Leather or Synthetic English Saddle? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 12 Old 06-27-2012, 01:37 AM Thread Starter
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Leather or Synthetic English Saddle?

I ride Western usually but I've been looking into switching to English because my barn mostly rides English and I have been interested in it for awhile. I'm looking for an English saddle but I wanted opinions on two things before I buy anything:
1.) Is it better to buy new or used if I am a beginner English rider and don't really know specifically what I want to do (ie. Dressage, jumping, etc)? I was thinking maybe buy used and then when I get better and more specific buy a newer saddle that will last me a long time....
2.) Would you guys recommend leather or synthetic? What are the pros and cons of both? What's the difference in cost, quality, care, etc. Also what's the resale cost of a leather saddle versus a synthetic one?
Thanks,
Margo
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post #2 of 12 Old 06-27-2012, 01:41 AM
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All purpose it the way to go if you aren't sure what discipline to specialise in (if you choose to specialise at all). I think I'm a bit of a tack snob and love me some leather tack, but synthetic is a fair bit cheaper.

I say synthetic for now. But if you want to splurge go for leather - it depends on your budget.

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post #3 of 12 Old 06-27-2012, 04:04 AM
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Synthetics are cheaper than leather when new, but there are some really good second hand leather saddles out there. If you do decide to go and splurge on a new leather saddle at any point, and are getting an AP or dressage, I'd suggest you go black as they have a significantly higher resale value than browns. Conversely, if you're going for a second hand leather saddle, you can generally get much better bang for your buck with a brown one because they're not really in fashion. My brown leather Passier (good quality, good enough to use in lower level comps) would have been $2500+ new, I bought it for $500, which was around half the price of a good new synthetic.

I've found the points on synthetics to often be of poor quality. Leather has more give in it and is more supple (but in saying that, it will stretch). Synthetics generally don't need the TLC that leather saddles do, and they're handy if you want to do beach riding. They're generally lighter than leather saddles as well.

As other posters have said, I'd get an all purpose if I were you, til you work out what discipline you want to focus on (if indeed you want to focus at all!). They're generally cheaper than jump and dressage saddles anyway. Just steer well clear of the budget ones, I've heard of them breaking during a ride. Oh, and remember to budget in stirrup irons, leathers and a girth, as they generally don't come with the saddle (again, I'd not be keen on those "starter package" ones...).
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post #4 of 12 Old 06-27-2012, 07:13 AM
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I agree with everyone else. :) I do a bit of jumping but I still have an All Purpose because the vast majority of my riding is flat work, plus my parents wouldn't see anything practical about having two saddles haha.

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post #5 of 12 Old 06-27-2012, 07:39 AM
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mango, while I'm not the biggest fan of A/P saddles (I prefer to have dressage for dressage and CC for jumping), if you just want to give a try may be it's a way to go for you. If you look for one make sure you'll get one with flaps forward enough so you could do jumping later on if you decide to give it a try. Some A/Ps are more "dressagy" type (straighter flaps), and are not good for jumping purpose.

As for leather vs synthetic, I go for leather any day, BUT it's a matter of choice. Synthetic saddles are cheaper and easier to maintain (Wintec, Tekna, and Thorowgood (spell) come to my mind as good brands to try). Personally I'd look for something used but good brand (whether it's leather or synthetic) that would fit your horse and your own butt.

P.S. Do NOT go with the cheap "starter" packages. Those will be waste of money in 1st place.
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post #6 of 12 Old 06-27-2012, 09:02 AM
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Can't speak for Tekna or Thorogood, but I love Wintec. Easy to care for, (especially in hot and humid weather like I have down here) comfortable, light and affordable. I already have 3 leather western saddles to care for, so a synthetic English is my way to go.
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post #7 of 12 Old 06-27-2012, 09:14 AM
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I have both a Wintec 2000 AP that I bought new, and a Stubben Siegfried GP that I bought used. Both are great saddles, although if I were going to consider jumping, the Stubben has a more forward flap than the Wintec.

There's nothing wrong with buying a synthetic, as long as you stick with the recognized quality brands. Same goes for a used leather saddle.

As Val stated, stay away from those garbage-y 'starter package' saddles. They're cheap for a reason.

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post #8 of 12 Old 06-27-2012, 12:24 PM Thread Starter
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So if I get a synthetic, I'll get a Wintec. If I go with leather what's the best brand to look for? I'll buy used if its leather so which keep their quality the best?
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post #9 of 12 Old 06-27-2012, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mangomelon View Post
So if I get a synthetic, I'll get a Wintec. If I go with leather what's the best brand to look for? I'll buy used if its leather so which keep their quality the best?
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Do you own a horse? You can't just "get a Wintec" (or anything else). You have to buy the one that fits your horse. Otherwise your horse may face back issues down the road (as well as develop nasty habits like bucking or grinding because of pain/discomfort).

As for leather ones look into Stubben, Passier, Collegiate, Bates. But again, you need the one that fits the horse. The best would be to buy locally or from someone who allows the trial (so you could try it on horse).

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post #10 of 12 Old 06-27-2012, 01:18 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I own my own horse and it was awful finding a western saddle that fit him... He's 5 years old which makes it hard because he isn't full grown yet and he's been changing a lot. I've made the mistake before of buying a saddle without being able to try it on/return it and ended up with a saddle that didn't fit my horse.. Not fun. I'll definitely try any saddle on him to make sure it fits before I buy it :)
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