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Horse Articles :: Saddle Shopping Tips

Saddle Shopping Tips

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 sizes.

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.










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