Does This Saddle Make Me Look Sporty?

Training Journal


Yes, Milton you look very sporty in a saddle that costs more than you did.

Saddle trials courtesy of Mo Fitts, Decoucoux Technical Advisor [Facebook] at Falcon Hill Farm. What follows is my best understand from what was said & my notes. Errors mine.

First saddle: 17 1/2. Open tree. 00 (zero zero). S. Straight flaps. Too low over withers. Don’t remember which leather. Buffalo maybe?

Response. As we walked to the ring, Milton seemed happy. A bystander even commented on same. I found the seat uncomfortable but I was able to get my entire leg on the horse. Apparently my upper leg has been MIA due to a wide saddle. Who knew. The walk and trot were moderately uncomfortable. The canter was divine. Coach Molly liked my position. I agreed.

Second saddle: Regular tree. Forward flaps. Gullet clearance much better. Back half of saddle too wide for Milton. Warmblood style. Did not ride in.

Third saddle: 17 1/2. Regular tree. 00. O (letter). Wider, deeper seat. Classic grain. Don’t remember saddle & knee roll leather.

Response. Fit Milton. Super comfy. I can see why people like to sit in them. I hated it. From the moment I sat down. Rode in anyway to be sure. Made it hard to ride well. Felt the saddle rather than the horse. Made me lean forward at canter, something I have also been doing in the saddle I have now. I’m buying a piece of athletic equipment, not a place to rest my butt.

Hunt seat: if I ever go to a regular dressage show, I will do so in a hunt seat saddle. It will be so obvious that I am an escapee from another ring that the style of saddle will be the least of it.

Panels: 00. Ms. Fitts says Milton is neither uphill not downhill. Balanced. Makes him easy to fit? Does this mean it would be easier to find a used saddle and to resell it later?

Tree: regular. Milton is wide. We tried an “open tree” which has been slighted widened. Sat too low.

Twist: S. narrow twist. Love this. The O (letter) is a wider and deeper in the seat. Super comfy. Tough. If I want comfy I’ll buy a couch. Give me what fits the horse. Give me a saddle that maximizes my feel. Much like the the skinny, finicky, racing bikes in the Tour De France, give me what works. I’ll learn to ride it.

Flaps: Straight. Would run out of flap if the stirrups went way up. That’s okay. The forward flap saddle (#2) look like something one find at a show in the tack stall of a Grand Prix jumper rider. If I am ever jumping high enough to need the forward flaps, I will happily trade up. This will do me for now and for a long while to come. Coach Molly felt I could go through Novice and Training in this style saddle. Yes, please.

Flaps: 2. Short flaps, Was able to put leg on horse rather than on leather.

Leather, flaps, three choices: Grade – classic, lasts forever. Buffalo – cowhide that has been tanned (? treated?) differently, grippy but wears out. Calfskin – super soft, immediate break-in, also wears out, good for the professional who is showing twelve horses at a big show next weekend and doesn’t have time to break-in a saddle. I did not ask if the calfskin was actual calf or a name for the tanning method. The full buffalo has stitching on flap. Bleh. Yeah, I’m old school. What’s your point?

Leather, knee roll & seat, two choices
: Calfskin or buffalo.

General Comments
In both saddles, Milton went more freely forward. Has saddle fit been holding us back? Maybe a little. We all go better in well-fitted clothing/equipment. Not really. He shows many of the same behaviors on the long lines & while driving.

What are we going to do? Milton needs a saddle. Right now we are borrowing one (Thank you!). However, the Devoucoux saddles, even used, are insanely expensive. But I’m in for sticker shock no matter what. The last leather saddle I bought was for $300 in 1980. I still have it, although I retired it when it didn’t fit Rodney or Milton.

Right now the are two used options. One saddle is 18″ instead of 17 1/2, the other is a 2a (slightly forward) flap in full calf. Unless the saddle fairies are feeling generous, used saddles aren’t going to give you every detail you would order off the menu.

Now that we have more data, I have gone back to dithering pondering [Saddle Shopping].

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

3 thoughts on “Does This Saddle Make Me Look Sporty?

  1. I bought a lightly used custom Western saddle and it still ran me $3.5K. I love it. The horse loves it. I ride him almost daily, so I figure it was a good investment and will pay for itself over time. Also, western people don’t tend to think they need a new saddle every time the wind changes direction. (Still don’t quite “get” that aspect of English) I talked myself into another saddle because I ride 3 horses and this one lives away from home. Got tired of dragging a saddle from my barn to the boarding barn every day. Didn’t hurt that the “new” saddle was made by a saddle maker I’ve been fantasizing about getting a saddle from for the last several years. Could never afford new, but when the rare opportunity presented to buy used, I didn’t hesitate to grab it. It wasn’t really in my budget, but a chance like that is so rare that she who hesitates loses. For an added bonus, the saddle maker was happy to work with me via pictures, video and text when I had she saddle on trail. That made me feel a lot more confident in my purchase from a third party. (The seller was delightful person to do business with, too) Zero regrets.

    1. I used the same saddle no matter what version of English I rode (never rode saddleseat). Bought my saddle used for a couple hundred. At one point – ironically, shortly before I had to stop riding – I had it restuffed so it fit Chief even better. Very comfortable. I still have it, still keep it cleaned and oiled, and will never part with it.

  2. “they need a new saddle every time the wind changes direction.” This is a new development since my day. I had my Hartley Apollo & then a wider saddle for wider horses. Rode everything in those. Also, saddle seat uses the same saddle alla time, but then ASBs tend toward the same shape.

    Yeah, the whole saddle fit thing is contributing to my paralysis by analysis.

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