Saddle Shopping - Why are there so many CWDs?

So I’m starting to casually look at used close contact saddles, and it seems like everywhere I look there’s a ton of CWDs. There’s a sprinkling of Pessoa/Bates/Antares/Voltaire, but the vast majority of what I’m seeing are CWDs.

What’s going on? Did they fall out of fashion? Did a ton of people buy them and then hate them? Or is it simply my location/google algorithm that thinks I want a CWD?

CWD hit the market really hard by sponsoring lots of barns. Pros would get discounted saddles (potentially heavily so) by convincing students to also order CWDs. I assume they threw them at big names for free. It was effective, suddenly everyone had a CWD, they were the hot new thing. Thus, they end up on the used market a lot. Outgrow it, get a new horse and it doesn’t fit, move barns and this trainer has a different saddle sponsor (seriously, it happens).

I bought a used one for a good price and I like it, it fits me and my horse well.


I would guess the same. They are very, very popular among the same demographic of rider that regularly upgrades or replaces their horse(s) or their trainer or their gear. The foam panels cannot be as easily restuffed or tweaked to fit a new horse, or even the same horse whose body has filled out. I expect that if you are in the realm of $100,000 horses and $8,000 saddles and $10,000 horse shows, you might continually want to upgrade your saddle(s) seeking that marginal competitive advantage.

There might be a new flavor of French saddle getting popular or they might be getting new CWD, or the trainer might be sponsored by Voltaire.

I don’t think there’s been a sudden turn against them or anything like that. It is possible the leather wears out a bit faster than in the old school British and German saddles.


Going to be honest - I have bought and used many CWDs and enjoyed them quite a bit … but I sold each one because I was too scared to keep them and risk having the leather wear through! I’ve seen a lot of CWDs with a hole where the leg sits. I have also seen a lot of CWDs that have leather added there for reinforcement so that doesn’t happen in the first place.

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The one affluent family I briefly crossed paths with was selling off the teen daughter’s outgrown CWD saddle plus the mom’s barely used CWD saddle plus the moms $60,000 warmblood that she bought as a total beginner rider and kept falling off. Plus the CWD nylon bomber jackets that were probably gift with purchase originally. I kept seeing the saddles on FB for CAN $10,000. Basically new price. But if you bought new you’d get semi custom to your own horse. No idea what they sold for, or if they did.

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And/or their semi-customs over promised and under delivered, don’t fit, and the saddle owners give up and sell them.


OP, also the Pessoas and Bates saddles you mention are in a different class than the CWDs and Voltaires. When the next new thing comes along, I think you’ll see more Voltaires in the used market, too. Of the french brands, I’d say CWD spread the most saddles and fitters around the US. Now that some of the others are taking or taking back some of that market, that might be what you are seeing.


The over proliferation and potentially over promising really makes sense. It used to feel like every barn was sponsored by CWD.

I’m glad to hear that there aren’t any crazy known issues with them other than the standard calfskin/thinner leather saddles will wear out faster than the heavier leather.

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This. My last trainer was sponsored by CWD as ardently pushed the purchase of a CWD saddle. Basically I was the only one of her students who never bought one but I came close to it.


They had a lot of turnover in their reps in recent years, and not all of them were great at saddle fit and ordering. So, I think you had a lot of people with saddle fit issues as opposed to being a problem with the saddles generally. Plus they were really popular so there are just a lot out there in general. I had an SE01 that I loved, but it didn’t fit the horse I bought subsequently, and CWD was a disaster on repaneling it - created new problems trying to solve the bridging problem. It was really frustrating. So if you can find a used one that fits you and your horse and you like it, I wouldn’t hesitate, but if you would have to count on any tweaks to the panels or fit beyond a shimmable half pad, don’t do it!


I tried a CWD when I was saddle shopping a few years ago and the pommel was too high and made riding in it very uncomfortable. I ended up with a de la Grange that I love. The CWD reps come to a lot of the shows - much more so where I live than any other brand. They seem to market them well. Could be that they are selling a lot more than the other brands so there are more used ones on the market.

CWDs are also available in grain leather and buffalo, as are most of the French saddle brands. I prefer grain with calf seat and knees and my CWD was in mint condition when I sold it seven years later.

agree with other posts. To add some of these saddles are hard to refit to other horses, or if horse changes as they go from young to maturity and muscle up, or getting older. Of the people I know that have them, they like them a lot. I tried one but was the wrong fit for me, which wasn’t surprising. I didn’t love the saddle enough to pursue more used ones.

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This is why the whole pro sponsorship thing rubs me the wrong way. I would never buy a product because a pro is sponsored by it. It actually turns me off more. I like Antares saddles because they fit my horse well and they aren’t overly poofy. They have the AO (wide) tree that my horse likes. I have had my saddle since 2003. I recently switched to dressage and found a used Antares dressage saddle with the AO tree. My horse and I are happy.


Similarly, why is it that I can’t turn around without tripping over a Devoucoux Chiberta? I’m not in the market for a saddle, but I idly scroll through FB Marketplace and it seems like they are everywhere.

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And yet someone on FB was wanting to charge people a non-refundable $200 “trial fee” (plus buyer pays shipping both ways) to try hers. I was like “good luck lady!” :wink:

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I came across that same post. Her reason for doing that didn’t even make sense. Because her other saddle was on trial longer than expected and she lost out on a potential sale because of that. Just sounds like another way to make more money.

Same post. It made no sense to me. She had people interested too who promptly dropped right off when she showed how weird and unreasonable she was. Oh well. She says she looooooooooves the saddle. I suspect she’s going to get to keep loving it because it won’t sell :lol:

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I also saw that ad. And I agree with your conclusion that she will continue to love that saddle for a long time.

Horse shopping and saddle shopping on public sites sure makes for good people watching.

Because they fit horribly and they heavily discount them compared to the other high end brands. They fall apart too.