Anyone have experience with the PA Schleese rep?

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.[/QUOTE]

Hmmm, interesting, that may be true in your case… couldn’t say w/o seeing your horse. FWIW, a back cannot get any shorter than my horse’s (trust me!) and it’s also very “swoopy” (yes, that is a technical term ;-)) and the upswept panels help with both of that.

Crotchety DQ,
The Hermes at Heritage is ancient and in bad shape. Don’t even bother. Ebay has a 17.5 wide for $3,000 which looks to be in excellent condition. My horse is very similar to your horse from what you are describing! She’s 8 and it is only now that I have sorted things out. Statically, saddles can look like they fit. But she doesn’t like them dynamically. The Hermes doesn’t look so good statically, but my mare loves it. I will send you a pm and you can contact me to chat or pick my brain if you like. I’ve been through all this. I also had a Roosli that I dearly loved, but sold it because it would never work on this horse. If you love the Roosli, you would love an Hermes. FWIW, I would listen to your instructor but go with what works for you and your horse! Alxo, you need to really be able to ride in something for a week. My horse has liked some saddles for the first ride too, but then…

My experience with a Schleese saddle years ago (15+) was horrible. It was “the” barn saddle of a trainer I used to ride with…ie; she had one so all he students ended up getting one. Everyone had some complaints and I found them horribly uncomfortable.

A few years ago I ended up buying a used Hennig after about a year of trying saddles. I could not afford a custom saddle so just kept trying on saddles at every horse show and scoured the internet consignment sites (fineusedsaddles, etc). After a lot of shipping back and forth finally settled on a Hennig. Really liked the saddle, mare liked the saddle. One day went for a lesson and forgot to put my saddle in the horse trailer so my trainer lent me her Sommer Flextra. WOW! I love this saddle. Quickly started searching the internet and found a used one on Ebay, then sold my Hennig on Ebay:)

I have now had the Flextra for about 5 years and have Marty at Horse of Course check saddle fit once a year usually at a horse show. I know at least a half dozen or so folks that have them, all on different size/ shape horses, and all love them. And this is after exhaustive efforts with other brands.

Like most saddle brands and saddle reps, I have heard good things and not so great things about the PA Schleese rep.

As for the Schleese rep in my area (the same one Lucassb referred to she wasn’t impressed with) - I have had nothing but positive experiences with her. I put my horse in a Schleese 3 years ago when he was coming back into work after a VERY long period of chronic unsoundness in another program (3-1/2 years). Although he was dealing with several different issues, we believe the saddle being used for him was one of the culprits. My then trainer had been using a particular saddle of a not well-known brand on nearly every horse in her barn, and insisted that I buy one for my horse. We had one custom built for him in Europe, but when it arrived, it didn’t fit at all. There was no way a saddle fitter was going to make it work for him, so I had a practically brand new saddle (less than 6 rides in it) that has been very difficult to sell because it is an off brand (even though it is priced very reasonably for a like-new saddle).

My current trainer (the one Lucassb referred to as her “then trainer”), was riding in a Schleese, after many years of being a devoted Devoucoux fan. The Schleese rep came regularly to her barn to do fittings for horses in her barn and others in the surrounding area, so shortly after moving my horse to that barn, I had my horse fitted by the rep. Her measurements confirmed that the saddle I had ordered for my horse was completely unsuitable for him (the channel was way too narrow, so his spine was getting pinched, the points dug into his shoulders, etc). When I asked which Schleese model would be suitable for him, she recommended several different ones - the Infinity II included. She had an Infinity II demo in the right size in her trailer, so we tried it on my horse. When my trainer got on him, we couldn’t believe the difference in his way of going. He would work through his topline, and was so much freer in the shoulders, it was like night and day. I bought that saddle and have had it regularly refitted - several times a year at first since he was just coming back into work), and about once a year since then. The rep has been great to work with - she even did a free refitting for me once after my trainer and I noticed that the saddle was sliding back a bit during our rides.

Interesting thing - my trainer was having problems getting a perfect saddle fit for her stallion, and when Jochen Schleese was here for a seminar and fitting, he recommended the Obrigado. My trainer had one built for her, but when it arrived, her horse didn’t like it at all. She sent it back and worked with them to do a modified version of the HK (inside of the cantle was concave instead of convex). She loved it. As did most people in the barn - in fact, several people gave up riding in their own saddles and used the trainer’s. It got fun on the weekends with people waiting for someone to finish with the trainer’s saddle so they could put it on their horse. Some days, that saddle got used 4-6 times, with up to 4 different riders. The trainer strongly suggested that everyone buy their own, but a few folks didn’t want to use the area rep because 1) she wouldn’t take their current saddles in trade; and/or 2) she wouldn’t give them a discounted price. Since that rep holds to the Schleese pricing model (she is a certified Schleese rep, and they are supposed to stick with their agreement with Schleese), several folks in the barn went to another rep to order their saddles. That particular rep is known for undercutting the prices of other Schleese reps, and she gets a lot of business that way, even though she has to take less commission per saddle. So these folks had the other rep order saddles built to the measurements taken by our area rep (it did take a very long time for those folks to order their saddles, and then to receive them). Most of the people that ordered those saddles were fairly happy with them - they had the area rep come and make some adjustments here and there - but as Lucassb pointed out, that system didn’t work for everyone.

So this was a long story to emphasize that some folks are going to love the Schleese saddles, and their Schleese rep, some folks are not going to love them.

My opinion. If I were to be buying a new saddle or selecting a fitter, it would be mandatory for that fitter to have that machine (I forget its’ name) that enables them to tweak the gullet plate. If they don’t have that, all they can do is add/remove some flocking here and there or suggest shims. Also a requirement for me would be that they have the ability to do a complete reflock. The ability to repair leather is also a big plus. Another plus is if the fitter is/was also a rider.

Once a fitter or saddle seller gives me erroneous information, they don’t get a second chance.

OP- I have a Patrick saddle but it is a close contact. Tara is the one that put him in touch with him. She met him at the trade show and he was willing to come out to my barn one night after the trade show in his dress clothes.
If you want to see my saddle to get an idea of the quality let me know. Lancaster isn’t too far.
She does not rep for Patrick but I am sure would be more than happy to help you order one from him.
When he came out to the barn he brought a saddle that would be similar to the one he made for Finnegan. But I never rode in one of his saddles before I ordered it. I love it. I am really happy with the fit for both Finnegan and me. I am just starting to ride dressage and it is fine for that. I am only training level.

FYI-Tara is ordering the machine to tweak the tree size. She used to just do the measurements and send the saddle to somebody else that had the machine. She recently spent some time down in NC doing some hands on with the machine and another saddle fitter. She does her own reflocking and tweaking flocking.

You guys are giving me TONS of great information, and I have to marvel at the magic of COTH. That isn’t even mentioning the less-than-magical moments which are minimally HIGHLY entertaining lol.

Dune, I might be misremembering, but she certainly did not have one with her for me to try. She had received photos of my horse beforehand, and may have eliminated it, or just not had one available.

Maude, thanks for letting me pick your brain yesterday! My mare had a shoe off yesterday (AAARGH!) so I did not get a chance to sit in the old Hermes I picked up. However, I did plop it on her, and it looks really pretty good. It does bridge a tiny bit ungirthed, but I am going to stick a fleece underneath and try it anyway. I am kind of writing the bridging off to the foam being shot, since this saddle is OLD. I am looking at this as being at least an opportunity to either eliminate Hermes from the list, or putting it up closer to the top.

Blume, I am going to call Marty and pick his brain plus see if he is going to be in the area. I looked at their schedule online, and it does not look as if he will be until Devon, but it is worth a shot. Glad to get a resounding positive review of the Sommers.

DownYonder, posts like yours are why I am continuing to go forward with the Schleese rep and withholding judgment until I see for myself. The theory on why their saddles should work on my horse is sound, and I have to let the product speak for itself.

ToN, yes, yes, and YES! :slight_smile:

SonnysMom, Tara is now very high on my list of folks to call once I get thru the Schleese spiel, try the used Hermes from Rick’s, and the Hastilow which is supposed to get dropped off tomorrow.

I am starting to think the English school of saddle fitting is NOT the way to go with my horse, and I need to explore more forward balance options. (Amerigo, Roosli, Hermes, Jaguar, etc.) It seems the little princess wants me to sit practically on top of her withers, and I am interested to see how she likes one.

Schleese out today, I will let you know how it goes.

Remember that that ancient Hermes won’t feel very good. When I sat in it my butt said “No!” When I sat in a newer one my butt said"Aaaaaah!" And my horse said"Finally!!".

[QUOTE=Blume Farm;8133280]
One day went for a lesson and forgot to put my saddle in the horse trailer so my trainer lent me her Sommer Flextra. WOW! I love this saddle. Quickly started searching the internet and found a used one on Ebay, then sold my Hennig on Ebay:)

I have now had the Flextra for about 5 years and have Marty at Horse of Course check saddle fit once a year usually at a horse show. I know at least a half dozen or so folks that have them, all on different size/ shape horses, and all love them. And this is after exhaustive efforts with other brands.[/QUOTE] I went to the HorseofCourse site, and they say the Sommer needs to be fitted. Well, what saddle doesn’t.:slight_smile: I would not feel comfortable sending measurements. I’d want it done in person. Is Marty the only Sommer fitter? Also, I viewed a 2009 video from HorseofCourse on the Sommer saddle and it appears it is for horses with straight backs. If you have a horse with a dippy back, then a Sommer wouldn’t be good, right?

ToN, I most definitely need her fitted in person, but Marty has a lot of experience with the Sommers. I think it is worth getting his opinion at least over the phone, and he may point me towards someone more local. Apparently Tara M, who has been mentioned upthread, is relatively local and has started carrying Sommer. And FWIW, my mare has a curved back, not a truly dippy one. (Thank God!) I did watch the same video yesterday, and that is one of my very first questions!

Since you’re going to all the trouble, just take the measurements and pix yourself and send them to Trumbull Mountain. They may have something you had never thought of or at least I know they’ll have the Black Country saddle line to either “rule in or out”.

Well, Terry came out today, and I will say she did work pretty hard to make both my horse and I happy. The final saddle of the 3 or 4 I tried fit the horse pretty well, but did NOT work for me. Apparently my steep pelvic floor makes me a saddle fit princess too lol. The combination she felt may work for me was nowhere to be found, so unless one falls off the turnip truck somewhere, Schleese is NOT the answer for my girl.

I was a little surprised at how much I liked the Obrigado on the buck, and how much I hated it on my horse.

On to the next. Tomorrow shall see how the used Hermes does.

I won’t pay $700 for a Schleese, let along $7000. When a $$$$ custom saddle arrives with crooked tree, you know how awful the quality is. They do have outstanding marketing campaign - that I won’t disagree.

OP, I can’t understand why a custom saddle can’t be built to fit both you and your horse? When I ordered my Albion, I needed wide twist but narrow seat and they simply built it for me.

I’m an ex H/J turned dressage rider and wanted to chip in here. I used Tara from Forward Motion about 3? years ago and would have her come out to fit my horse again in a heart beat. She was professional, answered all of my questions, and a wealth of knowledge. I was totally willing to buy another saddle, as my horse was acting like he had saddle fit problems at the time. I had tried a couple different half pads, tried some friends saddles that my trainer thought might fit him better, etc. She looked at him on the ground, watched me ride, took tracings, etc. We added a half pad with shims on his weaker side and placed the saddle fit a bit further back than I was used to, used an anatomic girth (IMO, they weren’t as popular then as they are now but I was just starting in the dressage world so take that with a grain of salt) and he went SO. MUCH. better. She 100% could of sold me a new saddle if she wanted to, because that’s essentially what I had called her for. She didn’t. That in itself speaks volumes to me. She even gave me a neat tip on how to create “fake shims” with the half pad I was using until my own shimmable half pad arrived.

Gloria, my little mare has several fitting issues, that individually would not be a big deal but in combination are a HUGE obstacle. I also have a couple of requirements making me a bit of a challenge as well. If it were just a super short back, no big deal. Add in the huge, freakishly set back shoulders, slightly curvy back, wide load mutton withers, and a girth groove that is tiny and almost between her front legs, and you have a saddle nightmare even if my girl were not a fitting princess. My issues include some back problems and a steeply tilted pelvic floor. It seems most saddles, once they are wide enough for my mare, leave absoloutely nothing to support the front of my pelvis, which of course gives me horrendous pain. Oh, yeah, and I need an 18".

I have already gone down the road of having a very reputable company build a saddle for us, and it did not work out because the company does not have a tree to address the shape and width of my mare. They have a few models that work VERY well on warmbloods, and since their PA rep was local to me, I figured they were the way to go. Man, was I wrong. Plus, I LOVED riding in that saddle, I just hung where I needed to be. I thought I knew enough about saddle fit last year when I ordered it, having gone through similar difficulties (with a totally different set of issues) almost 15 years ago with my retired horse. Again, I was wrong. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but I sure know enough now to at least figure out what won’t work.

Schleese has the right combination of design features to work for my mare, and I had to give it a shot despite my trepidation due to the company’s spotty reputation and my less than stellar experiences riding in other people’s Schleeses. I just want this search DONE so I can stop mining COTH for recommendations and ideas, and never have to read another saddle fitters blog posts. That said, I am also not going to settle for something that is good for the horse and only ok for me, or vise versa.

Today I have a fitter coming out from a truly forward balance company (Schleese seems to be kinda forward balance, but not quite) and we shall see how that goes. I am quite fortunate he can come out less than 24 hours after I first talked to him due to a quirk in his schedule and the completely random fact that he lives an hour from me.

Purplepelhampony, depending on how things go today, Tara is my next call. :slight_smile: The Sommers she is now carrying look promising.

FWIW, I just want to say I care not one iota what name is on the saddle. I am mining the used sites and eBay too. Congrats to whomever got that $825 Jaguar I was too slow on day before yesterday. Let me know if it doesn’t work for you!

Good luck in your search!

Just a note, I would not trust a saddle fitter with a saddle devil in their truck. I know some master saddlers who do not even like to use them in their shop. You need to make sure the saddle is completely square in the vice and that the machine in also square. I would be afraid that the machine would get out of spec in a car.

The reason is that if the saddle is not completely square, it will actually widen crooked. Then you will always have a crooked saddle!

I can feel your fitting pain after trying 27 saddles on my mare. They all slid forward. She wasn’t as hard to fit as yours sounds, and I didn’t need what you need -by the end of it my only requirement was that it didn’t make me bleed!

I ended up with a Tad Coffin. It is extremely comfortable for me, very well balanced and it fits her and she likes it.

I say this in part because the other saddle that appeared to work for her was the Obrigado but I could not afford it. My saddle was used, but Tad’s shop was still very helpful with making sure it fit right, so if you aren’t overwhelmed with choices already, this is another.

Quickie update:

We tried the used Hermes on Lucy today, and the US Hermes rep came out to see what we had going on.

The rep took one look at me and said I was going to need their short flap. I pooh pooh’ed that, thinking, WTF? I have a 32+ inch inseam?? Long flap will be fine. A little longer than I need, but my trainer has long legs.

The fit looked pretty good immediately with the tiniest bit of bridging without the girth. Girthed up with a Mattes pad it looked pretty darn good, despite being WAY more forward on her than I am used to seeing. (stupid girth groove)

My trainer hopped on first with no expected mounting shenanigans (yay!) and rode around for a bit. Saddle did not move, and there was plenty of space behind the cantle for her back. Speaking with the rep, he told me this used saddle was circa the late '90s and he knows it had been used A LOT. The owner had several horses she used it on. The flaps DID look pretty long with Brendan up, but not unreasonable and about what I look like in a long flap. Since I ride only about 4 holes shorter than he does, I did not think anything of it. Brendan’s verdict when he was done was, “Now this is more like what we need!”

So I clamber on and ride around. All is going well, and everything seems to be lining up where it needs to be. Woot! It is a little hard to get her to respond to my lower leg, but not awful. I decided to not wear spurs, so I do not think much of it. I ride around for a bit, and get lambasted for all my awful habits that seem to have returned while beloved trainer was away in Germany for a month. It is determined I would benefit from a half inch larger seat, and I hop off.

Now, keep in mind, we have recently taken over a former H/J barn, and there is nary a mirror to be found on the property outside of the bathroom. I have NO CLUE how the saddle looked.

I look at the rep, and say, “See, the long flap is fine for me. My legs are longer than they look. It wasn’t all THAT long.”

“Uhh, Crotchety, it was kinda right above your ankle.”

“Oh,” I respond in typical brilliant fashion.

Guess I need that short flap after all LMAO.

Crotchety, I find that I can ride longer in the Hermes since it allows my leg to drop straight down. Also, FWIW, I just let my leg hang (not try to get it too far back under me). My lower leg willl seem like it is a little more forward than it should be, but my mare likes my leg at the girth (a tad forward girth groove also). If I try to keep my leg back under me it is on a wider spot on her body and she doesn’t like it. Alot of mares prefer the leg a tad more forward with the feeling that your feet are flat on the ground. Try it on your next ride. :slight_smile: Also, when my leg is in the right spot I don’t lean back as is my tendency. This position of a more forward leg makes me (personally) carry my shoulders over my center of gravity not behind it and keeps me from arching and jamming my lower back. Will be interested to hear how today goes. :slight_smile:

Maude, I can’t ride THAT long lol. I think a 6’5" man would be about the right height for these flaps lol.

Everything went well again yesterday, and the Little Princess continues to like the saddle. There was no saddling and mounting drama like in the past with other saddles. Do I think the old, used one is perfect for her? Well, probably not. The foam is a trillion years old, and IMHO probably at the end of its life. That said, I am going to be highly interested in how she likes the demo Jimmy is getting in for her. Beloved trainer and I are both starting to adjust to sitting more forward in this saddle closer to her withers. I have not changed the hole on my stirrup leathers, but they do feel a tad longer, which is probably due to the placement of the stirrup bar. My creaky old bits continue to hang in a really good place, and the saddle does not move one iota on her back.

There was a teeny tiny dry spot in the sweat patterns the first day on the right withers when we used the Mattes pad, and it was smaller without the fleece yesterday. Again, this used saddle is not the perfect one, and I am hoping the dry spot will go away with the newer demo.

Even if the Hermes does not work out in the long run, this has at least narrowed my choices down even more. Worst case scenario, I am closing in on the solution. Best case scenario, I grin and bear it, write the check, and am done. We shall see how next week goes, and until then, I look ridiculous with a gimundo flap.