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Putting the saddle before the horse? Opinions.

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  • Putting the saddle before the horse? Opinions.

    So I have a girl that rides with me, LOVES horses, she's 14.. maybe 15 now? She would like to have her own horse but her parents are making her wait and I think that's a good thing. However I think it's a good idea to invest in horsey stuff before hand so it's not such a gigantic tab when you actually buy the horse. But then I start to think about it and I can't help but think there's that one horse that just wont fit something. We have been discussing her buying something like the wintec all-purpose saddle because she couldn't decide if she like the idea of dressage or if she wanted to eventually start jumping (long way off) and it would come with the adjustable gullet and cair panels so it would fit nearly anything. Then, as of yesterday she informed me she really liked the gymkhana stuff we've been working on and she may just want to be a cowgirl instead. I guess the saddle plans have been pushed back but I'm still curious.

    So, how many of you had bought your saddle before your horse? How well did that work out? would you do it again?

    Also what other things did you own before your horse?
    Saddle Tree Acres

  • #2
    My advice is she should use the money to learn to ride, take lessons.

    To buy a horse and saddle will mean much less money to learn to ride as much as she can first, that will make owning a horse eventually much better for her and the horse.

    Unless she has much disposable income, I would use what I have on lessons and learn from as many horses as possible now, especially since she doesn't know what she wants to do yet, as the youngster she is.


    • #3
      I would never purchase a saddle before I had a horse. I wouldn't want to horse shop based on it being able to fit a certain saddle.

      The only things I bought before I had my horse was a halter and grooming supplies.
      Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


      • #4
        I bought a saddle before I bought my horse because I thought it was a good deal and a nice enough saddle (Collegiate Senior Event saddle). It ended up not fitting my horse so I had to sell it and get something else.

        Though really, I'm not sure why she can't do gymkhana in an English saddle.
        The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
        Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.


        • #5
          If she can afford to buy a saddle before the horse than I suggest that she save up money for a saddle now and keep it in the bank. As a teen and into my 20's when I rode a lot of different horses with different shapes and builds. I used pretty much the same 2 saddles. One was a Stubben and the other an older well made western saddle on a wooden tree. We never had sore backs and fitting troubles.

          Saddles made today on the fiberglass and other type trees, just don't fit like the saddles of yesterday used to. For that reason I wouldn't buy tack before the horse.


          • Original Poster

            She works off the lessons so they're technically free, which initially I thought was just grand however I feel like possibly given her a skewed sense of the expense that horses are. Also I get way less work than she gets lessons, but I really don't mind, I want kids on horses and the first time she saw them (her family was collecting my manure pile ) she was all goggly eyed and thanked me about 50 times for letting her just pet them. She's always polite and never refuses to clean stalls of scrub buckets or whatever I ask of her (I'm just usually done and don't ask... my fault) Also her family trades me fresh veggies and goat milk, something I'd pay more for at the store.

            with this being said i'm like WHY would you want your own horse? I let you ride mine for free? I've even offered to let her come out when I'm not around and ride Jazz (in the ring only) which she hasn't taken me up on? (most likely due to parents because they have to be with her) I'm up to my ears in horses that I can ride and if I could give away my personal horse I would lol
            Saddle Tree Acres


            • #7
              I would say it's not worth buying a saddle before a horse unless you have unusual conformation that will make it hard for you to ride in other people's saddles. I've got a part-boarder on my daughter's horse while DD is in university. Part-boarder bought his own saddle (a Wintec with the adjustable gullet). It fits my daughter's horse well, and I'm glad he has it because he is quite tall and my daughter's saddle would be too small for him. For a student who is more of a "standard" size, I think money at this point is better spent on lessons .
              I don't mind if you call me a snowflake, 'cause baby, I know a blizzard is coming.


              • #8
                Never buy a saddle before the horse IMO. I bought my nice stubben and paid 3500k for it. Well, ended up having to retire that horse after 5 years and the stubben actually made my new guy horribly back sore so I had to have a saddle fitter out for him and there went another 4000 for another saddle. So now I have a stubben that really doesn't get used that the resale isn't close to the 3500 even though it looks great.

                That, and this kid maybe get tired of the work or horses in a year. I wouldn't buy anything except small stuff right now. Like a lunge line and whip. Her own riding clothes and boots, halters, leads small things.
                Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                • Original Poster

                  Well as far as english vs western, for years i've ridden in almost exclusively my english saddle bates/wintec CC. Endurance rides, barrels, poles, I just prefer it. but she's err less say less balanced and I think a western saddle may just be better for her... which I really hate to say because that just means she needs it less and should become a better rider imo but in all honesty I've never run across someone who has had such a hard time tackling the basics.

                  As fargaloo mentioned the different sized people thing is a bit of an issue with the saddle she uses now as well. It's not quite a 16" and she's a bean pole but i'd put her in at least a 17 if not a 17.5 my other saddle options are another 16" and a western saddle with a gaited tree, so I'd skeptical about it fitting on lil miss arab
                  Saddle Tree Acres


                  • Original Poster

                    BTW thanks for all the replies! I'm compiling a list of "stuff" she may eventually want/ need other than big tack items.
                    Saddle Tree Acres


                    • #11
                      I rode horses that were not mine for 25 years before getting my first one, and I bought all sorts of stuff, but NEVER tack. To me, it's too important that it fit the horse and it's not a sensible use of money unless you own the horse (or do a long-term lease on a horse that doesn't come with one, I guess).

                      Things I bought instead:
                      -- Saddle pads
                      -- Polo wraps
                      -- Outfits to coordinate wtih said pads and wraps
                      -- Nice boots, gloves, helmet, etc.
                      -- Show clothes
                      -- Coolers
                      -- Lunging stuff
                      -- Grooming stuff (HEAPS)
                      -- Bathing stuff
                      -- Halters & lead ropes
                      -- A Dr. Bristol bit, inexplicably (never used it!). Not sure how that ended up in the mix.

                      And I think a nice grooming kit is the perfect first purchase, followed by a halter and lead in her color of choice.
                      Last edited by suzier444; Apr. 12, 2013, 05:30 PM.


                      • #12
                        I've never owned a horse, but I've been riding for 20 years. I have enough equipment for about 4 horses - and have owned several different saddles.

                        If your barn has enough decent tack for all the horses, and it fits the rider as well, there's really no need to buy a saddle. However, I rode at one barn for many years which had a very small supply of barn-owned tack and it was not in great repair. (Not a lesson program - there were boarders and then there were those of us who did some work for the owner and rode his horses. He rode next to never.) There weren't enough saddles for everyone to ride at once, there wasn't tack for every horse, etc. So I accumulated lots of stuff over the years there including several saddles.

                        I ride at a different barn now, but I use my saddle in lessons. There are only so many lesson saddles, and many have a seat too small or flap too short for me. I have a variety of risers and other pads and my saddle is a decent enough fit on most horses. I have also used my saddle when riding with friends who own multiple horses but use the same saddle on all of them, or to ride English on multi-discipline horses when the friend only rides/has Western tack.


                        • #13
                          tell her to just save up money instead of actually buying stuff. Even a halter might end up being the wrong size. A saddle, no- at her age, she might grow enough to not fit it herself, and the odds of a pre-purchased saddle fitting a horse is, in my experience, extremely low.
                          So if she saves up money, after she gets the horse she can indulge in a lovely shopping spree.


                          • #14
                            my Wintec 2000 aP is a very comfy saddle and the gullet changes to fit most of the horses i would ride. I did not have my saddle before i got the horse, but i also was not able to have a custom made saddle and would have had to guess anyway..


                            • #15
                              I wouldn't bother with the saddle until (if) she has a horse.

                              I definitely agree with getting her all of the fun accoutrements -- a grooming kit in her favorite color(s), a how-to-braid book, a saddle pad, pair of neat rubber boots for use when helping you muck stalls, etc. The only tack related thing I'd get her would be a pair of colored gaming reins if she wants to do that.


                              • #16
                                I bought my first saddle when I was about 14 or 15, with the money earned from lots of babysitting. It was a lovely saddle that I bought used, but it had been barely ridden in and iirc cost me $250 [that was in 1980?]
                                Why did I get a saddle?
                                I was tiny [not kidding that I was 85# and not quite 5' senior year in HS] for one and tired of rolling stirrup leathers.
                                I rode all the lesson horses, probably 8 or 9 of them, often to get bugs out early on Sat or Sunday before lessons. I also rode a broodmare that was in for breeding. My saddle suited all of them.

                                I never had a problem with it fitting most horses I rode: TBs, Appendix QHs or Anglo Arabs, or mutts.

                                That being said saddle fitting nowadays is far more of an art form and if she's not even sure what she wants to do, time to save instead.

                                What about 'leasing' one of your horses to her for the summer... in exchange for work [and save her some to do] so that she gets the feel of owning [involve her in the Vet, farrier and other services, costs, etc].
                                Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014



                                • #17
                                  I never had a saddle until I leased a pony. The lease contract included having to own your own saddle so you wouldn't be riding in a lesson saddle if someone needed it. I was lucky in that 2 years later when I got my own pony it fit him well. If she doesn't end up getting a saddle, I second the grooming kit idea. I was very excited to have my own set for the first time! However, if she really wants a saddle, an inexpensive and standard size one that would fit an "average" horse may not be a bad idea, so long as she understands she may need to buy a different one down the road. Getting my first saddle was a really big deal for me. But if trading the first saddle back in to pay more money for a new one is not an option, I'd be nervous.


                                  • #18
                                    I did it. I bought my Prestige Meredith new for a leased horse, because I was riding a lot and showing, and I have an abnormally long femur and no used or lesson saddles fit me. I went with an extra long, extra forward flap and it has an adjustible tree. It has fit most of my horses just fine, and when it didn't they got their own saddle (I can get by with a used dressage saddle, just not a jumping saddle). I've had the tree adjusted 2x.

                                    If it doesn't fit my youngster, I will probably just keep it and buy a saddle that does fit her. If I had bought it used, I would trade it for something else, but since I paid $#,### for it and it fits me well, it will just hang out until I have a horse it fits.

                                    So probably not the same scenario, but I couldn't find a saddle that worked. In general I don't think it is a great idea, because people want to make their horse where whatever tack they already own, whether or not it fits well.

                                    If you are patient and willing to buy a higher-end used saddle, or one on Ebay you know works and they took crappy pictures of, you can almost always sell it down the road for what you have into it (or more). That has been my experience buying and selling saddles. You need to know the market though.
                                    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Originally posted by Angela Freda View Post
                                      What about 'leasing' one of your horses to her for the summer... in exchange for work [and save her some to do] so that she gets the feel of owning [involve her in the Vet, farrier and other services, costs, etc].
                                      I LOVE this idea, actually I'm loving everyones input
                                      Unfortunately this isn't really an option right now, The lesson pony I have is a free lease to me and although I'd bet the owner wouldn't care (Jazz is a spare, she has about 9 horses and is happy to have me feeding and trimming her) I don't really want in the middle if something went south. Despite the fact that I trust the girl I've learned that people never cease to amaze. Mostly though The pony is used by a few other riders and she's my only beginner safe pony... scratch that, she's my only pony period.(my horse is a retired/ rescued psycho-path)

                                      Actually going back on that, I may talk to pony owner and see if the girl would be interested in an on farm lease That would give her a ring to ride in and something small like $50 (even $30) a month would cover her de-wormer, feet, etc. (yay for living somewhere cheep!) It would also keep her next door so there would be people around to keep an eye on her/ teach her things, as well as giving her a taste of "ownership"

                                      I <3 COTH

                                      so long as she understands she may need to buy a different one down the road
                                      We have also gone over this and I'd like to think i've borrowed enough different saddles to teach good fit / bad fit (not like a pro, but good basics). our "lessons" are roughly an hour and a half to two hours (from getting there to riding to cleaning the barn and leaving) and I try to squish everything I know into her brain :P
                                      Saddle Tree Acres


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Trottrotpumpkn, Anytime we have looked at saddles I always push for the used, with her budget a new saddle would be IME total crap.

                                        I do have to admit to kind of pushing for her to want a saddle initially though because I don't own anything that fits her well and nothing that's been offered for me to use would fit her well either :/ I'm a midget at 4'10-11 and she's got to be at least 5'7-5'9, she's built pretty small but the reality is her butt, dispite looking skinnier than mine, is in fact larger.
                                        Saddle Tree Acres