Tad Coffin Panel Upgrade

A few months ago I purchased a used '09 tad coffin saddle to ride in while I am taking weekly lessons at a lesson barn. The previous owner told me the panels were re-done by tad coffin in 2019, but I noticed that the panels are very thin under the twist and feel too squishy to the touch right beneath the cantle (like my finger will leave an impression in the foam if I press hard enough). I am a university student so I cannot afford to pay $800 to have the panels re-done (and for them to degrade in less than 2 years) by tad-coffin, so I am wondering if anyone has had luck with an independent fitter re-doing the panels. What I am worried about is non tad coffin panels affecting the balance of the seat since the feel of the seat was the sole reason for me choosing this brand. My saddle also has the smart-ride tree so I am not sure if that would be affected by the re-paneling. I would just like to add that I currently do not have a specific horse that the saddle would have to be fit to since my lesson horse changes from week to week. I would really appreciate any advice or tips if anyone has gone the independent fitter route for tad-coffin repairs.

You didn’t notice the panels before you bought?

I can’t imagine you will save much by going to an independent fitter.

Have you considered getting some kind of memory foam or thinlite pad?

TC panels are supposed to be very squishy. If they are broken down they are just like pancakes.

I purchased the saddle online and in the listing the panels looked just fine. I’d ridden in my barn owner’s TC so that was how I knew what model I wanted. I do have a shimable sheepskin pad that I use under it for every ride, but I realize now that padding is more of a band aid and won’t help the weight distribution of my saddle. I know no matter what it’s going to be expensive to fix, but if I can save a few bucks that would be preferable :slight_smile:

Yep, i would classify them as “pancakes”

IME, “pancake” refers to broken down foam that’s compressed and relatively hard due to age and wear. So kind of the opposite of super-squishy, though it is interesting that your fingerprints stay indented that noticeably. Panels can be thin on purpose and it seems more likely that TC repaneled the saddle to be a very custom, very close contact fit for someone than a subpar paneling job with subpar materials. Do you know why the previous owner sold it? Have you tried contacting TC for more info?

I am in your same situation (catch rider/lessoner only) and thin-paneled extra cc saddle are some of the least flexible when it comes to fitting multiple horses, I find. And certainly not without a good collection of half pads! TC himself sells a proprietary half pad to help his saddles fit more horses, I believe.

I would not have an independent fitter try to redo the panels - if you are going to go that route I would have TC do it, or I wouldn’t do it at all. Too much risk of something getting messed up, and it would likely really hurt you on resale if you eventually decide to sell it. I would either save up and have TC make the changes (and I would make sure they thought they could change them to a more universal pro-panel-type fit before I spent the money), or I would try different shimmable half pads to find something that works better than what you have. If you are worried about weight distribution, the thinline trifecta shimmable pad might offer more back protection than the sheepskin.

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OP, call up Tad Coffin and ask him. He’s a very approachable guy and is proud of his saddles. He wants folks to used them and enjoy them.

His 888 number is stamped on the underside of the flap, along with the rest of the saddle’s serial number.

A couple of things:

  1. A 2009 TC saddle is pretty dang old. He builds them of lovely, soft materials so they don’t age gracefully. That said, your panels don’t look that old.

  2. The SmartRide tree didn’t exist in 2009. That’s why you need to call Tad himself and see what work has been done on this saddle. I think it would be strange that someone paid to replace the tree and panels just two years ago and then sold it to you for $900 or whatever. That’s an exceptionally low price for a TC saddle that’s not an original, 2009 saddle.

  3. But before that, I’d put my money into finding a few half pads that I really liked for the horses I was riding and fix my saddling problem that way. So long as your horses aren’t too narrow, I think your TC was a great choice and with pads, you can fit a lot of horses.

Good luck!

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That looks pretty normal IMO. My TC2 SmartRide panels are super squishy like that. I think you are probably expecting them to feel like traditional panels and they don’t when correct.

You might need to add the TC leather pad. Definitely give Tad a call about it. Also have the details of the saddle you were borrowing on hand.

If the foam still squishes, it’s not totally broken down. Then it is compressed and stays that way and will feel hardened. It is possible the way this one was redone is different than stock.