So, it’s time to get a saddle. There are so many things you need to consider when you’re starting a “saddle purchasing” adventure. We thought we’d break down some of the things you need to take into consideration.
A common mistake equine enthusiasts make is deciding to purchase a saddle based on a brand that was popular long time ago. Unfortunately, a brand’s quality in this industry changes drastically through the years. So, make sure that just because grandpa Joe had a saddle made by brand ABC, that you don’t make a decision to get that brand-just because your grandfather had one.
Generally speaking, the quality of the saddle can be assessed based on the price of the saddle. The old adage, “you get what you pay for” certainly applies when saddle buying. You’ll notice that brands tend to sit within certain price categories. Most would say that if you are only looking to ride occasionally, a $500 saddle will probably be accurate. There are some, however, that would say to never purchase a saddle less than $1000. This is really up to you. We know people that have gone both routes and are happy.
Remember that cheaper saddles simply do not last as long. So, while you may only spend $300, how often are you prepared to spend that 300? Spend more-get more endurance.
Saddles aren’t just for you, they are for the horse too!
It’s almost embarrassing how some riders will spend an incredible amount of money on all of the things that go along with owning a horse. A $70,000 truck, a trailer with an in law suite, and an outlandishly expensive horse… And then a $300 saddle. It’s important for you to remember that a happy horse is a happy rider. By investing money properly in a saddle, you are going to be giving your horse a much better experience with you. Unless your horse is Mr. Ed, he or she probably won’t care about the in law suite of your trailer, or the hemi in your truck.
Should you buy a used saddle?
One of the things you can take advantage of with a used saddle is cost, obviously. When you look at brand-new saddles, you’ll see so many of them that are completely out of your range. You may have a strong desire to have one of these beauties. If this is the case, look on websites like Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, and others. You’ll find that people have incredibly high quality, expensive saddles for sale, at a price sometimes lower than the brand-new ones you saw at the store.
With used saddles, you’ll get to try a bunch of different options. There are so many people that make the decision to purchase a saddle and then sell it for later if it doesn’t work out. Saddles are such a personal thing, so one that doesn’t work well for you can be perfect for someone else.
Used saddles can still last 50 years without any problems. If you look online, you’ll see all kinds of different saddled brands with products which are extremely aged. These saddles are often valued even more than their brand-new products.
If you make the decision to go the used saddle route, make sure that you’re very careful about taking a look at every nook and cranny of the saddle. The tree is an incredibly important thing to look at as well. Make sure to give that some extra attention.
Obviously, because you will be purchasing used, make sure you’re not too picky about the wear and tear of the product. No one likes the guy that goes to purchase a used car and gets upset because the paint doesn’t look brand spanking new.
Also, when you purchase used, you have to remember that the wear and tear over the years may have caused the saddle to be a little bit different then what you would get with a brand-new one. Expect to have some customizations, groups, and indents. Some, however, love this.
Purchasing a new saddle
The only real disadvantage of purchasing a brand-new saddle is the cost. You have to be really careful to not get sucked into the lower quality, cheaper saddles. So many people make this mistake, because a great saddle is simply out of their price range, when it comes to the new stuff. We highly recommend that if you only have a small budget to work with, go with a used high quality saddle over a cheap new one.
There are, if you have the budget, a lot of advantages to purchasing a brand-new saddle. One of them, for example, is you will get exactly what you want. You can special order and you won’t have to deal with any of the wear and tear.
In addition, your new saddle will come with a warranty. You’re not going to find any use saddles that offer warranties. However, when you read the online forums, you’ll find that the use saddles hold up just fine in most cases.
The other advantage to a new saddle is the fact that you’ll have an opportunity along with your horse to shape it to your fit and the horses fit. Sometimes, with use saddles, it can take a bit for the saddle to get broken in to your fit in your horses fit.
Purchasing a saddle online
Many will tell you that buying a saddle online is a bad idea. We don’t necessarily disagree with that, if you are a new rider. If you are going to purchase online, however, make sure that there is a solid try out policy. If you are not going to be able to return something you purchase online, you’re going to be in trouble. Purchasing a saddle online can be a great option for those that don’t geographically live close to some of the best saddle shops in the world. When you contact some of these high-end saddle shops, through the Internet, you’ll find that their salespeople will be very courteous and helpful with you. So, the Internet can be a great place to go.
Purchasing a saddle in store
If you have access to a great saddle shop, there is absolutely nothing wrong with going and checking things out. Many shops actually have price guarantees with online competitors. So, if that’s the case, you can get a great saddle and also a great price. However, don’t underestimate the value of having a relationship with someone at a store where you can go back and ask questions, get information and advice. Sometimes there’s nothing better than that one on one face-to-face relationship.
Typical return policies
It’s important that you have proper expectations on returning your saddle. It’s really important that you ask at the store or through a website’s online contact form, what the return policy is, and to see it and have it in writing.
Most of the time, you’ll have a try out period. While this timeline usually sits around three days, it can vary from shop to shop.
Sometimes, shops will allow you to bring your trailer to the store and actually try to settle on the horse before you ever purchase it. This is a great option, in our opinion. While you won’t have a true understanding of what it’s like to be on your horse for a long period of time with the saddle, you’ll at least get a general idea.
If you are making the decision to purchase a custom saddle or a special order, don’t expect to be able to return it at all. Hopefully, you understand this, as nobody else is can want your custom piece at a new custom price.
If you are in need of returning the saddle, it’s going to need to be an “new” condition. Make sure that you don’t take your new saddle that you’re still thinking about returning for a full-blown trail ride. Simply put, this will put your saddle at risk for losing its “newness.” but the saddle on your horse and watch your horse from the ground and see how the horse moves around in it.
If you are going to be returning a saddle to the retailer, expect the shipping costs to be your responsibility.
We hope that these tips help you in making your decision to purchase a saddle. And remember, a happy horse is a happy rider!