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Anyone have experience with the PA Schleese rep?

My horse has made it infinitely clear she was not happy with my previous made for her saddle, and I have broken up with the old company when it became evident they could not make something work on her <ahem> challenging short back.

I have an appointment with Terry Peiper, and was wondering if anyone has any experience with her. I had no idea Schleese had a PA rep, and had gone to Skylands in NJ to sit in some saddles, and was NOT impressed that they were not willing to come fit my horse in person for a $7000 saddle. Admittedly, Skylands is not particularly close to me, but the distance was also not unreasonable.
IMHO, a remote fitting for a $7k saddle is unacceptable. (Yeah, of COURSE the Obrigado is the one I liked, and the one I think is the best option for my horse. Le sigh.)

At any rate, please let me know if I am on the right track, or if I should run for the hills. Thanks, guys!

I bought a Schlesse for my previous horse, after having been to a Schleese clinic in PA. Jochen himself took all the measurements, yet the saddle arrived looking like it was made for a different horse.

As for Skylands, they are going through some changes right now and are likely very busy. If they didn’t travel to you, it’s probably because it’s another reps territory. Normally they will travel, but charge a fee to do so.

In my opinion, there are plenty of dressage saddles out there for 1/2 the price of the one you are considering. I’d look elsewhere in all honesty. I think Schleese saddles are grossly overpriced.

Snicklefritz, I absoloutely agree, but I am truly desperate at this point. I am not talking normal fitting challenges here, and adding to the dilemma is that my horse is VERY sensitive to fit. Currently I am riding in a loaner that looks fine statically, but is not working at all dynamically now that she is over the ‘newness’ of the better fit. (second ride, she made it clear) It moves all over the place. My mare is showing ALL the classic signs of being unhappy with the saddle. The previous saddle has gone back to its maker due to a compromised tree, and there is nothing else in the barn even close to working for both of us. Hell, there is nothing in the barn even close to working for just her, let alone me.

Trust me, I would NOT be looking at a $7k saddle if I were not between a rock and a hard place. Especially with a company with so many black and white reviews. I took her tracing and photos around to every saddle maker at World Cup, and the initial response from them all was the same. “Oh, my. That’s a tough one.” Then they ALL told me (with the exception of Voltaire) they could absoloutely fit her. However, the only ones that made a good argument for being able to were Schleese, Borne, and Sellerie Equipe, instead of just sticking her in a 3x wide tree. (Really, CWD?!?!) Borne is not available in my area at this time, and Sellerie Equipe put a big kink in my back.

If I had something that worked, I would have all the time in the world to scour the interwebs for a solution. However, I do not, and have lost enough time over this that I just want to be DONE, so to me, that is worth the extra cost.

A boarder at my barn just got a saddle through her but not a Schleese. She has a gaited horse so got an endurance saddle. It was a good experience for her. However, she was recently at a gaited horse clinic and there were 2 other participants that had saddles fit by Terry- also endurance saddles. The endurance saddles were the same brand as my friend. One saddle was so bad and they switched her to a loaner dressage saddle for the rest of the clinic. It had only been about a year since she bought it. Owner was never quite happy but Terry kept telling her to give it time. Therefore it sounds like her fitting is mixed for the other brand she uses a lot.
Where in PA are you?
I used Tara Miliziano of Forward Motion Equine. She is an independent fitter. As far as I know she does not work with Schleese. She does carry a few brands and will fit other ones. She found me Patrick Saddlery for my REALLY hard to fit horse. She took pictures of my horses back to the tack trade fair and most saddlers would not touch his back. Stubben returned my deposit once the master saddlers looked at his tracings and pictures.

Tara is a certified human and equine massage therapist. I feel like her good grasp of anatomy really helps with her saddle fitting. She travels pretty far.

I am friends with her on Facebook. I saw where she is going to start carrying
this brand: www.sattelmacher.com
I think she works with Ideal and Frank Baines quite a bit.

As an FYI my saddle is a close contact not a dressage. Patrick Saddlery does make a lot of dressage saddles. My saddle was around $4,600 2 years ago so a bit cheaper than the Schleese.

I feel bad for your troubles OP. After having worked with Jochen directly on a saddle fitting, I’ve lost complete faith in Schleese.

If you feel desperate at this point, I’d give it a shot and then order only if:

  1. they provide you a loaner saddle while you wait for yours. Even if Jochen has to send one down for you to use.
  2. You get a 100% refund if it doesn’t fit. No restocking fee

Who did you speak to at the World Cup? Was it Jochen or someone else?

I bought a Schlesse for my previous horse, after having been to a Schleese clinic in PA. Jochen himself took all the measurements, yet the saddle arrived looking like it was made for a different horse. [/QUOTE] That wasn’t necessarily Jochen’s fault, although it is his or his fitters’ responsibility to correct the problem.

I have found that most time when I custom order anything, it comes out not working. I think the factory doesn’t follow the specs.

I think we have to judge for ourselves about who is a good fitter and who is not. I read regularly on here recommendations for fitters that I have found not to be very good.

ToN, I agree with your saying we need to judge for ourselves. However, I am just checking to see general reputation, as I have not heard of this lady before. I am also coming to the conclusion that English style fitting and trees may not be the way to go for my mare.

I used Fred Taht and Custom for years before this horse, and he was honest with me that he did not have anything that would fit her better than my ANCIENT saddle I bought from them donkey’s years ago. It was clear it wasn’t working, so I jumped ship and ordered something from another company. Eight months were wasted trying to make the other company’s saddle work, and in the end, it never did. I thank my lucky stars the larger tree I had put in as a last ditch came back compromised, otherwise I may still be messing around trying to make it work, and it gave me a good out to get a refund. OTOH, now I have nothing. :confused:

I will, if at all humanly possible, be skipping the ordering process, and buying a demo that works.

Snicklefritz, I do not recall the woman’s name I spoke to at WC, but I am sure I could find it for you. She was one of the regional managers on the west coast. (it was Connie!)

SonnysMom, I am in Lancaster County. If she is going to start carrying Sommer, I will most definitely give her a ring! Sommer was not at WC, but has come up in my research several times despite not being readily available here in PA.


TON, thanks for starting this thread as I have the exact same question. I have a horse with a $7k custom +
Schleese from several years ago that was ordered before my involvement. It seems to fit his shoulders really well (from my mildly educated eye for saddle fitting) but it has almost no room on either side of his spine. My horse has chronic back issues, also preceding my involvement, which was the reason the owners ordered the Schleese in the first place. However, the back issues have continued under numerous trainers, (yes, we have explored veterinary reasons, body work reasons, training reasons, management reasons, ulcers,etc). When it comes to saddles in general, I find its really hard to tell when I am being told the truth and when I am being told a “marketing line” that sounds good. Other independent saddle fitters who have looked at this saddle tell me it does not fit the horse and they have no “dog in this fight” since they don’t sell saddles. I am so frustrated because I just want my horse to be comfortable!

I understand that Jochen is coming to Cochranville, PA in early May for a day of saddle fitting so maybe you can join in if you are interested. The customer service person at Schleese,(Colleen) has been really helpful FWIW. I am trying to get off from work to go and if I can’t, I guess Terry is the next best option, so I am also interested in any feedback from those who have worked with her.

I have seen numerous Schleese presentations at USDF symposiums and Dressage Events and I always leave highly skeptical - but I can’t say why…

I have to admit…$7k for a saddle does seem a bit excessive…

I’m not a Schleese fan, from both friends’ experiences and personal experience. It sounds like you have a wide and short-backed mare? Have you tried the Black Country Eloquence X? They are a hoop tree, so shaped more like a “U” vs a “V” and can be made with upswept panels for a short back. They are much more reasonably priced than the brand you’re considering and Jay at Trumbull Mountain may be able to help you out. Just a thought…

Dune, that is another saddle on my short list, but the fitter I had out that carried them did not have one in her rig. She seemed to think the tree was a bit too flat for my horse.

I do not have personal experience with the Schleese rep you are asking about but will chime in with my general experience with the company.

I started with a Wave when I first got into dressage a few years ago after decades doing hunters and jumpers. I bought it used and it was a good starter saddle. About a year and a half ago, my then-trainer strongly suggested getting a custom Schleese HK (after we tried the Obrigado, which didn’t work for either of us.)

I did not have a good experience with our local fitter and therefore decided to order from a (great) rep in CA. The saddle was super when it first arrived. Unfortunately, our local rep has really messed it up - to the point that I really hate riding in it; it whacks me in the crotch when I post, and it no longer really fits my horse either. I have spent many hours - and many hundreds of dollars - over several sessions with that fitter trying to get her to at least return the saddle to its original configuration, without success. The fitter has claimed several times that she “has done all she can.”

The company has been spectacularly unhelpful in offering any other options to resolve the situation. I now have a really beautiful $7K saddle that is useless to me. I am now looking for another alternative but it has been a very $$$ experience.

Thank you, Lucassb. I unfortunately am aware of the polarizing nature of this particular brand, and their sometimes complete lack of customer service. Apparently the last saddle maker I used has a similar reputation as either amazing or awful, but I did not dig far enough to find it. At least this time, I will be going in with my eyes wide open and be able to protect myself as much as possible.

A couple options I thought were off the table for this area are popping up, so I may not have to go this route.

I’m not sure what is and is not OK to say about someone specifically, but I’m sending you a PM. Please, everyone else note that I do not have a horror story to tell of Terry Peiper, just an opinion.

Can you find a Patrick Saddlery rep? I have a super short backed PRE. After a nightmare experience with Dresch (had to send back my custom “made-to-measure” saddle twice, as neither was what I ordered, and they still kept $1000, but after a year of dealing with their nonsense, I accepted losing that just to never have to deal with them again) I went with a custom Patrick. Saddle came in on time, was exactly what I ordered, and is absolutely beautiful. Happy horse, happy rider.

You mentioned Equipe. Why not give them a go? They have a pretty wide range of saddles in different prices. And from talking with them directly, they are very friendly and helpful. I have their Emporio Monoflap saddle, and it’s really nice and comfortable.

I would suggest that you look at the Prestige D 1 Zero. It is cut out for the shoulders so the horse can wear it slightly more forward plus the panels are shorter and marketed for a shorter backed horse. I tried one and really liked it but ended up with something else. I have a round backed horse with low withers, a short back and big shoulders. I feel your pain. You could also look at Roosli. Anything with a shorter upswept rear panel might help you. For what it’s worth I had an Obrigado for a 10 day trial custom fitted by Jochen himself. My horse and I absolutely hated it and I was able to send it back but lost a restocking fee of I’m thinking $250 if I can remember correctly. I would not go the Schleese route. I’ve had several and they’ve never worked it out for me or my horse. If you’re going to spend that much money maybe try David Stackhouse and have him make you a saddle. But do look at the Prestige. Dressage Extensions has a saddle on sale that is made for short backed horses. A Kieffer. If you search this forum you will find out you are not alone. I am finally ending up with an Hermes. It sits a tad over my horse’s shoulders and seems long in the panel but horse is happy and I love the saddle for me. Perhaps a used Jaguar also.

Having purchased 3 custom saddles for two horses, I will never buy a saddle sight unseen again. Have never had a custom saddle fit the horse as it is supposed to, and in fact they’ve been pretty badly off the mark. One high-end saddle was supposed to be a duplicate of a used saddle that DID fit, sent all measurements/markings on saddle plus did the fitting. Arrived WAY too narrow, 7K saddle sold for deep discount 9 months later.

My advice is to buy used, get it on your horse and make the call about fit BEFORE you buy.

I have worked with Fred Taht and Tara M – thought both did a good job.

Stacyk that is good advice.

Thanks again, everyone, for your input. I am certainly not running out of ideas, and most of your recommendations have been on my radar at one point or another. The trick is finding the magic combination of features in a timely manner with a knowledgable fitter. It does not help that my little diva statically looks like most appropriately wide and shaped saddles fit perfectly, and she does not show her displeasure for a few rides after the fitter has gone home. UGH.

Happygirl, I have not really checked out Patrick saddles, however I see they build Masters saddles for David Boot and Lucy Batchelor in LI. There IS a Masters in our barn, which we chucked on my mare for giggles one day to see how it looked. I have yet to run into the owner to ask if we could try riding my girl in it, since it looked pretty good just standing in the cross ties. Sadly, this means almost nothing with my horse. :confused:

Pembroke, the Equipe saddles IMHO are very interesting, however the ones I sat in made my back hurt just on the buck. I do have access to Jill at Malvern Saddlery, who can come out to look at my mare, but since it was painful for me, is kinda toward the bottom of the list.

Maude, the Prestige DI zero was high on my list, but my trainer has said ‘anything but a Wintec or a Prestige’. IMHO, it would be a great solution, and we shall see if he has to suck it up. I have spoken to David Stackhouse, but the idea of ordering a saddle I have no idea what it would feel like scares the snot out of me. I LOVE Roosli, and sincerely regret selling the old style one I had back in the late 90’s. I was a broke working student at the time, and the only horse it didn’t work on was (of course) the one I owned. I also love Jaguars, and have been watching for one in approximately the right configuration. The DE Keiffer is the wrong tree size for her, but I will keep an eye out for one used. OMG, the Hermes is even more than the Schleese! The good news is, Rick’s has a used one in 18" W. I guess I am adding a trip to west Chester to todays errands lol.

StaceyK, I am glad to hear the good recommendation of Tara M. and will get in touch with her next week. The Sommers she has look interesting for sure.

I am glad to know I am not the only one with these issues, and had previously mined the archives for nuggets of wisdom. I truly appreciate the fresh ideas to add to the older ones I am already exploring.