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Need Opinions-- budget dressage saddles

I would like advice on a couple of saddles that I have been looking at (I am looking for a new saddle for $1000 or less). The first is the Dover Circuit Premier Dressage saddle and the other would be the HDR dressage saddles (Parisian, Dortmund, Ventura, etc). My horse has a normal/medium gullet angle and a high wither and I am searching for a saddle with a wide gullet channel.

My questions are:

  1. How is the channel width on these saddles? I am looking for a saddle with at least a 3 inch clearance from the front to the back of the saddle (about 4 fingers width). If you have any pictures of the channels of the Dover or HDR saddle I would greatly appreciate it!

  2. How would the fit be on a high withered horse? My horse has a shark fin so I want to make sure that the saddle has plenty of room. I tried the Thorowgood high withered saddle but the channel was super narrow in the middle (only one inch!) so they are a hard pass, which is sad because the profile fit him well.

  3. How is the quality of the saddle? I have heard nothing of the HDR or Dover saddles, so I am not sure if they are well made.

  4. Are there any other saddles I should look into? If you have any suggestions for dressage saddles with a wide channel and a profile that could fit a high withered horse, please let me know. I am looking for a new saddle and cant afford anything much over $1000 USD including shipping. I am not opposed to synthetic.

Thank you everyone!

why are you looking for new in this price range? are you opposed to used saddles? What is the back shape of your horse, eg very flat, slightly curvy, very curvy? How wide a tree do you think you need? Long back, short back?


And a question on the Thorowgood you tried. Which model was it T4 or T8? S series or original? I have a T4 high wither original series and the channel is wide all the way through. Thorowgood is very good about keeping wide channels. What seat size do you need? If you might be interested in T4 high wither, pm me.

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Recently bought a albion SLK HH used on FB that is working really well on my high withered TB. I bought the saddle from the UK and shipped to the US for $500 all in. Great saddle and for some reason the Albions seem to sell for a lot cheaper used in the UK!

Previously had a county jump saddle which i loved for my TB with Skid Row panels but the fusion i tried didn’t work for him despite being the same measurements as his stabilizer (close contact).

Agree with others, better off buying used at that price point than new! Albions and countys can be found used for less than $1000.


Interesting about the T4 is that no matter which of my horses i put it on, and of the three bars i’ve changed to try to make it work, i cannot for the life of me get a saddle pad to NOT slide down horribly tight across the wither. I can pull it up before starting, continue to tug throughout the ride, and i’ll often just dismount, and pull the pad out. I’ve tried all kinds of saddlepads. Even the all rubber ones. I like the saddle just fine, and it’s so great and light, but the deal with the saddle pads is horrible.

It’s been my experience that saddle pads pull down under almost all saddles… Of course I don’t use the loops at the top, I cut them off. However I have not found that the Thorowgoods do it any more than any other saddle.

Go high end second hand. You will not regret it.

You will not be happy with a saddle that is $1000 new. Welll, I wouldn’t be anyhow :slight_smile:


Agree. In addition, none of those saddles will come close to holding value if you need to re-sell. A quality, well made one you can find for your budget and likely re-sell for what you paid in a few years if needed. I assume you are looking at these new ones because they can be ordered with free shipping and return (like Smart Pak) but in the big picture, it is not really worth it.


Thanks for the feedback everyone, I have been looking at used saddles in my price range with no luck which is why I am looking at the cheaper new saddles. I just wanted to explain my reasoning a bit more I am looking for a new saddle for a couple of reasons-- the first being I have had some terrible experiences with used saddles (billets snapping, tree issues, flocking in terrible shape). I want something I know the history of and has a warranty that I can use if there are issues. Additionally I need at least an 18" seat, and they are few and far between when looking for saddles in consignment shops or from owners selling used saddles (there are literally 3 total 18" saddles in the three local consignment shops). Any that I do find that fit me do not fit my horses back, and I am not willing to compromise either of our comfort. I understand the point that an used saddle from a big name brand might be a better over time, but my budget is small, my local consignment options are limited, I refuse to buy a used saddle online, and I would rather have something that works for us both. If I can test it feel comfortable with the quality, then I don’t mind if I can’t re-sell it years from now.

But I will not buy anything that I think is poor fit for me or my horse, or doesn’t appear to be good quality, even if the price is right. Rejecting the Thorowgood immediately is an example of that. I don’t know if either of these new saddle options are viable, which is why I wanted to reach out and see if anyone had experience with them. Currently, a used saddle is not really an option for me and re-sell is the farthest thing from my mind.

Has anyone ever ridden in a Dover circuit saddle? A newer one preferably, as I am sure they have changed their manufacturing over the years. I have a feeling the HDR are probably not great quality (they don’t even look great in the pictures), but if anyone has feed back on those I would love to hear your opinion!


It was the T8, narrowed to an 1 1/4" towards the middle. My goal is a channel that is 3" all the way through at least.

Try Pelham Saddlery for a used saddle. They won’t take saddles if they have broken trees , missing billets, etc.

I think you will be much better off spending your money on a quality used saddle then buying a lesser quality new one.

You just have to be patient.
I have found it is better to find models that fit your horse and then narrow your search to saddles that fit you.

Depending on the saddle you may be able to ride in a 171/2 . It isnt just the seat size, it is also the angle of the flap and the location of the stirrup bars.

You cant know unless you sit in the saddle on your horse.

There really is no rule of thumb when it comes to saddle fitting.

There are some good web sites that show you how to make tracings of your horse,s back so you get a better idea of what kind of tree will fit your horse best.

Good luck.


Also, sometimes on eBay people sell new or virtually new saddles for good prices, because the saddle didn’t fit or they just didn’t like it or no longer have a horse. That’s a low risk way to get a good quality saddle if you know what you want and how it will fit. In these cases you are basically buying new, and photos will show minimal wear on billets, flaps etc. so it’s clear the saddle was never or barely used. There was e.g. a Bates Isabell, old style, with wool flocking that sold for $700 a couple of months ago, that had just a few rides on it and looked new. You can always ask the seller to send more photos, too.

I have ridden in the close contact versions of the Dover Circuit and HDR Pro Advantage. Personally, I could ride in the HDR all day. Not so much with the Circuit. I prefer the HDR leather over the Circuit as well. Neither were new models though. The horse has average withers and back width.
Not sure that helps. I have found that if it fits the horse correctly then it’s usually comfortable for me.
****Make no mistake; another person will have the exact opposite opinion of the above saddles. My experience is based solely on those 2 saddles.

I have a T4 HIgh Wither dressage 18 in (that rides bigger) that is very lightly used. I will look at my gullet channel tonight when I get to the ranch. I remember it being quite wide, will take a tape measure to it.

I also have an HDR that may well be for sale if next ride on my boy doesn’t work. Again lightly used (had a rough patch of horses passing). It does not seem to fit my new boy, but am giving it one more try. HDR is a very mixed bag, they have had some very nice saddles and some dogs. I believe they have changed manufacturing locations and things seem to have gone downhill lately. I am not seeing their older models advertised anymore. The new ones look quite cheap and I would be very leary.

You are not going to find much selection new under 1000. You COULD go on a british website and look at Kent and Masters High wither, they go for right about 1000 after exchange rate in Britain (1500 here). BUT if you wanted to return it that would be a pain. The wintec line is a possibility but the gullet bars are very short and that is typically not considered good for high wither horses.

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Actually, Hastilow makes the same saddles as the Thorgood T4 and T8 in leather under the label Kent and Masters. So you could try the Thoroughgood and if you liked it and had enough extra money to have the same thing in leather, you can get it from Hastilow USA. And if it’s in stock (meaning they don’t need to order it from the UK) you can return it. We did this for my daughter’s high wither pony - SmartPak had the compact version In synthetic (Thoroughgood) and , Hastilow Had the original. The compact has less gusseting In the rear panels which was good for my daughter’s high withered but flat backed pony. I would have bought it but we got lucky with a used Ideal that came as if it were flocked And fitted for our pony. But both Hastilows were returnable so it was worth trying.

A used Prestige Roma might work. They are normally about $1200 used.
Pelham Saddlery has a huge selection. Aiken Tack Exchange and Rick’s Heritage are also good

I found a Black Country Saddlery Eden with serge panels. Medium Tree 17 1/2” Fit one we thoroughbred great and need a 1/2 pad for the more rafter shaped guy. $700 Craigs list. Keep looking. I was able to sit in thei saddle. LOVE the serge!!

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PREconvert, are you sure that Hastilow is the one who makes the Kent and Master? I know they work closely with Vanessa FAirfax (who also owns Kent and Masters and Thorowgood), and the people who do Prolite (that may also be Vanessa Fairfax). And I know they do use the SimaTrees to build their own saddles on. I just had not heard that they were the ones actually doing the manufacture on the Kent and Masters.

I’ve had both those saddles, although I bought them used. The quality is actually quite good and they are good choices for a budget new saddle.

Another choice for budget new is the Cavaletti collection https://www.cavaletticollection.co.uk/cavaletti-collection-dressage-saddle.html

The leather is good quality and they are wool flocked. They have an adjustable tree that adjusts the entire tree and have a gusseted panel which can be let out if needed. It’s the budget line for Bliss so a Bliss rep gave me a demo to ride in and fitted the saddle for my horse, changing the tree and adjusting the flocking as it settled.

Having been searching on eBay and consignment I can tell you that used saddles are not always in an individuals price range, even the less popular brands. The ones that are cheap are wore out.

Look at the Collegiate, Stateline has the Lectern on sale for under $700. It’s not fancy leather, it’s basic, fits a narrow high withered horse well enough etc., yes it’s made in India but then so are many other brands. HDR are fine, some run a bit narrow, Wintec makes a high wither version now, worth a look but it’s a little over $1000.