Talk to me about stübbens!

Hi all,
I’m recently a horse owner again, after 8+ years of catching rides and leasing. I bought a sweet young OTTB, and am borrowing a friend’s saddle for the time being, as my ooold Crosby is a bit too narrow for him. I’m not in a rush to buy a new saddle anytime soon, as I know he’ll be physically changing quite a bit over the next year or so, and the one I’m using fits him fine for the time being. That gives me plenty of time to research what I’d be interested in getting. I honestly don’t know if I’m 100% sold on the French saddles- I’m sure they’re impeccably made, but I’ve heard a few things about them that have put me off, especially given how astronomically expensive they are. I know some of that comes down to personal preference, but if I’m spending upwards of 6k on a custom saddle, I don’t really want any issues you know? I’ve gotten a few recommendations for stübben- I’d never given them a whole lot of thought, but they seem to have a very happy customer base, with a quality product for a slightly lower price point. The S Portos Elite looks like it’d be perfect for what I’m looking for. I’ve also been told they fit TBs well, though my new guy doesn’t have the sharkfin withers typical of the breed (current saddle I’m riding him in is a medium tree). I’ve never had a saddle tailor-fit to me and my horse, so I’m excited about the idea of having a saddle made for me. So, what are your thoughts? Pros, cons? What saddle manufacturer do you prefer? Open to any and all suggestions!

Dont get a custom saddle unless it is your only option. That’s my suggestion.

You can get an excellent used saddle to fit your horse and you and not spend the amount of a new c0mpact car.

I’ve worked for literal Olympians and WEG riders and a variety of other FEI riders. None of them had custom saddles. Not one. Some had saddles fitted regularly, some not. Some horses had particular saddles, some not. But no serious rider I know pays for custom saddles. The only people I know with custom made saddles are American mostly amateur riders.

Spend your money on other things. Lessons, shows, trips, massage.

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I probably should have chosen my words better- not specifically custom, but purchasing one that’s a good fit for me. I’m 5’2, I need a 16.5” seat with a shorter flap, and a medium to possibly a medium-wide tree for my gelding. I follow a lot of used saddle sale groups and at least from my passive searching and observing, it does seem like those criteria aren’t always easily found. If there are any suggestions for other used groups to look in, please let me know! Regardless, whatever route I end up deciding to go with, a professional saddle fitter in my area visits my barn regularly, I’d look to them for any minor fit issues that needed to be addressed.

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I know plenty of people who have Stubbens with OTTB who love them. Older, newer, and every style they sell. Generally they are hold up well, come in a variety of flap legnths and can be found used. I would look on the Facebook group Stubbens Saddles and Second Hand gear for options. Also definitely talk to your local saddle fitter.

Other brands I would look into are Corbett (no longer being made but I freaking loved the one I had), Black Country, County and other smaller British and German saddle manufacturers. Also Dover Circuit saddles are a pretty good bang for your buck.

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I have nearly exactly the same measurements as you, but on a warmblood. I had a custom French saddle made for my horse and absolutely hated it from the start. Didn’t fit the horse either. Sold it, took a big hit. Never EVER EVER EVER again will I get a custom saddle. My trainers love Stubbens. I was not so hot on them at first, since I’ve had Butets in the past and they are not pretty in that “French” way, but now I love them. I ride in an S Portos Elite. You can get a good used Stubben for cheap, even better!

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Since Stubben is not a in vogue French brand, they are often quite reasonable used. They did not have a model to fit my specific horse but I have liked the newer ones I’ve sat in recently. I felt that the leather quality, workmanship, etc. was very nice for the price point.

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I love love love my Stubben Zaria optimum saddle for my TB. I had my local saddle fitter out who also is a stubben rep and she hooked me up with the perfect used saddle.

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I ride in a Stubben Get Connected that was fitted to my horse and me. It’s kind of like a Portos, but not as deep of a seat and you can adjust the knee and thigh blocks. I preferred the way it felt to a Portos. The service has been excellent–they contract with a local saddle fitter who has adjusted my saddle several times and even persisted when the dang thing started slipping back a few years into ownership. The leather may not be as cushy as the French saddles but, if properly conditioned, feels soft and conforming.

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I have a 35yo Stubben Portos I that is still in great shape.
This, after sitting unused in my barn for over 5yrs. Applied Stubben Hamanol conditioner & it looks great.

It fit every horse I owned (& the schoolies I rode) up until my 17+H WB - he of Mount Withers :roll_eyes:
For him I got my only semi-custom saddle.
Stubben Maestoso, free of thigh blocks & a mere pencil kneeroll.
The demo fit us both from the getgo, modifications cost little, total including fitting was $3600 - this was in 2010.
Saddle is still.in great shape, no thanks to me. I just wipe sweat off after a ride, clean & condition maybe once a month.

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If the tree shape works for your horse, Stubbens can be a great option. The newer style ones are quite nicely made and more comfortable than the ones of the old days. They also have a variety of fitting options, which is great.

In a similar price new category, I am also fond of Prestige saddles. They have great adjustability, have wool flocked options, are comfortable for horse and rider, plus are available new and used at a variety of price points with a variety of finishes, styles, block and flap options. I actually just bought one new (my first ever new to me saddle since my Crosby Prix De Nations in the 90s), and I am not sorry I made the investment as my horse is tricky to fit.

Whatever you get, adjustable (by a fitter) and wool should be on your list. If it fits you, you can generally get anything done to it to fit a new horse or him as he grows. I have a Hastilow and just had it refitted from my WB to a medium pony for way less than buying new or new-used, keeping a saddle I was already comfortable in. It was $200ish and went from a med-wide to a triple wide :laughing: with refreshed flocking.

Used Stubben don’t seem to hold their value well so you can pick up an amazing deal on a great saddle . I’m in the “I love Stubben camp”. It is one of the only brands that doesn’t give my husband hip pain when riding. The saddles wear like iron but are comfortable for those of use who use our dressage saddles for endurance distances.

Their foam flocked saddles are a great alternative to get a French saddle feel but with high quality leather. They have thin panels and a very narrow twist compared to the same saddle flocked. I just haven’t seen a French saddle hold up to the amount of riding we do, but my hubby’s Stubben looks brand new after years of long rides.

I find their more u shaped head plate fits my horses well and I’ve never had an issue (MI and OH) getting a fitter. Support from the company has been awesome too!

Stubben also has some great sales on new/demos if you need new. I also really like Stubben’s conditions cream to take care of leather.

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I’m usually a sucker for the French saddles but they would not fit my very round mare. I bought a used Stubben camelot off ebay and expected it to fit my horse but just be “meh” for me. I seriously love it… it’s so comfortable. I always thought the older used Stubbens were all rock hard but I was so pleasantly surprised. I did not pay that much for it but you wouldn’t know that by sitting in it. I’m a fan!

I have a jumping prestige and a dressage Albion - both extremely reasonably priced, especially if you don’t mind used from eBay. For a custom fit saddle that’s French I’d consider a Bruno Delgrange - Brunos hold up in condition and retain their price much better. You’ll see 10-15 year old saddles still sell in the 2.5-3k range… Can’t always say the same about Antares or CWD.

I did a lot of research before deciding to go with Stubben over a trendy french brand (CWD, Antares, etc). I’ve had two french brand saddles with composite wood trees twist and become furniture. The stubben tree won’t twist or lose it’s shape due to its construction. I also appreciate the commitment to wither clearance regardless of tree width. I’ve seen trainers blow through the leather on their french brand saddles, which I haven’t had happen with the Stubbens. I appreciate that they will also wool flock their jump saddles which french brands won’t do (County is the only other mainstream custom saddle that wool flocks to my knowledge). The price point is about 25% less than comparable french saddles.

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I’m petite and have a 16.5 Portos Elite with, I think, a 30 tree. It might be a 31.

I bought it new off the Stubben website for a crazy deal and it still looks impeccable 5 years later. Fits a broad range of horses, I find it very comfy and it has beautiful leather & workmanship but is still tough - it’s no big deal if it gets rained on a little and doesn’t have to be babied like so many new saddles.

They do tend to fit TBs well but if there is a Stubben fitter in your area I’d highly recommend getting in touch and having them out to look at your horse and have you ride in some demos. Some people simply don’t like Stubbens - they seem to be very “love it or hate it” as it’s definitely a different feel from something like a CWD - so at least ride in one before you buy it!

There is also a good Stubben tack sale group on FB worth checking out.

Stubben might have a bit of a bad rap because ironically the old saddles lasted so long. There are still beginners and lesson programs trucking around in 40 and 50 year old Stubben AP saddles that are pancake flat and have never been reflocked because no one thinks it’s worthwhile to spend $300 to reflock a $150 saddle :).

The modern Stubbens don’t look anything like that, they are normal comfortable saddles like a County or other solid British or German brand. It’s not that long ago that County was the it-brand for hunters anyhow.

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I have a Portos. Stubben really is the way to go for horses with withers. Any other saddle I every put on my OTTB was a disaster (I bought 3 in the course of a year). Beware buying used without the help of a good stubben rep. They have so many options for customization that you could get burned by - short tree points vs long, narrow twist (stamped NT on the billet guard), get connected has a different tree, ascend has wider gullet, the list goes on… For instance I tried to buy a used Portos in the tree size and seat size I needed, but it turned out to be an NT which completely changes the shape and fit for the horse’s back and would definitely not work for my mare.

Ended up just having my existing portos tree widened for her, which is another bonus. You can have stubben change the tree width a couple of cm a few times during the saddle’s lifetime.

Check out saddlefitting.us on Instagram for lots of great content featuring modern stubbens. Go with wool. The fit is better and it’s much less high maintenance than the French fitters will tell you :wink:

You might read that they are “banana shaped” but how upswept the panels are or are not can be modified if you get wool panels with gussets. Sure, it won’t work for every horse, but I think this scares people off when it shouldn’t.

I don’t own one, but I’ve ridden in the newer models a lot. They have a good balance and a narrow twist, which I like, so it’s easy to stay over the middle of the horse over fences. But the seats are extremely hard, and I don’t find them particularly comfortable for doing a lot of flatwork.

A lot of people on this thread have said they are more durable than the French-made saddles, and I’m not sure that’s true of the more modern ones. I’ve seen a lot with wrinkled and torn flaps after heavy use. I know people who have the bottom of the flap reinforced as a preventive measure, but that obviously affects feel. I do think they are durable saddles, and the seats seem to hold up, but I personally have never seen holes like that in the flaps of older French saddles with grain flaps.

My saddle of choice is Butet (also a narrow twist). I would never, ever choose a Stubben over a Butet, personally. But if there was a horse a Butet didn’t work on, it is definitely a brand I would consider. A lot of the wider saddles–like CWDs–hurt my hips.

So true. My Stubben Siegfried was bought brand new in 1969 (I was a teenager) and I sold it 8 years ago for $500 to a local riding school! I’m sure it will outlive me. Stubben is a quality brand that will last forever although I am not familiar with their newer products. However, my Stubben didn’t compare in looks or comfort to my CWD, which was NOT fitted for a particular horse. It fit me and it fit many of the horses I rode and leased with a medium tree and pro panels. But for the OP I would recommend going with something that is wool flocked since your young horse will be changing shape as he progresses. The problem with custom fitted for a particular horse saddles is that they so often don’t seem to fit, according to the reports on these forums. And then the companies refuse to correct them, or the corrections are inadequate.