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Re: Need info on saddles (long

Re: re: Linda Flemmer's (always) invaluable insights on saddle fit -
she's probably ridden on more saddles than I have ridden on horses!


1) Sharon Saare saddles.  I don't own one, but spent some time
visiting with Sharon at a show & she showed me ins & outs of her
product.  I was impressed at the impromptu presentation.  Really,
really nice & she ships trees for fitting, very helpful &
knowledgable.  Expensive?  Depends on what you are looking for.

2)  Stonewall Saddles.  I rode a very difficult mountain trail (Elk
Valley) for two days on StoneWall saddles belonging to a good friend
who actually trusted me with her #1 horse first time out with her! 
Normally, my feet and knees give me absolute fits after hours in my
English saddle on trails, and after hours on my Western saddle on
trails.  The StoneWall saddle was a great ride since I could walk away
from two long days of gruelling vertical climbs and pounding flats. 
My friend swears by them!

3) My friend in #2 purchased the Chiron Sport Saddle prior to the
StoneWall and sold the saddle pronto.  Her horse became very
sore-backed and she would not continue riding in the sport saddle.  On
the other hand, I've met riders who like them and use them, even one
heavy weight.

Personally, I have not made my choice yet, nor can I afford to do it
today.  I am in negotiations with my MOM regarding my Christmas
present, though!  The saddle rumors continue. . . . .

---"Flemmer, Linda"  wrote:
> wrote:
> > I would like to purchase an endurance saddle, but I have no idea
which one
> > would be best. I have read all the recent posts on the pros and
cons of
> > different saddles, but I am getting confused. <SNIP> If anyone who
has also
> > gone through
> > this saddle buying process and still has their notes and/or saved
posts from
> > this board I would love to have a look.
> My first suggestion is to go to the archives on the endurance home
page & search
> on "saddle" or on the name of a particular saddle that you are
interested in.
> There should be LOTS of posts.  Establish a budget & decide which
you can
> afford.  I've bought a better saddle that was used rather than a
lesser saddle
> brand new.
> Listening to other folks can be confusing when saddle shopping.  Rider
> preferences varies and the horses all have different backs.  If it
was going to
> be easy, there wouldn't be so many saddles out there!  I can share
information on
> the saddles that we've used.  Caveat - these are our experiences
with these
> saddles listed.  What works for us may not work for others.  What
fits our horses
> may not (read probably <won't>) fit yours.
> 1)  Fallis Balance Ride (Western, w/ horn, mid 1970's model)  Used
this in the
> early 80's, before there were too many endurance saddles.  Nicely
made saddle
> with excellent quality leather, rawhide covered wooden tree. 
Stirrups were in a
> neutral position, girth was too far forward (37/8 rigged).  Changed
the ox bow
> stirrups out immediately!  Used an in skirt system of rigging that
really got the
> bulk out from under your leg.  The leathers were heavy & wide w/
fenders - they
> made my knees ache to keep my toes more or less forward (as opposed
to airplane
> wings).  Heavy at 48 lbs.  I wouldn't go back to it for endurance if
there was an
> alternative that fit, but it was great for working cattle.
> 2)  Courbette Husar - forward seat jumping saddle.  Moderate quality
> good workmanship, spring tree.  This is a forward seat jumping
saddle that
> happened to fit a hard-to-fit mare.  I tended to get a tired back
from the
> position that this saddle forced me into.  English stirrup leather
(1") cut into
> my shins, and the standard english irons are too narrow - my feet
became numb.
> Few attachment places for gear (two D's on the off side for a
sandwich case just
> didn't cut it!)  Foam stuffed panels didn't need restuffing much,
but they didn't
> conform well to Rosie's back, either.  Great for foxhunting... 
Lousy for
> endurance, functionally, but it fit the horse & rider like a glove.
> 3)  Hook Endurance - "Western" style A fork endurance saddle.  No
horn.  Tons of
> places to attach stuff.  Excellent leather and workmanship (made in
> MT).  2" or 3" leathers w/ fenders.  Brass hardware, wood tree,
rigging that
> allows the rider to adjust the girth rigging from a full position
(near the
> elbows) to a center fire (very back).  Rigging is dropped to get
bulk out from
> under you legs.  They have a combination of 250+ trees to make a
custom fit, but
> the tree is rigid.  As our horses lost weight through a long season,
we needed to
> pad them up a bit.  Absolutely love this saddle, but my husband has
it now - it
> fits his current horse, but not mine.  It's withstood 16 years of
hard use!
> 4)  McClellan - old military saddle.  We have model 1904's and
1909's.  It is my
> firm belief that the original McClellans WILL NOT fit an Arab.  They
are narrow
> saddles, some with a narrow twist in the midsaddle area, that just
> accomodate a well sprung arab.  On the other hand, each tree was
hand carved, so
> there is enough variation from one to another that you can find some
that fit
> modern horses (other than arabs).  (Think of their campaign horses -
> little feed, so they grazed where they could.  They tended to my
lean and
> muscled.)  The stirrups are underneath you, the rigging is adustable
to any
> position (like the Hook), TONS of places to hang things, all brass
fittings.  We
> found several that fit Mike's horse at varying stages of weight and
had them
> recovered & re-rigged for safety.  I find them uncomfortable
(rigging irritates
> my thighs) but Mike loves them.  Saddle has an open seat to allow
for more
> cooling of the horse's backs.  You find a lot that have had sheep
skin put on
> underneath (like on a western saddle) - GET RID OF IT.  I guess
you'd call it an
> "after market add on". It makes an already narrow saddle narrower. 
Use a good
> pad and choose one that fits the horse to start with.  Relatively
cheap to pick
> up still, but recovering & rerigging may run $300-400.
> 5)  Orthoflex Express Lite - reminiscent of an english style trooper
saddle with
> a rounded pommel in front.  OF has flexible panels to fit the horse
as he changes
> shape thru movement and weight changes.  They seem to promote that
this saddle
> will fit any horse - no saddle can do that, though.  Their panels
are often too
> long for a shorter backed arab.  They revised their panel system
somewhere around
> 1993 or 1994 so that it flexed better & in more directions.  If you
buy used, ask
> if it is the new panel system.  They have also come out with shorter
panels for
> arabs, but I haven't actually seen one to compare.  The stirrups are
> balanced on this model.  Rigging are dropped billets, like on a
dressage saddle.
> Lots of places to hang things to balance the load.  I got the stitch
down seat -
> very cushy!  This saddle's seat seems to run a little large - I had
to add a
> sheepskin cover before I felt like it was small enough for me.  Nice
front thigh
> blocks offer some security on fast downhill trips :-).  The flex
panels tend to
> put you a little further away from the horse's back than a regular
saddle, but it
> compensates by allowing more feeling of how the horse is moving
through the
> flexible panels.  Quality of leather and workmanship is excellent,
but they are
> pricey and service has been a problem for us.
> 6)  Sport Saddle - leather covered neoprene seat, a solid front &
back pommel for
> the rigging and stirrups.  Somebody here on the list recently called
it a
> glorified bareback pad - not too far off for a visual description. 
You can feel
> every move of muscle in the horse's back.  Leather is only average
quality - I
> see a lot of very worn looking seats where folks didn't have seat
> Stirrups need to be ordered back from their normal position if you
want to be
> balanced.  Lots of places to hang stuff.  Girth is too far forward
for my taste.
> There is a design potential to make the girth position completely
adjustable like
> a McClellan, but I haven't seen it happen yet by the company.  (I
have seen some
> riders jury rig this, though.)  They come in a number of different
styles - we
> used the endurance model w/ stirrups back 1".  The leathers were
horrible -
> bulky, irritating.  The side flaps tended to bunch up and irritate
my legs.  (I
> was ready to cut them off before I sold the saddle.)  They send a
girth with the
> saddle, but I don't have any horses that tolerate this rough felt
girth.  It's
> lays at the bottom of the tack trunk.  (I hate to get rid of
things..  What if I
> ever need it?)  The saddle does not have much weight distributing
properties.  If
> you pleasure ride at a walk & sit a lot, if you are a heavyweight or
> middleweight, it may not work for you.  Our horses got sore backs
directly under
> our seat bones when we did pleasure rides with friends.  Even in
endurance where
> we posted, stood, etc. my horse complained.  Fit one mare well, but
tended to
> ride up on the gelding's neck. The pommel and cantle are solid and
may not fit
> every horse.  My friend had Percheron/TB crosses that were way to
wide for these
> saddles (and most other saddles, I might add).
> I've ridden in a Sharon Saare, but I'm not familiar enough with them
to offer
> insights.  I know that she has been making these saddles fora long
time and has a
> very loyal customer base.
> I've also seen & ridden in a Stonewall - modern version of a
McClellan.  I foud
> it MUCH more comfortable than a real McClellan, good leather &
moderately good
> workmanship.  The girth was fully adjustable to different positions,
lots of
> places to hang things, relatively light.
> Our old Wintec's tree spread with 2 years of heavy riding.  I guess
that I've
> come to consider them disposable, considering the tree issue and the
> low price.
> I hope that this helps (& doesn't cause more confusion).  Let me
know if you have
> any specific questions that I can answer.
> Linda Flemmer

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