Shapeshifter

The joys of baby horses, y’all… they grow so fast, seeming to change shape completely from one week to the next.

Which is why every couple weeks I throw Presto’s saddle up on him sans pads to monitor the fit. Especially now that he’s being ridden more. He’s added a lot of topline in the last few months (he still has a whole hell of a lot more to go) and he’s already starting to outgrow the Mark Todd that I got him in September. Granted, when I bought that I thought to myself “It’s great now, but I give it 6 months to a year…”. And yeah I think that was an accurate assessment. I give it a few more months before he outgrows it completely, and the last thing I want to do is ride a young horse in a saddle that doesn’t fit him. My crystal ball is betting that I’m looking for his next saddle by late spring.

The good news is, the Mark Todd is in BETTER shape now than it was when I bought it

He started out in that saddle with a half pad with shims under it, and within a couple months I had to take the shims out. Now he’s just in his sheepskin pad and things are already getting tight again, and he really hasn’t even begun to bulk up in his body yet.

What he really needs is a decent wool-flocked English made saddle that we can get adjusted every few months. Just the kind I hate. I didn’t really want to jump into something expensive for his very first saddle, knowing how much they change in the first year of work. That’s probably going to be the smartest thing to do for his next one though, no matter how much it makes me cringe.

Of course, I’m not going to drop custom saddle kind of $$ either. No thanks. Especially on a saddle I probably won’t love and will still inevitably be outgrown in a year or two. It’s gotta be within reason, budget wise, whether it’s new or used.

He works out

We have a couple of local saddle fitters here that carry a few different brands. None of which I love, but a few of which I’m willing to try. Granted, I’m only interested in monoflap jump saddles, and given that these fitters mostly do dressage horses, I’m already putting out a tall order by wanting to try only monoflap jump saddles. I’m picky, I know, and living in an area where we have so few reps and fitters makes it even more challenging.

I really wanted to try an Ikonic, which is wool flocked and has an adjustable gullet, but they only have 2 US dealers and the closest is in Ocala. I’ve asked about trialing a monoflap but let’s just say I’m not gonna hold my breath.

I want to try one, somebody find me one to try

Otherwise I’m also considering looking at fitters/reps/shops outside my area that have trial saddles they could send and do fittings via video chat and tracings. I know that’s a thing, especially now in the Rona times, I just have to figure out where to start. On one hand, I dread it and want to just pretend like it’s not happening and put it off til the last minute. On the other hand, I see the writing on the wall and know what’s coming, and I want to be ready with a game plan when the time comes.

Anyone used a remote fitter to try and buy a saddle? If so, drop me your recommendations. I’m already crying just thinking about this.

28 thoughts on “Shapeshifter

  1. Equestrian Imports in Florida does remote fitting and is a saddle dealer with a few different brands. I tried a saddle from them once and it was a smooth process.

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    1. I second this. Highly recommend Ann Forrest from Equestrian Imports. With her help adjusting the saddles I already had, my horse became more comfortable and willing than I ever knew he could be. She doesn’t push new customs at all, and has a pretty big selection of demo and used saddles. She visits our barn once a year and does remote fittings as needed. She’s got a great eye and has her process down to a science. I’m rambling, but she’s been a joy to work with.

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  2. I bought my monoflap Schleese from Kristen at Saddlery Solutions, and she was great. She worked with me in person on a trip to the deep south, but she also seems to do a lot of remote work. However, she does seem to be another one of the saddle fitters who mostly works with dressage horses.

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    1. another vote for Loxley. I came ‘this’ close to buying one. Their monoflaps are comfy as F!! I just ended up buying my Stubben used but if I was buying new I would try one of those. They also seem to hold their value but aren;t two arms and leg to buy!! 🙂 the rep here in TN was amazing so hopefully same with the TX one!!

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      1. Did you use Kate Wooten? She helped me with a virtual fit last when I couldn’t get a reputable fitter out to fit & flock my saddle.
        I third the Loxleys! I bought the Loxley jump in 2015, just before they came out with the adjustable gullet and it has worn very well. I think its super comfy, though I think the twist is a little bit wider than the French saddles. It was super affordable for a fully custom saddle (down to leather color, welting color and lots of options for cantle covers and added bling!) There’s a group on Facebook called Bliss of London & Loxley Used Saddles, I see some good deals in there from time to time. Good luck with the saddle hunt!

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  3. Have you considered the Bates Advanta? While it is not wool flocked, it is an incredible saddle that would tick several of your boxes!

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  4. I’ve been wrestling with the fact that I should get the pony a better fitting saddle. But I think she probably needs a hoop tree. And I need a narrow twist. So um… where’s the compromise? Ugh.
    Anyway. Good luck!

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  5. Trumbull Mountain has a remote service that a lot of people rave about. I used them when I was trialing saddles for Eeyore and they were easy to work with. They carry a huge used selection and some new brands as well. I love my Black Country saddle which is wool flocked though not with a changeable gullet. You send them tracings and they will hep with the fit and send out on trial. May be worth looking at their selection to see if they have anything you like.

    https://trumbullmtn.com/

    Aiken Tack Exchange only works with consignment saddles but have a great fitter to help as well as a generous trial policy.

    https://www.aikentackexchange.com/

    And last – Farm House Tack near TIEC also does a lot of remote work. They have a large used selection and do carry some new brands as well though I’m not sure what all they carry. I know they carry Bates and some others. I love their fitter and they have a good trial policy.

    https://www.farmhousetack.com/

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    1. I’ve heard very bad things about Trumbull Mountain the past couple years, which is sad because they used to be great! They have a lot of BBB complaints and threads on COTH about issues with them. 😦

      I’ve worked with Aiken Tack Exchange before too, more recently! They do have a good inventory.

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      1. Trumbull got new owners and the service dropped precipitously. Maybe 5 years ago now. Incredibly disappointing because they had a terrific reputation and I knew a lot of people who had used them with huge success.

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  6. I highly, highly recommend Heather at Pik and Louie Saddlery in Austin 832-496-2414. She is fantastic. Has tremendous inventory and knows a ton about saddle fitting!!! I bought a CWD and she spent a lot of time with me to get the right fit. Good luck!

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  7. I used VTO to buy my saddle and they were awesome. I’ve continued to send it back for tree adjustments (it’s a prestige) and I’ve always had great service. It was simple to do tracings and send photos.

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  8. So since you’re in Texas, have you looked into Mike Corcoran? He used to design the black country saddles, and he’s a master fitter/saddler- I know of a monoflap of his that’s for sale via highline tack (it’s not mine! I’ve just seen it!) that he could likely fit and keep fitting to Presto for a few years. He’s the sort of crusty old charming saddler I’ve always wanted in my life and have been glad to find…

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  9. A used Loxley by Bliss would work and they’re cheap. They do come in monoflap. I sold mine for about $1800. Wool flocked.

    The Bates Advanta seems interesting also

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  10. If you’re looking for a good adjustable saddle, I would look into Kent & Masters! They’re a little hard to find in the U.S., but I absolutely adore mine. I ended up importing mine from a tack shop in the UK, but I think you can buy them from Hastilow.

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  11. I know Kent and Masters make quality kindaaaa maybe somewhat french feeling saddles 😂. They’re wool flocked, and I think interchangeable, so maybe it’d be worth a look!

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