Saddle Shopping

Hi everyone, I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I need a new saddle. The one I ride in now is an older Crosby Excel with plain flaps (no padding or knee rolls or blocks) and it is not only contributing to some major knee pain but it also just doesn’t fit me properly. It fits my horse wonderfully (regular tree) but on me the flaps just aren’t long/forward enough. I made the pilgrimage to Beval and sat in some different saddles, and I liked Antares, CWD, Devoucoux, and Butet. I’m around a 17 or 17.5 but also a long forward or long very forward, and unfortunately none of the saddles they had there fit my long femur. I’m looking to buy used to save on cost but still get the quality. I also want something that will be durable, and I know buffalo is the big one for durability right now but I also know it drives the cost up. Do you guys have any suggestions? Past experience with durability issues with any of those brands? Anyone know if reps from those companies will bring along used saddles to try or if they only do new customs? Thank you all in advance! This is my first post so be gentle :slight_smile:

My CWD rep brought a truckload of used saddles as well as brand new demos. His used inventory contained Antares, Devoucoux, CWD, Butet, pretty much all the French brands. I think most of the reps bring an assortment of new and used.

I loved my CWD and am also partial to Butet, but I suggest keeping an open mind and trying everything you can until you find the perfect fit for both you and your horse. You can also get excellent quality, less expensive saddles if it doesn’t have to be a French brand, Black County and many of the British brands, whose names I can’t remember at the moment.

Antares has had an ongoing problem with broken trees, I don’t know if that has been resolved or not, but you m ight keep it in mind.

Grain leather is also very durable and much less expensive. Grain with buffalo seat is another option.

I would check out saddles made for eventers. They tend to have a more forward flap then the standard CC… If you like the french saddles I would try L’Apogee,I love mine.

CWD’s 3 and 4 flaps are pretty forward - I’m pretty long from hip to knee, and the 3C flap on the SE01 fits me perfectly. The 4 was a little too forward on the horse’s shoulder for me. There are a lot of used saddles on the market in your size - try your CWD rep, the saddle companies’ websites (they have used inventory online), and places like Maryland Tack Exchange (they have their inventory well-described online and were very easy to deal with - I tried 2 that did not work, and my refund was issued very promptly upon return).

As Madison already mentioned, check out the used saddle websites, fineusedsaddles.com; frenchusedsaddles.com; allthebestusedsaddles.com; there are a ton of them. Patricia at fineusedsaddles.com has an especially good reputation and so does Rachel at Iselltack.com.

Not sure where you are located but Meg the New England Devoucoux rep has been a HUGE help for me. I am still on the search for a 17.5-18" Biarittz (sigh) and she has been amazing answering all my questions and scouring the universe for one that works -and i the mean time she is letting me try saddles that she currently has available so we can further narrow down fit etc.

Look for a CWD in a 3C (or, if your femur is RIDICULOUSLY long, a 4C) flap. The CWD seat runs a little small so if you’re a true 17.5 in other brands you may fit in an 18 CWD. There are a bunch on used tack sites and ebay right now.

I am six foot, all legs, and all femur. The Butet doesn’t come in a forward enough flap for me. I haven’t tried an Antares or a Devacoux in their longest/most forward flap option but the CWD 3C fit me with a little room to spare.

You’ve made a good start, and your next step is to put them on your horse and see how you feel. There are saddles I loved sitting in on the saddle form and weren’t great for riding. The balance changes once it’s on a horse and you’re posting or jumping or sitting or in half-seat or whatever.

I would start with your favorites from your Beval trip and contact the appropriate rep. If you’re looking for used only, let them know, since they often have used inventory floating around, and something may work for you. You can also set up a fitting for you/your horse and figure out the exact configuration in which saddle will work for you and your horse, then take that information, send it to the good used saddle people (Fine Used Saddles, High End Used Saddles, iSellTack, etc.) and check around on eBay, along with having the rep keep their ears open. If you want a trial, definitely stick with the reputable higher end used saddle dealers and avoid eBay.

In regard to the brands you listed, I have a personal affection for Butet, and love the balance and feel. When I tried Butet, they didn’t have the perfect configuration - it was either too much flap or too little, but on all of them the balance was perfect anyway, and I felt very confident pulling the trigger on that purchase. The grain leather is very nice - I would say second best of all the French brands (with Delgrange’s grain leather being number one) and you can find a lot of lovely older Butets still hanging around, which should speak to their durability. My barn has a huge number of them; the oldest is a 2004 model that looks and feels like a saddle many years newer. I also really like CWD. They are comfy and balanced, and the horses seem to like them. I do not think their durability is quite as high as some. I was riding in my trainer’s 2011 model with buffalo seat/knee pads, and there were some tears in the knee pads where they were separating from the grain leather. The leather itself didn’t look like it had held up terribly well either. Mind you, that was a trainer saddle, but she cycled it in and out with two others, so it probably saw 2-3 horses a day. The Antares leather seems to hold up well, but they do have a history of tree problems. For me personally, I found the Antares balance was less than ideal, and it was a huge struggle to ride properly. I have a long femur as well but YMMV! I had similar issues with Devoucoux but not to the same extent; I just didn’t love them. Various horror stories about their customer service didn’t even make them a consideration, though if you’re buying used that’s a different story.

You may want to see if you have a Voltaire rep that can bring you some saddles to try. I have long legs, as does a girl in the barn who’s 5’11" and we both ride in Volatire’s and really like them. Our trainer also has a couple she rides in and has for the past few years and the durability is good. Good luck!

Thank you all so much! Huge help already! I’ve been scouring all those websites the last few weeks and have found several that seem like try might work but I’m hoping to avoid the trouble (and expense) of shipping saddles back and forth. A friend of a friend has actually offered to let me ride in her Antares even thoguh shes not selling to see how I like riding in it and if it fits my horse, she has a similar build to me with long femurs and it’s a long forward. I would love to check out the eventing-feared ones for exactly that reason but I would like to be able to show hunter classes with it. I really liked the feel of the Butet but it seems like 1/2 the time i see one used inkine it’s had the knees and seat replaced. I know the calf is great for the yummy grippy factor but I worry about it being just tio soft. That was good to know about Antares with the tree issues and the cwd leather problem. I’m sure everyone has some horror story about every brand out there but if it’s a recurring problem it’s not a good sign. There aren’t that many people at the barn Where I board who have higher end saddles, mostly HDR, Toulouse, Pessoa, plus the lower end stuff too, so I don’t have muh first-hand (or second-hand for that matter) experience with these brands, only what I’ve been able to dig up online. I’m trying to save money in the future by paying more now for higher quality. It doesn’t have to be French, I would absolutely look into an English saddle or something else too, those are just what I was able to try so far. I know someone with a County saddle and she swears by it. Unfortunately she’s tiny and I think it would be like sitting in a lead line saddle if I were to try it lol

Btw I’m in NJ, anyone had any experiences with the reps from those companies in the area?

There was a Voltaire at Beval when I was there but it didn’t even approach fitting me so it wasn’t worth trying (18.5 extra short!). The quality seemed high I’m just leery of it being a new brand and the flashy colors they use.

I LOVE my Voltaire. My trainer is a longtime, die-hard Antares fan, and even he will admit that the Voltaires are great saddles. Our barn is slowly converting from an Antares barn to a Voltaire barn. I bought mine used about three months ago, but it was made in 2011 for a trainer who rode up to seven horses in a day. It’s definitely well-loved but the leather has held up beautifully and it is in incredible shape. It’s the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever sat in. I love it! I definitely recommend trying one if you can find one that will even come close to fitting you.

I would look at Black Country. They are not as pricey as some of the others and can make certain adjustments based on you. Love the serge panels too!