PJ and send it to the fitter to check the fit and flocking. As my horse grew muscle, I knew what shape to look for and found a used amerigo. Again, brought a fitter once I was happy to ensure the fit and anything that could be changed flocking wise. My amerigo was pretty new and I got it at half its retail cost. Finding your horses shape first while saddle hunting and trying shapes and brands help myself and the fitter to narrow what type of saddle my horse.


                                  • #18
                                    ALL of those French semi-custom jobs are only as good as the rep and service you get.... I followed my rep (who went from CWD to another brand) no problems. She was able to fit us to whatever product. I'm currently very happy with Voltaire as far as quality. I know there aren't as many independent fitters (ie, not paid or associated to any brand) in the US though. If I had a rep in-country, I'd switch to Schleese though- I've never felt BAD in any of my saddles, but I felt very GOOD after riding in one of them (hips and back nice and loose).

                                    Additionally, wool flocking is easier to adjust "on the fly" - all the french ones are foam flocked so you have to send away for complete repanel every adjustment.


                                    • #19
                                      I think that it would be awesome if you can find someone else to check out the saddle. An independent rep or something like that? I don't know much about where you are located, but where I am there are plenty of independent saddle businesses. I think that it really sucks that you had such negative experiences with your CWD rep, but if there's something that you could do to fix it, it's probably better than shelling out another $5000 on a new saddle. I have a CWD that I bought from an independent rep and its amazing. In the meantime, have you tried experimenting with saddle pads?


                                      • #20
                                        I just do not buy into the claims of these French saddle makers that their essentially one tree width/shape can fit all horses, especially narrower horses with high longer withers/wither dips or wider big shouldered horses. I would not have them back out to fit your horse, and I would have an independent saddle fitter assess whether the saddle is even a proper choice for your current horse to begin with. No fitter with any sense of what they are doing would have a saddle sitting on a horse's wither such that it is rubbing the hair off.
                                        Proud Member of the "Tidy Rabbit Tinfoil Hat Wearers" clique and the "I'm in my 30's and Hope to be a Good Rider Someday" clique