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Best affordable All Purpose saddles?

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Hi all,

I am slowly making my way back into the horse world after taking a break for five years while I was in college. After having been gone for what feels like ages, I just feel like I have no idea where to even start.

I am starting off riding one of my father's horses for now as I make my way back into it all, so first and foremost any saddle I purchase is going to be trial and error, as it's going to have to fit her. I was riding at an eventing barn before and was on an even tighter budget than I am now, so I was riding in an old Collegiate. I can't even remember which saddle brands (open to new or used) are actually quality for the price I could get them for. I am searching for an All Purpose saddle not really looking to spend more than $700. I will not be showing so I am not concerned with what ever the tack and show trends may be at this time, but would like to get the best quality I can within my budget. I'll just be pleasure riding really and would like to have something that is comfy.

I've been looking into some used Stubbens, but I have heard that many of these (especially the older ones?) are a little harder and have that hard, slippery leather feel...I have also been looking into HDR's which I have received so many mixed reviews about. I am generally confused over which saddle brands are superior to others because when shopping used many can be in the same price range (despite being of different quality...) I have also been looking at a few Crosby AP's, but again, it's been so long since I have been in the horse world that I just can't recall what was popular at my barn at the time. I know Collegiate isn't great quality, but budget friendly. I've heard Wintec's are comfy (which is what I want!) but would like to stay away from Synthetic. To reiterate, this would have to be fitted to the mare I'll be riding for the next while, but it would be helpful to have some brand's in mind to really start my search.

Please drop your opinions on the above mentioned names, any other suggestions, etc. anything helps.
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Welcome back to the horse world...once bitten by "the bug" you never get rid of it. :cool:

Most of the names you mentioned in older saddles are excellent quality.
Stubben, Crosby, Collegiate, Courbette, Blue Ribbon are all excellent saddles and hold their value and usefulness for decades.
Being you don't care about the show-ring fad you have so much available to you to look at.
Try Craigslist in your surrounding area, the Farm & Garden section for horse equipment.
By me, you can buy a really nice used saddle in fantastic condition for way less than you mentioned if you don't care about "fad" today of a split flap look to it.
I would add that unless you can get hands on to check that tree...no sale.

BTW, add Pessoa...the older Pessoa saddles to that list. Collegiate saddles were made by Pessoa before he started his own company so you bet quality was in his work.
I found most any older saddle with "Made in England" on the pins, stamped in the billet protectors and manufacturers plate were quality made.
That also is something I see in quality saddles is billet protectors provided...cheap saddles don't offer and many have no idea what a must that is to protect the life of your saddle from damages of buckles...
There are so many brands that are quality...and so many names not known because it was from a saddle shops own store brand inventory but made to exacting standards by the really good saddlers.
Judge each saddle on its own or risk missing a great find.
You can keep your "adjustable" and change the "adjustable-gullet" stuff is my personal feeling.
A good saddle will fit a huge variety of horses well. With the exception of a real moose of a horse, those spring trees worked and did their job adapting.
Older saddles are and were made with better leather stock because the cow was older and had time to grow their hide thicker.
In western this is true as it is true in English too...new saddles have cheaper grade of cowhide, thinner and not as hearty.
Older saddles hold up better is a fact.
If you really look closely at saddles you can see the difference in materials used and of course our better craftsman who have retired/died and been replaced over time...there is a great difference.

Happy shopping.
:runninghorse2:...
jmo...
 

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I found you some listings ...I asked my computer what state you were from using the "@" symbol and it came back with a answer...

Also check the local horse sale pages for tack, local feed stores for a card put up...
Holidays are coming and with that some get new saddles for presents and then sell their old saddles to get rid of...keep your eyes and ears open.

https://raleigh.craigslist.org/grd/d/willow-spring-saddle-17-english-hunter/7015411978.html
They are measuring wrong...looks like it is a 17.5 size.
BT Crump, there are 2 companies.
Find out which this is...
I own a BT Crump close contact
Made in England...nice saddle!!

https://raleigh.craigslist.org/grd/d/crosby-soft-ride-priced-very-reasonably/6998171949.html
I would negotiate this price if you can use a saddle of this size.
And look very carefully for a loose tree as it fit such a large range and then the comment of rubs...

I found these also from the same state but maybe not close to you...IDK.
https://greensboro.craigslist.org/grd/d/high-point-english-saddle-and-tack/6976417312.html
https://winstonsalem.craigslist.org/grd/d/english-saddle/6989281632.html

:runninghorse2:..
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
@horselovinguy

Wow, thank you - this is so helpful!

I always thought that Collegiate's were not as nice? I will certainly add them to my list. I actually found this Pessoa on Craiglist, although it looks like close contact not all purpose. Photos are not the greatest. I know AP's can be frowned upon, but I think for leisurely riding and maybe occasionally going over a few small jumps it is probably the most suitable...

https://hickory.craigslist.org/grd/d/collettsville-english-saddle-pessoy/7014112838.html
 

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I found that one should not get stuck on a certain brand. My friend (who is a professional rider/trainer) found a Charles De Kunffy saddle for me that she swore was just wonderful and at a great price. I bought it. I rode in it. My horse loved it. I did not. It was the correct size for me, but my lady parts weren't having it. I sold it the next day!
 

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@horselovinguy

Wow, thank you - this is so helpful!

I always thought that Collegiate's were not as nice? I will certainly add them to my list. I actually found this Pessoa on Craiglist, although it looks like close contact not all purpose. Photos are not the greatest. I know AP's can be frowned upon, but I think for leisurely riding and maybe occasionally going over a few small jumps it is probably the most suitable...

https://hickory.craigslist.org/grd/d/collettsville-english-saddle-pessoy/7014112838.html
A well-made Collegiate saddle will last you an upwards of 20 years. I have a Collegiate Senior Event saddle, that is now 7 years old; there are only leather rub marks on it, and I was using it on multiple horses a day at one point. Before I bought it, my then coach had me try her Collegiate saddle, same model, that she bought 20 years before, and you couldn't tell that it was that old.

I love the Collegiate convertible system, my saddle hasn't not fit a horse yet, and its been on quite a few. Usually with a half-pad (I use a Mattes or Premier Equine under it) it will fit anything. I'm a big fan of Collegiate.
 

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Rule of thumb... always can be a exception...

Square cantle is close-contact style
Round cantle is all-purpose

Some close contacts have a deeper seat and more of a knee-roll and support of the leg/knee than others.
You need to know what you feel comfortable in, secure in and are searching for to save you some time and aggravation.

Prix de Nations are not what you want if you want knee-rolls and a supportive deep seat...
But a Crosby Sovereign might be right up your alley.
So might be a Stubben Rex model for example..
There are so many saddle that would fit your want and needs...enjoy the search.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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As far as collegiate, they switched manufacturing a few times, so there is a period where the quality went down. Old collegiates and new collegiates are of better quality. I don't know what years those in the middle were, though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Rule of thumb... always can be a exception...

Square cantle is close-contact style
Round cantle is all-purpose

Some close contacts have a deeper seat and more of a knee-roll and support of the leg/knee than others.
You need to know what you feel comfortable in, secure in and are searching for to save you some time and aggravation.

Prix de Nations are not what you want if you want knee-rolls and a supportive deep seat...
But a Crosby Sovereign might be right up your alley.
So might be a Stubben Rex model for example..
There are so many saddle that would fit your want and needs...enjoy the search.
:runninghorse2:...
@horselovinguy Thanks again. I was only ever riding in an AP doing lower level eventing, and dressage saddle here and there. I have been looking up Pessoa reviews and seeing some great things. However, it looks like the Pessoa AP's seem to have a more squared off cantle. For the listing below I would love to get an expert opinion on whether it looks more like a CC? The lister does not know..

https://hickory.craigslist.org/grd/d/collettsville-english-saddle-pessoy/7014112838.html

Thanks again.
 

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For the listing below I would love to get an expert opinion on whether it looks more like a CC? The lister does not know..
https://hickory.craigslist.org/grd/d/collettsville-english-saddle-pessoy/7014112838.html
For the record...
I am no expert, but I have sat in many saddles of different brand and design learning how much variation can be in a "close-contact" or "all-purpose saddle".

Can you ask the poster to take a picture of the saddle with the flap lifted so you can see the underside of billet and panel better?
That would I think answer more questions.
Personally, I found Pessoa saddles had more knee-roll and deeper seat support than some other brands, so yes this saddle could go to a shallower all-purpose seat than some others
.
Is there a billet protector on the saddle?? That was where the model was often written in gold lettering.
It looks a nice saddle...
Is it close enough you can go sit in it if not actually try it on a horse you currently ride and go ride in it for a few minutes...
Sitting on a stand is fine, but put movement under a saddle and a whole different feel emerges I found when I searched for a western saddle...:frown_color:
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
For the record...
I am no expert, but I have sat in many saddles of different brand and design learning how much variation can be in a "close-contact" or "all-purpose saddle".

Can you ask the poster to take a picture of the saddle with the flap lifted so you can see the underside of billet and panel better?
That would I think answer more questions.
Personally, I found Pessoa saddles had more knee-roll and deeper seat support than some other brands, so yes this saddle could go to a shallower all-purpose seat than some others
.
Is there a billet protector on the saddle?? That was where the model was often written in gold lettering.
It looks a nice saddle...
Is it close enough you can go sit in it if not actually try it on a horse you currently ride and go ride in it for a few minutes...
Sitting on a stand is fine, but put movement under a saddle and a whole different feel emerges I found when I searched for a western saddle...:frown_color:
:runninghorse2:...
@horselovinguy -

Yep, please see pic below. Unfortunately the saddle is a bit aways from me, but as I can't find any Pessoa online for near this price it seems to me like a great deal. Are you thinking it is indeed a Close Contact then?
 

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I do think this is a close contact....
But remember, every manufacturer makes a design to their own pattern.
Pessoa may not be as flat and un-supportive to the leg as another manufacturer is.
The saddle to me looks to be dished, have a decent knee-roll to it.
Because it has a split flap it is in fashion = easier to resell today.
Plain flap, no knee-roll look to it are out of fashion and going to be near impossible to re-sell, however they also will be dirt cheap to purchase.
Did that make sense...

If the saddle is the right size seat and wide enough tree to accommodate the horse you are riding, I would probably try it.
There are many holiday tack sales happening now in many areas...check around your area and see who has a horsey yard/garage sale soon if you are not wanting to risk spending and it not be right.
Tack shops do consignments and take in used to sell outright on trade-in too.

You can also look at places like Dover Saddlery, Rick's Saddle Shop and some others I forget names of who are reputable dealers who sell used, lightly used and or new at decent pricing.
Buying from a dealer store allows you a return if not right and a warranty the saddle is been tested safe tree and good riding condition or noted the issue.

So, I went to several sites reading reviews of all the Pessoa line offered by individuals who bought them.
I also looked at several sites and pictures of the saddles and from what I remember a few of my friends saddles looked like in contrast to my cc saddle...
I would make the effort to go see, sit and handle that saddle for that price.
Since it is shown with fittings of stirrup and leather...that is another $100 -$150 value added in for that price.
The stirrups look to be flexible branch style, not cheap to buy.
As long as the seat is not to small...
17" or larger is a decent size to also resell....get a picture of her measuring it so you know how off they are in their sizing saddle seat skills they are
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
A well-made Collegiate saddle will last you an upwards of 20 years. I have a Collegiate Senior Event saddle, that is now 7 years old; there are only leather rub marks on it, and I was using it on multiple horses a day at one point. Before I bought it, my then coach had me try her Collegiate saddle, same model, that she bought 20 years before, and you couldn't tell that it was that old.

I love the Collegiate convertible system, my saddle hasn't not fit a horse yet, and its been on quite a few. Usually with a half-pad (I use a Mattes or Premier Equine under it) it will fit anything. I'm a big fan of Collegiate.

@ClearDonkey - Thanks! I am looking at one that says model ART 6529. Do you know anything about this model?
 

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I had a Collegiate Senior Event for several years and loved it. I sold it with a horse a few years ago and wish I hadn't. It was older, but it looked good, was comfortable and secure, and fit nearly anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I had a Collegiate Senior Event for several years and loved it. I sold it with a horse a few years ago and wish I hadn't. It was older, but it looked good, was comfortable and secure, and fit nearly anything.

@SilverMaple - I am looking at one that says ART 6529 on the billets...It looks nice for the asking price. Trying to find out more about this model though
 

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I think that if it's an option for you, shopping used will get you a much better bang for your buck than buying new.

It will depend on what fits you and the horses you'll be riding of course, so if you can, I'd go to a tack shop (preferably one that also sells used saddles) and sit in a bunch of them to get an idea of what you like.

Personally, I love my older Courbette, which was made in one of the same factories as the older Stübbens and is very similar. Yes, they are harder than today's cushion-y saddles, but in my opinion they're still very comfortable due to the twist and seat shape (at least to me... it differs from person to person and these types of saddles tend to be kinds that people either love or hate). I don't find mind to be slippery, but it isn't grippy, either.

The older Collegiates (with the RD stamp) are of much better quality than the current/later ones and were very well made for the price point. I started out in one and loved it. They were actually modeled after the Crosbys (both were owned by Miller's during this time) and I believe also built on the same or similar trees, but I think the older Collegiates were not too far off in quality than the Crosbys of their same era, but more comfortable to me.

Ruiz Diaz, who made the older Collegiates, made Pessoas for awhile and also makes Ovation saddles, so either of those might be good options to look into as well.

I've only had experience with a few older HDRs, which to me were just okay. They're mid to lower-mid grade saddles. It's my understanding that they've been coming out with some new models that are supposed to be a little nicer, but I don't have experience with them. Based off of the quality of the rest of their tack though as of recent (I find that their older strapgoods were decent, but their current ones have a painted on finish and feel like plastic), I'm not super impressed.
 
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