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Chain type store to try western saddles?

687 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  horselovinguy
I live in a kind of wasteland when it comes to western/trail saddles. Consignment stores won’t even accept them. However, my 2yo will be needing a saddle and I want it to have a horn as an emergency handle when he starts being backed (not now). I’m a dressage rider and know very little about western/trail saddles. I figure I might as well start genuinely searching now because:

I also don’t like purchasing saddles from random people on the internet like FB as it’s so easy to get scammed. So I want to use a store of some kind with a return policy. But, because I have so little experience with them, I’m wondering where would be a good place/what would be a good way to sit in a few to figure out what I like? I’m worried about things like the twist being too wide or the seat pitching me forward/backward.

Since he’ll just be beginning his working career and he’ll outgrow whatever I buy, I’m looking for inexpensive but comfortable. So I’ve been eyeing things like Wintec or Dura-tech (Schneider’s brand?). I’ve ridden in a Wintec long ago and I don’t have bad memories of it but I doubt that exact saddle is being made, even if I knew the name of the model, and my bones are a bit older these days lol. Abetta’s were also comfortable.

Is there a chain out there like Dover that sells western saddles I can sit in?? I’m in the South/Midwest, depends who you ask, so I might be close enough to someplace…Or just a site that someone could recommend as being easy to work with over saddles? I found a site that sells lots of used saddles but they charge a restocking fee so that’s a no.
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HorseSaddleShop has the best return policy that I have seen but it's not a free trial (usually a restocking fee). And you can't actually use the saddle (if you buy a new one) - it needs to stay perfectly new. They do usually waive that in January (so that's now!!!) as a special, but you are responsible for shipping. It can be quite expensive to ship a western saddle.

SmartPak has a handful of saddles in their Test Ride program, but it's limited.

If you can find a tack shop within driving distance, that's your best bet to try it on your horse, sit in it, and see how it feels.

Keep in mind, just like an English saddle, it is important that the Western saddle FITS YOUR HORSE. Yes, I understand he is only 2 and he will grow, but if you put an ill-fitting western saddle on his back that is painful, that's going to be detrimental to your training process.
The last time I used HorseSaddleShop they offered to send a shipping label so the return shipping was free. Maybe that was a special at the time I tried a saddle from there. They do have one of the best USED sections for saddles, IMO.

I'd recommend getting something with the pommel like a western saddle that you can add a bucking strap too. Grabbing the horn doesn't actually keep you stable as it encourages you to pull yourself out of the seat.
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