I am really looking into getting and english saddle. I have been riding english all my life but with a western saddle. I looking for an all purpose english saddle but I have no clue how big and what brand I should be looking at. I am 5'3 and weigh 130, If that helps anything. I am also looking in the 300 and under price range. Send links if you have anything helpful. Thanks
You will not find any new saddles in your price range that are worth buying, and not a lot of used ones either. It would help if you could save up another $200 and have a $500 budget. But, I certainly can understand if you can't ;-).
It sounds like you would fit in a 17" seat. You basically add 1.5-2" to your western size and that should be your approximate English size.
Tree size is important too. If you have your own horse, then use your western saddle as a guide. If you horse goes in Semi-QH bars, then you'll likely need a medium or regular tree. If your horse goes in QH bars, then you'll likely need a medium-wide to wide tree. If your horse goes in Full QH bars, then you'll likely need a wide to x-wide tree. All saddle manufacturers are different though, so one brand's wide may fit, but another's medium may fit. It's best to find a shop (near you or online) that will let you try out or exchange saddles. Some will help picking the right saddle by looking at wither tracings and photos.
If you do not have your own horse, then I would suggest getting a changeable gullet saddle like a Wintec (likely in your price range) or newer Thorowgood (hard to find used, but they are reasonable new on Dover.com), or a flex tree saddle like a Courbette Magic. The Courbette flex trees will fit a medium-narrow to medium-wide horse well.
Wintec's are pretty low in cost, but there isn't much showing to be had in a synthetic saddle. I am currently selling a saddle (unfortunately not in your price range, sorry!), and I have posted it on craigslist and tacktrader.com
Sites like equine.com, horsetopia.com, and equinehits.com also have saddle classifieds. Many with pictures so you kind of know what your getting. And don't fear a used saddle! When you buy used, they are already nice and broken in, and the leather will be softer than a brand new saddle. Just make sure you check for tears in the leather and mildew that can get on the billets and in cracks and crevasses of the saddle. Thats a sign of a saddle that wasn't cleaned often, Yuck!
I'd definitely recommend looking for a used Wintec. I'm extremely happy with mine, and they're very affordable and easy to care for. My Wintec 500 A/P was, if I remember correctly, $275 very lightly used. It was pretty hard to find for the price, but worth it. I like the 500 because it has the easy-change gullet system, so you can make it fit just about any horse perfectly. However, if your horse fits an average gullet, you could go with the Wintec 250 A/P (no easy-change) brand new for under $300.
Good luck =)
There are a lot of complexities in fitting a saddle that are not limited to fitting the horse. I have tried Wintec saddles and I really, really wanted one to fit because I wanted to have no maintenance issues. I was deeply disappointed when I couldn't find even one Wintec that fit ME.
Beyond that, see if you can do a "wither tracing" and take it to a tack store to get an idea of what tree size may fit your horse.
English style saddles are much less "forgiving" than western saddles, as a rule, because they don't spread the weight of the rider out nearly as much. You really don't want your horse unhappy with the fit.
If you can find a saddle fitter who has a bunch of used saddles at their disposal you might get lucky and find one sooner than later that works for both of you.
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