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Saddle trial: hard seat

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    Saddle trial: hard seat

    I'm trialing this cheap Argentine pancake type saddle. Fits my horse really well, but the seat is hard as a rock. I can put up with it honestly, but I was curious if that's the norm for the older saddles, and if anyone thinks one of those seat savers would be safe to use? I'm not anticipating doing more than 2 feet, only little crossrails for a while, and max would probably be 2'6 but if she gets back to doing that I would get a better saddle anyways.

    A seat saver should be fine, but if it moves around too much you can get padded undershorts to wear.


      If you are looking for a cheap, older, "pancake" type saddle, look at the quality brands rather than the notoriously badly made cheap brands. Yes, the seats are not as "soft" as newer saddles. Those of us who have ridden in these saddles for decades (and still do by choice) understand that it is the narrow "twist" of the older saddles that make them comfortable to sit in, not a cushy seat. And that their huge advantage is the "closeness" that you get to the horse without all the padding between you and the horse. I've never seen an Argentine made saddle that I would accept for free, for any purpose. The trees are often broken and they are torture for the rider as well as the horse. A "quality" made older "pancake type" saddle will be comfortable to sit in, even if not "soft". Older Crosby PDNs are still available, for cheap prices because they are "out of style", and usually remain in usable condition if the basic parameters are intact. Before you buy or accept an old Argentine built saddle, seek some hands on advice from an experienced horseman about the fit for both the horse and rider.


        I agree with NancyM. You would probably be much happier with a higher quality older brand. I don't know if you're looking for plain flap/pancake in particular (these can be come by for very cheaply considering they're no longer the "in" thing) or are open to other styles as well, but I own almost exclusively older saddles and my favorites are Stübben, Courbette, Crosby, and Collegiate (the older RD ones before the company was bought out and manufacturing was changed). Older models of these still in good serviceable condition can be found pretty cheaply, and these are all very well made saddles. I'd have to say my favorites are my Courbette Husars, though they're not the pancake type. As for pancakes, I still think my Collegiate Graduate was my favorite, though my Crosby Sovereign (which was just the smooth bridle leather version of the PDN) of the same era is very similar. Some other quality brands I see on eBay a lot are various lesser known English-made brands, Crump, Beval, Fels Bach AG/Sattlerei beim Kloster Schönthal (both of which were later bought out by Courbette), Whitman/Campbell, Harry Dabbs, a few older Pessoas (which were mostly made by Harry Dabbs back in the day), etc.

        Also, is it by any chance an older Collegiate? If so, those were actually really well made for the price point and definitely a step above the other Argentine brands of the time. They were also closely modeled after the Crosbys, and IIRC were made on the same or similar trees. I grew up in a Collegiate Graduate pancake and loved it (though mine has a slightly softer seat than my other older saddles).

        I think comfort factor also has a lot to do with the individual person as well. For example, I have an ancient Crosby PDN that I don't particularly enjoy riding in. To me, it feels as if the hard edges of the seat line up perfectly with my seat bones, which is very uncomfortable. I have a '90s model Sovereign, on the other hand, that does not have that issue (and I believe those later models had slightly wider seats). I have a couple of Courbette Husars that are 40 years old, that are hard seated, but extremely comfortable, too. It really differs from person to person.


          What I finally figured out for old saddles that suddenly become HARD is that there are linen straps that help act as a sling for the rider's seating comfort. When these eventually stretch out, all of a sudden the rider is sitting on the sort of sharp hard edges of the saddle tree.

          The only cure I found was a decent seat saver. When I finally sold my ancient Stubben Siegfried (almost 50 years old) its rather old and dusty sheepskin seat saver was included in the price because without the seat saver sitting on the saddle was pure torture, a saddle that had been comfortable, very comfortable for decades. The bruises I got from the suddenly hard saddle lasted for days and affected other parts of my life.

          The lady who bought it apparently did not care that she needed a seat saver, she needed an 18" Extra Forward flap saddle that fit both her and her horse, and that was a saddle that she could afford.


            Original Poster

            Thanks guys! It was the only one my saddle fitter had in my price range that would fit, so I decided to give it a try but I might just ship it back to her and keep an eye out for a better one.


              Look at the HDR Memory foam (seat), don't know how that would compare fit wise but it gets lots of good reviews for comfort and its a decent saddle for the price. I agree to look for better quality and go used. Do you need a really flat saddle or was that the one that fit best? Nothing wrong with going synthetic also, Tekna, Thorowgood or Wintec.


                These are the most comfortable seat savers ever:

                Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                  I find I "get used to" the hard seat of my Pessoa. I don't know if I work up some butt callouses or what, but as long as I ride in it regularly, I hardly notice (even if I ride in cushy saddles in between). But if I take a break from it for a while, the first couple of rides are pretty hard on my pointy seat bones. So if you still have it on trial and you otherwise like it, it may be worth doing a couple more rides and seeing if you still notice.

                  FWIW I don't know why my Pessoa is so hard. I've had old pancake saddles too, and while they weren't exactly luxurious, they weren't notably hard like it is. But it's otherwise a great saddle for me so I don't worry about it.


                    Be very careful taking advice from someone who is going to financially benefit from the advice you are given. Not all equine "professionals" are as skilled as they claim they are, and not all are honest. Good luck with saddle shopping. Quality older flat hunter saddles can be purchased for between $50 to $200. If you need advice about fit, ask someone who is not trying to sell you the saddle you are considering. Ask someone who rides well themselves, has horses who are relaxed and happy and comfortable under the saddles being used on them. Pay this person for the advice if necessary.


                      Originally posted by NancyM View Post
                      Be very careful taking advice from someone who is going to financially benefit from the advice you are given. Not all equine "professionals" are as skilled as they claim they are, and not all are honest. Good luck with saddle shopping. Quality older flat hunter saddles can be purchased for between $50 to $200. If you need advice about fit, ask someone who is not trying to sell you the saddle you are considering. Ask someone who rides well themselves, has horses who are relaxed and happy and comfortable under the saddles being used on them. Pay this person for the advice if necessary.
                      I agree with this. I've unfortunately known a lot of people who have ended up with some very ill fitting saddles (both for horse and rider) and some very sore horses because of this. There are quite a few people out there who just want a quick sale!


                        One other thing about the very old saddles is that very often, the flocking is also ancient and rock hard. And someone who is buying an old pancake saddle for $75 may not feel they want to spend $300 to have the panels stripped and reflocked with new wool. But unless you do that you are torturing the horse who has to wear it. The saddle may also be more comfortable to the rider once the flocking is replaced.


                          Original Poster

                          I ended up getting a used Wintec and am going to send the trial saddle back, just didn't seem worth it. I actually am really glad I have this fitter, the BO has used her for many many many years and she was super helpful, wasn't at all worried about selling the saddle and was more concerned with me taking it for as long as I needed on trial to see if it would work. I agree to be careful with people that benefit financially, but it's also amazing to have a fitter you can trust helping you out.

                          Thanks for the help!