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Discussion Starter #1
I haven't rode english since I was a kid, but have recently considered taking some lessons and trying to relearn a few things. A good friend of mine is getting out of horses and I have the opportunity to get her saddle dirt cheap, only thing is I know nothing about english tack so I don't know if this is a good starter saddle for me, or if it will even fit my rear, or any of my horses.

It's an older Borelli saddle. 17" seat. She couldn't remember what 'kind' of saddle it is but thought it is all purpose. It's a wide tree. She's got the leathers, but no girth/irons. 6.5 gullet. It has some wear but is in overall very good condition and she's always kept it inside and cared for. I ride draft crosses so I'm hoping the wide tree might fit them, but ideally it would be used one day with my 3/4 Shire colt Finn when he's old enough to start doing saddle work. I'm 5'9" and I ride in a 15" western seat. Like I said, she'd give it to me for next to nothing so it's not that I'm out much, just don't know enough about these things to know if this saddle would suit or not. I know there's no way of knowing if it will fit my horses and particulary my colt, but would it work okay as a starter for me? Is it a junk brand?
 

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They were manufactured by Collegiate as a low end saddle, and made with Argentinian leather.

They're no longer made, because they didn't sell well.

Not a particularly well made saddle, but as a starter, it should be okay for what you want to do.

If you have any serious plans to do long-term English riding disciplines, you'll eventually need a better saddle.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
They were manufactured by Collegiate as a low end saddle, and made with Argentinian leather.

They're no longer made, because they didn't sell well.

Not a particularly well made saddle, but as a starter, it should be okay for what you want to do.

If you have any serious plans to do long-term English riding disciplines, you'll eventually need a better saddle.
Hey, thanks very much! I would count on buying a better saddle later on if my interest and skills get to a point where I want to commit to the discipline. But it sounds like this might be okay just to get the idea if I want to pursue or not, considering she only wants 40 bucks. Appreciate your help!
 

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Hey, thanks very much! I would count on buying a better saddle later on if my interest and skills get to a point where I want to commit to the discipline. But it sounds like this might be okay just to get the idea if I want to pursue or not, considering she only wants 40 bucks. Appreciate your help!
Hey would you consider getting something else used? if you keep an eye out on ebay or your local kjiji, they have some really good used saddles for really cheap.
 

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You're very welcome.

$40.00 is about right for a Borelli. I certainly wouldn't pay any more than $100.00 for one.

Oh, and a 17" seat should be fine if you ride in a 15" Western. The general rule of thumb for conversion is 2" more in English than Western.

I ride in a 17.5" seat because I don't like to feel constricted in my saddles. I'd rather they be a little larger than necessary, than too small.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
My2Geldings - I had been keeping half an eye on ebay and stuff, my friend knew I was looking which is why she offered me hers :D. I had been hesitant to get anything though because most of what I see tends to be medium tree and I'm inclined to think my gelding (and probably my colt, when he matures) will need a wide tree, and I hadn't run across many. My gelding takes a draft tree in a western saddle, and he doesn't have much wither to speak of. I think my colt will mature with a little more wither, but there's no way to be sure at this point, he's only 10 months and it will be several years before he's ready to start riding. I can get an idea of fit on my horses with this saddle pretty cheaply, and if it doesn't fit I'm not out a lot.

Speed Racer - okay, 2" up, I thought it was something like that but I wasn't sure. Thanks, I'll remember that!
 

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For $40, it's a good deal. I would want close up pictures of the billets, underside, and seat. Look for tears, loose stitching, etc.

At 5'9", a 17" is going to be a "close" fit. My daughter is 5'5" and she rides in a 17-17.5" saddle. I have a 5'9" student with LONG legs and she just bought a 17.5" saddle with extra long and extra forward flaps, and it's just barely right for her. With English saddles, the flap has to fit your leg as well as the seat to your hinney ;-).
 

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Oh, and for drafts and draft corsses, even a standard "wide" tree is not likely going to be enough. If you get serious, you're going to have to shell out some $$$ for a "hoop tree" saddle. Hoop trees fit the wide horses better as they are shaped more like an upside down U. They follow the contour of a wide horse's back better than a standard tree. A standard tree is like an A shape. It just doesn't work well on broadbacked horses.

Manufacturers with hoop trees include Duett, some Thornhill, Black Country, some County saddles, some Albion saddles, some Lovatt and Ricketts saddles, etc.

Thorowgood makes an affordable synthetic saddle that is touted as a "broadback" saddle. You might look in to those. Dover sells them and has a demo program.
Thorowgood T4 All Purpose Broadback Saddle - Dover Saddlery.

If you like the look of leather, try out the above Thorowgood, but ask if they can order you one of the T6 saddles and how much.
Thorowgood T6 GP - Cob Plus Saddle

Wintec Wides are not built well. They fit awkward on draft types.
 

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My2Geldings - I had been keeping half an eye on ebay and stuff, my friend knew I was looking which is why she offered me hers :D. I had been hesitant to get anything though because most of what I see tends to be medium tree and I'm inclined to think my gelding (and probably my colt, when he matures) will need a wide tree, and I hadn't run across many. My gelding takes a draft tree in a western saddle, and he doesn't have much wither to speak of. I think my colt will mature with a little more wither, but there's no way to be sure at this point, he's only 10 months and it will be several years before he's ready to start riding. I can get an idea of fit on my horses with this saddle pretty cheaply, and if it doesn't fit I'm not out a lot.

Speed Racer - okay, 2" up, I thought it was something like that but I wasn't sure. Thanks, I'll remember that!
hmmm...I'll do some searching online. I know there is a brand of english saddle that is made strickly for drafts. Brand new they sell in the 1,000-2,500 range but I am sure there are some used ones in really good quality running around.

I'm at work with a lot of time on my hands so I'll do some searching around to see if I can see anything. If you're willing to pm me or post what price range you're willing to go into, it help me search for something that could work.
 

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Luvs, for $40.00, I'd be surprised if there weren't some small issues with the saddle.

The OP only wants it as a starter until she decides whether or not she wants to pursue English disciplines. No reason for her to annoy her friend by demanding a multitude of pictures. It's only $40.00, not $400.00.

I prefer a bigger seat, but a 17" should work for the OP, especially if she rides in a 15" Western.

Yes, she should be more picky when she goes to buy a well made saddle, but I think a wide tree, 17" will work for what she needs at the moment.
 

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Luvs, for $40.00, I'd be surprised if there weren't some small issues with the saddle.
Well sure, but you still want close ups to see if it needs repairs. A $40 saddle can quickly turn in to a $200 or even $400 saddle if it's in poor condition. Replacing a billet or three and fixing a few popped stitches isn't a big deal, maybe $35-100 worth of work, and you might be able to get by without fixing minor issues. But, issues that affect the safety and ridability of the saddle have to be priced out before you spend the $40 on the saddle.

I bought a "$100" Stubben that was a waste of my $$. It needs about $400-600 worth of work, and it would only be worth about $350-400 when I'm done with it. I could have saved money by buying a $250-300 saddle instead ;-).
 

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Well sure, but you still want close ups to see if it needs repairs. A $40 saddle can quickly turn in to a $200 or even $400 saddle if it's in poor condition. Replacing a billet or three and fixing a few popped stitches isn't a big deal, maybe $35-100 worth of work, and you might be able to get by without fixing minor issues. But, issues that affect the safety and ridability of the saddle have to be priced out before you spend the $40 on the saddle.

I bought a "$100" Stubben that was a waste of my $$. It needs about $400-600 worth of work, and it would only be worth about $350-400 when I'm done with it. I could have saved money by buying a $250-300 saddle instead ;-).
Great post! I think a few people will appreciate your experience and what you went through and hopefully not make the same mistake.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you so much everyone for your thoughts. My friend did not send me a picture of the saddle because she doesn't live far, I've seen it in person several times. I can try to take pictures of it myself to post on here if it would be helpful.

My2geldings, I really, really appreciate your offer of helping me out. I know very well how helpful it can be to have someone experienced offering guidance, especially when it comes to buying tack. If I decide this is a course I really do want to pursue, then I will be prepared to make an investment in a really good saddle that will be just what I need. When that time comes, I would really love to be able to come to you for this help!

luvs2ride1979, I've checked the saddle over very thoroughly, and while I don't know a whole lot about english saddles, this one seems to be in very good condition as far as I can tell. The billets are solid, there is no loose stitching anywhere on the saddle. There are a few scratches and wear marks, and the spots where the leathers rub on the fenders is worn slightly thinner. The flocking underneath is good and tight and I don't see any weird misshapen bits. The tree is solid and the leather is soft and cared for, no dry rot or cracking of any kind. If this saddle ended up needing 100$ or more of repair, I simply would call it a $40 dollar loss. I wouldn't put that kind of money into it. It comes with the stirrup leathers, but no irons or girth. I'll need to find out what size irons I need, and measure my horse gor a girth. (I'm assuming the instructor I will be taking lessons from can show me.)

I'm really not in a hurry to buy "the perfect" saddle right at the moment because I'm undecided if this is something I want to pursue or not. It's literally been 20 years since I even sat in an english saddle. Much of it is dependent on how I do with lessons to see if it's for me, and much also depends on how my colt matures out. My showing days are long over, I've done nothing but trail riding for the last 15 years and I am not sure if I want to change that. I'm really just kind of dipping my toe in the water at this point. The saddle might not fit my gelding,(the one on my avatar) he is pretty wide backed and built like a tank. But my with my colt, once he's 3 or 4 I'm thinking he might not be so flat - Shires are usually a taller, slimmer draft breed, and also he's only 3/4. His mother also is 1/2 Paint, While I do ride her in a draft tree western saddle, I don't think I'd HAVE to. She has decent withers and her back is broad, but not flat.

I really appreciate everyone's advice, and I am thankful you have given me a lot to look for when the time comes to get a permanent saddle as well! Thanks so much.
 

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Sounds like a good start Indy! Most adult women ride 4 3/4" or 5" irons. For the girth, you can add 16-20" to most western size cinches and get your approximate English girth size. My mare takes a 32-34" Western cinch and a 50-52" English girth. Dover has their fleece girths on sale right now. They have elastic on both ends, so they run a bit "big".
Equalizer Comfort Girth - Dover Saddlery.

You might want to see if your friend will let you take it with you to a lesson, so you can have the trainer help check the fit on you and the horse, if you'll be riding your own horse. If not, then take some pictures of it on your horse and post them here for us to check out.
 

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I have a Borelli. I loved it...until I got my Wintec CC. But the one I had had a very slippery seat...maybe not so good for a starter...
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Just for an update of this thread, the saddle does seem to fit well enough (to the best I can tell, anyways. I'm not real familiar with english saddle fitting, so if anything jumps out at any of you, please let me know!) It seems comfortable enough, and for 40 bucks I'm pretty happy with it so far! I posted a few pictures of it on Claymore on this thread:

http://www.horseforum.com/horse-pictures/updated-pictures-claymore-50459/#post580742

In a few weeks I'll probably get some pictures riding him in it for you all to help me out. Until I got it I hadn't even sat in an english saddle since I was ten years old so I'm sure my seat and hands need a LOT of work! *lol*
 

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I just saw this, and I talked to a saddler fitter about a borelli saddle. She said that a lot of the weight of the rider is distributed on the back half of the saddle which can cause soreness in your horse...
 
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