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  • Sophie Austin

Stages of buying a brand new saddle

Some people may not know the process of buying a new saddle. You might be intimidated by the process or feel worried that you won’t know where to start. Here at Sophysio saddles the process is easy.

The very first thing is to raid the piggy bank. Prestige saddles are very good value compared to other high line saddle brands and they offer different ranges saddle to suit different budgets. New saddles start at £1800 and go up to £3,300 so it’s always good to know that you have an adequate budget before the process starts.

Something will have triggered you to get to the point where you are thinking of a new saddle. It might be on recommendation from your coach, physio or vet. You might feel uncomfortable in your position. Your horse might have grown or you might feel your horse isn’t performing as well as they could. All The reasons will be discussed prior to the appointment and then again during the consultation.

During the appointment we will look at the horse‘s conformation, your current saddle, how the horse moves, the style you ride in (non judgementally) and what is not currently working for you and your old saddle.

Looking at the horse’s shape will narrow down the choice of saddles in the Prestige range. There are several different types and shapes of tree that will suit different shaped horses. The next step is to try the saddles we have narrowed down on the horse. We are looking for balance of the saddle, bridging, tightness and assessing width, looking how the panel sits etc. If that looks acceptable, we girth her up, and then check the same things. I would try a few saddles on and I would assess which ones look good in a static position.

Next comes the riding phase. As I was saying earlier, I look at your style of riding. This is very important as all the saddles are slightly different in the way they sit you in the saddle. For example the Meredith, sits you slightly further back in the saddle and your legs come slightly further forward (in the style of Meredith Michaels Beerbaum). If you like riding in a slight anchor position, you will love this saddle. The X-Perience has a centre of gravity that’s slightly further forward so slightly tips your pelvis forward and if you like riding in light seat, this saddle will suit you. So in the riding phase you will feel how each saddle sits you. Interestingly enough, it’s not always the saddle you anticipate you will like, that you will get on with the most.

At this point you can feel how the horse is moving and I can see how the horse is responding to the different saddles. Horses aren’t so good at choosing trends but they are good at telling us if they feel comfortable or not. At this point if you are feeling happy in a saddle you can try it over a few jumps. Normally I would suggest trialling all the suitable saddles and then go back to your favourite one to see if this could be the one for you.

If you feel tou you want to go ahead and purchase a new saddle, I will measure and template the horse and my job is to get the saddle perfectly made to fit the horse. Did you know, Prestige make all saddles to order. They are all bespoke and are all made to measure and they only take 4 weeks to make! And it doesn’t cost any more to have your exact requirements, it’s all part of the price.

We will discuss next the flap size, they go from XS to XL and standard is medium (which is normally the choice). The flap projection is chosen so if are blessed In the leg length department, that can be accommodated for with a +2, +4 or +6cm forward projection. If you extrem long in the leg and are Ludgar Beerbaum proportions, you can have +8cm like him as a special request.

We next need to choose the panel, whether it be flocked or latex. I prefer flocked as it’s adjustable. Latex panels have their place in the market as they are durable and they don’t change shape. If you request latex, the saddle is always fitted with room for a half pad. The panel can also be lifted at the front, lifted at the back, lifted at the front and back and also can have more flock behind the shoulder blades if that area is atrophied.

Once the technical decisions are made, the colour decisions are made. So what colour leather, choice of tobacco, black or cognac. The choice of leather, calfskin, printed or Lux leather. The choice of piping, there’s a choice of most colours and a few snazzy designs and also stitching can be a different colour. In the X-Breath saddle, you can have 2 different coloured stitches and that might suit you perfectly to match your cross country colours or logo or yard colours.

Finally once you have slept on it, and have given me the thumbs up to place the order I duly will. Half of the payment for the saddle is made on placing the order and half is paid once the saddle is ready. It takes approximately 4 weeks for the saddle to be made. They make 60 saddles a day, but your saddle with your precise requirements will go in the queue and as soon as its at the top of the list, it will be made. As soon as it’s made, an email will come to me to say it’s ready and then it will take 3-5 days for the saddle to be shipped from Italy.

Once it arrives here at Sophysio saddles, it will be checked and then I will either bring it out to you or send it to you. The next part is the best part, you get to ride in your brand new made to measure Prestige saddle!!

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