Sunday, February 23, 2014

These are the saddles of my life.......

Although a bit frustrating at times saddle shopping is kind of fun- like buying a pair of jeans. It's the thrill of the hunt! The quest for the perfect fit! Since it is winter and I have a saddle I do not NEED one right now so I have the time to get what I want. Let me add that I do not have a stack of cash sitting around to purchase saddle.  This is a pretty major purchase for me. I started with a budget around $350. I had a friend willing to sell me one of two older dressage saddles for $200- wow! But neither one worked. As I continued my search I found that my budget kept going up as I gathered more information about what I need and want. Funny how that happens, eh?  Now I am looking at new saddles- but synthetics, so the prices are better. I have never had a brand new saddle so I am kind of excited about this! My newest potential aside from the Wintec is the Thorowgood Dressage T4 and the Tekna S-line dressage. I will talk a little more about them further down in this post.

 I'm not into synthetics because I am vegan or anything, but am intetested to learn that some people are! Mostly I am into synthetic because of the price, and how it will wear for the kind of outdoor riding I will be doing.

You might have seen my past posts on these but here was the line up:

Older model Crosby spring seat dressage, 17" seat. You might remember that this one is the the one I use on the schoolmaster I ride. I love the comfort of it, but it has a large tear in the seat and would require a pretty expensive repair. It might also be a tad bit long in the flap for my 5'3" size! On the school horse, this saddle tips me a bit, not sure if that is because of the saddle or the horse but we are going to try adjusting that with a pad next time.

Next was a vintage (yes, 1979 to be exact!) Passier PS Baum. This is a traditional dressage saddle with flat flaps and no deep seat. It ended up being a 17.5". You can see from the photo it is too big and fairly long in the flap. It was in good shape for it's age. I read online that people covet these older-style Passiers! They love how it doesn't "lock you in" like many of the newer dressage saddles. Now, don't make fun of me in this photo (or do, because it is kind of funny!) I literally saddled up My Boy so that Ranch Boy could snap a photo of me in it, so I could assess how it looked with me sitting in it. I was wearing jeans and my cowboy boots and I know MB's flash bridle is not on correctly....we just walked around the yard it I wasn't actually riding.

Then another Passier which I consigned from a tack shop. This was a 16.5", much shorter in the flap, and made in 1984. It was in immaculate shape for its age! I loved this saddle but most of you agreed from the photos it was too narrow for My Boy (also a default of many of the older style saddles.) This saddle lacked in comfort but I really liked it.

Now we are up to the most recent two.  I haven't tried this first one yet because I don't have a rush on making a decision, it belongs to a friend of a neighbor who has had it for a while and is in no rush to sell it so I can trial it longer than most saddles. It is also an all purpose I think, and I want a dressage, but if I could get it for a steal I might just pick it up as an extra. It is a Courbette "the combination." It needs some cleaning but in good shape considering its age and that she evented in it. I do not know the year or other specs, it has a serial number but could not find any contact information for the company.

Lastly, I just got this one to try at my next lesson, loaned to me from V's owner as well (she has gone through a lot of saddles trying to find a good fit.....) This one is probably the newest of the older and the nicest in terms of a more current dressage style. It is a Legend, which I believe is a former Albion brand, from what I have been able to find online. It is a 17". The seat is fairly deep so that size might work for me, although the flaps seem narrow and long. I will add some fittings and hopefully give this a go at my next lesson. Also as you can see it is a bit of a two-tone, I think a dark brown and a lighter brown (at first I thought black, or maybe a faded black.) This one is the higher end of my price range, about the same as some of the synthetics I am eyeing. If this one works for me and My Boy, I would have to weigh getting a slightly older saddle for less versus a new one.....

As you can see from my potentials, brown has been the theme. This is because I have been looking at older saddles. I also like brown and I think it will make a comeback in dressage! But, black is fine too. Most of the synthetics only come in black in the United States.

Other than the Wintec in my last post, I am considering the Thorowgood T4 dressage. This one is made in England. They are a little harder to find here in the states. I think I like this one with the suede seat because it will have more "stick" for trail riding, even if I think it does make it look a little "tackier" and more fake. I love the T8 version with real leather knee rolls and seat, but it goes up $300 and at that point I might as well start looking at lower end leather. I have read a lot of good things about these saddles and they come in a vast range of fits (cob, high-wither, broad back.....all with changeable gullets, too.) I am going to call some stockists this week and try to find out more information about how this saddle rides.

I was also considering the Tekna S Line Dressage (also has changeable gullet system.)  But I think this one might be out of the running based on information I have gathered about the flap length, it might be best for taller riders. 

 I have talked to quite a few stockists about the Tekna and messaging with someone on their Facebook page and was very excited about this saddle at first.  It looks great for a synthetic! They make one with faux suede seat/flaps too, but the price is the same for the non-suede and the gal said it is not slippery.  One store back east said they sold 100 Teknas and only 4 have come back, and they are selling so well they have cut back on their stock of Wintecs. But, a slight turn-off is made in China. I know a lot things are. But I can really appreciate the Thorowgoods as they are on a SimaTree which is made in Warsall, England.

There were other saddles on Craigslist in the running, but they weren't local (as in not in my town or even within a half hour drive.) Driving a few hours would be worth it if it was the right saddle but it is trickier to get someone to give you a trial off of Craigslist. 

One thing I am considering is getting a saddle fitter out here this spring and doing it right. It costs a couple hundred dollars but they have saddles for you to try and at least you know you aren't spending a chunk of change on something that you won't be using in 4 months because it made your horse's back sore. I'm not sure I can wait until spring (which realistically makes the most sense to do, as the weather around here these days is NOT outdoor riding weather and quite a bit of lounging and riding occur during the saddle fitting session) because I am anxious to have something I can use in my lessons, should it also fit the lesson horse. I just think learning to ride in ONE saddle that is great for me and one that I will be using on my own horse makes sense, rather than having to switch back and forth.

Thank you for being willing to tag along on my journey! I am sure you have all had your share of saddle shopping adventures. Any horror stories out there? Any amazing finds or deals? Which saddle that you own is your absolute favorite, won't-part-with-saddle?

Ranch Girl


Michelle said...

I don't own a saddle I won't part with, as ultimately it is not about how it fits me but how it fits my horse. Athletes need shoes that fit; horses need saddles that fit. My husband is an equine veterinarian and sees a lot of back problems that first present as lamenesses. The back hurts, so the horse doesn't use itself correctly and ends up with soft tissue injury in a leg.

All this means that it can be a long, frustrating and expensive process to find the right saddle for your horse that also works for YOU, but the alternative can be very sad!

Ranch Girl Diaries said...

Yep, that is went I'm trying to do it right. Out of curiosity, does your husband see more messed up backs and lameness from ill fitting western saddles too, or is it more common to English saddles?

Michelle said...


Marissa said...

I've always really been against Wintec saddles. They just looked cheap and uncomfortable to me. Then I sat in my friend's Wintec and it gave me the best, most secure, seat. Seriously better than a 3k saddle I've ridden in. Totally shocking! Not sure how they are in terms of what they do to ponies backs, but I do know that you can get them reflocked with wool to fit your horse's back, as opposed to those Cair panels or foam flocking.

Michelle said...

Some Wintecs have Cair panels and some (I think) have wool flocking. Best to get one that can be reflocked.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I have a few saddles and to say I won't part with them? Well if I had to I would. I would sell them to bring in the money to buy one I need or that fit my horse.

Keep in mind that although you have a saddle fitter out, as your horse works and develops the muscles in their back, their saddle fit needs may change. It happens a lot more than we know. Just as we work out and our clothes fit different- same with saddles. If none of these work, I have a saddle I may be parting with soon... If I don't have any horses to ride- why keep it?

fernvalley01 said...

sounds like fun trying them all out! I think Passier is the only company that you can email and get all the detailed specs on any particular saddle , but unfortunately as you said the older passier are narrow. Happy hunting!

Anonymous said...

the saddle on loan from your next door neighbor is a Corbetta "Husar Fels Bach" they are an all purpose spring tree with wool flocking and made of the highest quality leather. these saddles where at the time the "top of the line". They are very hard to find - because people who own them don't give them up! its about 20-25 years old. These saddles were built to last a life time. I bought mine new at age 12 and still ride in it today.. 30years later!!! GREAT SADDLES NEVER GET OLD...just harder to find!