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Saddle Woes

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  • Saddle Woes

    Please forgive me as this is my third or fourth post on this topic but I’m getting so frustrated with finding the right saddle. I need some guidance.

    My original saddle plan was to find a good quality used saddle with a budget around $2,000; something that a more “general fit” since I do not own a horse right now and I’m currently riding different horses.

    Previously I’ve ridden in a Toulouse Annice that was comfortable but I did not care for the quality and craftsmanship.

    Here is what I’ve tried used so far:
    Original Delgrange PJ –seat was too deep and hated the balloon flaps
    3 different Antares to include the Hampton – every single one hurt in the crotch/upper thigh area
    Childeric M – Did not find it comfortable at all
    Pessoa – Sat in a few different ones and do not like them.

    My local tack store has a large selection of used saddles but few are higher end and in good condition. I’ve also been shopping popular used saddle sites. It’s getting expensive spending a $100 on shipping to try a saddle that doesn’t work and sending it back.

    I’ve now started to look at new saddles as well and have the ability to increase my budget to $3500, although I would really prefer to spend less.

    I looked into the ADT saddles and talked to their rep, Rebecca. I was thinking of getting a new Gazelle model. I was able to find 2 local riders who had saddles I could sit on. In my very short rides, I like the saddles enough to consider them further. However, my issue is that the gazelle model only comes in grain leather and it will take me forever to break it in riding only 2 times a week. Additionally, I like the seat of the SL and the flap on the SC and to get this customized I would need to change to the Classique Line – which goes over budget.

    I have always preferred grain leather but in considering new saddles I’ve been looking into calfskin. It would be easier/quicker to break in considering how often I ride. Additionally, it should still last a long time for me.
    The local tack shop as some new Prestige saddles available. I like the ability to adjust the tree for when I own a horse again in a few years. The calfskin seems like it would break in easily however, the underside of the flaps seem like plastic. They are shiny and hard.

    I do not currently have a horse but plan to purchase one in the 2-3 year time frame. Until then, I’m riding anywhere from one to three times a week.

    I’m not tied to a particular brand but there are brands I favor the styling of. I would like a good quality made saddle that fits me well and has a general fit for horses. Ideally, I’d like to have it for a long time but the reality is that there is a chance it won’t fit said future horse.

    What are the chances of getting a new expensive saddle now that will fit the horse I buy in a few years?

    Should I just get a saddle that is inexpensive and works for now?

    Should I invest in a good quality saddle now that can be adjusted (tree or flocking) for the future horse?
    I’ve heard some brands have trade-in programs. Can anyone give me more information on these brands/programs?


  • #2
    Buy a high quality, used saddle now. You get the quality and the performance, without having to spend the money. Then if it doesn't fit your future horse, you can trade it in for almost what you bought it for (some high end brands hold their value VERY well).

    I have a Pessoa A/O I bought 11 years ago, but haven't used a great deal (it spent 4 years as a towel rack). I don't ride well in it, but I was sticking with it only until I purchased a horse and could afford to get my custom CWD saddle.

    Well, the horse thing keeps getting put off, and I decided I've had enough of the Pessoa. I've ridden in Devoucoux, Antares, Bevals, and CWDs, and I always preferred the CWD. So I finally pulled the trigger a few days ago on a used CWD for a little over $2,000. I figure I'd be happier riding in a saddle that (hopefully) works better for me than the Pessoa. Now I get the best of both worlds - the saddle that I want without dropping $5,000 on a brand new saddle. It'll suffice for the time being, and when I finally do get another horse of my own, I can spend the big money on a custom fitted saddle then.

    Frenchusedsaddles.com is a good place to start. You can sometimes find good deals on ebay (I bought my CWD through a tack exchange store who had an ebay account). Just do your research, take some on trial, and know it's ok to be picky.


    • #3
      I don't know if you've already tried one, or if you would like it, but we have five riders in our barn with Beval Naturals - and these are people that can afford more expensive saddles. They tend to fit a lot of horses and for many riders have excellent balance. In addition, there are many used ones in excellent condition for well within your budget. It might be worth trying one if you haven't already.


      • #4
        I second the Beval Natural idea. Actually, I would call Beval and describe what you like in a saddle and see what they suggest. Beval is great to work with and they have a ton of different saddle styles and price ranges. I have an LTD 2 that I really like. It's sort of a "minimalist" saddle (mildly padded flap, but no knee roll/thigh block, etc.; flatter seat), so I'm not sure if you'd like it. But they really have so many options and if I recall correctly the shipping policy was very reasonable.


        • #5
          If you're into french made saddles, I'd try a Butet (I didn't see that you've one mentioned yet). The butet has full grain flaps and calf skin seat/knee rolls. For $3500 (or less) you can find well cared for and nicely broken in Butet. If you're into flat seats and spending less while still retaining quality, you might think of trying the Beval Devon. Comfy, a flat seat and pommel that is very low profile and won't smack you in the crotch. Find one used, and save some bucks.


          • #6
            Don't shy away from the AdT just because of the grained leather. You do a LOT to help break it in if you really work and roll the leather before your first ride.

            You get a hold of some good lederbalsam, apply it to both the underside and top of flaps, and start to roll. You want to crease the leather by folding it increment by increment, and fold it up and also under, left to right and top to bottom. If you do this correctly, the leather will start looking dry and you'll have to reapply the lederbalsam and repeat the process. Don't worry about "ruining" the leather. Good quality leather will only get softer with use and as you work it. I had an AdT that had never been broken in thoroughly and after I treated it this way, the leather became so soft and supple and was just as tacky and grippy as calfskin.

            Btw, Murphy's Law says that no matter what saddle you buy now, your new horse will require the exact opposite saddle fit. If you like the AdT, why not get it? If you get it with the wool flocked panels, you will increase the chances of it fitting most horses.
            "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

            So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by eventer_mi View Post
              Don't shy away from the AdT just because of the grained leather. You do a LOT to help break it in if you really work and roll the leather before your first ride. .
              I actually prefer grain but worried about the breaking in due to limited riding. If I go with grain I will follow your advice to soften the leather!

              Originally posted by eventer_mi View Post
              Btw, Murphy's Law says that no matter what saddle you buy now, your new horse will require the exact opposite saddle fit. If you like the AdT, why not get it? If you get it with the wool flocked panels, you will increase the chances of it fitting most horses.
              LOL- So true. I like ADT but the saddle and combination of flaps I like is not available on the lower end model. Wool flocking will also put me over budget


              • Original Poster

                Accidental Cowgirl & FineAlready - I'm going to look into bevel and see if I can find something at my local shop first. I've already spent too much on shipping charges trying other saddles. I like a semi-deep seat.

                Originally posted by Satin Filly View Post
                If you're into french made saddles, I'd try a Butet (I didn't see that you've one mentioned yet). The butet has full grain flaps and calf skin seat/knee rolls. For $3500 (or less) you can find well cared for and nicely broken in Butet. If you're into flat seats and spending less while still retaining quality, you might think of trying the Beval Devon. Comfy, a flat seat and pommel that is very low profile and won't smack you in the crotch. Find one used, and save some bucks.

                I like a semi-deep seat with a low pommel. I'm going to look for a Butet to try also.

                Guess I really just need to keep looking!


                • #9
                  I am another one who likes the Natural and the BZ Natural. I had a bitch of a time finding a saddle that would fit my horse and my leg. I had a custom Antares that wouldn't fit him and tried various high end used saddles. I ended up with a wool flocked BZ natural and couldn't be happier. It has the grain flaps but the seat is calf as are the knee flaps.

                  I have to say that Beval was exceptional to work with and I wouldn't hesitate to deal with them again.


                  • #10
                    I'm not a fan of the Butet and Beval natural. Wayyyyy too hard for me. Nice quality, though.

                    I would be careful with a custom saddle unless you buy from the rep. You might get something so customized and not a standard fit.

                    I LOVE my Antares jump saddle. You can get a shallower seat. The Hampton Classic, though, was hard in the seat and the panels, I wasn't a fan at all. No harm in talking to the rep. Antares usually has used and demo models. They do trade-ins. I expect CWD and other custom saddler reps will do trade-ins.

                    Devoucoux is nice quality, but I find the seat harder than my Antares.

                    I got grain leather and it broke in quickly after the initial oiling.
                    Born under a rock and owned by beasts!


                    • #11
                      For what it's worth, Beval charges $41.95 for shipping on demo saddles. If you try one and like it, you can send the demo back (your cost) and they will ship you a new saddle with no addiitonal shipping charge. If you don't like it and want to try a different demo, they will ship additional demos at no cost...and so on.

                      So, basically, the only thing you pay after the initial shipping charge from Beval for the first saddle you try is return shipping on anything you send back. They don't charge you again for them to ship out additional saddles.


                      • #12
                        Also, you might like the Beval Stamford - it has what I would refer to as a medium-deep seat, even though it looks fairly flat in the picture. I've ridden in one that belonged to a friend and I did like it, even though I am more of a flat seat person. I think it is a really good value in a saddle - the one I rode in was older, but very good quality and had held up well over a lot of use:



                        • #13
                          Maybe it was the twist of the Antares that didn't agree with you because its definitely not a narrow twist (although also not as wide as others) and I don't feel like my pommel is particularly high, but its also not low (and I have a med deep seat). So perhaps you just like a twist that is on the narrow side?

                          If this is the case I would look into a County Innovation. That thing was like sitting into a cushion, has a deep-ish seat and I felt the twist was definitely more narrow than the Antares. The Innovation is more like a close contact saddle, IMO. You can find these in new demo condition for well within your $3500 budget, plus they are wool flocked so it could potentially be reflocked to fit a horse you end up purchasing.

                          However, I was also in your situation a couple years ago. No horse, and REALLY wanted my own saddle (because riding in school saddles/saddles fitted to others kind of blows). Because I knew it wasn't a long term deal since I eventually wanted my own horse, I bought super cheap and wasn't picky about it. Ended up with a very no frills, close contact jump saddle that wasn't the prettiest or comfiest thing in the world, but it fit me and was broken in already and did I mention cheap? It was a Northrun Ashland, if you're interested in checking that one out too. Used ones do float around, and you can get them for less than $1000. I would just be hesitant to buy something for more than that, when there is no gurantee it will fit whatever horse you purchase. Unless you end up with a really well known, popular brand (like Antares or CWD) reselling might be difficult. And a hassle! Just some other things to think about.


                          • #14
                            I wouldn't hesitate buying a saddle you like because of grain leather. My CWD was purchased brand new and I chose grain with calf seat and knee rolls over full calf or buffalo and after letting CWD oil it before it left the factory, it felt almost broken in on my first ride. I only rode 2-3 times a week also.

                            Both the Butet and the BZ Natural are grain leather with calf seat and knees, and they are extremely comfortable saddles that will break in easily if properly treated.


                            • #15
                              Love my Reactor Panel. My horse came with knots and scars from ill fitting saddles over his very wide shoulders. As his body changed for the better, we just changed the fit of the saddle. He is not and never will be a very good mover, but it totally frees him up to move out as well as he can
                              \"Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.\" Anne of Green Gables