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Hunting saddle for the new hunter

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  • Hunting saddle for the new hunter

    Hi All. I’ve ridden western, had some h/j time like every riding girl in the NE, but have ridden dressage the last 30 years (with time off for babies). I got talked into trying a drag hunt and my dressage horse was a loon. He’s great on trail, good on hunter paces, but the different fields peeling off in different directions and speeds just made his brains fall out. I thought he should go slow until he realized he wasn’t getting left behind and we tried hilltopping and 3rd. Still a loon especially at stops and when we saw faster flights in the distance. After 5 of these, we actually got kicked off a 3rd flight because he was trying to bolt past the leader (oops, and I realize horrible breach of etiquette but we had no functional brakes at the moment). Anyway, we did all this in the only saddle I have, dressage. It was fine and I liked the secure seat when he was trying to spin and follow first flight.

    BUT, a staff member told me to try 2nd flight. That if my horse was so antsy about being in the slow get-eaten-by-lions groups, let him go a bit. And he was right and horse was actually 3/4 sane. BUT, now we need to jump and the dressage saddle isn’t doing it. I’m 30 years rusty, horse is new to jumping, over jumps and pops me out of the tack, so I need a saddle actually made with jumping in mind.

    Please, suggestions for a hunt saddle for someone used to sitting on their full posterior, not perching on sensitive bits. I want a wide twist - I don’t want to get intimate with the twist. I want to sit upright with a reasonably long leg, until I need to half seat. No saddle is going to make us jumping pros, and seriously we are discussing logs here, so I don’t want or need an expensive CC’s.

    No one sells GP’s or other hunt friend saddles around me - its all CWD’s etc. So online, I’ve looked at Ideal Event, Kent and Masters GPs, and Berney Brothers. Any other suggestions? Brands and models? My horse is a MW, I take a 17.5 (neither long legged nor short). A couple at the hunt love their Berney brothers but now there are 2 companies with same names and I don’t know which is the best to buy from.

    Please help a newbie out. I lost my stirrups once today and once last Sunday, I just can’t shorten the stirrups more than a hole without my knee going over the saddle, so there’s not a lot of bend when I need it.

    Since I am looking for hunt only and we go through mostly woods and brush, I am looking at a used saddle so I don’t cry over the first scratch, plus it would help me save money for membership.

    Thank you you for your patience,
    a fledgling hunter

  • #2
    I like county, and sometimes you can findthem at a decent price at used tack stores. I find the Stabilizer and event models to be quite comfy, but currently rock an innovation and love it. Upside they are wool flocked so can be reflocked for your boy as long as tree fits and he (and you) like it!

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by PalmPony View Post
      I like county, and sometimes you can findthem at a decent price at used tack stores. I find the Stabilizer and event models to be quite comfy, but currently rock an innovation and love it. Upside they are wool flocked so can be reflocked for your boy as long as tree fits and he (and you) like it!
      I like them too, but finding one in the price range has been tough. Which of the models do you find is more comfortable for sitting in during the walk breaks and checks when your whole self is sitting on it? What lets you sit flat? Obviously seat size matters, but I’m looking for a wide twist and a pommel rise that doesn’t start 2 inches from the cantle. Also, since we are still loony, a secure seat (no flat backs or square candles) and a knee block would be much appreciated.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have a County Conquest. I bought mine used 5 years ago for $1400. I find it to be very secure and has a comfy seat for slow days or long checks. If you can find one, get the buffalo leather. The County’s can tend to run a bit wide, so a trial would be ideal to be sure you have the right size.

        If you have friends that are nearby and would be willing to let you try their saddle for a quick spin to see if that brand/style would work for you, that’s where I’d start first. For example, I tried the County Stabilizer and hated it. I felt like I was riding up my horse’s neck.

        Are there any used used tack stores in your area that you can trailer to in order to put a bunch of different saddles on your horses back to see what would work and what’s absolute no go?

        Comment


        • #5
          I had the Antares rep here in the Atlanta area come over because I had a new draft cross mare and my comfortable hunting saddles just didn't fit well. She brought a dozen saddles, brought out seven and I rode and tried out saddles. I wanted a shallow cantle, because deep ones hurt my back, knee rolls that were slim.
          , thigh rolls, a forward jumping/galloping saddle but was comfortable for standing. She suggested wide panels for more stability on a draft back. I love my saddle! When I had surgery and my friend was excersize get my mare, friend said one can get very spoiled in that saddle.
          Good news us, it also fits my DH's Quarter Horse better than any of our other English saddles, so really money well spent because my next horse will probably be a little QH. Soft, lovely, comfortable and easy to jump in. Highly recommend.
          Main thing, have a rep come and let you try a bunch!

          Comment


          • #6
            I loved a stabilizer on one horse, but hated a different stabilizer on another so it's hard to reccomend a specific model. Like I said, I do love that innovation. Another one to look into might be albion k2 and if you can find one, a collegiate nobility. The collegiate nobility had great grippy leather for the price, good knee and thigh blocks, and a nice comfy seat that was still easy to get out of over fences.

            Comment


            • #7
              Saddles are very quirky and so individualistic I have different ones for each horse. I actually have a new one on trial. So far it is good but the ultimate test will actually be hunting in it. Weather permitting that will be in the next couple of days.

              If you can, get a demo that you can ride/hunt in before making a decision.
              A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Where are you at? I have a brand new Berney Brothers Dublin Jumper, 17” seat. I bought it from Tom in the shop in Ireland. Doesn’t fit my curvy backed mare. I ride in an 18” in most French things, but this 17” seat is very open. If you are interested let me know. It is a lovely saddle.

                Comment


                • #9
                  My favorite hunting saddle is the Ideal Gazelle--it is designed for such as you. Actually, they have several designs of saddles, but my Gazelle is the most comfortable saddle--check out their website, www.idealsaddle.com. The Gazelle is one of their jump saddles. Very,. very secure. I tried their Grandee General Purpose saddle, but did not like it as well. Their prices are super reasonable, and they are easy to work with customizing it if you need. Yes, they are a british saddler, but they do sell to the US (where I am) and are very easy to work with.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thank you everyone for the advice. I have a Berney Bros. GP coming as well as an Ideal International Event from a consignment shop. I didn’t have much choice because so few places stock GP’s that if they get you one, it’s a special order and no returns. I find the Albion K2 has too much of a “normal” twist for me.
                    I really wanted the Albion K2 for my daughter (she’s starting eventing and hunts sometimes) but again, couldn’t find a used one to try. She needs a 17” and pony needs MN - tough combo. She has a Kent and Masters GP coming in the mail from Hastilow that had one in stock so if it doesn’t fit her impossible to fit pony, at least it can go back. If I like it and the older but better quality saddles don’t work, I might order one for me.
                    By the way, I stupidly pushed the “buy now” button too quickly on eBay and ended up with a 17.5” Frank Baines GP (Hurray!) in a 5W (Boohoo!). It is a sofa with a perfect seat and cantle. I’d just need to stick 2 of my horse under it to fill it - I need a MW. If anyone needs a REALLY WIDE GP, let me know.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Check out Pelham Saddlery and Middleburg Tack Exchange for good used GP saddles.
                      ... _. ._ .._. .._

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by T-storm chick View Post
                        Where are you at? I have a brand new Berney Brothers Dublin Jumper, 17” seat. I bought it from Tom in the shop in Ireland. Doesn’t fit my curvy backed mare. I ride in an 18” in most French things, but this 17” seat is very open. If you are interested let me know. It is a lovely saddle.
                        Thank you. But if it’s got a twist like the berney Brothers GP that came in the mail on consignment, I’d be dying before the first check. I like sitting on the wide side of a 2x4. Heck, I’d rather ride on a plank than most twists. But the Berney Bros that came is a 17 so it might fit my less picky daughter who needs a saddle too. It is a lovely saddle especially for the money.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I love my Black Country Wexford which is available with a regular or hoop tree and used ones come up for sale online. This saddle is the antithesis to a pancake saddle but it's not a bulky saddle underneath you.

                          http://www.blackcountrysaddles.com/product/wexford/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by PREconvert View Post

                            I like them too, but finding one in the price range has been tough. Which of the models do you find is more comfortable for sitting in during the walk breaks and checks when your whole self is sitting on it? What lets you sit flat? Obviously seat size matters, but I’m looking for a wide twist and a pommel rise that doesn’t start 2 inches from the cantle. Also, since we are still loony, a secure seat (no flat backs or square candles) and a knee block would be much appreciated.
                            Kent and Masters would fit the bill. The twist is on the wider side of medium, but not "dislocate your hips" wide, and there is a good long pocket in the seat. I am a chunky guy and am happy to school dressage in the GP Kent and Masters/Thorowgood, but still am plenty secure to jump in it as well. The only real reason I don't have a Kent and Masters for my pony is because he is too wide for even the widest gullet in their cob/flat back model, haha. But I ride in the thorowgood version frequently on several other horses and really like how they feel. Would not hesitate to own one in the future.

                            If you find one used, a GP Frank Baines (either the Eclipse or Elite) would also work well for you, I think. Or if you're willing to stretch the budget a little bit and go new. I have a custom Elite for my chunky cob that I LOVE and would 10000% be comfortable and confident in out on the hunt field. The full grain leather is so tough but supple I don't think going hunting would be terribly hard on it either, so no need to cry over scratches.
                            Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
                            Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe
                            FAQs

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have a Loxley jump saddle that I love, love love! And the Loxley foxhunter might be more your cup of tea if you want a deeper seat for more security. I broke down and bought one new, and I couldn't be happier with the fit for both me and my pony. I don't know where you are, but the New England Loxley rep is very good. Also, if you PM me I know someone who has an Albion in MN for sale.
                              As an aside, my pony did very well live hunting but never took to the pace of the drag hunt, nor did I.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Thank you everyone for the help. I took everyone’s suggestions and laid out a bunch of cash for the saddles people suggested: saddles mailed from consignment shops, new saddles that could be trialed, and a few I had to buy outright on EBay to try. The Kent and Masters high wither GP didn’t fit my daughter’s pony. She needed the gusseting up front for her withers, but she has a typical pony flat back so it just perched behind. There’s a chance if we had tried the high wither compact it MIGHT have fit, but luckily a consignment Ideal Event fit both child and pony, no reflocking. I couldn’t get my hands on a used Gazelle even to try. I also have a Frank Baines Eclipse high wither that came so cheap and will fit her in a year, that I am keeping it till then. I wish it fit me. I however, got the bargain of a lifetime, off eBay an Ideal International Eventer, all buffalo, for $400. I still wish the twist were wider so I used a special seat saver by Acallo that creates a channel where any sensitive parts lie, so the twist becomes a non-issue.

                                We rode 2nd flight together and I was much more secure over logs. Even after several members congratulated me on the saddle with a sip of their flasks, I stayed in the tack. It was 50 degrees in NY. Perfect day!

                                Next advice. My daughter is 14 and I am still happier with her in peacock stirrups. I’ve seen people dragged and I never want that to be her. But in the brush and branches, the rubber bands get snagged and pop off. Does anyone have a suggestion for a safety stirrup that isn’t super lightweight? I see that when people lose a lightweight one, it’s bouncing everywhere and that makes it harder to regain, especially as you are trying to keep up. Does anyone with kids or who are safety minded for themselves have suggestions? She rolls her eyes but puts up with the peacocks because it’s been a non-negotiable since her first ride. If I put toe cages on her stirrups, she’d probably refuse to be seen in public.

                                Any suggestions?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I have Mountain Horse safety stirrups that I adore. But they're no longer made, so you'd have to find a pair used. Instead of a thin rubber band, they use a thick rubber tube (like one would find in plumbing supplies). Perhaps you can use a heavier tube on her existing peacock stirrups?

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Hinderella View Post
                                    I have Mountain Horse safety stirrups that I adore. But they're no longer made, so you'd have to find a pair used. Instead of a thin rubber band, they use a thick rubber tube (like one would find in plumbing supplies). Perhaps you can use a heavier tube on her existing peacock stirrups?
                                    Off to the plumbing supply to look at O rings! Thank you for a great suggestion.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Bent leg aka Australian simplex stirrups. No problem with broken rubber bands, suitable for children and adults alike.
                                      "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

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