It is inevitable that the day will come when you need to
buy a new saddle. It has become a huge industry with ever
changing technology. Flex trees, air panels, no trees, hybrids
that combine dressage and western. So where does one begin?
I find that the type of saddle used is very much determined
on the newest fad and 'what everyone else' has. I seem to
remember buying a saddle, having it for 10 years and adjusting
it once a year. Now you will see saddles that need adjusting
every 6 weeks at a steep $250 price tag. Or, you can find
inexpensive saddles in Horse Saddles Classifieds Ads that
you can adjust yourself that come with 5 different gullet
These days the struggle for a true independent seat has
been manipulated. Saddles now offer a fixed position with
huge knee rolls, high cantles and deep seats leaving very
little wiggle room to sort things out for yourself.
Quality, like most other items in the consumer market seems
to also be jeopardized. Not long ago someone bought the newest
latest "must have" saddle at the barn. I couldn't believe
the poor craftsmanship. It also seems to be that all these
'custom' saddles don't fit any other horses and barely the
ones they were made for. I remember working for a trainer
and using the same saddle on 4-5 different horses.
I think the next new trend in saddle shopping is going to
be going back to basics. Like dieting went from no fat to
only fat, to no trans-fat back to eat real foods (seems so
simple), saddle shopping has left everyone confused. They
buy a new saddle, it seems so new and wonderful and then it
just doesn't seem to last. It starts fitting poorly, horse
gets grumpy, or something breaks.
Not mentioning any brands, but I once bought a beautifully
crafted custom saddle that never really fit my horse. Big
knee rolls, measured to fit my bottom to perfection, I was
stuffed in there like a sausage. I ended up selling the horse
and the saddle took a holiday where I revisited the free world
of bareback riding. I realized that I had lost my seat. I
had gone backwards - my legs where pulling up to my hips,
I couldn't find my balance and I was a mess. The reason why
was because my saddle was designed more to make me look like
I was good than allowing me the freedom to be good.
I am beginning to feel that they just don't make saddles
like they used to. So, when you are out there saddle shopping
the most important tip to remember is "try before you buy".
Don't be afraid to buy used. Sit in the saddle on a friend's
horse as well as your own. See how it sits, notice where the
deepest point of the saddle is. Don't get sucked into gimmicks
such as air, flexible tree's etc. Find what fits you, your
horse and your budget the best.
If you are not sure where to start when it comes to saddle
shopping and finding a saddle that fits both you and your
horse, a great place to start is by contacting a master saddle-fitter
in your area.
About the Author
Terry Christoph is an author who writes about a variety of
equine topics including horse training, natural horsemanship
and the best methods to Buy
& Sell Horses.