Whether to ship an old/ancient saddle (x-posted)

Good morning COTH! A few questions/short novella about saddles.

I’ve been getting back into riding by taking lessons. Am planning to lease a horse this year. I’ve not put any thought into getting a saddle because, well, no permanent or semi-permanent horse at the moment.

There is now a potential lease horse in the mix, and it was mentioned to me this weekend that I might want my own tack. Yay! Shopping!

This is where things get interesting. I’m not particularly interested in dropping thousands of dollars on either a very nice saddle that may not fit horses beyond the lease horse. Also don’t love the idea of spending still significant money on a placeholder saddle (though likely where I will end up).

Across the country, in my mother’s attic, is the Courbette that I rode in as a teenager. I bought it used. It’s probably 30 years old. My butt has not sat in it for 20 years. My mom will need some help to get it down from attic, but she did crawl up there this morning to look at it for me. I asked for pictures and she sent a video (because, moms and cell phones). It looks to be in okay shape. I didn’t ask her to take any measurements. I have no idea if it fits (let’s just say my butt has grown some in the past 20 years). Here are my questions:

  • Any experience shipping saddles? Cost? Tips for packaging?
  • Risks of riding in a 30 year-old saddle? I’ll replace the stirrup leathers. Should I check billets? Have it reflocked (if possible?)?
  • Should I just have mom put the damn thing on Ebay and buy a new one? Looking to eventually ride in the jumper/eq ring, hopefully. If I buy something, I’d like quality and some flexibility in fit but I don’t need luxury/fancy. I’ve been riding in everything from Butets to old Stubbens in lessons and have no preference.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts!

Any local pack&ship type outfit would have the required “stuff” to package it securely, it’d be worth the $10-15 fee to just have them handle it. Because the carton will be large but have lots of empty space due to the shape of the saddle, the carton is prone to getting crushed. So for sure you will want them to include corner protectors (they’ll have them on hand).

Shipping will only be like $50, totally worth it. If nothing else, you can clean it up and sell it if it doesn’t work for you. Seems a bit much to ask to have Mom deal with selling on ebay, that’s a big hassle. I don’t think my Mom loves me enough to do that. :laughing:

I would ask Mom to measure the seat, flap length, and tree width to make sure it’s at least a plausible fit.

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From recent experience, shipping is $50-$100 depending on company, route, box size, and saddle/packing weight. You’d be surprised at how limited the protection is when a retailer ships one. The last few I’ve received have a bit of padding on the bottom (the saddle placed either upside down or knee rolls/pommel down) and that’s it. If the saddle doesn’t have its own cover than maybe some paper wrapping. The box is generally a heavy-duty type and it is pretty close to the size of the saddle so there’s little shifting in the box. The boxes arrive a little beat up but never so bad that the you worry about the saddle. I figure they’re the experts! Also, no packing peanuts, although that might be more of a cleaning/mess issue than a protection issue.

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Great suggestion on the corner protectors! And you’re totally right, it will be much easier for me to deal with selling it, if that’s the route I take, than asking Mom to do it. (I felt guilty enough asking her to get up there and look at it). She has a gentleman friend coming over on Friday to help her get it down. I’ll ask her to take some preliminary measurements then. Thank you again!

Thank you for that info!

This cracks me up because 5 years ago when I got back into riding, I pulled my used Courbette out of the basement where it had been for 20 years. It didn’t fit my lease horse or my own horse that I bought a year later. I tried to sell it, but the local tack shop with tons of saddles on consignment didn’t want it. I ended up donating it to the local horse rescue’s tack sale.

Unless you are in a really remote location, I would think that you should be able to find some low-priced saddles locally to try out that you might have more luck reselling later.


Thanks Gardenhorse! Great idea on donating it if it comes to that.

Other folks have addressed the shipping angle so nothing much to say there, but YES, please please please have an experienced saddler check the saddle for safety. If it’s been up in an attic for 20 years it’s experienced climate fluctuations and it hasn’t been cared for in that time. Dry rot is a distinct possibility! Replace the billets, definitely have it reflocked, and while that professional is looking at it have them check the stitching and the condition of the rest of the leather.


Thanks @Renn_aissance. Will definitely take to a fitter to see if it’s safe/worth it to salvage this saddle, or better to get another. Appreciate your input!

I had UPS do all the packaging on an ancient (1950s?) stock saddle that I shipped to myself in MN from my parents place in CT. It was worth the $ to have them package it. I am sorry that I can’t remember the price, but this saddle should be a ton easier. This thing was huge and h-e-a-v-y.

Agree with all of the advice on having it checked for safety.

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I have two 41-year-old Courbette Husars that are still in great shape, one of which I use regularly and have actually had pretty decent luck with when it comes to fitting the horses I’ve used it on (though, most were on the narrow side). They wear like iron, the quality is unbeatable, I find mine to be very comfortable (though I’ve never had the luxury of a cushy saddle and am used to the harder seats; I find that the twist and shape of the seat on my Courbettes are right for me, though).

While one of mine is near mint and doesn’t need anything replaced on it, the billets on the one I use regularly are starting to show some age and will need to be replaced sooner rather than later, and I’m planning to get that done. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to check the billets at all, along with the panels/flocking and stitching.

If the saddle is in good shape, and is found to fit the lease horse and yourself, I don’t think you could go wrong! Older Courbettes are great saddles!

I had my second Courbette shipped to me from eBay, as well as a couple of older Crosbys, and all got to me safely with no issues. As long as it is packed well, I think it will be okay!

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Yesterday, I mentioned this potential saddle to my instructor. She seemed open to it/intrigued, but she mentioned a possible downside that we’ve not discussed. She said they finished the leather differently when this saddle was made, so it might be very slick. There are sprays, etc., to help with this, but just thought I’d point out that consideration.

I’m not sure about Courbettes but my old Stubben Siegfried was as slick as glass so your instructor may be right. The difference between my Stubben and my CWD was world’s apart. I couldn’t ride in such a slippery saddle now.

I haven’t found my Courbette to be slick, though it is definitely not “grippy” like today’s saddles. To be fair, I have not actually done a lot of riding in anything newer than my Collegiate and Crosby from the '90s, so it could be that I am just used to riding in less grippy saddles and don’t notice it as much, because I also don’t find it to be hard but know that anyone used to riding in a French saddle or anything similar absolutely would. You could try some sort of seat cover (I believe they make suede ones) to make it less slick.