Am I the jerk aka how do you buy saddles in 2022

I just had a very strange saddle shopping experience and need to know if I did something wrong or if this is how things go thes days. To give some background - it’s been about 20 years since I purchased a saddle (combo of lease horses with own saddles, etc). I have a new horse and am finally ready to buy something that actually fits me and him.

I went to a local tack store that sells both new and used saddles and I wanted to sit in several brands, various sizes, etc. the owner of the shop stopped by and asked if I needed help, which I did. Explained to her my situation, and then she abruptly told me that i was the third person who came in today to try saddles and she wasn’t going to give away her (considerable and sounded very good) experience away for free, essentially that she wouldn’t help me just for me to go buy a saddle elsewhere.

I was pretty confused because I don’t even know what saddle I want to buy (new, used, etc), and back in my day ( I am an old!) tack shops used to go out of their way, including doing fittings, to help people find and buy saddles.

So what am I missing? I understand her wanting to be compensated for her time and knowledge, but isn’t that why she works at the shop? Is this the normal service now at tack stores and I should just go to the reps and have them out? Or is this just a trial and error from FB marketplace now?

I definitely did not mean to offend this lady, as her shop has an excellent reputation, but I can’t help but be really put off by the whole experience. Any advice is welcome!

What the heck! That’s an awful experience for you. My first thought is the shopkeeper thought you intended to pick her brain and then try to buy a saddle elsewhere for less money? I dunno but id be taking my business elsewhere.

I bought a saddle this year. As there are no local sources, I went through shops that offered online fitting services. I spoke with 3 different shops and all were gracious and accommodating.

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Not unusual at all for people to shop around in person but finally purchase online “because it is cheaper”. I would go back to the shop, explain that you are genuinely looking to buy and try again. It could just have been the woman feeling grumpy after a bad experience: doesn’t make it right but understandable.

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If I really wanted her advice, I would have just asked if I can could pay her for her time to give me advice and tell me what would work best for me. People also do this digitally and get paid for it.

Or she could offer a fee but if you buy a saddle from her then the fee is waived.

If she’s not an actual fitter though, I’d be hesitant. Unless her reputation was very good and I perhaps saw an example of her fitting/saddle matching skills.

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Horrible customer service. If that is how she felt, she should have said “You are welcome to sit in anything here, and I can answer questions about the saddles I have on hand now. We also offer a fitting service for $x if you want my opinion on what brands/sizes might be a good match for both you and the horse.”

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Sorry, but what did she want you to do? Seems like she loses no matter what here unless she offered an alternative you didn’t mention.

If she helps you, best case scenario is you buy a saddle from her. Worst case scenario is you don’t.
If she doesn’t help you, best case scenario is you don’t buy a saddle from her. Worst case scenario, her shop starts to lose its good reputation…

This is a perfect example of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

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This is ridiculous.

I think most people would prefer to buy from a store in person over all the online stores ( I would). Any other tack stores you can try?

Once you find that perfect saddle I would be tempted to let her know ( kindly) that she missed out on a sale/ commission due to her refusal to do what is necessary to sell a saddle.

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Thanks everyone - I felt like she wanted me to promise I’d buy something? I’m not entirely sure - it wasn’t like she offered up saddle fitting services for a fee either, which I would have probably taken her up on

I was just super disappointed - this is the first time I’ve had my own horse and the funds to do things right. Take my money darn it! There is another tack store a bit farther away so I’ll check there and then If it’s a similar experience I’ll call the various fitters and see what they have to offer.

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Yep. That would’ve been the professional thing to say, but being professional is rare these days.

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The only thing I can suggest to you is – if you want to go back and try her saddles – take a barn friend along for moral support. Or your trainer if you have one. Let your friend/trainer browse the saddles for possibilities while you pick out some other things you need – treats, a brush or two, lead rope, socks, a shirt, book, gift or two for friends; ask the lady if she has a shopping basket/something where you can set down your items while you look at some saddles. That way she’ll see you are a serious buyer with money to spend and she might soften up a bit.

Just a thought …

Eh, I would not go back and beg this person to take my money.

There is a local tack store owner who was bizarrely rude about an unrelated issue on the COTH forums when I first moved to my area and I have NEVER spent a penny at her place.

Her local competition is a super nice guy and I just bought several hundred dollars worth of stuff from him at the last horse show I saw him at.

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That is so weird, I wouldn’t want to spend money with that guy either. And to think if you’re worried about your business getting stolen by the internet, you’d want to make sure your customer service is on point. I’m always trying to spend money locally rather than online, but I’m shaped funny and end up going custom more often than not.

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WOW.

Definitely don’t buy a saddle there.

I messaged the online store Bonjour tack about ten different saddles at least over the course of TWO YEARS. She always answered any questions I had and was super helpful, eventually they got the right saddle in for me and I bought from her. But that was a lot of help she gave me without buying at first!

At Landrover KY, I went from saddle store to saddle store with friends and was given mimosas, sat and fitted in saddles and given a free saddle cover, and they knew I was just there with my friend who was looking.

I would never buy from someone so rude and entitled!

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Maybe I need to take a road trip to Kentucky! That sounds like a shopping dream!

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honestly if you could wait till then, it’s worth it. Or even after you get a saddle…go anyways hahaThey throw in good freebies and I learned so much from the each of the brand experts there. Great time.

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I’m hoping you caught the shop owner on a bad day and the individual isn’t usually like that. On one had kind of understand people coming in to try things then going elsewhere to buy; however, that isn’t an excuse. The owner could offer saddle fitting services for a nominal fee if you bought a saddle from her, otherwise a standard fee for saddle fitting without purchase.

First, I’m going to suggest you need some good pictures and wither tracings of your horse to take with you; you’re fitting you and your horse, so just sitting in saddles isn’t going to help you. In fact the saddle can feel quite different once it’s on the horse.

There are a lot of riders here that can offer suggestions if you post a few pictures of your horse and what you might want in a saddle, if nothing else you might be able to narrow down your search.

Also, there are online tack shop owners/fitters that can help fit you and your horse, I won’t say it’s 100% guaranteed but it can help. The only thing with online is you can spend a fortune shipping saddles back and forth.

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Depends on how many tack shops are available. It can be far harder to get what you want when shopping online.

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I just find it strange that SHE came over and ASKED if you needed help, and then flipped a switch and told you she would not help you.

I wonder if she would be happier if ZERO people came into the store that day to try saddles? :roll_eyes: Just saying…

I personally would absolutely be willing to pay someone for their services, but not when it is handled as rudely and unprofessional as that. And from the owner of the shop, no less. Not impressed. In this day and age, if you are a brick and mortar store, your customer service better be top notch. I’m very willing to pay more money for something local if I know they are there to support me.

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I have had an expensive saddle shopping experience. I have a four year old and the colt starter wrecked my saddle (broke the tree) that belonged to my 22 year old mare. I had no saddle. I spent over $700 in local saddle fitter fees and over $1,000 in shipping fees, to try saddles for my four year old and my 22 year old, who are similar in back, but about 1/4 inch difference in width. None of the online places were helpful AT ALL about fitting for these horses, even with tracings that I sent, photos, etc. The local saddle reps want $250 to come to your place and peddle their wares. They are all to busy to work around my schedule. I finally bought a saddle from a talented saddler who assured me that the saddle should work for both horses, with shimming. It doesn’t work. I am starting all over again for my four year old and I need the saddle (which is too wide and squishy for the 4 year old) fit to the 22 year old. I will be paying out another $250+ for a fitter, and then $250 a pop to try and fit the 4 year old. It is the worst, most expensive, horrible process. I admit I live in a dressage semi-wasteland, but still—saddle sellers should know the tree shapes in their saddle, how wide they fit, how to adjust them to fit (or the people who do adjust should be willing to work cooperatively with the sellers) and so on. They are not cheap!!!

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I live in a saddle wasteland too. There is nobody within four hours of me that fits saddles, no decent tack shops, and I’ve spent enough on shipping and trials to pay for half a saddle already. I had a brand rep come last summer when they were in the area, and nothing she had was comfortable for me or my horse (he is a total princess about fit and very abruptly and clearly obvious if it doesn’t). The fitter seemed frustrated that I didn’t find anything, and I was ready to write the check if anything had worked.
I don’t begrudge a saddle fitter/seller a good living, I just wish I could find one with real knowledge rather that just trying to off load what they have in stock to make a sale.
What I really find frustrating is that saddle makers can’t (or won’t) give enough information so we know what to even try, and their reps want us to spend money trialing saddles when they can’t give us any more information than tree size and width, and maybe some panel details.

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