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I know how hard it is to find a perfect saddle for your Daughter/Son! That’s why I wanted to post this and share my findings. I must say I absolutely love this saddle. It's a South Bend Saddle Co Pawnee XL Haflinger Trail Saddle 2900 and fits my girl so well and 2 other horses that the owners had trouble finding a saddle for. It's beautiful and light and I love that it's not leather so no animals have been harmed.
 

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The most important thing about a saddle is that it be the right size for the horse. No saddle ever made will fit every horse The second is that it be the right size for the rider. In the case of a child, that depends on the size of the child. No saddle ever made will fit every child.

The brand is immaterial until those two conditions are met.
 

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It's beautiful and light and I love that it's not leather so no animals have been harmed.
Using leather is not harming animals. It is using a part of the animal that would otherwise be wasted, from animals that are bred specifically for food. It would be far worse to throw the skins away. What is more important is how the animals are cared for during their life, and how the tanning processing is managed for its environmental impact. Over and above that, it is far more damaging for the environment to use synthetics over natural products. Leather is better than synthetic, wool is better than synthetic. Synthetics are a huge environmental issue from extraction of the petrochemicals, to production of the synthetic material, to their end-of-life and when they are discarded. All these things introduce large volumes of pollutants into the environment that harm magnitudes more animals across multiple ecosystems than using a skin/hide from an animal to make leather.

Just my opinion as a vegetarian and environmental chemistry editor.
 

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<Using leather is not harming animals.>
For horse folks, the vegan no-leather stance is pretty foreign. I don't know anyone who doesn't use leather tack for that particular reason.
 

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<Using leather is not harming animals.>
For horse folks, the vegan no-leather stance is pretty foreign. I don't know anyone who doesn't use leather tack for that particular reason.
My daughter tries. There are some newer synthetic saddles that have gotten excellent reviews, though they are pricey. But it's impossible to do without leather altogether at this point. I've bought quite a few boots and purses made of what they call "vegan leather" and am very happy with them, just not riding stuff just yet. I think those options will become more and more available though.

I guess my point is that some vegans do try to avoid leather whenever possible - it's just not always possible.
 

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I think if vegans went and read the academic research on the environmental impact of the production and use of synthetics they would see that the issue is much less clear than they have in their heads of leather harms animals and vegan leather does not. Avoiding real leather and using vegan leather does not mean someone is helping animals; using real leather does not mean someone is harming animals in a way that is worse than using vegan leather.

I have edited far too many academic papers on the impact of synthetics on ecosystems and a wide range of animals to ever support them in uses where there is a natural product alternative. Synthetics where they are needed (e.g., medical use), but natural where it is an option.

A better alternative in footwear to vegan leather would be things like wool shoes but I know some vegans would get all up in arms about wool use as well. Maybe cotton then or other plant-based fabrics.

I am vegetarian and dairy free, but I eat eggs and use honey. I wear leather and wool. When it gets to be hard-out vegan level, some of it really does become anti-environmental protection, which is in turn, anti-animals because you are directly polluting their habitats and food sources. But hard-out vegans do not see that.
 

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Agreed @Meditative Rider - a lot of the alternatives aren't better for the planet. But then again, if no one wants to buy leather alternatives, the industry will not develop options that are less harmful to the environment. Kind of like buying electric cars because although it is well-known that manufacturing electric car batteries is bad for the planet, it's a way of supporting research to find solutions to make it less harmful. We look at a variety of aspects of the manufacturing process before deciding whether it's a company we want to support - right down to shipping!

My boots and purses are made of mushrooms by the way. I'm sure a lot goes into transforming them, but then again, a lot goes into transforming leather too.

In any case, I really wasn't trying to give an opinion on whether leather or leather alternatives are better options, just saying that it does matter to some people, and that given the choice, they do prefer not to wear leather. Heck, I won't wear a leather jacket myself. I have lots of leather boots and tack of course, but I won't buy it for fashion reasons.
 
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