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WOW and Bua Saddles in 2023 (Update: Fairfax?)

Just wondering if there’s any update in how these saddles are fairing for those that have them? The threads are somewhat dated at this point, would be interested in hearing real life experience now that they’ve been out a few years.

I’m considering getting one for the filly. I finally sold off my expensive custom Stubben that never fit, and have a little extra cash that I could put towards a Bua or WOW if it’s a good investment.


I know several people quite happily using WOWs for dressage, although they’re not on this board to share personal testimonials. I’d be more apt to go that direction than a Bua, if I were in the market.

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I see more WOW than Bua in use.

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Thanks both. @K_VanOlst do you know how long they have been using them? I’m wary of the honeymoon period - I see a lot of people gush about saddles for the first six months but then you learn later that they had to find a different solution a few months down the road.

It looks like WOW does have a reasonable trial option.

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In both cases that immediately spring to mind, years. One case the person got a new (very differently shaped) horse and started over so ended up with two WOWs and some extra bits for swapping out pieces as the second horse matured, and is still using it today (so probably about 5+ years in various WOWs, if I had to guess?). The second person eventually sold her WOW when she sold the horse but definitely was happy with it through any honeymoon period :slight_smile: my guess would be at least 3 years but possibly longer? And she actually held on to the WOW for quite a while in case she got back into horses.

I also checked in with someone I know who trialed a Bua and I think the sticking point for them was that the flaps are very jumping-focused and less “dressage-y”. Obviously there are lots of people who do dressage in jump saddles, but for the price the person opted for a more traditional dressage saddle. This was several years ago so no idea if Bua has expanded their flap options since then?

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If you’ve never sat in a WOW, I advise you do so. Even if you did sit in one a long time ago. I sat in one at Equine Affaire a few years ago. I also sat in one a couple of days ago. I don’t remember anything about my experience the first time, but WOW was it offensive yesterday. Felt like all my body parts were in the wrong place.

With WOW you either love them or hate them. Same with the horses. I know a few people with them and they like the ability to tweak the fit, change out flaps, and whatnot. I’ve never sat in one. Worth a try!

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I think the whole purpose of the WOW concept is that they offer multiple seats and flaps and different configuration. Hating one doesn’t necessarily mean you would hate all of them. I got curious and scrolled their website and counted 10 different seat options ranging from academic to deep to xc to flat. That’s not even getting into flaps and blocks, just the seat options.

I do think this is probably a saddle brand that would be difficult to buy on your own without access to a good WOW fitter who stocked the various configurations. From my friends who have them, tiny adjustments can make a HUGE difference in how the saddle feels to both horse and rider. Ymmv!


Yes, definitely interested in involving an in-house fitter once/if I make up my mind about going this route.

I have an independent fitter coming out for my filly on the 10th. It will be my first time using this person, but they came highly recommended by several serious competitor-friends, and I know they have been this fitter’s client for years, which is always a good sign. I absolutely loved Patty Merli, who was formerly in my area and did wonderfully with my other horse, but I want someone who can put their hands on the filly because she’s wide. Wish I could convince Patty to fly up for a day - I would literally pay her flight fees :joy:

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I have a first generation Wow seat and still use it daily!
It’s been fitted with a variety of flaps and panels over the years - both dressage and jumping.
I’ve used it on eight horses to date - and that’s the beauty of it, I can custom fit it precisely to each horse using the headplates and different flair panels, plus air adjustments .
There’s only been one it didn’t suit and she needed a flat Y bar, this is the equivalent of the current semi curved.
You will have to tear this seat from my cold dead hands. I love riding in it and the horses all move so freely.


That is so cool. How did you figure out each configuration of each horse - is this something you did yourself, or involved a WOW fitter?

Sometimes I did it - three of the horses were related Lusitanos, who were all in exactly the same set up…that was super handy!
I had a selection of headplates and a pump kit to adjust the air, so by using the guide on the First Thought Equine page I could get by.
I have used a fitter if I wasn’t sure and generally see one once a year anyway.
I’ve got the gauge now, so with that it takes a lot of the guesswork out. For my current boy I always use a fitter as he’s tricky and very sensitive if anything is even slightly out for him. Technically he should be in a curved Y bar, so my fitter had to get creative with the panels and he needs one of the rarest that never come up secondhand - that was an ouchy visit when I bought those new and had them fitted.
He’s really happy and free in the set up we have though and I’m super secure on him. We are both better in the Wow than in the Fairfax he came with.
If you are relying on a fitter it’s crucial to get a good one, I’ve been really lucky to have some great ones (only one bad experience from one in all this time as my girl couldn’t bend left in the set up we were given - next fitter sorted it out in five minutes!) and my current one works for Wow rather than being an independent so she’s super knowledgable

I think, personally, the seat felt very separate from the rest of the saddle. That’s the part I didn’t like. Maybe it could have been adjusted otherwise.

I believe that is by design. The panels in the WOW saddles are independent of the seat, because they are modular saddles - very different than a normal tree. Some horses like it, some hate it.

I’ve ridden in WOW saddles for 20 years, and qualified as a WOW saddle fitter last year. Needless to say, I adore them.

As with all saddles, they need to fit (and be set up for) the rider. As an example, due to having low stock, I did a saddle fit where I fitted the saddle to the horse but didn’t have the seat that the rider liked. She was adamant to ride in it, and while said she was uncomfortable, rode the best canter pirouette she has ever ridden. I’m excited for the seat to come in that will fit her AND her horse.


Maybe I should make a new thread, but my new trajectory is Fairfax Saddles – anyone have experience? I had a fitter come out for the filly and this is what she thought would fit her best. She’s already an XW/XXW :exploding_head:

A friend has a Fairfax world class that she loves. Very adjustable. Real game changer for both her and the horse. Has been riding in it for over a year, had it adjusted by the fitter, still loves it.

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I moved my horse out of a Fairfax and into a Wow - his paces improved, his transitions were crisper and his lateral work had more sweep once we changed.
Much more secure jumping position for me in the jump version we have too.

That was the only difference, no one but me riding him. He arrived with the Fairfax and I’d ridden him in it for 6 months before changing him into the Wow, so gave it a thoroughly good go.

Wow go wider than Fairfax do as well.

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I purchased my Fairfax dressage saddle (used) at least 4+ years ago. It has held up very well in central NC! I love mine.

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I don’t know how the dressage line compares, but I had a Fairfax Classic Jump. I couldn’t stand it and neither could my horse. All three professional riders who schooled my horse in it hated how it influenced their position.

The highly-respected independent fitter I’m now working with refuses to work on that brand - full stop. N=1 so grain of salt, but she said she finds them incredibly unstable and doesn’t care for the workmanship. Resale was damn near impossible due to the lack of brand recognition in my area. I ended up firesale-ing it on eBay after a year of trying to sell it myself.

YMMV, but if you have other options I’d recommend against Fairfax.

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