When it comes to tack and equipment for your horse, your saddle is one of the most expensive investments you'll make - and with good reason.
A saddle that securely fits both you and your horse allows for the best performance and is essential to keeping you both comfortable. So, if you're shopping for a new saddle, these five tips can help you find just what you need while saving you money.
The best way to save money when shopping for a new saddle? Buy a used saddle. A well-made saddle is durable and can last for decades when properly cared for. However, a used saddle will sell for far less than a brand new saddle. Since riders often outgrow or upgrade their saddles or buy new horses that a previous saddle no longer fits, there's a steady supply of used saddles for sale, so you'll have plenty of options to choose from.
Before you start saddle shopping, take some time to determine exactly what you need in terms of style, brand, and size. To do this, you need to sit in as many saddles as you can and try various saddles on your horse until you understand what fits and works for you both.
If you're at a large boarding barn, you may be able to ask friends if you can try out their saddles. If you don't have this resource, having a saddle fitter out may be the best way to quickly determine what you and your horse need in a saddle. You'll need a clear understanding of what fits your horse best, the seat size you need, and what you prefer in terms of the seat's depth, flap length, position of the stirrup bar, and other features such as knee rolls, bucking rolls, and more.
Ideally, by this point, you'll know what saddle brands and even models work for you. Now is the time to start looking for used saddles. There are a number of ways to find saddles, from social media to Craigslist to tack stores and consignment tack shops.
Think you've found a bargain? Before you commit to buy the saddle, do some research. Look up what that same model saddle is selling for used to understand if you're really looking at a good deal. Searching sold items on eBay is a good way to do this, but a good Google search will also bring up listings on tack sites to give you a better sense of the value of the used saddle.
Always try to buy a used saddle in person. Photos can conceal flaws, and there's nothing like being able to put your hands on the saddle to determine the quality and condition of the leather. By seeing a saddle in person, you can test the soundness of the tree and give the saddle a detailed inspection. Plus, you don't have to cover the cost of shipping.
If you're buying your first saddle, or if you're buying a saddle that is a different color or style than your current saddle, you'll need to purchase stirrup leathers and irons before the saddle is complete. While Western saddles will usually come with fenders and stirrups, many English saddles don't. This can mean another purchase of at least $100 before your saddle is ready to go.
Look for saddles that are being sold as package deals, including the leathers and stirrups. Often these will be a more affordable option, and you'll be able to immediately put the saddle to use. Sometimes you'll find saddle packages that include saddle covers, pads, and more.
A saddle is a big purchase, and when you buy a used saddle, you'll need to be patient in order to find the right option. However, the wait will be worth it when you get a great deal on a saddle that works well for both you and your horse.
What struggles have you faced when shopping for a saddle? Let us know in the comments, and maybe we can write a future article to help!
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