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Hunter/Jumper saddle recommendations

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  • Hunter/Jumper saddle recommendations

    I am shopping for a new saddle and would like recommendations. I am currently considering CWD, Antares, Prestige, and Voltaire. When shopping for a horse, I rode briefly in an Antares and CWD and thought both were very comfortable.

    I am tall (5'9") with long legs. My horse is a draft cross, but not especially wide. However, his back dips down a bit in the middle (slight sway back). I am 54 years old and show at a few local shows each year and also foxhunt occasionally. I'm looking for a saddle that is comfortable for me and my horse and will help me maintain a correct position.

    I realize that it is largely personal preference and everyone will prefer some saddles over others. I'm trying to find out if there is anything unique about any of these saddles or any tendencies they have such as one brand tends to fit high-withered horses or another only fits straight-backed horses or one is more comfortable or better for long legged riders.

    Many thanks for your help!
    Last edited by FoxHillStacey; Jan. 7, 2013, 11:45 PM. Reason: typo

  • #2
    I've ridden in CWDs and Antares and greatly prefer the CWDs; I found that they put me in a much better position than the Antares. With that being said, I'm 5'1'' with short legs, so what I'm comfortable in is sure to be different from what you're comfortable in! My CWDs do fit a huge variety of horses though; I have one that I use mainly for my mare, who has a ridiculously big shoulder, and one that I use on other horses (and ponies).
    Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


    • #3
      My recommendation would be to ride in everything you can get your hands on. If possible try to borrow a demo saddle for at least a week. I found some saddles that felt ok after the first ride, but didn't necessarily work for me (or the horse) after a couple of rides.

      Once you find a saddle that works, my advice would be to buy the demo if at all possible. I've had two bad experiences with custom saddles. Both arrived looking like they were made for a different horse, the rep wasn't able to reflock or adjust them to work so they went back. If you do decide to buy a custom, make absolutely certain that you get a commitment (backed up in writing) that you get 100% of your money back, no questions asked, if the saddle does not work within a 2 week trial period after it arrives.


      • #4
        I'm currently riding in a butet and I LOVE IT. my previous saddle was a Tad Coffin which was awesome but I couldn't get to fit me (I'm a 16.5 seat but an 18 flap) but I would just test anything and everything you can.
        My Horse Show Photography/ Blog


        • Original Poster

          SnicklefritzG--thanks for the information. My husband and I have our own small farm so I'm not at a boarding barn where I can try different saddles. That is very good to know about the custom saddles and makes me wonder if I should spend the money on custom if they often don't come out right. It might be better to find a slightly used saddle or the demo as you said and make sure it fits my horse.


          • #6
            If there are reps in your area, they might leave you with a demo to try. Local tack shops might also have demos that you can take out on loan. Typical loan periods are 7-10 days.

            Send me a PM if you'd like more info on my experience with customs (don't want to derail the thread)


            • Original Poster

              The tack stores near me don't carry the high-end saddles. The owner said that once you get past a certain price, everyone goes with the custom saddles. So, they quit carrying the more expensive saddles.


              • #8
                Try everything and then see what you like best. I do love Voltaire though, I find them to be very comfortable and they're pretty.


                • #9
                  Another Voltaire fan here, and I've owned or ridden in pretty much every high end saddle out there. The saddles and the customer service are top notch.

                  I'm 5'9 with a long thigh, and the only saddles that have ever had the correct flap shape and length (even when "custom made") for me were Devoucoux and now Voltaire. The CWD forward flap was way too forward, and their straight wasn't quite forward enough. The only one that has correctly fit my horse out of the box the first time was the Voltaire.


                  • #10
                    I have very long legs (36" inseam) and ride in a Devoucoux. I absolutely love it, the leather is so soft and supple. I'd also recommend Childerics, Delgrange, and CWD & Antares as well. I've ridden in all of these saddles, and by far the Devoucoux is my favourite.
                    Watermark aka "Cleo" - 5 year old Warmblood cross
                    Foxtrot aka "Raven" - 5 year old Hanoverian
                    Simon Says aka "Sprout" - 4 year old Welsh pony
                    Canadian Eh


                    • #11
                      i LOVE my anatares. I too have been through the endless saddle hunt just about six months ago. Everyone in my barn loved CWD and although it works for some people, not for me! I am like you, 5'9 with very long legs and although i like a deepish seat the CWDs pommels were way too high and "over friendly" if you know what i mean lol. A lot of people who prefer CWD dont have especially long legs and what not. Antares and CWD are apples to apples its just what fits best!

                      My antares is a calf skin medium/deep seat with a 3L flap and its so nice because it allows me to wrap my legs around my horse and filled with memory foam in the panels and knee rolls and seat, fits my horse perfectly and the memory foam panels form to her back!

                      Mine topped out at 4600 which is pretty good for custom. Also, i have found CWD is a lot more secure in the seat and puts you down into the horses back kinda, if that makes sense, where the antares feels a little more cushy under you. When i test rode the CWDs i felt like i couldnt get out of the saddle and since i do hunters antares was a better choice for me. Ive also sat in deavacoux which is similar to antares and very nice!

                      It is all personal preference


                      • Original Poster

                        Great info, thanks! I'll see if I can find an Antares rep in my area. I have sent message on their web site, but haven't heard back from anyone. I'll try to call tomorrow.


                        • #13
                          no probs!! Yeah thats what i did and it took like a week to hear back, but if you want i can give you the number of the rep i used and he can give you the number of the rep for the east coast! Im all the way in California. He is the used antares rep but has the numbers of all the other reps as well!

                          Chris: 303-910-5337


                          • Original Poster

                            Excellent! I'm going to talk to the guy I bought my horse from who is/was sponsored by Antares. I rode briefly in his saddle when I tried out my horse the first time and loved it although it was the monoflap saddle--not what I would get for the hunters. I'm hoping he'll know of a rep in my area or at least can tell me who to contact. I have to say that the CWD rep responded very quickly and she is coming here this week. She sounded extremely knowledgeable about her saddles so I'm expecting a good experience. I'm also trying the Voltaire saddles later in the week.


                            • #15
                              If you haven't, I'd recommend doing a search of previous topics about these brands of saddles. There are some very interesting posts about what happens when these custom saddles show up and don't fit...


                              • #16
                                I'm tall and leggy myself so I understand the challenges inherent in saddle searching!

                                I love Antares saddles. I do not love their customer service. I will not be buying another one from the manufacturer. I would definitely consider a used one if I found it to fit.

                                I currently ride in a Devoucoux Biarritz. My horse's back is banana-shaped- there's some curve to it, sounds a little like yours- and he thinks it's the bees' knees. It was the best solution for him, and suits my leg. I bought mine new, and it was custom-fitted to him. It did not arrive fitting perfectly, and I think that was my horse changing, not the saddle. After one attempted send back to re-fit, Devoucoux flew a saddler in from France and they did saddle surgery in the tack room. Works great now.

                                My sister is 5'9" with legs that go on for miles and she loves her CWD. I also really like it- hers rides like a cushier version of a Crosby PDN. It was purchased with the understanding that her horse would be changing shape, probably dramatically, and she purchased it with a shimmable ThinLine half pad to accommodate that. In addition she had the saddle re-flocked once he'd built up some muscle. In both cases the saddle fit as intended the first time. It fits his back, but he is more comfortable with his ThinLine on, so he continues to wear it. Beautifully balanced saddle, although I think heavier than mine is. I would definitely consider one for myself when it comes time to replace my Devoucoux.
                                "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

                                Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
                                Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.


                                • #17
                                  County saddle fan - local rep is absolutely outstanding, Natasha at head office has been great: neither CWD nor Antares had any demo saddles that came close to fitting the horse part of the equation (unlike County, they base their line on a couple of trees which are widened/narrowed ... which is fine if you have the "model" horse upon which they base their product line).

                                  Ordered 2 custom saddles, dressage & jump, both which fit and arrived within the promised time line.

                                  Had 5 saddle fitters/reps out, each commented that she/he had never seen such a sensitive horse , so yeah, horse basically chose which saddles were ordered ...
                                  did have 3 different saddles that fitters felt were perfect, horse disagreed completely (& was unwilling to be swayed)


                                  • #18
                                    In the past 10 years I've owned/ridden in a County ProFit, Delgrange PJ Pro, CWD SE02 and my current Devoucoux Biarritz. I'm only 5'7" but I am high-waisted and very long from hip to knee so I typically need a forward and/or long flap.

                                    Even though my Devoucoux was made for my horse, I ultimately had the foam removed and the panels flocked with wool to allow it to be adjusted to make it really fit my (young) horse. It's always been very comfy for me.

                                    I was never able to sufficiently break in my CWD. I bought it after riding in a friends' CWD which was old, soft and comfy. New, it was hard and hurt my back and after 18 months I sold it and got my Devoucoux.

                                    For used saddles, I find Patricia at Fine Used Saddles has good inventory, is very knowledgeable about the saddles she offers for sale, and allows you to take things on demo.

                                    That said, I owned my County ProFit (bought it used from the rep; it was one of her demos) when I was leasing a 17 y.o. 17.3 school master with a slight sway back and it fit him like a dream. His owner also rode him in her County ProFit. I sold it when I bought a smaller younger horse without his back issues. County's are not currently in vogue but I still think they make a good product. And they are wool flocked (at least they were in 2002) so they can be adjusted to your horse's back (assuming the tree is the proper width and the saddle fits you to begin with).

                                    Saddle shopping can be frustrating but patience and research are your friends. Good luck!


                                    • #19
                                      I've had a Bruno Delgrange PJ Pro for my mare, and I adored that saddle, so soft, comfortable, and beautiful. Very secrure, and was great for my build 5'8" and long from hip to knee. However, it did not fit my gelding. I sold it and got a CWD SE02, which was custom for me and him. When it first arrived it appeared to fit him well, however after a month it made him incredibly back sore. I had to send it back to CWD for them to repanel. Now that the repaneling has been done it is perfect and he and I are very happy with it. Although it not being right the first time, CWD was accommodating and made it right. I adore it, it is a lovely, lovely saddle that will last me for MANY years to come! Beautiful buffalo/grain leather

                                      However, I do agree with trying to find a demo or used saddle first (to ensure fit!) Patricia at Fineusedsaddles.com is great! I sold my Delgrange through Rachel at Iselltack.com - she is beyond helpful and will help you find what you are looking for! She has many lovely French saddles for sale at all times!


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by longwaitover View Post

                                        For used saddles, I find Patricia at Fine Used Saddles has good inventory, is very knowledgeable about the saddles she offers for sale, and allows you to take things on demo.

                                        And they are wool flocked (at least they were in 2002) so they can be adjusted to your horse's back (assuming the tree is the proper width and the saddle fits you to begin with).
                                        County saddles are still wool flocked - which was important to me with a young horse - both CWD & Antares will do wool (at a significant $ cost) but neither had reps trained in adjusting/reflocking so that would have either required a fair bit of back/forth shipping (no idea to where) or paying out more $$ to have an "independent" fitter do the adjustments.
                                        Note with wool, there is a "break-in" time of ~20-30 rides, after which it's recommended to adjust the flocking as the wool compresses & shapes to your horse: this is included in the standard cost of most wool flocked saddles but was not supported by CWD when we discussed saddle options ...

                                        I do like the look of CWD/Antares & was disappointed at the inability to fit (a wide, straight back) or seriously offer a wool panel (it was suggested that Mr Sensitive's Objections were based upon the different feel of foam vs wool).

                                        Different saddle companies come with different Fine Print, so decide which suits you best & realize that the best service you will get, is while you're choosing that saddle, so if it's not to your expectations at that time, it never will be ...

                                        Many company reps will come to your barn (or offer a demo clinic at a local barn) for very few $$, most independent fitters will charge travel & consultation fees but as long as they have a selection of saddles that you're interested in trying (& are going to half-ways fit your horse), are usually cheaper than randomly shipping in saddles to trial.

                                        Fine Used Saddles has an excellent reputation, as do several saddle companies that offer online consults (you send photos & wither/back tracings & they ship you saddles: again though, you need to look at what they offer in demos, before deciding if it's a worthwhile time/money investment).