My Horrible CWD Experience: A Cautionary Tale

tl:dr summary (full details in the thread below):

  • I was looking for an 18” saddle and bought a saddle that CWD advertised as an 18” saddle. The saddle seat is actually 17”.
  • CWD’s misrepresentation of the saddle size wasn’t discovered until 10 months later when I ordered an 18.5 used saddle from CWD.
  • When confronted with this, CWD claimed the 18” seat description was based on a hand measurement. I did a hand measurement and verified that the saddle is 17”.
  • CWD refused to make any recompense – return/refund or exchange – for the misrepresented saddle.
  • I have a good faith basis to believe that CWD is misrepresenting the seat size of another used saddle currently on its website.

Details of CWD’s Sale of a Misrepresented Saddle Size and Poor Customer Service to Me

To be clear, I am a greenie in the arena of saddle selection and a Very adult beginner rider (as of July of 2019). In August of 2019, I needed a saddle for my first horse lease. My proportions are unique: normal femur length (read: a woman of a certain age with some “junk in the trunk”), super short knee-to-ankle length, short upper body. That translates to an 18” seat with short flaps. ( The saddle equivalent of a unicorn or the holy grail.) There was never any doubt that I would eventually have to get a custom saddle but, since this was all new to me, a used saddle seemed to be the right choice.

On its website, CWD advertised a 2011 Amerigo Jump saddle with an 18” seat and it was described as being in “good condition”. When the saddle arrived, the flap length was just right, the condition was as described, but the seat was somewhat snug. Given the 18” description, I thought I just needed to lose weight and did so.

In June of this year, I bought my first horse and my trainer said, “I can’t train you to jump unless you buy a saddle that fits properly”. The problem is, with the pandemic, I cannot get a new one fitted. So, again, a used saddle would have to suffice. Given the size of the Amerigo, I went back to CWD and ordered a used 18.5” Voltaire. Before the Voltaire order shipped, an experienced horse friend told me to be sure the width would fit my horse by “checking the stamps”. I did not know what that meant. It turns out that what I thought were “serial numbers” includes a whole lot more information - including seat size. It took some sleuthing on the Google machine to decode the stamps but, it turned out that the Amerigo is marked as a 17” saddle. Color me concerned.

I called CWD immediately upon the discovery and told them that they sold me a saddle they represented as an 18” that is actually a 17” seat. Isabella told me the 18” was based on a hand measurement. Now, I retained the web ad for the Amerigo. Nothing on it says that the seat size is based on a hand measurement or that something about the size might not match CWD’S description. But, giving her the benefit of the doubt, I took a tape measure to the saddle. Sure enough, it measured at 17” from mid-dot to center cantle. In addition to the $1900 I paid for the deceptively described Amerigo, I had just paid CWD another $2900 for a larger saddle that might be too large. And what assurance did I have that CWD’s measurements for that saddle were accurately described? Color me upset.

I sent an email to CWD with pictures of the ad for the Amerigo, the hand measurement and the stamps, demanding a refund in exchange for the return of the Amerigo. Due to several medical issues, it has been lightly used and well maintained. CWD’s response? Since I did not complain within the return period and so much time elapsed before I caught their dishonesty, they refused to do anything. Color me angry.

Though I intended to refuse delivery of the 18.5” Voltaire, delivery companies have suspended signature requirements during the pandemic. So, the Voltaire was delivered and, although CWD described this $2900 saddle as being in “good condition”, it had obviously been poorly maintained; the leather was badly sweat and moisture damaged. Yet another misrepresentation by CWD. This was damage not disclosed in the pictures on CWD’s website and I immediately sent pictures of the damage so that they would not attempt to accuse me of causing it while the saddle is in my possession. Even if the Voltaire had been in acceptable condition, the 18.5” seat was too big. The saddle had to be returned. CWD wasted my time. Color me furious.

I escalated my complaint about the Amerigo and spoke with “Allison” at CWD. She insisted that, having not complained within the return period (about a misrepresentation I did not discover for 10 months), CWD would not make the situation right. Claiming that she had not seen my email to Isabella (sent 2 weeks earlier, on June 29[SUP]th[/SUP]) and that she had no information about the ad for the Amerigo, Allison said she would look at the email and attached pictures. (That would be the same email that Isabella claimed to have discussed with Allison before her first refusal to correct CWD’s error.) Allison said she would get back to me – and I know this may surprise some of you – she never called or emailed. I now feel litigious.

So, I’m back to searching for a used saddle. A used CWD is out of the question, as is any brand of used saddle offered for sale by CWD. But, FWIW, CWD did me a favor. My body proportions and my need for a custom saddle will never change; the custom purchase is just on hold until the pandemic no longer prevents getting me and my horse to a saddle fitter. Meanwhile, I can invest time learning about the many lovely brands on the market that offer lots of configurations and upgrades to achieve the perfect fit. Since CWD clearly cared little about retaining my business, they removed their brand from consideration. To quote Forest Gump, “That’s good. One less thing….”

Post script: I tried to find one last opportunity for CWD to make this right. Currently, their website lists a used, Amerigo jump saddle that is described as having an 18" seat. I did some research on the stamps. Unless the seat size of a saddle can be changed after it is built, the saddle was manufactured with a 17” seat. Fool me once…

Buyer beware.

Well CWD has never been known to be the best to work with. I do think there’s an issue with hand measuring saddles and advertising them as a different size than they are stamped (unless it clearly states that in the add) but they weren’t exactly hiding the fact that it was stamped as a 17". I have a trouble believing they were being nefarious as 17" and 18" saddles are both very common sizes that should sell well. Plus, exact seat size isn’t all that important. It doesn’t translate well from brand to brand and there’s much more to consider when buying a saddle. You rode in and decided the fit was okay, at that point the size isn’t really important. I can understand them not taking the return.

The saddles being described as “good” doesn’t surprise or bother me. Whenever buying anything that says “good” condition I always consider that to have flaws. It’s not being described as “like new” or “excellent” or “great”. I mean, “good” is one notch above “poor” and most places will not take things in poor condition to consign. None would advertise them as such.

While I understand the frustration (no one likes saddle shopping), sell the saddles you have now and work with a rep in the future. It’s much easier than shipping saddles.


What you need is an independent saddle fitter.

Nowhere in here do I hear any concern about whether the saddle fits the horse. How do you know the saddle fits?

I have to say, if you were riding in the saddle for a year and didn’t notice the saddle didn’t fit you, I can see CWD’s point. I like an 18 inch saddle. I can get by in a 17.5, but a 17 really gives me problems and is obviously too small. Did your trainer not notice for a year?

Anyhow, you need to find an independent saddle fitter who is a person highly trained to fit saddles and adjust flocking.

Honestly your story is very much like those of my adult beginner friends, just at a higher price point. I have one friend who collected a number of crap saddles in the free to $200 to $500 range that hurt her horses back and played havoc with her seat until she finally followed my advice and paid $100 for a consult and measurement with the excellent master saddle fitter I use. Then she found out nothing she had acquired actually fit her horse.

It’s too bad you are playing at a much higher price point. But the general situation is typical of beginners who saddle shop with no knowledgeable help.


I think that for your next purchase, you’ll be well served by doing some research on the different saddle brands you’re considering so that you have confidence you’re being correctly advised, having your trainer’s or a trusted friend’s input, and not buying anything that doesn’t fit, regardless of how it’s advertised.

One thing you should know is that different saddles run differently. Some brands run large in the seat (they are stamped 17 but tend to measure 17.5,) some small. And the design of the saddle- seat depth, flap angle, relationship of working center to flap placement, even the location of the stirrup bar- can influence where you sit comfortably in the saddle and what seat size is best for you in that particular model. The way the saddle sits on your horse also influences the fit. So, as you’re shopping, do know that if someone suggests to you to try a 17.5 in this or a 18.5 in that, they’re not necessarily feeding you a line. The most important thing is that you are comfortable and feel secure in the saddle. If it feels snug in the seat, pay attention to that- does snug mean “I am securely positioned and I can use my aids correctly,” or does it mean “I’m riding close to the pommel and compromising my body position?” Generally you should be able to fit one hand between your behind and the edge of the cantle. Less than that is usually an indication that the seat is too small, and more than that means too big.

If you want to learn more about this, there are a TON of great threads here on saddle fitting for horse and human and the website The Saddle Geek also has a lot of good reading. And, learning to read panel codes will help you order a saddle that has good odds at fitting you. Old Dominion Saddlery has a blog on this topic and there’s a lot of info here on COTH about this too. The panel codes also tell you how the saddle will fit your horse.

It’s like bathing suit shopping for two bodies, isn’t it?


It is so frustrating that a big name company would not advertise their saddle(s) using the number on the their very own serial number. Wow.
Wishing you a happy saddle shopping experience.


I feel for you OP! Check out the search function, there’s quite a few negative reviews on CWD here. Seems like you are not alone. :no:

I also was sold a saddle that wasn’t the saddle the vendor said it was… but it was the tree that was the wrong size. :eek: I didn’t discover the error right away either, because while I thought the saddle seem a little small, my fitter assured me it was supposed to fit that way… Well, 2 months down the line I had a miserably sore horse, investigated the serial #, and found out the tree size was too small. I couldn’t return either, but I sold the saddle for exactly what I bought it for and involved a different independent fitter.

I hope you can get some resolution. I disagree that it’s not a big deal… If they’re making errors on seat size, they’ll be making errors on tree size and flap styles, too. That’s a big deal when you’re shopping $1900-5000 saddles (what CWDs can go for new).

I would find an independent fitter – BUT – vet them carefully first. Some are awful. Some are good. Shop around in your area, see who is willing to talk about their saddle fitting experiences, and go from there. Don’t just go with the first name a friend gives you - ask how long they’ve used the fitter, etc.

Good luck.


You might try asking the Attorney General Consumer Affairs Office for help. Susy at Highline Tack is very nice to work w re: used saddles. If you explain your problem, she may be able to help you.


It took you 10 months to discover an error. That is ridiculous to expect them to “make it right”. Entitlement is crazy. Regardless if CWD had bad reviewed or not- YOU WAITED 10 MONTHS!!! Are you joking you are mad about that?


I don’t think that the Consumer Affairs Office will be a good use of the OP’s time.

The Amerigo saddle was advertised incorrectly, yes. But CWD posts pictures of the panel and serial codes on the used saddles they’re selling so the OP had the opportunity to identify the problem before buying. (For anyone buying used: if the seller doesn’t post this, ask for it!) She also had a 30 day trial to ride in the saddle and says she bought it even though she recognized it didn’t fit. Then she kept it for 10 months before identifying the problem.

Don’t get me wrong, the vendor should have advertised the item correctly and they didn’t. They screwed up. But this is not a case where anyone intentionally defrauded anyone else and the OP had ample opportunity to return the product that she recognized didn’t fit within the 30 day trial period allotted.

It’s a bloody expensive lesson learned and I sympathize with the frustration here. That’s why upthread I suggested some resources the OP could use to learn more about the products she is considering so she can purchase with more knowledge and more confidence next time. It’s hard to buy your first saddle used without good guidance and from the post it doesn’t seem like she had a lot of that.


In my experience with Amerigo saddles (I owned a Vega several years ago), it was stamped 17" but did ride slightly bigger. It’s been long enough that I don’t recall what the seat measurement was.

I am sorry that you ended up with a saddle that was represented as something else. However, I believe it is your responsibility as a buyer to look at the sizing stamp before purchasing. If it isn’t pictured, you should have asked for it. If you don’t know how to read it, ask the seller or ask a friend. It is unfathomable to me that you would have the audacity to complaint 10 months later.

These big companies has countless used saddles. I browse CWD’s used selection on ebay regularly and it is not outside the norm for a saddle to be listed by the measurements instead of by the stamp. Due diligence is important in any purchase, but particularly on a big ticket item. You are at fault for not looking into this last year.

As far as the Voltaire being poorly cared for or dirty, that’s the big difference between buying a used saddle from a manufacturer and not from a used saddle reseller. I got two used Voltaires through Voltaire several years back. One arrived clean, the other one was dirty. Saddle resellers immaculately clean the saddles before listing them. There’s a huge difference. To me? Not a big deal unless the saddle has damage that wasn’t pictured. I can clean the saddle. In fact, I prefer to clean the saddle myself when I get it anyway.

At this point, You are better off selling the saddle on your own, or trading it in on another saddle. I don’t know where you live, but there are plenty of locations where saddle fitters are still working. If you don’t live in one of those areas, set up a distance fitting with a qualified fitter if you need a saddle before someone can see you in perosn.


This does not surprise me that much. Sure, you and I know that the serial numbers mean something (I only know because of this forum, BTW). As does CWD, and they clearly did not pay attention to it. The OP is a newbie who bought a saddle from the manufacturer so they trusted the manufacturer and assumed the issue with size was their fault, not the fault of CWD sending them something other than what they advertised.

And the OP was not so much asking for a straight refund but a credit towards the purchase of another saddle. Which seems like a perfectly reasonable resolution to such a stupid error on the part of the company that made the saddle, put that serial number on the saddle and then sold the saddle as something else to someone who did not know better.

I am not the type of person who thinks that the customer is always right. But in this case I think the customer is right.


The company didn’t make the saddle though. She bought a used Amerigo from CWD. Yes, it should be advertised correctly, but based on my experience just browsing the saddles on CWD’s used site, they are not always described correctly. It is the buyer’s responsibility to research and ask questions if they have any doubt whatsoever.


I see a lot of mistakes on their site as far as the used saddles go, especially for non-CWD ones. I think it should have been apparent the saddle was too small at some point during the return period no matter how it is stamped. But on a different note, if you like Amerigo, you should contact World Equestrian Brands (the primary US distributor) to see if any of the Amigo reps might have a used saddle to fit your needs. I think it might be a brand where the reps own their own demos a lot of the time, so sometimes those are available for purchase. You might just need to resell the one you have at this point.

1 Like

Quoting because it’s well said.

I was previously a rep for CWD. I loved my time with the company, however 99% of my problems within the company and 99% of my clients problems were with the office ((which is where your problem is stemming from)). To understand, CWD uses French interns that cycle in and out of the office what seems like every six months. So it’s constant retraining and learning new things and mistakes can be made. They aren’t saddle professionals in there. They don’t know for sure they are reading right and search as you do, or they do as someone in the office tells them that thinks they know the coding. I can’t tell you how often I see people on COTH forums with wrong info on CWD coding…

That being said, CWDs used saddle return policy is 30 DAYS. Over the pandemic it was 60 DAYS. So depending when you go the saddle, you had 30-60 days to figure out it didn’t work and you even said yourself it felt snug. Then and there you could have returned it within the trial period and wouldn’t have this issue.

Saddle size is very personal and changes from person to person with the same body shape based on how they ride and what saddle they are currently sitting in. In CWD alone I can fit and look good in a 17-18 with a 2L flap, just depending on the model. I know women my same size in 18.5s with 1C flaps because they ride way different than I do.

But back to the issue - The office isn’t going to be much help. However, if you look up your manager for your area of CWD - they might or even your rep (yes - there are some that are advocates and are good at their job), they will likely try and fix it to make you happy. But if you want to write off CWD that’s totally fine too (though their are many, very nice used CWDs out there through independent dealers and independent fitters).

Would it be nice of them and the right thing to do since they mistakenly sold you the wrong size saddle? Yes. Even swapping it out for the 18 like you offered is a great idea. However, the 30 day trial is there for a reason and they aren’t obligated to do what is “nice”, unfortunately… Honestly, many other name brand saddle companies would do the same.

I am very sorry this is such a bad experience for you. I hope you can find a good independent rep that can help you. When COVID clears, if you’re in SoCal - I definitely recommend Carolyn Cohen.


Does the saddle fit? You should have 4 fingers behind your butt to the cantle. My old Butet was a 17" my new CWD an 18" …so the size depends on the depth of the saddle seat etc. My point, maybe your current saddle is fine. ?

She bought a different brand of saddle that was NOT made by the people selling it. I’m not sure what your argument is, but if I buy a used Chevy from a Volkswagen dealer, I am expected to verify that the features of said Chevy are what I think they are. Heck, even if it were a Chevy dealer, I’m STILL expected to verify I’m buying what I think I’m buying and it has 17" wheels if I want 17" wheels. Caveat emptor.

She rode in the saddle for 10 months and wants every cent she paid back towards another saddle, because she can’t measure a saddle seat? Nah fam.


Do people really think CWD is off the hook for providing OP with the exact saddle that they claimed they sold her, just because time has passed?

I can’t think of that flying in any other line of work. It certainly would not fly in my profession.

It doesn’t matter if the saddle fits, or doesn’t fit the OP. If the OP purchased specific metrics, and the product delivered does not match those metrics, that’s on CWD. That isn’t on the customer. That’s like blaming a homeowner for a contractor dropping off the wrong aggregate!

I’m also one of those people who worked in (horse) retail for years – I know the customer isn’t always right… But in this case, I believe OP is owed the saddle they purchased. CWD should make that right… and if they can’t, they should refund.


Have you called Anne Dupard at Voltaire? You don’t need to ship your horse to a saddler fitter - they come to you. Your trainer has told you that they can’t teach you to jump until you get a saddle that fits and that you have a need for a custom saddle, and that won’t change. Do you want to jump? Call Anne. I’m pretty sure the pandemic has not put saddle sales on hold. Also, since you’re still new to this, where is your trainer in all of this? If the trainer not helping you get the saddle rep to your barn to assist you? The trainer has more skills than you have - lean into your trainer for help. And if you like Amerigo call World Equestrian Brands or check out Equipe (made in the same factory). I know the Equipe reps are working.

1 Like

While I understand you are frustrated, I don’t think CWD (who I readily admit has very hit or miss customer service) is really the primary party at fault here. You admit you noticed the saddle was snug when it got there - that put you on inquiry notice that this one didn’t fit you, and that either you needed a different model or you needed to check the size. It doesn’t matter so much what it measures as it does whether it fits you, because an 18 in one saddle doesn’t fit like an 18 in another saddle. You further say that there was a return period. So, to expect CWD to unwind this 10 months later when you had a trial period and decided to keep the saddle is not reasonable. It was likely a careless mistake, not some nefarious representation. And did you ask for your trainer’s input? If you know you don’t have the experience to judge it, you definitely want to ask for your trainer’s opinion - it is also easier for someone on the ground to gauge fit for you.

Then, you totally switch gears and order a Voltaire, which fits very differently (for example, most people go up a half-size in the seat vs. other saddles). This is the purpose of the trial period, to see if it fits, so I don’t really understand how CWD wasted your time? You tried it, it didn’t fit, you returned it, that seems pretty normal when you are trying to find something that works and you don’t know what you want. I had to ship 3 or 4 used saddles to try them before I figured out exactly what I needed.

My suggestion, ask your trainer to help you identify something that fits, see if you can try some other saddles in your barn (your trainer or other students are likely to let you sit in theirs to check fit and feel), and zero in on what feels good to you and what your trainer thinks will fit. That will help you target exactly what you are looking for in the used market, and then you can contact some of the resellers. I second the recommendation of Susy at Highline Tack, she’s great to work with. But you have now learned a valuable lesson – every used saddle listing should have a picture of the stamp on the flap underneath. That gives you the exact specs for that particular saddle and is the information you should rely on in deciding to try it or not. If they don’t include that, ask the seller for a picture of the stamp. So, put aside your frustration, and put your energy into educating yourself on the options and figuring out what feels right to you – saddles are very much a personal preference kind of thing! Good luck!!