What do I need to budget for a new saddle?

I have realized that my jump saddle does not properly fit. So starts the long process of looking for a new saddle, but before I begin I’d like to get an idea of the kind of budget I will need. Here are my requirements:

  • New
  • Wool flocked
  • Qualified saddle fitter
  • Comes in black

About 3 years and 17 pints of tears


There are 2 levels of saddles.

There are the semi-custom saddles that are sold by brand reps who call themselves saddle fitters but very often have minimal training. The selling point is that the saddle is customized to you and your horse. However lots of these reps over promise to make a sale and if you are a naieve saddle buyer you may not catch the problems until well after the sale.

Major wool flocked brands include County, Stubben, Black Country, Passier (mostly British and German). There’s more. I’m in Canada so the ballpark figure here is about $5000 for new semi custom. In the US I’d figure a bit less, maybe $4000.

Semi custom saddles do not hold their value that well. They are excellent quality but much of the value is in the customization. In geberal they sell second hand for about half of retail.

Right now the trend in jumping is French semi custom foam panel saddles, and they are considerably more expensive, in the $10,000 range in Canada, so probably about $7000 in the US.

The other type of saddle is the budget saddle, sold in tack stores, that may have an adjustable wither gullet. They retail for under $2000. I ignore them.

Thd thing is, in none of the above scenarios do you necessarily get access to a qualified saddle fitter. You get access to a Rep who had weekend training in how to put together specs for the factory to make your semi custom design. Some reps are OK, and some are appalling, and some companies that make excellent saddles nevertheless teach their reps untruths about fitting so they can make a sale.

Looking at all the above, my solution has been to find an actual qualified Master Saddle Fitter to help me evaluate and then reflock good condition second hand quality saddles. If paying $5000 would guarantee perfect fit, that would be one thing. But it doesnt, and I’m unimpressed with the brand reps locally. When they inflate their credentials, when I see peculiar handiwork (overstuffed panels, uneven panels, etc), when they boast about fitting 12 horses a day, when I see folks pay top dollar for a saddle that bridges or their butt is hanging over the cantle, when they say “our saddles can be adjusted to fit any horse,” I give them a wide berth. This is a compendium of a number of local reps I’ve observed over the years.


It really depends on what a saddle fitter tells you your horse needs and what fits you both. Too often that is a trial and error journey. New could be anything from $3,000 to $7,000 roughly, used about half that. Getting a good fitter is key if you are wanting new and/or custom.


All of what @Scribbler said. I’ve yet to find a Master Saddle Fitter near enough to me to fit my horses, but I’ve been able to get along well enough. Luckily my current horse does well enough in an off-the-peg saddle.

My horse before him, though, was a tough guy to fit. The only “saddle fitter” around here is a rep for a number of mid-range saddles and I don’t think this person really knows how to fit any. In addition, the person is known for being very quirky and, well, challenging to work with.

I ended up with a “custom” saddle that didn’t fit my horse, had to be sent back, and by the time I got it back, my horse was only lightly rideable anyway.

Find a Master Saddle Fitter. If I ever have to do it again for a horse of my own, I sure will.

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You’ve gotten good advice above. The only thing I’ll add is that, on top of fitting the horse, you also have to find a saddle that fits you. You may be lucky and both you and your horse will fit into a commonly available, “off the rack” saddle.

Or you may not be so lucky, and you’ll spend time looking for the saddle that works well for both of you.

I know that you stipulated that you want a new saddle, but I’d also urge you to consider a used saddle that is in good condition. You can spend a lot of money on a new saddle only to find that in a year or so of regular work, your horse has changed shape sufficiently to make that saddle inappropriate. This is why so many lightly-used saddles are on the used market. You can take advantage of other people’s mistakes or fitting problems by being willing to consider a used saddle.

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I just spent $5200 on a custom Black Country saddle… after buying a semi-custom Stubben ($4600) that didn’t fit despite being told otherwise, and after about ~$3,000 in various saddle fitting fees including farm calls and reflocking.

So whatever you budget for the saddle, budget a lot more for the fees associated with actually making sure this saddle fits. Including voting with your feet and involving another fitter.

My strongest advice would be to vet your fitters carefully and listen to your horse over them. If you have to keep involving them to reassess the saddle, they’re not doing a good job. If they’re changing brands constantly, or the saddle that they sold their client doesn’t fit the horse 6 months down the line, they’re not doing a good job. I kept giving the my fitter the benefit of the doubt and stupidly kept forking my money over to her for months at a time, meanwhile my horse was getting more and more unhappy to work. I paid six different saddle fitters over the course of 5 years before I found one that actually knew her stuff and actually sold me a saddle that still fits the horse 2 years down the line.


curious why it has to be new. If you buy used you are assured that the exact saddle you try and like is what you got… A well made saddle lasts for a VERY. LONG. TIME.


I guess it doesn’t have to be new, I was just imagining it would be easier to fit a new saddle than try to find a used one that fits. But after reading the responses, I am definitely considering a used saddle as well.

So what is the process for trying to find a used saddle? Do you usually go directly through your saddle fitter? Or do you find them on your own and only get a saddle fitter to evaluate saddles you have on trial?

I am lucky to have an independent master saddle fitter on speed dial :slight_smile:

She makes wither and back tracings, and showed me how to use them. I use them to reject most saddles on consignment until I find one that works. I bring it in on trial, see if it seems to fit, ride in it, have fitter come out to OK and flock if needed.

I have gotten competent at picking out appropriate saddles with her tracings.


I am not in the market for a new saddle but was reading with interest thinking gee-whiz a custom saddle has gotten expensive $5000? …until I ran an preset day dollar conversion on the saddle that we had made for our hard to fit horse. I paid $2500 in 1994 to have a custom fit to order saddle which would be $4583 in today’s dollar then add the 10% price increase that everything is adding these days bingo… $5041

How do you typically go about finding a used saddle online? Do you have a way of ruling them out before trial, or do you spend a lot on shipping back and forth?

If I was buying online I would try to work with a consignment store that was able to evaluate tracings.


There are some online tack shops that will work from your tracings and will give you a sense of what they have that might work. Pelham saddlery is one, but there are others as well.

I was able to get my latest used saddle online. I previously had my horse in a wide hoop tree Black Country, and fitter advised me that we needed to move to an extra wide. I’ve bought and sold lots of saddles at this point, so I had a pretty good idea of what would and would not work for me and my horse. Located a saddle on consignment with a professional fitter in another state (found the saddle listed on eBay, but got in touch with her directly). Followed her directions to the letter for tracings and sent though out so she could check for a likely fit before sending the saddle. Then when I got it I decided on my own that it was worth keeping. Luckily I was right as I didn’t get over to my fitter until after my trial period was over. This ended up being a little more expensive initially, but a much better experience than buying used from a random private party or tack shop that doesn’t have an experienced fitter to help you.

Also, I was going to mention, my fitter does Lovatt & Ricketts and can put you in a new, customized L&R for about between $3600-4500. It looks like the BC jumping saddles are running right around $4K right now as well. (both brands wool flocked and can be ordered in black).

If you really know what you need, I’ve noticed that black jumping saddles seem to be easier to find from the UK, and the prices are usually lower. I got a great deal on a nearly new Albion buying from a UK seller.

I’m fortunate to live in The Land of Ponies and reside in Horse Central so I have 3 trained saddle fitters in town… but smug boasting aside, I have noticed that custom saddles seem to be far more common in the USA than in the UK. Almost all good saddle brands provide enough options and variables within their products to fit the vast majority of horses and their riders. A fully customised saddle doesn’t hold its value and takes a long time to sell on. Spending time and money with a qualified saddle fitter is probably the best way to save money as well as uneccessary wear and tear on your good nature.


When I needed to shop for my mare, my fitter (yes, a rep) brought every make model and size of saddle she could get her hands on - including some of her own - in our brand (County).
She brought ones she thought would fit, knew wouldn’t fit (me) - but wanted to see if they sat right on my mare, and many that fit both of us. I rode in probably 6 different models. Some I knew right away were a no, others I took a second ride in. I kept one on trial and then purchased it. I have my fitter out to adjust flocking etc., every 6 mos. It’s been 3 years now.
We also, in the process of this, dragged out almost all of my barn mates saddles too, just to see how things were sitting on my mare’s back, and what worked and what didn’t.
I gotta say, a good and patient saddle fitter is worth their weight in gold.


I use Pelham Saddlery, I send tracings, and a list of what I’m looking for in a saddle and they pull a few options for me to try. In my perfect world, we do it where they come with the saddles and they assess fit them while I’m trying them. If that doesn’t work I’ll have them ship the two best candidates and try them and go from there…

My experience with County was similar. I’d actually had another (French) brand saddle I’d had her look at first, since she does fitting on other brands as well; said it was OK and would be fine with some shimming on a developing horse until we got to a more final shape/size. But I ended up doing a full fitting, with tracings, and she then pulled out a bunch of different models/sizes and sat in all of them as we figured out what fit both of us.

Once I knew those specs, I was able to look online for saddles that fit those parameters. County saddles at least a pretty clearly labelled what they are as far as tree/flap/panels, and a rep can run the serial number to be sure. The fitter then came out to look at the saddle once it arrived, and adjust the flocking to fit–most of the bigger online shops offer a trial period for just this reason.

You actually can do the same things with French brands, but the coding on them can be a little harder to decipher, but if you know what you’re looking for you can look for those configurations. Depending on how far out of the range of common you’re looking, it may be easier or harder to find–a black dressage saddle is common, black jumping saddles aren’t, for instance.

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