Your advice regarding saddles please?

Hi Sonnys Mom - Thanks for the info re Patrick Saddlery. I’ll check them out!

I know a couple of people who’ve ordered saddles from Kent & Masters. They’ve been really happy with them. I rode in one when hunting their horse last year and really liked it. Not too much $$ either.

Equipe are an italian brand and they are being raved about right now.

I have had an Equipe for about six years, I love it. It was marketed to me as a “cheaper version of the Pessoa.” I don’t have a Pessoa, so I couldn’t tell you about that, but it did look similar in pictures. I have it on a smaller-framed Thoroughbred, it’s always been good for him. I don’t like it quite as much as my CWD, but it’s still a super-nice saddle, puts me in a good position, very secure, nice feeling/looking leather. I had been riding only a few years and had a Wintec that did nothing for me. I put the Equipe on my horse and immediately picked up the correct canter leads and managed a flying change. So, as far as I am concerned, it’s basically a miracle saddle.

I have seen a few saddles from Frank Baines now, and I have liked all of them…so have their owners. They seem to be pretty good about getting the measurement and fit right, especially on unusual or hard-to-fit horses. They are also VERY reasonably priced.

As in your last thread, I really do like my CWD. The rep I used was very involved and I got a good feeling from her, and the saddle is great. I sent my horse to a new trainer and her comment was “it’s nice to get a horse in whose tack actually, REALLY fits.” I have also been lending this saddle to a friend who is using it on a horse built VERY differently than mine, and she was ready to offer me cash for it after the first hour. LOL, not for sale, but she definitely felt the same way about it as I do!

+100 to everything written below.
I just ordered an AMAZING jumping saddle from Hastilow USA. The fit and feel are better for me and my horse than ANY french brand that we tried including Butet, Devoucoux, Antares, and DelGrange.

I found that the British saddles offer many more fitting options for the horse than the French saddles do. There were more options to choose from in terms of not just panel type, but girthing system, and so forth.

While I won’t argue with fourf that there are many nice French saddles made with very luxurious leather, I disagree with what he/she said about the quality of British saddles. I’ve seen some very nice buffalo and calfskin leather saddles coming out of the UK. While they may not be as soft as what you find on a Devoucoux, I think it will last longer and have less tendency to become discolored from boot rubs and sweat.

I personally think that $5-6k for a Butet is ridiculous. You can spend around half that for a British saddle and customize a lot more.

Um, there are plenty of gorgeous, high-end, bench made, wool-flocked British saddles. I’ve also seen my share of junk looking $5000+ French saddles.

And, perhaps unlike her French saddle that she paid a mint for, that was supposed to be customized but didn’t fit and had to be remade-- with a British wool saddle she might actually get a saddle that fits!!!??!! If reports here are any indication, you roll the dice ordering a “custom” French saddle from many of the popular brands. It’s just as likely to fit as not. The company/rep is just as likely to care as not. They’re just as likely to try to resolve the issue as not. With a truly custom made (not customized panels) wool-flocked saddle, assuming the measurements are correct, you’re going to get something that not only fits but can be tweaked and adjusted over time.

Brands to look at include Albion, Black Country, Lauriche, Custom, Hastilow, Ideal, Bliss, and Patrick. I am also blanking on the name of the guy in VA who makes saddles from scratch and they are SUPER gorgeous. He’s been around for years. If I remember I’ll update with another post. It’s bugging me that I can’t recall his name.

If you want more widely-available there is also County, though I have had really hit-or-miss rep experiences and they have exclusive rep areas so you may be stuck with whatever rep is near you. I believe some of the French saddle brands will make you a wool-flocked saddle although they may try to dissuade you. I have seen wool flocked Antares and CWD though it’s possible that they were done after-market. It didn’t really look like it though.

If you want fancy fancy fancy you can get a bench-made British saddle that is literally made for your horse from his specific measurements, from scratch… with whatever upgrades and fancy bells and whistles you want/can afford. It will STILL probably cost the same or less as a trendy spendy French saddle that shows up in a box, came off a shelf, and might not fit.[/QUOTE]

I had a similar experience to Rugbygirl when I tried an Equipe on my young mare-- had been having problems with canter departs and the saddle put me in the perfect spot. They are made with a memory foam-like material which gets a custom fit but also allows switching between some different shaped horses with ease (trainer likes hers for all the young horses she rides).
Can be hard to find in US… I think there are only 2, maybe 3, dealers

My recommendation is to find an independent fitter who has a ton of saddle and brands for you to try to find that works both of you. In my opinion, your fitter is the most important for their fitting abilities and their customer service.

Equipe are nice, I’ve laid hands on a used one. Unfortunately I haven’t ever had any luck finding a rep who could fit one (a local store will sell you one but they don’t have a fitter). It’s a nice saddle though, I agree.

I have a CWD and I love it! I have a 17’2 hand TB/WB cross with knife withers. Before I got the CWD I went through what seemed like a boat load of saddles. None fit him - sat right down on his withers. Finally decided to go custom. My trainer rode in a CWD and when I sat in it, it was literally the MOST comfortable saddle I had ever been in. The CWD rep came out and measured my horse - measured my leg, watched me ride and made a saddle custom to fit us both. After I got it, there were some adjustments that were needed. So he took it, made the changes, had it oiled for me and now its wonderful. Used to be that when I tacked up my guy, he would see the saddle coming and get this “oh no!” look in his eyes. His old saddle hurt him. Yes I have guilt about that - didnt recognize it. My bad. But now he is fine when we tack up and is SO soft when I ride him. Plus, its clearly the most comfortable saddle for me too! So my vote is for the CWD. Check it out!

Yes Patrick Saddlery makes beautiful saddles. He used to work with Schleese to make their JES line. He’s won many competitions in England.

Patrick Saddlery makes saddles to die for–excellent for both horse and rider comfort. I’m also very partial to Adam Ellis–another saddle maker out of Walsall. (His website is being redone but you can find him on Facebook.) Both offer bench made saddles.

There are many nicely made in England saddles…I have both, one French saddle (Forstier) that I do ride some in, and another English saddle (made by Ideal) that I also ride and hunt in. They are two different style saddles; I like each one well enough. I must say the leather on the Ideal is wearing better than the leather on the Forestier–the calf-skin seat on this one is really showing the wear. The English Saddle isn’t showing any wear at all on the seat. (Think the seat may be buffalo??? Not sure on that. But I thought that was what I was told.)