What are the favored saddle brands now?

For the last almost 20 years I have ridden in Hennig. They no longer sell in the US. I love that saddle and fit, although I do know that because they are handmade, there might be some of the same make/model I wouldn’t like. I like a narrow twist and my horses are in the wide range. I like pure wool flocking, but I am open minded. I prefer a flexible tree, but again am open minded.
I need a saddle that affords shoulder freedom (as do we all). I have a 30" inseam so I am not tall. What should I be looking at?

I’ve had good luck with the Passier saddles that have the FRT tree. I used a Passier Sirius on my short-backed “shouldery” mare while her saddle was being built. She now goes in a Ryder Panamera.

I’ve heard good things about the Tota saddles. They have similar trees to the Hennig. Charles Tota may even have some Hennigs still for sale. Good luck!

has a few

Seriously, don’t pick your saddle brand, pick your fitter. Find the best, not always the most popular, fitter in your area and go with them. They will make or break your experience with any saddle brand and can guide you in the best direction for you.

29 Likes

Golden advice.

(I am so fortunate to have a fantastic local independent fitter. She isn’t focused on a particular brand, but on finding the best fit for the horse and rider pair–whatever brands/models work best for the particular horse and rider.)

I’m in the same boat. I love my Hennig Sofa and it has fitted my rather wide horse well until now. It was fitted to him over a year ago and may be a tad tight now. I’ve been casually looking and Custom saddles (Wolfgang and Steffen’s Advantage R) may be a good choice. My trainer has three or four of them. I’ve ridden in a few and they have a narrow twist and deep seat. The Advantage description mentions shoulder relief.

There are a lot of used Hennigs out there, especially in Florida. That’s where I bought mine. If I could find a wider tree Princess model that fit my body type, I’d probably buy it.

Many brands claim to have the cutback area for shoulder freedom and backwards points. It takes some research and trials to find one that works for you and the horse.

Prestige may work for you. My Prestige D1Dk has shoulder cutouts, a narrow twist and I’m also not tall.

Patricia at Fine Used Saddles often has Hennigs listed on her website. She sold my last one for me.

https://www.fine-used-saddles.com/saddles/pc/viewCategories.asp?idCategory=3

Haha, I have a Hennig sitting unused if you want it. Just haven’t had the energy to list it.

Not sure if this is allowed so mods please delete if not.

1 Like

Re Custom saddles - I like their design etc, but having had two of them, I’ve been disappointed in the quality of the materials. Both had holes quickly worn in the thigh blocks (admittedly partially rider issues) but still…Both also got wrinkles in the seat and one also got cracks which turned into holes in the seat. Both were six year ago +/- so maybe thing have improved. But when I had the seat of #2 recovered, I did NOT send it to Custom, rather to a saddlemaker in Alabama who turned it around in about 2 weeks, at 2/3 the cost and a super job.
At the moment I have becoma a Trilogy fan. Debbie Witty is a super nice and super knowledgeable person with a great process to find what works for the rider. Once you own it she comes, looks at the horse, checks its back, watches the horse go, etc etc. I bought a new one for younger lusi/WB cross that has worked out great and later a used one for my then 19 yr old Lusi that is also working great. We are in Florida so not so hard to get her, but she travels all over with regularity to keep her clients happy.

6 Likes

I have heard that about Customs. Odd that they wear so poorly. Years ago, I had a Lemke Buffalo Deluxe. It was super comfortable. I bought it in England directly from Ryder, who makes them.

There are a few saddles I absolutely can not use. Passiers and Countys put me in a horrible position and cause pain.

I played tennis for years. When it was time for a new racquet, I demoed at least seven before finding the perfect one. Saddles are the same.

Ditto your experience with Custom and Trilogy. I’m on my second Trilogy saddle (horse change) and their N Ca fitter is excellent and very thoughtful. I look forward to her advice.

Interestingly, none of us have had problems with wear on our Customs. We don’t have an independent fitter, so follow the advice of picking fitter, not brand. My trainer had a saddle which was probably close to 20 years old and he had the blocks re-covered once and billets repaired once. He would ride up to 6 horses in that saddle daily, without issue. No one else had wear issues at all. Yet I’ve seen multiple people post about wear, so I’m not sure how a barn full of Customs has been so lucky!

With my short legs, I have to have short blocks my knees fit below or I get wedged into the blocks with my knees forcing my seat back onto the cantle. I also have to have a narrow twist because my hips are not made to work on a wide twist. I also need a steep rise in front and a good flat spot to allow myself more freedom to move. Knowing what works for you is key, and a good fitter will help you figure that out. I’ve been lucky with easy to fit horses, and I’m the challenge.

I’ve had great luck with Stackhouse. Handmade and they are beautiful. I am not easy on mine and they wear great. I just had Leslie and David out a few months ago to check the fit on all my saddles and the fit looked super, horses are happy. They will also consult on fit for one of their used saddles. I had terrible luck with County (took the advice of finding the best fitter in the area, she was fine but their saddles don’t work for us) and really needed something truly custom for one of my horses. I did a lot of research and ended up with Stackhouse. I have several friends with them and they also love them.

2 Likes

Thanks, I will look at them!. A used Hennig is out of contention because I had a bad experience with their US expert recently and I am looking for a different saddle.

Does anyone have experience with the Fairfax saddles with the changeable heads? My current riding horse is not quite four and is going to change a lot.

There is one Lemke dressage saddle listed on eBay right now. It’s not my listing, but it’s a steal.

I ended up with a Fairfax dressage several years ago through my independent fitter. My horse was 5ish and was just getting started under saddle.

The gullets are very easy to change. I have my fitter out every 6 months or so to evaluate the fit. Mostly, she just tweaks the flocking, other times she swaps the gullet. Generally, he stays in the medium-wide. She has put him in a wide or a medium at times, but that was when he was either too fat/out of shape or in full training. My saddle is now discontinued (cob dressage) but it has held up very well.

I have previously had a couple Fairfax saddles. They’re one of those things that either works for you or it doesn’t.

I did very recently get one of Ideal’s new adjustable saddles as I have an ever-rotating crew of sales horses. I am impressed with their gullet bar design and I was able to get custom options. The saddle is well made and the fit seems pretty versatile. I haven’t had it that long to really speak to the longevity, but I will say that the price was about half that of the Fairfax World Class model.

I like the Fairfax saddles. They have nice balanced seats, and I really liked blocks on the World Class. The gullets are pretty easy to change, the leather is good quality. If you are used to a full custom or semi custom saddle, it might be an adjustment - the twist is not as narrow as some brands. Of the interchangeable gullet brands I’ve sat in, (Kent, Wintec, Ikonic) these saddles ride most like a “regular” saddle. I am also considering one for my 5 y/o PRE. I cannot ride in a Kent, and the Ikonics are naturally lower in front than I like.

My mare…did not like it. She flat out refused to move. We ended up going with something with shorter tree points and a more open base of withers.

An Albion with an adjusta-tree might be a good option. They are a little behind in new orders at the moment, but there are many, many used ones out there.

Ah, so you’re the one they design saddles for! I tried a horse recently and its saddle was an Icon Star and that rise killed me! Although the seat on this one was not flat … it was my usual seat size but I felt there was no space for me, like I couldn’t even get on my seat bones and was stuck on my crotch.

1 Like