ridecamp@endurance.net: [endurance] re: Saddles

[endurance] re: Saddles

Mon, 11 Sep 1995 15:05:56 -0400

As Steph said, discussing endurance saddles is a bit like politics or

Several people have commented on saddles from Desoto Custom Saddlery.

I bought the saddle I use about 3 years ago and have ridden over 700 miles in
competition with it. A friend had let me ride on an Orthoflex Express and I
had decided to send them a deposit to get one for myself. Then I went to a
ride and ran into Marilyn Horstmyer. She had a large variety of bare trees
with her. A spare saddle she had was built on the same tree as the one that
fit my horse so I borrowed it for the next day's ride. What an opportunity!

The saddle worked very well for us. My horse and I were both much more
comfortable than with the [unnamed] saddle we were using. It fit, was
handmade, looked good, and was several hundred dollars less than what I had
planned to spend so I ordered one. It is basically a McClellan (or at least
uses a McClellan tree) with a number of refinements/improvements. The big
selling point, which I think is true of saddles from several other
saddlemakers, is that the tree is fitted to the horse. If a person trades
horses frequently, or has two or three horses with different backs, one might
do better to get an Orthoflex. Personally, I was accused of buying a young
horse this spring to fit my saddle! That was not true but the saddle does fit
both of my horses well because they are very much alike in body.

One thing I found is that although the saddle fits it is necessary to use a
crupper to prevent the saddle sliding forward over the shoulders of the horse.
The front edges of the tree are flared and do not dig in but will restrict
movement when it slides forward. I think this may be a common problem for
Arabs with the 'radiator' type body like mine have. However, if I want my
horse to trot out freely I use a crupper even in flat terrain. Also, I found
that a felt Australian saddle pad works great with this saddle. The one we
use is cutback, has ties at the front for securing it to the saddle, and was
less than $20 from Jeffer's vet supply.

The only negative thing I can say about Desoto Custom Saddlery is that it is a
one-woman operation. The workmanship is excellent. It just may take a
----long---- time to get it. I got about the same delivery time as if I had
ordered the Orthoflex, but the timing of my order was just right and I was
close enough to personally pick up my saddle. Since then I have heard of
others who were not so fortunate...

Of several friends who ride an Orthoflex, they all deal with the same rep at
the factory and have no complaints. Maybe getting to know one rep (not
necessarily the one my friends like) and talking with only that person is the
way to go. Guess you'd expect everyone from a company to tell the same story,

Food for thought---
IMHO, it is much more difficult to find someone who is knowledgeable about
fitting a tree to a horse than it is to find a person who can create a pretty
saddle. It might be a reasonable thing to buy a tree that fits and then find
someone locally to build a saddle on it.

Dave Bennett
internet: idj3q.office@mhs-tva.attmail.com