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Who makes the best quality saddles these days?

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  • Who makes the best quality saddles these days?

    I keep reading reviews about high-end saddles falling apart (namely Voltaire and Devoucoux). I'm in the market for a new-new saddle (or at most barely used) this year, and these kinds of reviews are making me really gun-shy. Who is still making a good saddle that lasts? A high-end saddle that is well taken care of should last years and years! I'm the kind of cheapo who never wants to replace anything, so this saddle needs to LAST.

    P.S. My trainer doesn't care for or recommend CWD, but all other brands are on the table.
    Last edited by gertie06; Feb. 7, 2020, 10:25 AM.

  • #2
    I’m a hard core made in Walsall England saddle lover for the past 20+ years. They are not trendy, they don’t break in as quick but my god they wear like iron. I’m still riding in a saddle that is perfect after 22 years.

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    • #3
      Voltaire hands down and Tad Coffin seccond. CWDs rarely fit, and they just bought out devocoux so their saddles probably wont either.

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      • #4
        The trendy French close contact saddles are designed for the specific task of jumping at speed rather than for everyday use. The leather is soft. They generally use memory foam rather than wool flocking. The foam will compress with extended use, and as it then has to be removed, re-flocking to fit can be difficult. The traditional saddles use robust leather and wool flocking. They are designed to last for years and, as re-flocking is easy, they are easy to adjust.
        "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Willesdon View Post
          The trendy French close contact saddles are designed for the specific task of jumping at speed rather than for everyday use. The leather is soft. They generally use memory foam rather than wool flocking. The foam will compress with extended use, and as it then has to be removed, re-flocking to fit can be difficult. The traditional saddles use robust leather and wool flocking. They are designed to last for years and, as re-flocking is easy, they are easy to adjust.
          Brands?

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          • #6
            I have an 18 year old Stubben I bought new that I love and is still going strong. Having said that, I also just got a custom Butet and am extremely happy so far. Of course it is brand new so no idea how it will hold up but the workmanship and leather seem good (I did not go for full premium leather as I feel the grain holds up better) and the reps were good to deal with. So far the Butet came and fit me and my horse pretty close to perfectly as advertised. Also not as much as custom CWD or Voltaire, I believe.

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            • #7
              You can't beat the quality and craftsmanship of a Stackhouse saddle. I'm still riding in the one that was made for me in '92. David and Lesley make them the same way today as then. Unparalled quality. And they fit well.

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              • #8
                I think Sooner is on the right track. Stackhouse makes a beautiful, well built saddle. They ride great, they feel great, and they fit great.

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                • #9
                  So much of what is "best" depends on what fits you and your horse! But I will say, there are a lot of Voltaires at my barn and the horses seem to really like them, and I haven't seen a single saddle wearing poorly, including my trainer's which gets used on multiple horses a day and sometimes used by students as well. However, I will add that a lot of us have the buffalo not the calfskin, and that could be the difference maker. Their buffalo is beautiful and seems to hold up pretty well, at least from what I've seen. I previously had a CWD and after buying another horse, it didn't fit right and had to go (they made two attempts at adjusting the fit and seemed to just make the channel narrower <sigh>). I think the modern-day foam panels hold up better than the old foam used to, but it is true that obviously you lack the same adjustability. However, I ended up disliking having a wool-flocked saddle years ago because if your fitter moves away and you can't find another one, or their schedule is bad, you have a whole different problem!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It's not that long since County seemed to be It brand for hunter jumpers. They are really nice saddles in the wool flocked British tradition.

                    I have older Passier dressage and jump saddles, but they are better known for dressage. Excellent quality

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                    • #11
                      I love County saddles. Very well made, custom, wool flocked for adjustability. A good rep will bring many models to try and those can be made for you and your horse.
                      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Denali6298 View Post
                        I’m a hard core made in Walsall England saddle lover for the past 20+ years. They are not trendy, they don’t break in as quick but my god they wear like iron. I’m still riding in a saddle that is perfect after 22 years.
                        Is this a brand, or any of the saddles made in Walsall? Because there are multiple makers headquartered there, and there's one in particular I can not recommend.

                        Apologies if I misinterpreted!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post

                          Is this a brand, or any of the saddles made in Walsall? Because there are multiple makers headquartered there, and there's one in particular I can not recommend.

                          Apologies if I misinterpreted!
                          Several brands are made there but I haven’t come across one I wouldn’t recommend. Which brand do you not like?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sooner View Post
                            You can't beat the quality and craftsmanship of a Stackhouse saddle. I'm still riding in the one that was made for me in '92. David and Lesley make them the same way today as then. Unparalled quality. And they fit well.

                            Ditto! I bought an early, still made in England, Stackhouse from the Middleburg Tack Exchange years ago. It was ancient when I got it, I've put it through hell, and it still rides and looks damn good.
                            There's coffee in that nebula.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Denali6298 View Post

                              Several brands are made there but I haven’t come across one I wouldn’t recommend. Which brand do you not like?
                              Adam Ellis. The saddle did not fit, he declared it did via photos only and would not even entertain looking at it or reflocking etc, most of the panels weren't even touching my horse, he wouldn't send me photos of what the tree points looked like on that saddle, etc. Don't get me wrong, there were issues with the fitter who was involved too - but he was not supportive in the slightest, and actively tried to screw me over.

                              Long story short, I won the civil suit and got my money back. But not before a year+ of no jump saddle to ride in while the legal battle went back and forth.

                              I got a new fitter, and have a new saddle now. All is well. But I would never ever recommend a saddle by Adam Ellis, or recommend the fitter Eileen Fuller.

                              ETA: I conceded all of the fitting fees - $750 worth. I just got my money back for the saddle from the agent Eileen was working for at the time of the sale.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I’ve got a Bruno Delgrange that I love. I splurged and bought a new one since my gelding was finally finished growing.
                                I had an Antares before, it was comfy, but some of the stitching was wearing, and horsey outgrew it so I sold it.
                                Other horse has an older Childeric that fits and has stood up beautifully, it’s 18 years old now.
                                Also had an Equipe before. After a couple years the stirrup leathers wore holes in the flaps. We had a local person reinforce the flaps. Sold the saddle when we got a new horse.

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                                • #17
                                  endlessclimb oh yeah, my horse immediately objected to that saddle when I tried it.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    The Stackhouse is a great saddle, but I'm not inclined to buy custom. I ride different horses frequently, and so I need something that can be versatile. Interesting to hear people mention County. Seems they're coming back into vogue.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Nothing with calfskin or foam panels (ie, most of the trendy names).

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Are you asking who has the best brand new saddles? Or just in general?

                                        If you're in the market for used, I still think older Stubbens takes the cake easily as far as quality & longevity. I did not have a good experience with their more recently made saddles in terms of quality control, (as in the last ~5 years) but their older saddles don't quit. I have a Stubben saddle that is older than me in the barn for the STB, and it still looks like it is only lightly used. I also briefly had a Juventus and wished that saddle fit my horses because it was such a wonderful saddle.

                                        Same goes for Kieffer and Passier. My Kieffer Wein is 20 years old and still looks lovely. I've never had to make any repairs to it, no strap replacements, no seat splits, nothing. It is a little faded in the seat but it wasone of those saddles that was used 3x a day when I was younger.

                                        As far as brand new + quality.. I really think that the quality has shifted to something butter-soft & comfortable vs something enduring. Unfortunately those two things don't seem to mix well when it comes to leather. Of brand new saddles I'd say Passier, Stackhouse and Black Country are up there. I won't touch most brand new french brands because I've seen very poor craftmanship and sore horses from several of the more popular brands like Devoucoux and CWD. In general if you get a saddle buttersoft and feeling "broken in" you're paying for it down the line - those leathers cannot withstand the same kind of use that those hard-skinned german brands can.
                                        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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