Hello All! I am new to this forum, and I have a question. I am going to be attending an equine college, and I need to purchase my own English tack. Can anyone point me in the right direction as to which saddles would be best? Unfortunately there is no such thing as "one size fits all" in the horse world. Even more unfortunately, there is not just one breed of horse at this college. I currently have a Wintec AP saddle. I have yet to ask admissions if they will accept it for both Dressage and Jumping. In the event that they will not, I am keeping my options open to purchase another. Until then, I am looking into purchasing both a Dressage and Jumping saddle. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
I would probably wait until you are given a horse to train? Is that what you will be doing? Do they assign you a horse?
I would probably look for something leather, it has more give to it so it will fit a horse better.
Personally I LOVE Keiffer dressage saddles! I found a few used one that were in good shape for like $500! I would buy one of very good quality and used! Cheaper than buying new and good quality saddles last a long time!
I'm not familiar with your price range, but I will try to cover a large spectrum for you. I will start with the best.
There is no saddle greater than Devoucoux. Once you ride in one, no saddle is ever the same again. They're just... amazing. My personal favorite is the Devouxcoux Chiberta, which is a monoflap jumping saddle. Devoucoux saddles are quite expensive, but oftentimes on eBay, you can find them used for a very reasonable price.
Custom Saddlery saddles are, and pardon my slang here, freaking awesome, too. You don't have to have the saddle custom made to you for them to be great saddles... used on eBay is definitely the way to go about getting a quality saddle at a low price!
In a perfect world, I would have a Devouxcoux Chiberta saddle for the jumping phases and a Custom Saddlery dressage saddle for dressage. However, they are expensive. But if you can swing it –*go for it!
Some other great brands are CWD, Amerigo, Beval, Hermes, and County. These are at the top of your list! :)
Now moving down to middle-of-the-road saddles we've got brands like HDR, Pessoa, Bates, Toulouse, and Stübben. Personally, I would place Stübben at the lower end, but we must acknowledge the decency of some of their products! When it comes to saddles in this region, don't go for older models. Getting newer models used is fine –*but old designs here tend to be, well, crappy. These brands tend to be kinder to your wallet.
And at the lower end of our spectrum we have Wintec, Circuit, Collegiate, and Ovation. Typically, these are saddles that are cheap, decent, and often "starter" saddles.
And this brings us to our "avoid at all costs" section! Kincade, Crosby, Miller's... anything that's generic... "starter kits," etc.
Now remember that I'm not saying that the more expensive, the better – it's not about price; it's about quality. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for. If you're truly serious about your equine career, do what you can to get saddles in the upper spectrum. Your tack makes a huge contribution to your success! Now, at the end of the day, you can put a bad rider in a good saddle and it's still a bad rider, or vice versa. But don't forget that your tack can actually inhibit your abilities as a rider.
Avoid "all-purpose" saddles –*or as a huge amount of professionals refer to them, "no purpose" saddles. Sometimes it is legal to compete in them, but it is in no way good.
Best of luck to you, and be sure to let us know about your adventures! ;D
Thank you both so much for all of your input! I will be attending Meredith Manor. I'm very much looking forward to it, but they require many items that add up very quickly for a new college student! I have been looking around for used and consignment tack stores; it is certainly a work in progress.
I disagree about Collegiate being "lower end" saddles...I love my Collegiate, I think it's absolutely wonderful for the price range. Obviously it's not the best that you could buy, but I would recommend them in a heartbeat, especially for someone on a bit of a budget!
These are some pics of mine, just so you can see :)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a Crosby or an Exsell or any British-made saddle, if it fits you and the horse. They are just out of style because hunters are wearing French saddles, lol. Crosby was imported by Miller Harness and had lots of models that were well-suited to American horse breeds. Crosby name is now owned by Weatherbeeta, too.
Sticky leather is in vogue now, and calfskin-covered French saddles are what's hot. Calfskin will eventually wear out, get holes in it, and/or delaminate from the leather that it's glued to. You have to ride in breeches not jeans, to avoid wearing out seats and flaps on these new soft-leather saddles.
I wouldn't buy anything too high-end or too expensive while attending college. Potential for loss, damage, or theft is high. I'd personally not take any real good tack to college unless I lived alone in an apartment or a house and didn't have to worry about stuff walking off.
HDR has a range of saddles from cheap to good:
Club at the bottom
Di Rivel at the top
Rivella is probably where I'd start looking, and some of the Pro series are really not too different from the Advantage saddle, but come with a longer warranty.
Pessoa is made in Argentina now. As such, it's not superior quality to Ovation or Collegiate or Rivella or anything else made in Argentina.
Ovation is made by Ruiz Diaz, the company that made the Collegiate saddles back when Miller Harness Company still owned that brand. So, there's nothing wrong with an Ovation except that some people have a bias against anything that's not from France.
Collegiate used to be made by Ruiz Diaz in Argentina, and some of the better Collegiate models are still made in Argentina from European leathers and are quite nice saddles. Weatherbeeta owns that brand now, and some of the other Collegiates like the Convertibles and the low-end models are made in Vietnam of Asian or Indian leather.
Oh, and Sue Schurer in PA puts extensions on stirrups bars or can install adjustable stirrup bars or extended bars to move leathers back toward the rider. People gripe about saddles chair-seating them, but that usually means saddle is too big. A cc saddle doesn't need to have 4 fingers worth of excess saddle behind your butt. If you do that, almost certainly the saddle will be too big for you.
A dressage saddle might need 4 fingers, because they have high cantles and you can't sit on a cantle.
That is very good information, thank you! I will certainly look into those brands. My price range is probably a few hundred dollars; with around $650 being my max cap. I am buying the supplies little by little as I can afford it. So used tack and consignment stores look pretty nice as of right now. Especially because I have to purchase two saddles; one for jumping and the other for dressage.