Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Still on the Saddle Hunt

I finally got a chance to call a local custom saddle maker and ask him some questions. I explained that I have a Circle Y Mojave Arabian saddle that fits my gelding, but it slides up over the withers onto the neck of my mare. Most Arabian saddle trees have short bars with an extra wide angle. My mare needs a normal to wide angle on the tree. He said he could come to my place and take her measurements, which made me happy. Less time out of my schedule.

I then asked how long it takes him to make a saddle. He said, "Right now you are lookin' at 8 months out."

Hmmm. I wasn't even sure if my mare would live that long.

I then asked what the price range of a custom working or trail saddle with no frills would be. "It starts at 32," he said.

"32?" I thought. "Surely, he doesn't mean $32 or $320. He must mean $3,200!"

I could feel my heart racing and my palms sweating. I could buy a pre-made show saddle loaded with sterling silver for that price. Of course, it probably wouldn't fit the horse as well. I had to remind myself that I would be paying for the fit. I then had to remind myself that kind of money has been saved up to put my daughter through college. "I really didn't want to spend more than $1,500," I said.

He laughed at me. "$1,500 wouldn't even buy you a tree, none-the-less the leather."

I thanked him for his time, and hung up, quaking from the sticker shock. I could buy a used car for $3,200! I could remodel my kitchen. I could buy a dozen horses with that, not that I'd have any place to put them. By golly, I could buy a year and a half's worth of hay to feed the horses I already have!

So, it's back to the drawing board. I'm keeping an eye out for used saddles, and I'm researching pre-made saddles again. I have added the High Plains Tucker Trail Saddle to my list. Victoria at Teachings of the Horse mentioned the brand, and there are a lot of great reviews out there for Tucker saddles. They are about as customizable as you can get without having a custom saddle made from scratch by a saddle maker.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Yikes! $3,200 for custom made, eh? With no bells and whistles?
No thank you.

It must be tougher to fit Arabians. Most saddles seem to come in sizes for other breeds of horses.

I'm really grateful I found my saddle, after reading another gal's blog called 'My First Horse', a year ago. She raved about the Amish-made Eli/Henry Miller Saddles touting their comfort for rider and horse, especially gaited horses, who need more room in the shoulders to move out.

I did tons of research looking up reviews on Eli/Henry Miller saddles and every one of the reviews was positive.

I love the suspended gel seat with buttery soft leather, and that it only weighs 24 pounds. With my hips and back and legs, I must have a saddle that I can ride for hours in and not be sore afterwards, and a saddle that I can lift with one hand up onto my 15.3 hh horse. And my saddle is all that and more.

And the fact that my saddle cost less than $900 was a huge plus.
I love, love, love my saddle :)

And I hope you are able to find the saddle of your dreams soon that fits your horse well, too.


Vaquerogirl said...

A custom made saddle is worth its weight in gold. Literally! I am saving up right now to buy one of my own- after all after 50 years in the saddle I deserve one!
HOWEVER~ you can find a good saddle, that will fit your horse for a lot less. Try checking out the Arabian classified in their magazines, go to your local breeders open houses and talk saddle - sometime you will find someone willing to part with one. Also check out the Western Saddle blog site- you can find a link on my blog- they have lots of information and they post saddles of all kinds every day!
Best of luck to you!

Saddle Mountain Rider said...

Maybe next time you should buy the horse that fits your saddle... sorry, i couldnt resist mentioning the ridiculous. Your horse is hard to fit - you may have to try quite a few saddles before you find the one. Dont give up on finding a used one. Oh, and by looking at the backbone on your horse (who looks like such a sweetie, by the way), i would say that riding bareback is out of the question.

Callie said...

A Tucker has always been my dream saddle!

Laura said...

yikes - $3200 is a lot of money for a saddle for regular riding. I could see spending that if it was a show saddle that fit a bunch of horses...

I feel your pain - saddle hunting for a non-standard sized horse is really hard. Are there any tacks shops within a reasonable drive that have used saddles you could take out on trial?

Would it be possible for you to order a couple saddles online - it seems some places have demo models that they will ship - and then have the saddle maker come out and double check them for you? Maybe he would be able to make a few adjustments to get one of them to fit?

Just a thought - not sure if he would travel out to do that or not.

We have a local guy here that does that with english saddles. He'll come out, fit the saddle and then re-stuff/modify it as required.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I haunt every tack shop and feed store I come across. This is Quarter Horse country. Nothing even close to Arab saddles. All the Arabian horse owners either hire a saddle maker or order online. Of course, there are plenty of options online. I just have an aversion to shipping saddles. The first online saddle I bought arrived with a broken horn and sending it back was a huge hassle. The second one arrived all scratched up. Since you spend so much money on a saddle you'd think the least they could do is ship it with some padding and properly packaged. I'll probably have to go in that direction, though.

I also contemplated having the saddle maker stuff my old saddle, but I'm afraid that would make it not fit my gelding since it fits him now. That saddle doesn't rub or cause any white hairs on my mare. It just won't stay behind her withers. With the way in which the economy has been going, I may have to just forget about getting a saddle all together for the time being. Every time I make a large purchase in a bad economy, I get laid off the very next day. I'm jinxed in that way. Right now I'm just researching and waiting for more financial security.

Kristen said...

I would love a custom saddle. Mine are cheap, one Aussie and one regular saddle. I am embarrassed to say where I got, Eck Ebay! But they fit my horses and me well and are actually nice looking and sturdy.. My goal is to have a custom saddle, I would love that, but $3200, wow I better start saving :)

Andrea said...

Holy Smokes!! I am with you on that being really steap! I know some show saddles are about 10 grand, but really, for a trail saddle?? That man is crazy!

That trail saddle in the picture looks way comfy. Look at that seat. I could see myself sitting in that comfy seat for hours!! Very nice!