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Hastilow Custom Saddle-Pictures Added

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  • Hastilow Custom Saddle-Pictures Added

    Finally had the saddle fitter come. None of the saddles that she brought or that I have on trial really fit my horse. My only option is a custom saddle it seems. The Barnsby that I showed on here was a very close fit but I would need a riser pad in the front to prevent the saddle from moving on his withers.
    I have two questions:
    Has anyone heard anything about the Hastilow saddles? Good/Bad or other. The saddle I am going with is a Concept Reflex. I have a really hard to fit/young OTTB that is still growing and changing. So the concept has an adjustable gullet and wool flocking.

    Since its a full custom I get to choose the color of the leather and the type. They offer Grain leather or W/R 100 or Memel leather for the panels.
    For the seat I can get Schrumpf Hide, Pig Hide or Calf Skin.

    I do want the two toned look in my saddle, I really like that but I am not sure about the leather material its self. My current saddle is an old Crosby that is over 15 years old, that has printed full grain leather on the panels and pig hide on the flap and seat. This saddle has held up really well, and I am thinking I should go with this again but the saddle I rode in has the Memel and Schrumpf leather and it is very soft and comfy. Will these leather types hold up as well as my other saddle?

    And if anyone can show pictures of their two-toned saddles if they have them that would be great.
    I added a link to photos on last post.
    Last edited by bluecharm7; Jun. 4, 2013, 06:59 PM. Reason: added horse photos
  • Original Poster

    Bump-I would really love some input on Hastilow saddles and leather materials you would choose. Thanks


    • #3
      I have a CB dressage saddle with Schrumpf leather an it fell apart in less than 2 years. After a year battling with the company, I *finally* got my money back. I would never order a CB or Schrumpf leather again.


      • Original Poster

        Okay that is what I thought. I wasn't sure about it. I like to ride in jeans. My crosby is calf skin in the seat and I have had that saddle for years mostly riding in jeans without a problem. But I have heard that the new calf skin will rip if I ride in jeans. Any one have input on that? Will it rip or not?

        Also, the saddle that I tried was a Hastilow Concept saddle which means it has a changeable gullet. Is this a good thing for a custom or not? The saddle did feel like it was pitching me forward. The fitter said that it was how the saddle fit my horse. But I rode in my own saddle which fits him badly at the wither area but is a well balanced saddle and there is not feeling of being pitched forward.

        I have never bought custom before and don't want to toss my money away when I am unsure if the saddle fits me or not.


        • #5
          My suggestion would be have another independent saddle fitter come out and give you unbiased opinions on other brands of saddles. I personally really dislike interchangeable gullets and I don't feel like that is a true "custom" saddle. You're about to spend a large amount of money on a saddle that you are unsure you like the ride in, that in and of itself is a red flag. Don't rush into this, explore all your options!

          Also, I had a calfskin and grain saddle and rode in jeans in it for four years with it showing no issues. That being said, calfskin wears a lot easier and does not hold up as well as other saddles. My current saddle is buffalo/grain it should wear like iron and last forever. Good luck!


          • #6
            Hastilows are very nice quality saddles, and Annette Gavin is an excellent fitter. I'd contact her and see what she has to say. www.hastilowusa.com.
            Kitt Hazelton
            Saddle Fitter


            • #7
              Originally posted by bluecharm7 View Post
              Finally had the saddle fitter come. None of the saddles that she brought or that I have on trial really fit my horse. My only option is a custom saddle it seems. The Barnsby that I showed on here was a very close fit but I would need a riser pad in the front to prevent the saddle from moving on his withers.
              I have two questions:
              Has anyone heard anything about the Hastilow saddles? Good/Bad or other. The saddle I am going with is a Concept Reflex. I have a really hard to fit/young OTTB that is still growing and changing. So the concept has an adjustable gullet and wool flocking.
              Ask the company how long they will guarantee fit for the horse in this situation (e.g. some companies will replace the tree if needed, others will only widen the tree - usually time limit is 1 year on this sort of thing).
              Depending on your horse's age/muscling, he may easily change dramatically & "outgrow" a saddle even with a changeable gullet & wool panels.

              My current saddle is an old Crosby that is over 15 years old, that has printed full grain leather on the panels and pig hide on the flap and seat. This saddle has held up really well,
              You really cannot compare old leather with "modern" leather - it's a different product with changes in curing/dyeing techniques & available hides; tell the saddle company what your preferences are & go from there ... if you like to ride in jeans & rarely clean your saddle, want to just toss it & not worry about "marks", stay away from the soft leathers.

              The saddle did feel like it was pitching me forward. The fitter said that it was how the saddle fit my horse. But I rode in my own saddle which fits him badly at the wither area but is a well balanced saddle and there is not feeling of being pitched forward.
              This would concern me - fitter should be able to sort out a saddle & fit pad combination that allows you to ride in a demo saddle without the pitching: not every saddle suits every rider & while poor fit easily causes this effect, I'd want to ride the same saddle on another horse (that saddle does fit) to make sure that sensation goes away.

              Do you have video of you riding with various saddles? you should be able to easily pick out the saddles your horse prefers.
              Do you have a trainer that can help assess your position (current & future) in the saddle?


              • #8
                Originally posted by Kitt View Post
                Hastilows are very nice quality saddles, and Annette Gavin is an excellent fitter. I'd contact her and see what she has to say. www.hastilowusa.com.
                Yes. Annette is very good at "fitting from a distance" with pictures and your wither tracings done the way it tells her what information she'll need. She's also very interested in doing her fitting job well, rather than just selling you a saddle.

                IME, Hastilow trees "know what horses are shaped like." Not all of them do! So a well-shaped tree and a careful fitter helping you will do a lot to shorten your saddle hunt.

                I have only seen a couple of Hastilows sent to me on trial. They are well-made and British. That means stout but great quality leathers, good/pretty workmanship... but a little less pretty than the fit-and-finish on the french saddles. They are prettier by far than German/Austrian saddles (even of good quality) like Stubben and Neidersuss. Compare them kinda/sorta to Black Country in terms of fit and finish.

                I'm not a fan of Schrumpf leather because it is "color corrected"-- it has been tanned with a layer of petroleum-based stuff on the top surface. It will stay that color for ever and contribute to that 2-toned saddle you don't want as the calf around it darkens with oiling and use.

                Pig skin will make a seat harder than modern riders like. But it's tough and pretty. I grew up in the PdN era, so I'd own a pig skin-seated saddle. Otherwise, the calf or "bridle leather" you see on British saddles is a good choice. It is pretty and more substantial than that used by French makers. While this doesn't mean you should plan on riding in that saddle in jeans for 15 years, you can plan on having a British calf saddle/seat outlast a french one with good care.
                The armchair saddler
                Politically Pro-Cat


                • #9
                  I think Hastilow saddles are fine, maybe not the nicest thing ever but fine. I demoed one and ended up going with a Ideal instead. I did not hugely care for the leather on the Hastilow (and the piping which I found very unattractive). The leather was ok, but IMHO Black Country is the same price range, similar type of saddle, and much nicer. I'd explore some options in the wool-flocked category before settling in the Hastilow if you're not super comfortable with the leather. There are plenty of competitor type saddles that might also suit in a similar price range.
                  "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                  • Original Poster

                    I did have Annette come from Hastilow. I do think that she was informative, I just don't feel confident that I loved that specific saddle. She suggested that I stay with that style because it has the changeable gullet. My OTTB is 5yrs old and still strengthening his back. Other then the seat pitching me forward the saddle was nice. But I just want to make sure it is not the saddle cause me to feel that way and not the anatomy of the horse. I am used to a close contact saddle and this seat felt deeper then that.

                    I did not have a chance to look at other saddle companies or other saddles. I only rode in the saddle that fit the best for my horse. And not any of the others because they just did not come close to fitting him.

                    I guess if I l talked to other saddle companies to see all the options I would feel better. I think I just want to see the leather samples and sit in other types of saddles. And I don't have any experience getting a custom saddle, I don't even know what to ask for or demand, for what is best for my horse. This is a big purchase for me, and I have tried over 15 different saddles new and used and still haven't found anything that was close to fitting him. I am getting frustrated b/c I want to ride my horse but at the same time I don't want to rush into a big purchase. I don't want to regret my purchase. I am planning on contacting Ideal saddles and County tomorrow. Annette also deals with the Black Country.


                    • #11
                      Trumbull Mountain does a nice job with fitting at a distance and also sending out Black Country demos. They will probably be a good "next stop" for you on your saddle hunt.

                      Otherwise, tell us what saddles you have tried.

                      IME, the anatomy that tends to make a saddle slide up (and make you feel like you are at the top of a ski run) is the horse with a flat back, some round mutton withers AND a rib cage that narrows up considerably toward the elbow.

                      Maybe others can add their experience with this as well.
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat


                      • Original Poster

                        I really think it was this saddle and not the horse. All of the other saddles tend to slide back because of his withers. I emailed Annette to see if I can try a different saddle that had a more flat seat compared to the other one.
                        I have tried:
                        1) Pessoa A/O with wool flocking and adjustable gullet.
                        2) Barnsby Aurora foam flocking-this was a close fit
                        3) Jaguar Harry Dabbs wool flocking narrow tree
                        4) Stubben Edelweiss NT
                        5) Circuit Premier saddle with adjustable gullet
                        6) Wintec 500
                        7) Bates Caprilli CC with CAIR- this fit in the gullet but not any where else
                        8) Hastilow Concept Reflex
                        9) Arc de Triomphe Medium tree
                        10) Barnsby Milton
                        11) County Conquest N tree
                        12) Selle Francaise
                        13) M Toulouse Jeninne with Genisis


                        • #13
                          If you're near me (S. Jersey) and want to sit in my Black Country Quantum or Ideal Gazelle, let me know. I am very happy with both. The Ideal came from Annette.
                          "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                          • #14
                            You also should think about trying Albions. If you're a true wool flocked, English made type-- try the Albion, Black Country, and Ideal before you commit to something you don't 100 percent love.
                            "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                            • #15
                              If the saddle's slipping back, a thicker rear gusset might help, or you could try using the rear 2 billets rather than the 1st and 3rd. However, some horses with more prominent withers need to use a breastplate, esp. over fences, to keep the saddle in place.
                              Kitt Hazelton
                              Saddle Fitter


                              • #16
                                ^^^ Kitt's recommendation of gusseted panels essentially contradicts your original saddle fitter's recommendation that you raise the front of the saddle to accommodate the tall withers.

                                Which is right? it depends on the shape of the rest of your horse's back. If he's low behind, that makes sense.

                                Either way, any saddle should sit balanced from front to back on him. The pommel shouldn't be higher than the cantle when the saddle is on him naked. Do you have any pictures?

                                A horse who needs deeper or "taller" panels in the back 1/3 of the saddle needs to have a wool flocked saddle unless you buy from a skilled fitter working with a foam-flocked panel. But the other good thing you already know about wool is that it can be changed to suit your growing horse. IME, you still need to get the tree's shape and width basically right for the horse.

                                Can you post any pictures, OP?

                                Also, if you come across a Jeffries saddle, give that a shot. They are like Barnsby saddles-- British made and a very nice saddle for the price. Some of them can deal with tall withers.

                                The last place to inquire that no one has mentioned yet is Smith-Worthington in Hartford, CT. Their saddles will be "old skool British"-- flocked with wool (sometimes too full originally), not quite as pretty as french saddles, but made to last.

                                They have a huge, huge range of saddles in various shapes and prices. They are good at helping you fit your horse at a distance and will send you a huge box of demos for one reasonable shipping price.

                                But you *have* paid your dues in terms of trying various saddles on this horse. Now you need to learn from that experience about whether or not a next candidate saddle is likely to fit. I have been in your spot, OP. The amount of money you can spend just shipping saddles around is huge.
                                The armchair saddler
                                Politically Pro-Cat


                                • #17
                                  I really like the memel leather on the hastilows.

                                  The stuff that looks like suede on the seat is ugly in my opinion.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Here is my latest saddle find, I think this one fits right off the rack. Its a Barnsby, I decided against the Hastilow's I didn't like the way I rode in them. I did call Barnsby and can get a custom one for 800 more then this one, which I might do because while it fits my horse great it doesn't fit me, its a little shorter in the seat and I would like the flap to be more forward. But I don't notice this when I am riding.

                                    Let me know what you think. Thanks again for all the help.


                                    • #19
                                      Ok, take this feedback for what it is worth, which just may be nothin' . I just went through a painful saddle search for my horse and me and commiserate with you completely. It can be truly frustrating.

                                      I think this saddle looks good from the front and side view, but from the rear view the channel looks a little narrow to me, and the shape of the panels seems to be a bit like an "A" while your horse's back at that point seems a little wider. Like I said, that may be completely off. My saddle search ended with a Black Country Quantum with trapezius panels and wither gussets. Trumbull Mtn has some good info on their site about panel shapes and the various gussets, etc.


                                      • #20
                                        ^ agree about the channel width. Also second black country....my new ricochet is arriving next week (last date I heard was the 13th!!!)

                                        They have lightning fast turnaround, I ordered mine April 14th, so right at a month. I went with the K panels, vintage leather, and a custom flap (their forward flap wasn't forward enough). all the "custom" options were at no extra charge.

                                        I'm just a teensy bit excited, I haven't had a good ride with my mare since November....last only spent half the ride bucking was in February...since then its been bronco riding (previous saddle fit her, but was gouging her shoulder).