Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saddle Search - Part I

There is a 1/8" to 1/4" of ice coating all of outdoorland right now so there will be no driving to the barn. Instead, I'm working on my saddle search. There are previous musings about this HERE and HERE and in other random posts.

Mission: to replace 2 Western Saddles of very different styles with ONE saddle that can be used for small local open shows, cowboy challenges, and trail riding. Must fit HIM, of course first and foremost, which also means the skirt probably has to measure less than 29" front to back, as the awesome Chiro pointed out my training saddle is too long for his conformation. I want a low horn, moderately deep seat. Not too fancy, but not too plain. Not too expensive, but not a cheapo one. Suede seat and/or fenders preferred. I think the medium to darkish oil will look best on Junior, even though that's not "in" right now. I do have a budget and can't buy anything new until the old ones are sold. I've found that Reining saddles are the closest I'm finding to what I want both visually and in functionality. They are more workmanlike in appearance which I like, but they are close to the equitation seat of the current show saddles.

Right now I have this:

And this:

Which is listed, as of this morning on Ebay because I found a similar but not as fancy saddle without the matching tack that sold for $1,300 and had 22 bids on it, so onto Ebay mine went. If Craigslist isn't helping maybe Ebay will. I sold a saddle on there once and miscalculated the shipping costs so I made very little $ off of the transaction after paying for the box and packing materials. I was avoiding the Ebay for that reason, but if I can get it sold then it's done with, and I am more informed this time.

I initially thought having two saddles would be a huge benefit but after a few years of it I have changed my mind. I don't like showing in a saddle that feels differently than when I'm riding at home - but you don't want to ding up a show saddle so you have to be careful. The show saddle is stiff and wide compared to the work saddle. And I never really fell in love with it. I don't really love the super-fancy contemporary show saddles you see now, either. They look like machines or medieval furniture or something. Example 1, Example 2. I used to drool over them, but now they look COLD and hard to me, I guess.

Here are some of the prospects I've mulled over:

This one is at a local tack store called Keith's, and as much as it has almost the perfect look I want, the skirt's too long and too expensive. It's a Billy Cook 16" reiner. Even with the trade-in they'd give me on my show saddle I'd still be over budget. It's a nice saddle. Good color, good amount of silver and tooling, very pretty and not too masculine for me, but not too feminine either.

This one is at the same store in their small Used section.

I think it's sort of hideous. It's a used Rockin' R Reining saddle and it's a 15". I sat in it and it felt kind of small but my 16" show saddle feels too big. Maybe I really do need a 15.5, but they are all different between brands. This one has a 26" skirt. It has about the right amount of silver but it's too light, basket weave and I am not a fan. I hope this does not end up to be my best option.

This one is at Rod's, but I haven't yet gotten over there to ask if they do trade-ins and to measure the skirt. It's also a Rockin' R brand. I've heard very good things about the brand for the price range. I actually like the look of it. There is a very similar one HERE that has the addition of some floral tooling accents. I even like that one better. The one at Rod's might be a teense too masculine, but at least it's not barbed-wire tooling like THIS ONE.

They also carry this one. It's a lot like the ugly Rockin R with more silver. The only thing about it I like is that it's a Silver Royal, the same manufacturer as my training saddle which I find comfortable, but this one is 27" in the skirt. It IS a show saddle, but it's still pretty basic and I like that it has rough out seat, jockey and fenders. This one is quite affordable if I order it from somewhere rather than buying it at Rods. I WOULD like higher quality than this.
I was looking at other ones of this manufacturer since I don't dislike my Royal King. Other than the above, the only thing they have that is close to what I want is also FUGLY and probably too big:

How can a company that makes such a contemporary looking training saddle NOT make the same style for pleasure/reining and instead make something that looks like THAT!?!?

I know the best option is always to get a good quality used saddle instead of buying new, but with something as pricey as a saddle I'd hate to get screwed on Ebay - yet here I am trying to be an honest seller of my own saddle on there!

I don't know where all the used saddles go in this town. There were only a small handful at Keith's, and I only have seen one or two at Rods.

Anyway, that's where I am now. The search continues...
Anybody want to buy a saddle? Or two? :)



    I dont know what your price range is but Joey can help. My friend ordered a custom trainer for 1200 (in 2008), and I had a quote for about 1600 for:

    last spring. I think he might be able to work some trade in but maybe not.

    Hubber tack (Im not sure of the website!) has trainers for about 800 but a life time warenty for them. Hope this helps.

  2. If your saddle wasn't a 16 inch I'd snatch it up! Mine is also a 16 and I really, really need something with a smaller seat. Not that I ever show western, but one day I'd like to and I'm going to need a new saddle.

    It seems to me that all the newer stuff has icky silver... mine is really pretty and yours is really pretty, but some of the new stuff I've seen makes me gag.

    I hate saddle shopping... can you take Junior to any of the saddle places close to you and try the saddles on before you buy? We have a couple places around here that will do that.

    It sounds like you know what you want, it's just a matter of finding it. Good luck!

  3. I hate saddle shopping especially on a budget. However I got an amazing deal on my western saddle on ebay. It need a lot of oiling and cleaning but it was a great condition older bona allen. Love it.

    Anyways another great place to buy and sell tack/saddles is tack trader. I highly suggest going with a photo pic with your add as they draw a bunch more attention but also a good place to find used tack.

    Good luck on the saddle search, I do not envy you one tiny bit.

  4. I was at Keith's saddle shopping a couple of weeks ago. I was looking for an english saddle, but browsed through the western saddles also. I believe the Billy Cook you posted was one of my favorites!

    Good luck on your saddle search, I know how daunting it can be!

  5. @Justaplainsam: I'm not looking for another trainer, actually, but thanks for the link.

    @in2Paints: I know both Rods and Keiths will let you take the saddles home to try on as long as they still are in new condition when you return them. I also just downloaded gullet templates to print off when I can make it through the ice into my office.

    @Jess - There was an M. Toulouse saddle there, either the Anice or Premia, that I drooled on a little. I have their Celine and I'm very happy with it. Where else do you shop near here?

  6. Searching for saddles is such a long process. I have an Arabian that got a sore back because my saddle was too long. I went to a saddle that is curved, rather than long square, in the back. Have you looked at Crates? Also, a used Clinton Anderson by Martin saddlery. The Clinton is especially comfortable and put your legs in the proper position without having to constantly adjust them. Good luck in your search.

  7. GET THE ROCKING R. Sorry, I know what I like.

  8. Cedar View: I'd love to hear more detail of your review on the Rocking R's. I'm certainly leaning that way but I could use a push from someone.

  9. We paid just over $700 for the light oil reiner (that you don't like) oh, about 10 years ago. For the money, you can NOT beat the quality. Plus it's a close contact, it's got some kinda flex-tree - we've used it on several horses with no problems. Ours has prolly seen about 4000 hours of use and still looks good enough to show open with. Highly recommended.