Saddle Woes

I’m sorry for the long story, but I feel that background in the issue would be good. I appreciate thougthful and constructive comments!

A few months ago I purchased a new saddle, and at first I loved it, i still really like it, but a comment from a trainer has made me feel very self conscious about it and have made me dought my descision.

I have been a hunter jumper my whole riding career, including being a paid working student as my first and only job between junior high and college, untill the last 2 years when I started college. Since there were no good jumper trainers in the area, I contacted a great dressage trainer that i had met in the town over and have been riding her horses and learning dressage basics ever since. I have been riding her horses in my CC saddle unless it won’t fit a particular horse, and I occasionally jump horses for her to mix up their routine or for clients looking for jumping horses and I try to ride at the hunter/jumper barn when I am home.

I had a very old, very flat Hermes saddle that I had been riding in when I was working at the hunter jumper barn and it was just given to me when I left. I hadn’t really had issues with it before, besides my trainer had once commented on getting my lower leg under me, but in my more recent riding I was finding that I was often enough feeling insecure and struggling with a chair seat. For this reason, and the fact that the saddle was showing its age, I wanted to find a new CC saddle. I had never bought a saddle before, so I did my best to research saddles and saddle fit for a few months, but never really thought of flap forwardness.

After a while of looking and researching and asking sellers about their saddles I saw a used one for sale on the Internet that I really liked and was in my limited budget. It was NOT a high end brand, but for a college student I had accepted it just wasn’t going to be. I quizzed the seller and got a thousand pictures and bought it. When it got to me I tried it out and LOVED it. I had a cushier, deeper seat and I felt 100% more secure. I felt more confident when I sat deep on those dressage horses, my leg felt better, I just felt better. The dressage trainer liked it too when she sat in it once for a demonstration.

But then a couple months later I went and rode at the hunter barn over Christmas break and the trainer, my former boss, said something about my saddle being huge and that I wasn’t that big. She nit picked at a couple other things about it that doesn’t need to be mentioned because it was a mistake I made in shiming my half pad and the horse’s conformation, not the saddle. Her barn is sponsored by CWD so EVERY rider there has a beautiful CWD saddle and those that haven’t switched yet have Butets. My new saddle is pervious model HDR Rivella, so I felt a little self concious of my less-than-par purchase, even though it felt better to ride in then the Hermes.

I am 5’3", 130 lbs and I bought a 17". The flat Hermes was an 18". I never felt I had issues with the the size but I knew 18 was way too big, so I measured myself, went with my gut and looked for a 17. I comfortably fit my whole hand behind me in my HDR, and the flap, when I think about it, is probably more forward then I need on a regular basis. I might have made a few mistakes in purchasing but I have never experienced having to fight it reguardless of whether my stirrups where shorter for jumping or lengthened 2 holes for dressage flat work.

So I guess the whole point of this post is… should I be concerned? Am I letting a comment from one person eat at me too much or could I actually be making myself look silly as well as hurting my position and effectiveness as a rider by having a saddle that actually fits me terribly? I have no photos or videos of myself riding in it right now, but I could get one tomorrow. For now, I have a picture of the saddle and a video of it on one of the dressage horses when I was lunging him. I’ll post those right now so you know what it looks like.

Thank you for taking time to read!

Saddles are a really personal thing. If you are happy with it, and it doesn’t fit the horse so poorly that it disrupts his movement, who cares! Of course the trainer won’t like it if she sits in CWD’s all day. And there is probably a better saddle out there for you, just not in your price range. Don’t let tack snobs get you down.

I worked for a trainer, and later on when I got my own horse and was looking for a saddle, I showed her one I really liked. She said, “That’s no good, you need a Dexoucoux.” But if I could afford one, we wouldn’t have been having that conversation in the first place! I was so annoyed. I wound up buying it anyway, and months later I went to one of her clinics and she said she liked my saddle. I was so excited because I knew that I had done good! I said, “This is the Stubben you told me not to buy!”

I agree with you there, if I had that much money just laying around I’d have a CWD too… and in the future I plan to get a nice one, but right now that’s a good year of tuition and living for me! I realize in hindsight that I could have gotten an even smaller size, but I think I’m used to riding in something that doesn’t fit me perfect.

If you like it, don’t listen to what anyone else tells you. Remember that the trainer is probably getting perks from CWD for selling a certain number of saddles to clients. Don’t let her pick on your insecurities in order to make a sale. As a college student, not blowing all of your savings on a fancy saddle is a very smart choice (this is coming from someone who did).

If you like it and it fits your horse enjoy it.

Do you have a picture of you sitting in the saddle to judge fit?

I can get one this evening! I will post it

I found a video of me riding in it on the flat. (Please excuse some of the wiggling, this horse was very heavy in the hand at the time and difficult to balance as he was returning to work to be sold after a long lay-off. It was also pretty cold here so I’m bundled up :))

In my non-professional opinion, I think the saddle looks fine. It’s a bit bigger than h/j people usually like, but your position is good, and in the end, that’s what matters, not fashion. Your decision to buy within your budget was a good one and shows a lot of maturity. You’re a lovely rider! Hang in there!

I’m currently looking for a saddle for my 12 year old who is 5’2 with long legs and about 110 lbs. We are looking at 17 and 17.5 (she’s sat in one or two very flat 16.5s that don’t have much room and the twist is too wide). She’s currently trialing a 17.5 medium-seat Pessoa and I think it might be too big - she’s wiggly in it - though the flap/hip to knee ratio is right.

So from my current perspective, I think your saddle looks fine. You certainly don’t look like you are fighting for position to my eye. If you are comfortable and it fits the horses you’re riding, I say keep it! It can be very hard to find something that works on a budget and it looks like you’ve got one there.

Being that you are a college student and feel comfortable in it, you made the correct decision in my eyes. Sure it would be nice to have a luxurious expensive saddle personally fit to mould to your bum. Everyone would love that. But we can’t all afford that. (Most of us can’t anyway) you are comfortable and don’t feel insecure. That is the most imprtant thing. Get a new saddle after you have graduated and have some extra cash if you want to. For now, you have a saddle and are riding great!

Looks fine to me, and I used to fit/sell saddles.

The seat is a big for you, but the flap looks fine, IMO. Despite the big seat, you don’t look out of balance. It’s an older style saddle, but there is nothing glaringly wrong with your position in it.

Don’t let the trainer’s comments worry you. You can’t afford a CWD right now…and even if you could, they may not work for you. Can’t tell how many people I see in a specific brand and it just does not fit them at all. It’s the reason I have a real problem with any trainer that pushes a saddle brand. It’s a huge conflict of interest…