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I had my first ever professional saddle fitting - and I think it changed my life

My post rate on here is getting out of control, but I just wanted to shout this excitement to the world since my significant other will not understand.

I’ll simply start with: if you haven’t had someone come to you to try multiple saddles with your horse, you should do it soon!!

So today I had a Prestige rep out to pick a saddle to demo. In the past, I’ve ordered used saddles online and done the trial thing, so on and so forth. Of course, I made hasty decisions because I didn’t want to lose too much money on shipping or restock fees.

Welp. Today I learned that I ride better in a twist that isn’t incredibly narrow. In fact, the bigger twist gave me more support to keep my thigh in better contact with my horse, improving my balance and quieting my leg. I’ve been riding in a narrow twist Butet with a P seat for the past few years. I would have never known unless I hadn’t been able to sit in so many different saddles one right after the other on my horse. It felt weird at first, but after some time, I realized that the saddle was working with me rather than against me.

I’m excited to take the next steps for fitting to my horse after I give the saddle a week. It’s a Renaissance saddle - so I can hypothetically buy the demo and have it adjusted to fit him now and later when his back inevitably changes.

My only hang up: what color to choose. My horse is chestnut, and the demo saddle is reddish brown (almost the same color as him). It darkens well with oil, but it’s no dark havana. If I go dark, I have to go custom/can’t maybe save a few dollars by purchasing the demo. Would dark havana be worth the extra thousand? The reddish brown is leather that has been processed less, so it may wear better over time. That’s the first world problem that will plague me for the next week or so.


Isn’t it enlightening?? Granted I’ve had a few saddle fittings end up with less than ideal saddles. Maybe less educated reps or just a simple apathy for the job.

Last time my saddle was just not quite right, I had a rep out for fill-in-the-blank major brand (the simple concept of which could start World War III), but this one was knowledgeable and cared. That saddle changed my life. I’m not kidding, not exaggerating. When your tack fits and you don’t have to fight it any more, everything changes.


Welcome to having a happy seat!

I highly recommend having reps from different saddle makers or an independent fitter come to fit you and your horse. Despite what any one company tells you, none of the major brands are truly custom. For example, one major and formerly very popular French brand told me their tree would be custom for my one horse who needed a wide tree, yet sent their stock 4.5” tree and explained it would stretch with use. It did not. Another French brand currently seeing a lot of popularity sent me a “custom” saddle after fitting another of our horses & it sticks straight out from the horses sides. The fitter explained that when DD sits in it, she squeezes the flaps against the horse, so all is well. :roll_eyes:. And Prestige is not the greatest as far as reputation or quality, so I’d be cautious about investing in one. Just my 2cents. Good luck!


This is a crazy concept to me - if someone wants to buy a particular brand, is happy with the service they received, and their horse fits it well, what does it matter?! I have heard criticisms of EVERY brand, and I’ve seen people very happy with every brand. Saddles are such a personal choice - let people be happy!


Curious to know any specifics you have heard! :slight_smile: I am happy customer service-wise so far - any anecdotes about longevity of their products?

I don’t see too many used ones on the market, so I assume most people are happy with them and don’t typically resell. I could be wrong, though!

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I love my Prestige, and also had a great experience selecting my saddle. They have so many models you can really narrow it down to a great fit for you. My rep has proven to be pretty knowledgeable and I’ve been happy with the adjustments she’s made to the saddle as my horse’s back has changed. I’ve never heard anything bad about their reputation so can’t speak to what the other poster was referring to, but I don’t have any concerns about quality or longevity and can see myself sticking with the brand in the future.

I think the answer to the problem you’re identifying here is to use an independent, trained saddle fitter— not to to call out multiple untrained sales people.


It was kind of wild to me how different every single saddle felt - I honestly did not know that kind of thing was possible. The rep explained how to construction of the saddle be it the flocking, tree, seat shape, etc. affected how the saddle felt. I thought I would want the pancake flat seat because well, good ol Butet P. It turned out I liked a deeper seat, but still felt I could move around/not be locked in. And again, the twist supported me way better in that saddle’s construction versus the flat seat.

Thanks for the feedback on Prestige! I’m not really brand loyal (I am drawn to the trends, of course), but what made me interested was how many great reviews the rep had the fact that their saddles are more adjustable compared to other brands.

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Anything in particular to look for in an independent saddle fitter? Are there any particular qualifications or even industry-specific certifications I should look for in a saddle fitter? Or maybe one that uses particular technology to analyze fit for the horse?

I know an independent saddle fitter has nothing to gain by fitting my horse other than the fee to come out and give their opinion (though many now-a-days sell used saddles) - but while the horse industry is full of great professionals, there are likely more people out there lacking knowledge and giving shoddy advice to make a buck (as we see with some of the reps others have had experience with). I know very little about saddle fit other than “ensure there is no pinching” so I would be none the wiser should someone try to give unsound but convincing advice. Is word of mouth the only way? That’s why I’ve reached out to this particular rep for the brand - she came with stellar reviews and I feel like her assessments and advice were honest.

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Having the Society of Master Saddlers Certificate is a good qualification. Not being tied to sell a particular brand but being able to order a wide variety is another good attribute. Including in the fee tracings you get to keep so you can take the information you learn and use it to saddle shop on your own is another good thing. Positive recommendations is another.


I have experience with both specific brand fitters and independent ones. My experience has been that the independent ones vary in skill just as much as the brand ones. I’ve had good and bad ones in both categories over the years with different horses.

I used one independent fitter for years who had a great reputation but kept placing me in saddles that didn’t fit either my horses or me. One of my saddles was flocked so heavily by this fitter it was like a giant pillow. I had a brand fitter out who was, frankly, terrible, and obviously had no idea about horse and rider biomechanics. I used another independent one who was ok for my older guy, but put my growing young horse in a saddle that fit him so poorly he couldn’t trot comfortably in it, and then they swore it was due to my riding. And so on.

My two saddles now are Voltaires and both of the fitters I’ve used have been great. My horses both have a saddle that fits them and that fits me, better than anything else I’ve ridden in. Other people have different experiences.

I think the broad brush people like to use about fitters isn’t very helpful, and unfortunately we consumers may have to kiss a lot of frogs before we find a prince in terms of the right saddle (and a good fitter).

I’ve never heard anything bad about Prestige saddles, either–OP, I’m so glad you found something that seems to work. As far as color, if you don’t like the less expensive one and spending more money isn’t a burden, I’d say go for it and get the color you like best. You will have to look at it everyday and I assume you are already shelling out a good chunk of change!


I agree with this. Finding a good independent fitter can be just as hard as hoping the brand rep is knowledgeable. I’ve used both over the years and had mixed experience with both. It can also be a challenge to find an independent fitter who maintains a large stock of trial saddles. You can end up spending a fair amount on trials/shipping or requiring multiple visits if you don’t know what you’re really looking for.

Personally I like my Prestige, it’s over 10 years old (bought used about 6 years ago on the recommendation of an independent fitter) and still going strong despite being one of their more affordable models. I recently had the local brand rep out to check fit and was really happy with the visit. Gave multiple openings for them to sell me something new if needed but they worked to make adjustments to the current saddle.


Crazy, right? There’s a whole populous that looks down their nose at anyone who uses other than independent fitters. I realize their down falls, but if a certain brand works for someone, good for them! Mine was a life changing saddle I didn’t know I needed. Sounds like you found your match too :blush:

After having purchased multiple “custom” saddles that arrive and don’t fit or feel anything like the demo, my recommendation is to purchase whatever you sat in that you loved. No one will notice the saddle color except you.


Honestly when I was saddle shopping my main criteria was “actually shows up when they say they will.” The Prestige rep was quick to respond and got me on her calendar really fast, and luckily I ended up liking her and her saddles because I was getting desperate at that point. The independent rep that was recommended to me took ages to respond and then was booked out for several weeks.

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My compromise is having an independent saddle fitter that I trust evaluate saddles I try from brand reps while I have them on trial. It’s expensive and difficult to coordinate, but it has been worth it so far.

Yes, I did recommend an independent fitter. And I did not call out multiple untrained fitters. Note I did not name either brand of saddle I referred to.

My personal experience with Prestige is that I found their quality is not nearly as high as Butet or many of the other French saddles on the market. I tried Prestige with a rep then several other brands with their reps and the others felt and looked higher-quality. Also, having been at a barn that was very Prestige-heavy, I know others who are similarly unimpressed. YMMV, and it is all very personal. If your horse is fitted well and you are comfortable and easily settle into proper position, then go with it. I will say again, that having an independent fitter is great, or at least have several different brand reps out.

Show me an independent fitter who works on commission for a brand with a 30% restocking fee even if the error is by the manufacturer…

THAT’S a major difference.

Of course there are good and bad reps and good and bad fitters… but the entire model of some saddle companies encourages reps to work on volume sales and vanish at the first sign of a problem. The business model relies on the brand being trendy. The business model of an independent fitter is a lot more dependent on good reviews from customers.

You can get a good saddle from a rep. You can get a good saddle from a fitter. But no way I’m buying from a brand that won’t stand behind its product—- no matter who sells it to me.


Any specific feedback about quality? Is it the stitching? Leather? What has been happening to their tack that they are unhappy with?

I’m not overly impressed with my 2004 Butet - the leather is wearing down/has that sort of “pilling” feeling/look where my crotch and sides of my seat go. I wouldn’t be surprised if the leather eventually had a hole rubbed in it. But, I’m also not privy to any knowledge of what kind of “problems” saddles in that year had. I think French leather in general is soft - another rider I know has had both flaps on her full calf CWD repaired because they wore down. I rode in a 2007 Devoucoux for a short period that I loved that had the seat replaced, I’d imagine because of wear.

At what point do we say it’s the quality of the saddle versus the fact that we’re using delicate leather to do a not-so-delicate sport? I guess what I’m getting at here is I’ve heard issues with all brands.

I’m particularly drawn to Prestige because of how it can be easily adjusted over time without having to send the saddle away - I have a young horse, so that’s ideal for me. If people have feedback working with some of the other major French brands and having a saddle readjusted a few times for their young horse, I’d love to hear!