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Saddle advice for a new adult rider

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  • Saddle advice for a new adult rider

    Hi everyone,

    I just started riding at age 41 a few months ago and have been having a lot of fun. Just did my first jump last week! At my instructor's suggestion, I've decided to get a saddle. I've got a budget of about $1000, although I'd love to spend less. I originally considered a Wintec synthetic saddle, but my instructor and others at my barn nearly fainted at the suggestion.

    I've read a lot here about used saddles, but there are so many brands and so many factors it appears very daunting to a total beginner like me. Also, $1,000 seems a bit low for some of the brands that are frequently mentioned here, even used. I visited Dover recently and this Circuit Pro seemed like a good fit. But I was curious what folks on the COH forums thought of this saddle and if anyone had other suggestions.

    Thanks for your help!

  • #2
    The Dover Circuit saddles have a good reputation, why not get a demo and try it out? Also, ride in as many different saddles as you can before you purchase anything, can you ride in other people's saddles at your current barn so you can get an idea of what you like?

    You should be able to get a good quality used saddle within your budget. A used Beval saddle is another good option, or an older Pessoa. I would prefer a good quality used saddle over a new Wintec, I just don't like the looks or feel of synthetics.


    • #3
      Most of the circuit pros I've seen feel like plastic. Avoid anything that feels or looks like plastic.

      You should be able to find a used saddle in your budget, though. I have, a used Ashland, which was lovely and lasted for years, a used Dominus, which I bought for about $600 and was beautiful leather but didn't fit my horse, so I sold it for $800. I'm now onto a used butet, which I paid $1100 for. It can be done, you have to know what fits you, and then scour the internet and used tack stores for a deal.

      There are also some beval saddles that are roughly in your price range and far superior in quality to the Dover ones, last I saw them.

      Talk to your trainer about what would fit you and your horse. It's useless to buy a saddle and have it not fit what you're riding.
      They're small hearts.


      • #4
        You might want to do a search here about the pros/cons of buying a saddle when you don't own your own horse.

        I think that if the school saddles where you ride don't fit you, it can be a good idea.

        Before buying anything, ride in as many saddles as possible so you can find out what type of saddle you like -- deep seat, shallow seat, blocks, forward flap, long flap, etc. There are so many options that until you are more familiar with them I wouldn't buy anything.

        Ask your trainer to find you some saddles in your barn that you can try in a lesson so she can help you evaluate whether the saddle is helping you or whether you are fighting the tack to hold your position.

        It's a shame they squelched the Wintec route. They are good saddles (I like the pro jump) that don't break the bank.

        I would certainly advise going the used saddle route. There are a lot of bargains out there. Also, certain saddle brands seem to fit more horses . . . Stubbens generally are horse friendly and if they fit you, can be found for short money on eBay.

        Keep in mind that as your riding progresses your choice of saddle may change. Over the years I've found that I like a progressively flatter seat with minimal blocks. There was a time when I found a deeper seat and more pronounced blocks made me feel more secure.
        Good Luck!
        Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
        EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


        • #5
          Hi, OldNewbie-I was going to say exactly what BAC said-ride in as many as you can manage, even if you think you won't like it. And, you have plenty of money to spend if you look for used.

          The only thing I would add-if you can manage to wait until April and get to Lexington for Rolex, you can sit in any saddle made, and there are killer deals to be had. It's saddle shopping heaven!


          • #6
            Bogie offers good advice, but I'd disagree on just this point:

            Originally posted by Bogie View Post

            It's a shame they squelched the Wintec route. They are good saddles (I like the pro jump) that don't break the bank.
            It will be expensive if you buy a synthetic saddle and then begin to show. No, your trainer didn't need to faint at the suggestion, but many people might not favor the look of a Wintec in the show ring.

            Why buy a saddle that won't go everywhere you can conceive of going?

            Yes, your tastes may change but that will take some time. In the meantime, definitely ride in a bunch and do your research so that you know what's out there and what it should cost. I also think seeing a saddle in person (or at least the brand) is key. There's lots of leather out there that feels and wears much worse than the pictures of the new stuff suggests. I'd put the Dover Circuit saddles among these.
            The armchair saddler
            Politically Pro-Cat


            • #7
              Are you buying this saddle for your own horse or are your riding lesson horses?

              Personally, I would not buy a saddle unless it was for my own horse. A saddle needs to fit the horse - not just the rider.

              If buying for your own horse, I strongly advise working with a saddle fitter. I've wasted too much time and money on saddles in the past only to have them not fit my horse properly.


              • #8
                First off, good for you! Myself being an adult rider (started at 25) its great to know there's others like me out there somewhere

                I bit the bullet and bought my own saddle a couple months ago because the school saddles I was riding in were horrible. The one I used barely fit me, was slick as glass and I don't feel fit the horses very well either. A good used saddle, a Northrun Ashland (which I LOVE, I would recommend as a brand to check out) basically fell in my lap and I purchased with the approval from my trainer. I've sat in a few other CC's and french saddles, so I agree to try and see if others at your barn will let you try your saddles so you can decide what you do or don't like.

                Good luck, I know that having an ill fitting or uncomfortable saddle can really affect your ride and learning.


                • #9
                  I would suggest riding in any saddle you consider buying. Thinking a saddle is comfortable when sitting on it in the store does not mean it will be comfortable when it's on your horse.

                  Likewise, I've had saddles that felt great on the flat but just didn't work for me over fences.
                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by paintlady View Post
                    Personally, I would not buy a saddle unless it was for my own horse. A saddle needs to fit the horse - not just the rider.
                    Unfortunately, it has been my experience that many places don't fit the saddle to the school horses anyway, so I see no reason why the OP shouldn't buy her own saddle regardless of whether she owns a horse. Whatever she buys probably has just a good a chance, or better, of fitting the school horse. Not saying its right, and ideally every school horse would have a properly fitted saddle, but in many cases it just is not the reality. I own both an ancient Stubben and a much newer CWD, so I usually am able to use my own saddle on the horses I lease or lesson on, but in once instance neither fit and I used that horse's own saddle, which did fit him well.


                    • #11
                      My only recommendation would be to choose wisely re: tree size. If you don't get something adjustable, think about whether you ride more horses that are wide, or more that are average to slim. If you ride a bunch of wide QHs and WBs, look for a good used saddle with a wide tree. If you ride TBs, look for a medium. Also keep in mind that you can use a saddle that is a bit too wide with an extra pad. If the saddle is a bit too narrow, there is nothing you can do.


                      • #12
                        There is nothing wrong with the Wintecs, what about the Collegiate saddles, they are adjustable too and leather? When spending your own money, buy what you can best afford, the instructor doesn't have to love it, she isn't paying for it. As long as it fits the horse(s) you are riding, go for it.

                        Are you using a lesson horse or riding your own horse? Why did the instructor suggest you buy a saddle if you are using a lesson horse? Fitting the horse is important; however, if you are riding different lesson horses a one size fits all saddle is near impossible to find. Getting an adjustable saddle such as the Wintec will help if you have to ride different horses but its not a guarentee it will fit any of them. What saddles are being used now? Is it a brand you can find used and afford?
                        "My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."


                        • #13
                          It really depends on the brand. Some wide trees are really wide. I think the widest I'd go for a personal saddle is a m/w. You can only add so much padding before you end up looking like the princess and the pea!

                          Originally posted by joiedevie99 View Post
                          My only recommendation would be to choose wisely re: tree size. If you don't get something adjustable, think about whether you ride more horses that are wide, or more that are average to slim. If you ride a bunch of wide QHs and WBs, look for a good used saddle with a wide tree. If you ride TBs, look for a medium. Also keep in mind that you can use a saddle that is a bit too wide with an extra pad. If the saddle is a bit too narrow, there is nothing you can do.
                          Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                          EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                          • #14
                            Buy used

                            Buy used, they will be less expensive (well within your price range), already broken in and won't make you cringe if you get a horse it doesn't fit and have to sell it.

                            My favorite recommendation is Stubben (32 or 33 tree), as anyone that reads my posts will ascertain.

                            But there are LOTs of nice saddles out there. I think it is a good idea to get your own. Two would be better...I would get a regular tree and a wide tree. That will fit the majority of horses you come across.

                            Welcome to the horse world! I hope the next posts we see may be something like... I am choosing between these two horses... which should I get?


                            • #15
                              Another vote for getting your own saddle after sitting in as many as you can get your tush into. You will find it makes a huge difference for you.

                              If you like the Wintec (which I don't - leather is just a million times better!) look at the Collegiates - they're both made by the same company. I bought a Collegiate Alumni new a couple of years ago after I bought Mare. I knew she wasn't going to be my forever horse, so wanted something that at least had a shot of fitting whomever I got next. That said, I've ridden everything from DD's pony to OTTBs to a 17.2 WB in that saddle without any problems with saddle fit.
                              Last edited by Hunter Mom; Jan. 12, 2010, 03:12 PM.
                              A proud friend of bar.ka.


                              • #16
                                Used saddles are (typically) a lot more comfortable and you don't have to go through the slippery, breaking-in period. You can also usually get a lot more saddle for your money.

                                That said, I took a Collegiate Alumni on trial last year and was pretty impressed with it (didn't fit the pony, though). If you really want a new saddle, it's a pretty nice, balanced saddle in your price range (and is wool-flocked, plus the adjustable gullet, both of which could help it fit a wider range of horses as you progress).

                                Otherwise, I second the Stubben recommendation. They're comfy (I think. Some people find the seat too hard), fit a lot of horses, and will provide a lot of security as you're learning. Plus they last forever.


                                • #17
                                  Try, try and try some more.
                                  I got my own, being another person riding a batch of school horses. First thing I got didn't fit me (and BTW my trainer just about fainted when I said Wintec so I skipped that too) so I started trying out saddles at her recommendation. If at all possible buy high-end used, they are better made and keep their value, but primarily make sure that it is very comfy for you and average to fit most horses. I ended up with a new HDR that fit me well enough. If I 'd have had the budget for a Stubben I'd have bought one of those. Trainers are usually very happy to help out with suggestions on good brands and whether they fit.
                                  Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                                  Incredible Invisible


                                  • #18
                                    Your instinct to buy used is a good one -- Saddles take a while to break in especially if you're only riding in lessons once or twice a week -- Plus you stand a good chance of getting your investment back if you sell a saddle you purchased used --

                                    Do you have any idea if you're going to want to show within the next couple of years? ... foxhunt? ... lease a horse?

                                    I'd still consider a Wintec if you have no show plans -- It's funny how widely accepted their saddles are in dressage while they're not popular in h/j circles -- If you do consider Wintec or Bates with CAIR panels I think it's especially important to test ride (and jump) it -- Opinions vary greatly on these saddles -- I think they're great for a horse's back but demand better balance from the rider --

                                    While adjustable saddle trees (which are offered in some brands like Wintec, Bates, Collegiate, and Pessoa) sound great, switching the gullet plate to change the tree width is not something most riders are willing to do each time they switch horses -- If you ride a different horse in every lesson, it will be a PITA to use this feature -- An adjustable tree might be useful if you lease a horse ... you would be assured of a fairly decent fit without having to buy another saddle --

                                    I started riding as an adult too, and I rode lesson horses or exercised friend's horses for the first 5 years -- Having my own saddle was a real convenience for me -- My trainer recommended that I look for a used all purpose saddle, and I ended up finding a 15+ year old Stubben Siegfried -- That was nearly 20 years ago, and I still use that saddle on my retired mare for pony rides or our rare strolls through the woods --

                                    Some riders will tell you that an 'all purpose' saddle is a 'no purpose' saddle, and they're right -- But, for an adult beginner who's looking for security in the saddle, in no rush to jump big, and not looking to win equitation medals, they can be a good option -- The trainer who sold me my first horse started pushing for me to buy a close contact saddle ASAP -- But, within a month we had figured out my mare had several tricks that could easily unseat a novice rider, and all of a sudden my trainer was in no rush for me to get rid of the Stubben -- When I decided to dabble in dressage, my dressage trainer said I didn't have to rush into the purchase of a dressage saddle like most of her former h/j clients who owned CC saddles -- My next hunter trainer also had enough respect for my mare's antics to leave me riding in the Stubben ... even at A shows --

                                    You've been given great advice about riding in as many saddles as possible -- If you're trying different saddles on different horses realize each horse's conformation can alter the fit of the saddles and your comfort riding in them -- If you fee like a saddle is tipping you too far foward/back, discuss saddle pad options with your instructor --

                                    Also consider if you'll be allowed to (or want to) keep your saddle at the barn -- If you keep your saddle at home, consider getting a saddle bag that lets you lug the saddle around easily -- Realize that A/P saddles are usually heavier than CC jumping saddles -- Synthetic saddles like Wintec tend to be lighter -- Most saddle cases I've tried are unwieldy -- I like ones with handles I can easily sling over my shoulder and easily get the saddle in and out of like http://www.bitofbritain.com/Bit_of_B...ag_p/98916.htm or http://www.bitofbritain.com/Shires_Saddle_Bag_p/845.htm --
                                    "I never mind if an adult uses safety stirrups." GM


                                    • #19
                                      I don't own a horse, but currently have 2 saddles in my dining room. Both fit the horse I usually ride, and are a good fit on the horses I have done lessons on, thus far.
                                      I would advise trying as many saddles as you can. Ask your instructor for help. I'm sure she's be able to ask other clients if you might be able to sample their saddles. If any of her clients are considering a saddle change, she would probably know and might be able to help. Be sure to get your trainers input on how you look in each saddle. Sometimes that super comfy saddle allows you to slip into a sloppy position.

                                      As for what to get, I agree that a nice used saddle may be a better investment than a new one. (One of the 2 in my house is a barely broken in saddle and I just don't ride enough to do the job!) I had a Circuit Elite and liked it but sold it last summer and bought a nice used Beval Natural, which was stolen 3 weeks later.
                                      For a new rider, I love the Steubben. It gives you a nice secure feeling and the things are indestructible. Another lesson friend has an Ashland and is very pleased with it. She's not had any trouble with the fit on the schoolies she rides.

                                      Congrats on taking up riding in your 40's. It's quite an adventure. Welcome to the board.
                                      F O.B
                                      Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                                      Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


                                      • #20
                                        Oh for Gawd's sake...just get a Wintec.

                                        Do I have one? Nope.
                                        Have I ever had one? Nope.
                                        Would I ride in one? You Betcha!
                                        Have I ridden in one? Nope.

                                        Lot's of snobbishness out there when it comes to saddles. European vs. Argentine vs. Indian vs. who knows what mystery saddles made of some sort of animal covering in pink or blue! GACK!!!

                                        You're taking lessons, you're a beginner, you don't know what you'll be doing riding-wise in a year. Get a nice Wintec (nice Wintec...is it legal to say that?) with the adjustable tree. In 5 minutes your saddle can fit anything. You are not going to lose a hunter class due to your saddle. Presentation maybe, but I suspect you don't want to buy a $600 sandwich case.

                                        Anyway, you can get wonderful prices on these saddles, the people who ride in them seem to like them, they're pretty comfortable and very quickly saleable. What you won't get is snobbery as you can with a Devacoux, Schleese, Herme's and many other overpriced horse cripplers (two of these brands are known for fitting riders and not horses).

                                        When you finally/eventually get your own horse and figure out what you really want to do for your riding style (hunter/jumper/trail/dressage/vaulting) then you can get a "real" saddle. Or you just may decide you don't care what others think, you like your Wintec...they really do have a fan base.

                                        One warning about saddles, some fit women great and are guy cripplers (most Crosby's are notoriously bad for guys). The German stuff seems to fit men and women (Passier, Stubben, Kieffer etc.). Bring a friend with an open mind when you shop, bring a book, and when you get it narrowed down, sit in the saddle for 20 minutes to see if any "ow's!" show up.

                                        Good luck
                                        "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"