The Saddle Quest

Yup… I’m on a quest for new saddle. It’s a terrible, treacherous, and ridic expensive journey- but it must be done. It absolutely involves luck and a sense of humor to find one. Send me lots of good jingles… because not everyone makes it out alive!


my current saddle


Why do I need a new saddle? Well, need is subjective… but I do have several reasons. I currently have a 2010 17.5 Antares 3AA with a 4.5 in tree. I bought it when I was leasing a different horse, and although it fit that horse really well, it’s not the best fit for Rio. I had it checked out by the Antares rep, and he said it was, “an ok fit with a half pad”. IMO, it doesn’t really fit Rio. He is narrower, and a good deal more withery then the type of horse my saddle is meant to fit. I usually use an ecogold half pad, but in 100% honesty it is still less wither clearance then I would prefer. Don’t get me wrong, it is not sitting on his withers or anything like that, but less clearance then I would LIKE and IMO a saddle that fits shouldn’t NEED a half pad.


Although it is a longer, more forward flap, it just barelyyyyy fits my leg. I knew this when I bought it, but it worked for me at the time and was a huge step up from my prior saddle. I have been really happy with it, but now that I have Rio, and plan to have him for a long time, I really want something that is the perfect fit for both of us. My saddle is also getting a bit older at this point. It is still in really good condition (no tears and major scuffs or scrapes) with many years of life left, but knowing it won’t be my forever saddle, I’d prefer to trade it in/sell it while it still has a good bit of value.

So… now is the time for a new one! I’ve been so happy with this Antares that I originally was only looking for another Antares, preferably with a 4AB or 4AAB flap this time around, and something on the newer side so I can have it a long time. I’ve been casually looking for about 2 months now… and nada. I haven’t been able to get my hands on a single one that meets my specs- even with an appropriate budget.

I have realized it’s time to expand to other brands, and even consider going new. I would probably have tried a new Antares by now but… the rep seems extremely uncommunicative and not that interested in selling saddles. I’m sorry, but if I am considering buying a saddle that costs the same as an used car, I kind of feel like I should be wined and dined- is that wrong? Like, I want you to WANT to sell me a saddle- not ignore/not respond to my texts.





Since I have basically crossed a new Anatares off my list due to not wanting to deal with the rep, I have reached out to other brands. I’m excited to say that I will be demoing Voltaire saddles next Monday, and Butets next weekend! Fingers crossed that one of those will be “the one” and that I can scrape my pennies together to make something work.





So who else has thoughts on buying saddles? What brands do you like and dislike and why? I’m totally open to suggestions at this point!!

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  1. I have had Stubben, Beval, County before and won’t go that route again. I most recently had a CWD jump and a Devoucoux dressage but switched to a monoflap Devoucoux as well. While I didn’t love the customer service experience my first go with Devoucoux now that I know what I need I will (and have) bought them used myself. Love their pro panel.

    While I can see the appeal of Voltaire to some people I have friends with saddles that are under 3 yo and falling apart so for me that’s a no go.

    I would sit in anything you can. If you’re going new for sure. And even if going used so you have a wider net to cast on the used market. Best of luck! Saddle shopping is not the most fun.

    1. Voltaire’s falling apart in 3 years?! Ack!! Definitely not what I want to hear (but good to know, will keep it in mind). I have heard horrendous things about Dev’s customer service, so if I went that route it would definitely be used. Definitely hoping that trying these 2 brands helps me get a feel for what I like/dislike.

  2. Love Antares, my saddle is quite a bit older than yours and other than needing a new rivet this year is still going strong (even after all the accidents its had). I got very lucky and it still continues to do a good job on the horses I’ve owned. My current trainer is sponsored by Voltaire and most of the girls in the barn have them, but I find them to be very uncomfortable to sit in. If I was going to get a new saddle that wasn’t an Antares I might check out the Myer or CWD.

    1. I am also considering a CWD. The CWD reps in my area seem to change every few months though, which makes me feel very hesitant to go with them, as I suspect poor customer service/untrained reps due to the high turnover. Plus they are made in Morocco these days, not France.

      Good to know your Antares is still going strong! I may contact the company and see if there is someone else I could go through other then my area’s rep.

      1. I would definitely recommend trying a CWD. They are very, very popular in the Northeast H/J community, largely in part to an exceptional sales rep. They are very rider-friendly, with that awesome French saddle balance. And they seem to be very back-friendly to horses as well, as most of the people I know that have had horses with problem backs (or even non-problem backs) have switched to CWD.

  3. I’m saddle shopping right now too. The French saddles aren’t really fitting my horse, so we’ve been test riding Countys – but it seems like what he likes, I don’t and vice versa. The Dev rep did offer to come, so we’re going to try some in case we can get one to fit at the end of the month. Probably also going to try Black Country, which I’ve never heard a bad thing about. My Antares rep also never responded to my call…

    1. I have heard great and horrible things about County- seems like you love or hate them lol! Never considered Black Country really, let me know how you like it!

      1. I know, I’ve heard the same thing and it makes me really nervous. I don’t have the budget to do this twice haha! My CWD rep started out really helpful and then fell off the Earth and I can’t decide how much it’s worth stalking someone down. I feel the same way you do – um if I’m going to drop a huge $$$, the LEAST you can do is call me back!

  4. I have a John Whitaker, and despite it being much more budget to other makes – I absolutely love it. It does the same as any other more expensive one I’ve ridden in… but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get one in the US (?). However, they ride pretty much identical to a Prestige imo. I am hearing some real good feedback over the new “Barnes Tackroom” saddles, may be worth a look?

    Not a fan of Stubben, they always were uncomfortable for me. I love Devoucoux – my friend has a majorly old one and that’s nice to ride in even though it’s ancient – similar to the new ones.I don’t think you could go wrong with a Butet either.

    I’m unfamiliar with Voltaire however.

    If I was you, I’d definitely go on how Rio feels (sometimes your horse has a different opinion on a “good fit”!!) , and your own feelings, then looking into durability. Personally – everyone told me not to get a JW, but I went on how it feels and I don’t regret it!

    Good luck saddle hunting x

    1. Very true!! I will definitely be interested in how Rio goes in the different makes- as I have only ever ridden him in my current saddle. Never heard if JW, but have heard things about Prestige. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Almost everyone at our barn has a Bliss saddle and let me tell you, those things are so lovely to ride in. They are all custom measured for the horses (and riders) and are wool flocked so can be easily adjusted. As far as I know the rep has been to the barn multiple times and can check the fit and make adjustments. I have ridden in 3 of these (not just to test drive but for months), from the almost basic model to one with all the possible upgrades, and all of them are very comfortable.

  6. Those are some beautiful saddles! I love my Amerigo Vega but have loved other saddles throughout the years as well. Can’t wait to see what you end up with!

  7. I have a Prestige but it is a dressage saddle. I find that fitting a dressage saddle to the horse is much more difficult than fitting a jumper or hunt seat saddle. Anyway…good luck with your search.

  8. Oh boy, saddle shopping is the literal worst. I had the worst time just finding something I liked that fit Libby relatively well. Especially because she kept changing, and getting wider. I tried Voltaire (liked but the saddle that would fit Libby wasn’t available for me to try as it was a custom option of opening up the tree in the front, and I was too nervous to lay down almost 6k without sitting in it), Butet (love love love Butet but they didn’t make a tree wide enough for her at the time and I couldn’t afford to go full custom with them), Frank Barnes (Libby showed me really quickly that she didn’t like the feel of the wool), and finally CWD.

    I ended up going with CWD because the rep I was working with, awesome rep who unfortunately has decided to move on from the company, ensured me if it didn’t fit, I could send it back. My first saddle came in super fast and was exactly what I ordered. Worked really well for us a couple of years and then she eventually out grew it. Second saddle I got through them was a nightmare. I wasn’t working with the same rep as I wasn’t in the same area of Florida as I’d been when I ordered my first saddle. The first one I got didn’t have the correct tree or paneling. They took it back and the second one had the right tree but not the labeling we’d spoken about. After almost a year I think the saddles ok, but I’ll be honest I’m not confident in the fit and I don’t think I will ever do business with the company again. Being burned once overshadowed the good experiences I’d had with them in the past.

  9. Sit in whatever you can get your hands on that FITS the horse.

    For me, I am adaptable, if something ACTUALLY fits the horse, and maybe doesn’t fit me the greatest, I can change. Specially because I am having a hard time actually finding something to fit my mare.

    I personally don’t like french saddles. I have never sat in one that I have found to be super comfortable, and my mare doesn’t fit in a french tree.

    Finding a fitter that will ACTUALLY fit the horse is also hard. So many are shady. I’ve had some interesting interactions with fitters. I know what does and does not fit my horse, and can tell them what doesn’t. That immediately changes on how they interact with me. The one told people at my barn how great their saddle fit, and then they left and said fitter turned around to me and said it was a terrible fit. WTF is wrong with you?

  10. Wow i do NOT envy you at all. LOL Having just gone thru the process (I really did not have it too bad, two fitters, and boom got my saddle) it was painful.

    I ended up with a Stubben due to my QH and me. I think it is honestly one of the most comfy saddles I have ever sat in. But that is me.

    What you need is what works for you AND RIO. I would try whatever you can try. And don’t just look at the ‘hot names’ look at ones that you never heard of you never know!!

    And I had a fitter never call me back after coming once. Um hello I was GOING TO buy from you. SOOOOOOOOO stubben rep very attentive and always responding. YES I will buy from you LOL it is all about the customer service.

    Good luck I will make the popcorn this will be fun to watch 🙂 HA!

    1. LOL! You are too funny!

      But yes, I am absolutely not looking forward to this process. I am basically starting with French brands because it’s what I know, and what I know works for most big warmbloods. It is also nice to get something with good resale value IMO, in case I need something different down the line. We will see though! First fitting/demo is tonight!

  11. Two years ago I had a custom made Black Country made for Cruiser and me. I am obsessed with it! It still looks close to new after riding multiple horses a day 5-6 days a week. It took only took 3.5 weeks for them to make it! Did I mention these are incredibly well made in England and a custom is the price of a CWD off the peg? You’re welcome to try mine anytime, Kelly!

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