Advice for Buying a Saddle?
I'm starting to jump again, so I need my own saddle. I don't need anything fancy, just a used saddle. I'm going tomorrow to look at some, but I'm not sure what size I should be looking for and how to tell if its good for me.
I'm exactly 5' and I've been told I need a 16" saddle. Would 17" be okay? How will I know if that saddle is good?
Thanks in advance!
I would sit in the 16" and the 17" (if you can) and see which you like better. My Stubben Siegfried is an 18" and I'm 5'7" with a ~32" inseam. It fits me perfectly (there's a little less room in it now that I've gained weight, but not bad).
If you can do a withers tracing for your horse and take it with you, that will help you with gullet size if you don't already know what size you need.
As for quality, stay away from anything that the leather feels cheap/stiff/cardboard-like. Also, look at the saddle from front to back and vice versa through the gullet channel to make sure the tree is straight.
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All the saddles I'm looking at are 16" - 17" and have the same tree size, which is M. There is one 16" that is an N.
Thank you so much, though! I'm quite picky about quality. No saddle of mine will be cardboard-like! This is my first saddle, but I still want people to be like, "Dayum! Sutcliffe's got herself some saddle there!"
What do you mean by "the gullet size will change with the horse"? Are you looking for a saddle with the interchangable gullet system? If so, you have a better chance of making it fit several different horses. If not, then you'll need a shape and size that will just give you plenty of opportunity to pad and shim. So in that case, definitely avoid the Narrow tree size. Are all the horses the same breed or similar build at least? If so, you can find out what the predominant tree-size they need is, and target that size.
It would be better if you could ride in the saddle that is already fit to each horse, because it's impossible to get a single saddle to fit all horses. I'd be especially worried about this in a high-impact discipline like jumping. That saddle's gotta fit.
As for your height vs the seat size, it depends on your build as much as your height (long legs, no butt vs short legs, and curvy etc) and the maker and shape of the saddle. Some saddles are flat, giving you more room. Some are deep, giving you less room. I would think you could try out anything from a 16"-17". Try lots of them. They'll all fit differently.
16" is a child's saddle nowadays. They are hard to resell and they have usually low resale value, except maybe some elite French brands. I would try to avoid a 16", unless the larger saddles chair-seat you. (That is what happens if the seat is too big, because the dip of the seat moves farther back with a longer seat but the stirrup bars are still up there in front.) Don't go too big, or it might be impossible for you to get your leg under you for correct balance.
A 16.5" is the small adult size. It will have much better resale value if you outgrow it or decide to upgrade or you need a different saddle later.
I am 5'1" and I could ride a 16" only when I was very very thin. 16.5" is my size in most cc saddles.
Try saddles on the horse, with leathers and irons properly adjusted, and pay attention to whether or not the stirrup leather hangs in the right place, is too far forward, or too far back. If you can't try it on the horse, then prop it up at the correct angle and tilt or level on the saddle stand. If the saddle is tilted either up or down on the stand more than it would be on the horse, it won't compare to how it will position you when it's on the horse.
If you are not jumping high, I like a saddle with a little deeper seat. It makes me feel a bit more secure in the seat. I also opted for an 18" seat (I'm 5'11) - cause I like a little more room. You definitely need to try riding in a saddle before you buy it!
Ride in as many saddles as you can to see what you like. What you think you like on the ground may be different than what you like riding in. Call a saddle fitter to help you, a good one who will watch you ride.
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