Saddle Shopping - input welcome, please - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 11-25-2012, 11:53 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Saddle Shopping - input welcome, please

Continuation from my Black Country thread...

I had a saddle fitter out in early October from a very reputable, high-end store in my area. He didn't spend very much time with me or Ronan, and recommended a Kentaur Naxos (the only saddle he even tried on Ronan's back) with a Thinline pad. He didn't watch me ride, and he 'forgot' (?) to call me for a 6 week follow-up appointment. Basically I feel very short-changed by this individual, and not cared about at all. My budget wasn't that large, at $2500, and I felt very brushed off.
Last week I started riding with a GP coach who said right off the bat that the saddle doesn't fit. I called the company and complained that there is no way that a saddle would become that ill-fitting within 6-7 weeks from purchase. The GP coach said, hands down, to get either a CWD or another French-made saddle.
I complained to the company that sold me this saddle, and was told to contact another saddle fitter from the same company, and that they wanted to make it right. I met with her last night and am very impressed with how thorough the entire process is, and it really showed me how much the first fitter hurried though and didn't give the whole experience. This woman did tracings, took photos, and tried on various high(er) end brands which fit awful. She then suggested that I go with an entirely custom-made Black Country saddle. It would be truly custom as the tree would be made to Ronan's back, it isn't a "custom" where the padding is rearranged to the horse's back. We discussed other options, and her opinion is that he needs the support that a Black Country K-panel (or alternatively a dropped panel) will offer. She said that some other saddles may be able to be padded up to more or less work, but she's worried that they would sore him after time.
I fully believe that a saddle that fits only needs a small saddle pad to keep the panels clean.
She has taken the initiative to talk to the owner of the store and arrange full refund of the Kentaur as well as the Thinline pad that I bought to make the Kentaur fit; with the funds going towards the new purchase. I'm kind of excited about the prospect of a custom saddle, even if it isn't French - haha. I'm also a tiny bit excited about being able to pick everything out, from the leather colour to the type of leather to the piping colour. But I am trying really hard to not let that override my sensibilities.
She recommended, hands down, a Black Country Ricochet. Total price comes to about $3300.

Today I had a rep from CWD out to see Ronan and myself. The take-home message basically was to get a medium tree of whatever saddle I wanted (i.e. fit *me*) and we could order panels in for whatever horse, whenever - so it's basically mine for life. She had me ride in a few saddles. Saddle #1, a demo, was relatively uncomfortable, but kept me stable. Saddle #2 was an 18" used saddle for sale - no go. Saddle #3 was the most comfortable, but it had me practically riding on the pommel, on my crotch. The rep liked #3 best, and explained that if I got a forward flap, it would alleviate the pommel/crotch problems. Ronan didn't go really well in any of the saddles, but again we were fitting *me* and not him.
Basically, she's going to look out for a medium tree, forward flap 17 1/2" saddle, then we would pad to fit Ronan.
I guess CWD has a storage place in the States, so if she finds a saddle for sale there, I would have to pay shipping to get it here to Alberta, then ship it back if it doesn't work. Then I have to wait 4-6 weeks to order panels (I would pad the saddle to fit in the mean time) and then be without a saddle for 2 weeks while it had the panels redone.

I rode in the Black Country again afterwards, and it was *so* much more comfortable in comparison, and Ronan went well in it. HOWEVER, it is a brand that I know my GP coach won't like, and it's a deep seat. Two strikes against it.

I'm so very confused. My GP coach is in California till mid-December, and I need to have something decided before then.

- My coach will like it
- It will hold its resale value
- I didn't feel comfortable in any of the saddles I rode in tonight
- I am not confident that the panel change will make so much of a difference that it will magically fit Ronan, hands down.
- "saddle for life" - basically it's *mine* for life, and panels are swapped out (to the tune of $600 each time) to fit individual horses. I'm not sure that this will be good for Ronan as it's such a general fit.

Black Country:
- Very comfortable, I feel very secure and able to use myself correctly
- Ronan moves well in the demo
- Completely new and within $200 of my top price range
- Completely custom to Ronan and myself
- Relatively sure my GP coach won't like it.
- Deep seat
- Unsure of resale value, it being custom-made and all

Thoughts, please? I'm actually *very*stressed about this...
I will be trying a Devocoux and Childeric this week at some point..

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post #2 of 8 Old 11-26-2012, 12:33 AM
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Black have to ride in it, and your horse has to wear it.....not your coach. Plus all the other good things!
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post #3 of 8 Old 11-26-2012, 10:38 AM
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I wouldn't care what trainer said personally. Didn't try the model you are talking about, but BC Eloquence is an awesome saddle. If you and your horse prefer BC (and it fits both), you better go with BC. Uncomfortable saddle may screw all pleasure of riding in no time (I'm not even talking about the horse). As for keeping a value I looked into BC while back (I still consider getting one at some point if it'll fit my horse), and all used saddles were almost as expensive as new ones. Even customized.

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post #4 of 8 Old 11-26-2012, 10:51 AM
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I think it's irrelevant if your coach likes it or not. s/he isn't paying for it and won't be riding in it. I think you should go with the Blacl Country based on what you've said.

If its any consolation, my horse hated CWD saddles. I could barely convince him to walk in hand and he flat out refused to do anything but pin his ears and buck under saddle. I felt like I was sitting on a 2x4.
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post #5 of 8 Old 11-26-2012, 11:30 AM
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Personally? I would go with the saddle that you and Ronan felt most comfortable in, which would be the Black Country. Your trainer's not riding in it, and while their input is valuable, the CWD doesn't sound like it fits either of you well and is bound to cause problems down the road.
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post #6 of 8 Old 11-26-2012, 11:33 AM
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Agree with the others, JDI. Unless your trainer is planning to wear it herself, I don't see how what she thinks has any bearing on the issue.
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post #7 of 8 Old 11-26-2012, 06:45 PM
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I look at it like this.

Horse and rider are two sentient beings divided by an inorganic interface (saddle) with two main purposes.

(i) It must bear the weight of a human being, with a skeleton not designed with riding in mind, on the back of an animal with a skeleton designed to hang weight below the spine rather than support it from above, and cause minimum interference to both

(ii) It must support the rider's efforts to keep his/her constantly shifting balance matched to the constantly shifting balance of the horse, at all paces, without causing any discomfort to either.

Because in this situation the horse is worse off (ie. it must bear the rider's weight, and - in the main - it must make most effort to balance the rider), the horse's comfort is paramount and the rider's, though important, only secondary.

Admittedly that's looking at it mostly from the horse's viewpoint, but is there any other way? :)
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post #8 of 8 Old 11-27-2012, 07:21 PM
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I'm not sure what all is involved in swapping out the panels on the CWD (I've never actually heard of that brand at all) but when I was saddle shopping, my saddle fitter stressed that the shape of the tree was very important, perhaps the most important part of fitting a saddle to a horse. You can play around with the flocking in the panels to adjust for minor fit issues, but you can only do so much. I'm assuming that what CWD would do is a bit more involved than reflocking, but it doesn't change the tree shape, does it?

I'd personally ignore what your trainer thinks of your saddle brand. It's great to have a brand that you like and recommend, but no one brand is going to work on all horses, and to expect all of your clients to buy that one brand is just silly. If my trainer made a big deal of me not buying the saddle she recommended (especially if it didn't fit me OR my horse) I'd be looking for a new trainer.

There's certainly an economic advantage to being able to buy a used saddle vs. getting a new/custom one. If you bought a new saddle, rode in it twice, and tried to resale it immediately, you'd probably be pretty disappointed with the price you'd be able to get for it. With a used saddle, though, you should be able to resell it for about the same price you paid for it unless its condition changes (from wear and tear), though the more expensive a saddle is, the longer it could take to find a buyer.

Really, it sounds like the Black Country is the right saddle for you and your horse.
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