Thursday, December 13, 2012

Used Saddle Buying

Harold L wrote and asked several questions regarding saddles. "I have an old hand me down saddle with the sewing all worn out on the side and am about ready to buy another one. What ideas can you give me when buying used saddles and do you know about some good mail order places that I can get a good deal on a saddle, new or used, and what type of saddle should I be looking at"?

There are a lot of good used saddles out there from people downsizing their saddle collection (my wife ain't one of them), ....people getting out of the horse business altogether, or upgrading to a newer saddle.

Not counting for the features you like, slick fork versus a medium swell, deep seat, high cantle, California or pencil roll, or what type of riding you are doing, you would do good to buy from a reputable company or person and check to make sure the tree ain't cracked and the fleece doesn't need to be replaced, at least not immediately,..and above all make sure the saddle fits your horse.  It's a good idea on a used saddle to run your hand all over the fleece or sheep skin liner to detect nails sticking out of the tree or any other abnormalities that could affect the fit and your horse's comfort.  

On a used saddle, I would also check to make sure the tree isn't cracked.  Placing your hands on the horn and cantle and twisting, and, doing the same on the skirt should let you know if there are any problems with the tree. 

Note:  The saddle pictured above left is a Santa Fe style saddle made by Sawtooth Saddle Company of Vernal, Utah. 

I am impressed with Cactus Saddlery.  They make a line of saddles for Craig Cameron.  One of the newest saddles in this line is the Ultra Lightweight Trail Saddle, coming in at 34 pounds.  As you can see by the picture at right, the skirt is cut away to reduce weight.  It looks to have a deep ground seat, is built on a wood rawhide covered tree and is advertised with a 10 year warranty.  Priced under $2,100 it looks to be a prety deal deal on a custom saddle.  

There are some good hands at saddle repair, depending on where you live, and you may have the option of taking some pictures sending it to a saddle repair shop for an estimate on what it would cost to make your old saddle serviceable again. I have been pretty lucky with good repair work in the past. In fact one of those fellas was Adan Saenz one of the last of the S.D. Myres saddle makers. Now in his 80's, Adan is not only gifted, but he was stuck in 1970's prices, so it was always a bargain to get him to repair something. Of course it depends on how much you'll willing to spend.  I have did some minor repairs to saddles such as re-stitching the skirt, re- riveting a flat plate rigging.  I won't be doing much of that in the future as I'm here to tell you it is worth it having a saddle professionally repaired.  

If you are really thinking about buying a new saddle, a very good semi-custom or custom saddle starts around $1,800.  I'm pretty sure you can buy a new factory saddles for under $1,400.  So you're pretty much going to have to decide what you are willing to spend to start building a list of saddle makers or sellers.   

Best case is that you can fit any potential saddle buy to your horse and try it out before you buy.  Tucker  Saddles has a Saddle Fit Guide which would be helpful to you.   
Some of the really good custom makers are listed on this website with links.  See the right hand column towards the bottom.  You may want to look at Teskeys to see both new and used saddles.  Good luck and safe journey.

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