Do you prefer a real saddle or the lighter weight synthetic saddles and why?
We are just getting back into horses after 30+ years. We have both types of saddles and I'm wondering what the real difference is besides weight.
I prefer real leather. Synthetic is nice, but if I'm going to ride, leather is my favorite, although its way more expensive than most synthetics. I don't really have a reason why I like leather better, I just do.
For light pleasure riding, I like the synthetic. It is comfortable and easy to maneuver up onto a tall horse (I'm short). A well broke in leather saddle is hard to beat though. It's just putting in all those painful years breaking it in...
It depends on the person. I like how much of a beating leather can take, but if I had my dream saddle I'd have that black synthetic (not the cardboard looking crap, the good stuff like Abetta) saddle with me right now. My reasoning is because I have a small horse and always feel a little bad putting a 50lb leather saddle up on her.
I like the feeling of a well broken in leather saddle, but I like synthetic more because I think it has more feel to the horse. :)
Leather. Tradition. Nothing wears like a leather saddle, nothing has the look, the feel, the scent, the class, of real leather. A good leather saddle will last a life time and can be passed down - synthetic will never have the same feeling.
A good leather saddle may weigh 40 or even 45 lb. While a synthetic only ~20. The 20 or 25 lb difference doesn't make a difference on the horse.
Leather saddles are beautiful, classic and can last decades WITH PROPER MAINTENANCE :) A well broken in leather saddle can be very comfortable - but it does take a while to get there.
On the other hand, a synthetic saddle is lighter, low maintenance and I don't feel nearly as bad when something happens to it. Wet weather rides? No problem. Scrubby, tight trail? No big deal. Saddle gets knocked over - just pick it back up. Also, some of the synthetics are really pretty comfy right from the start.
Its more a matter of preference. I prefer the leather-style synthetics to the fabric/cordura styles, but that's just me.
It seems most people prefer the leather. My husband surprised me in April with a handmade saddle. The state prison has a craft fair twice a year here. The inmates sell their crafts to the public. He found this saddle. It's gorgeous.