Let me start this out by saying that I started our whole saddle shopping adventure more than 6 months ago. (May 8th was the official “start date” of this adventure. The goal? Find something that fits my horse REALLY well that I do not hate to ride in.
I tried the following over those 6 months.
- Albion K2 Jump (original jump saddle. Sold for around $1,800 used)
- Duett Bravo (around $1,500 new)
- County Saddle (no idea how much it cost. tried a barn-mates saddle, and it wasn’t even close enough to ride in)
- Black Country Solare (around $2,500 used, around $4K new)
- Prestige Eventer (about $3K used)
- Stubben Roxanne (about $5K new with the modifications I needed)
- Black Country Wexford (about $2K)
- Stubben Genesis (about $1K used)
There was also a wide range of other saddles that I seriously considered:
- Amerigo Saddles
- $5K new?… probably more
- I never could find a local rep or any used saddles in a wide. That was probably a bad sign.
- Patrick Saddles
- $6K new minimum with nothing to actually try on my horse
- I was told that they could bring me a medium tree to try… but I would have to ride a different horse. Sorry, but for $$$$, I need May to also agree that she likes it.
- Bliss of London Saddles
- I saw these at Rolex and really liked them. They have a bunch of different tree options and some of them looked promising.
- Loxley saddles start new at around $2,600, but bad reviews regarding customer kept me on the sidelines
- Another Albion
- I couldn’t find any in the specs I was interested in trying.
- The local rep was not helpful. She answered my inquiry with an “I can order what you’re looking for if you want to buy it…” Sorry, but I really need to sit in something before buying it.
- I took one on trial that claimed to be a wide… and turned out to be a narrow. I at least got my money back (including shipping) on that one.
- Fairfax Saddles
- They literally do not make these saddles larger than a 17.5″
- Philippe Fontaine Saddles
- The reviews on them are mixed, but the price of the one I was looking at was more than comfortable for my budget. I even found one in a wide and in the proper seat size.
- Unfortunately, (or fortunately) I have gotten very good at looking at pictures of gullets and deciding if they would work. This one was a no. (after waiting 3 weeks for pictures)
Like my wedding dress, I ended up buying the cheapest saddle I sat in over the course of the entire 6 months. I bought the Stubben Genesis Jump Saddle in an 18″ with a 32cm tree. In fact, I now own 2 Stubben Genesis Saddles in a 32cm tree because it is almost the exact same model as my Dressage saddle, which May loves and no saddle fitter has ever been able to find a flaw with. (the Dressage saddle seat is 0.5″ larger)
I have now owned the saddle for a couple of weeks, and I have a couple of early thoughts. (sorry for this “listy” post)
- It is NOT a lot of saddle.
- My Albion had LARGE front blocks. This Stubben has almost none. It has a very close contact feel, but it does not lock you into place in any sense of the word. After riding in my Dressage saddle for so many months, this is taking some getting used to.
- I might end up swapping the blocks out to the velcro versions and getting the larger blocks as an options.
- The act of jumping has not gotten easier.
- I think this has more to do with my comfort level with this “less than” saddle than anything else. With increased strength and balance, I think it will feel totally normal again.
- But jumping May has
- Jumping May around typically “wakes her up” and she gets a bit rushy and opinionated and stiff. She even used to crow hop after fences in my Albion if we took a huge distance or hadn’t jumped in a while.
- In the Stubben? She has actually seemed to get MORE relaxed the longer that we jump, even if we haven’t jumped in a while. Another thing to continue to keep an eye on.
- I forgot how much my Dressage saddle sucked when I first got it.
- Stubben wear like iron. They last forever, and I would think most people have probably plunked one on the back of a school horse when they were first learning to ride.
- That also means that they are TOUGH to break in. My dressage saddle was also only slightly used when I bought it, and it took probably a full year to get it fully broken in. With similar leather and treatment, I hope my “new” jumping saddle takes the same amount of time to break in.
Here’s to celebrating the end of a long search, and to hoping to not have to do it again for a LONG TIME.