One question I have asked myself, are cheap saddles bad? And I have come to determine the answer to this question is yes, and no. How is that for a straight answer?!?
When it comes to determining your price range for a saddle, there are many things you need to consider. What will you be using it for? How often will you be riding? Does it fit your horse? Does it fit you? Will you be able to do what you need to do with the saddle? These are all questions you need to ask yourself before deciding on which saddle to buy.
When you think about how much stuff you need to buy for your horse, adding an expensive saddle into it can seem like a lot. This may tempt you to check into the cheap saddles that seem to be everywhere. And this is not to say that all cheap saddles are bad, but just like everything else, you get what you pay for. So if you pay $100.00 for a brand new saddle, it will not last, and it probably won’t fit you or your horse right either.
When you are saddle shopping, going cheap is not the way to go, trust me, I have gone cheap so many times hoping and praying that it would work out, but it never has. So when I say don’t go cheap, I am speaking from experience.
If It’s too Good to be True….
I am always looking for a great deal on a saddle, and for many years, I have always caved in and bought a cheap saddle. But every single time, I have been disappointed and let down. The cheap saddles you can find on eBay and even some stores online are not built to last. The leather is like cardboard, the stitching is poor, and the quality of the leather is just not the same as an expensive saddle. And they don’t offer the security of a well constructed saddle.
You can tell the quality of the leather when you open the box. The seat is hard, and the leather is super stiff. When you ride in it, your legs will move all over the place, and the saddle is not balanced correctly so you cannot ride in it correctly.
It may sound like I am being a saddle snob, but I assure you, I am not. Some of the cheaper saddles I have purchased have been Kincade, State Line Tack, SEI, Collegiate, Granada, and a few others. I have never known what a secure seat is in any of these saddles. My leg is not secure, and I bounce around, no matter how hard I focus on my seat, shoulders, legs, etc. No matter how many times I ride a week, and no matter how much I practice, I just can’t get it right in these type of saddles. And it isn’t because I am a beginning rider. I have been riding horses for the past 30 years, I have taken lessons, and participated in horse shows. I consistently ride 3 to 4 times a week, so although I would not consider myself an expert, I think I qualify as a capable rider.
And some may argue that you are paying for the name on the saddle, but I do not feel that is true. A well-made saddle is not cheap. The leather needed to make the saddle is not cheap. And the experience of the saddle maker is not cheap. And if you want a well-made saddle that will last you for many years, it isn’t going to be cheap.
Believe me, I have struggled with spending my hard earned money on a $2000.00+ saddle for years. But if I would have just invested in a quality saddle from the beginning, who knows where my riding could have progressed to by now.
There are alternatives though to buying a brand new saddle, and this is the practice that I have used with a very good outcome. Purchase a well-made saddle used. They can be found! There are online high end saddleries, like Maryland Tack Exchange (I LOVE to dream shop here) You can also find saddle such as Antares, Devoucoux and Luc Childeric on eBay. And of course you can shop locally as well. So instead of spending $4500.00 on a new saddle, you may be able to find the perfect one for you for less than $2000.00
Get Creative With Saving Money
And if $2000.00 is still a lot of money to consider spending on a saddle (which to me it is) you can create a saddle fund. Put extra money away, or do things to earn money to get the saddle you have always wanted. This is what I did to get my saddle. I sold things I didn’t need, and I built horse jumps to save money for my saddle. Not only is the saddle incredible, but I basically got it for no out of pocket expense. Maybe that is why I love it so much, I got it for free! All kidding aside, since I did get a nice saddle I have noticed my seat has drastically improved, as has my balance, and my leg does not move nearly at all now while I am riding. SO I guess the cheap saddles I had were good for something, they taught me how to work harder than I needed to in order to get into the right position for riding.
As I am a jumper, and English rider I can attest for the English saddles more so than the western ones, but the same rules apply, you get what you pay for when it comes to saddles, so shop wisely and save your money until you can buy the best saddle you can afford. Try out saddles before you buy them to make sure they fit you and your horse. Even going to a local tack shop and sitting in the more expensive saddles, and then the cheaper ones so you can tell the difference (You will be able to tell the difference, I promise.) No matter what discipline you ride, get the highest quality saddle you can to make the most of your riding.