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Saddle Up! How to Buy a Second-Hand Saddle Without Making a Mistake

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  • Published on Tuesday, October 3, 2017
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There are hundreds of second-hand saddles for sale on the internet and the saddle is the most important accessory for any rider. So how do you find the right one?

There are lots of things that need to be taken into consideration. So how do you find a saddle that suits both the horse and the rider?

Before Buying a Second-Hand Saddle

Finding a second-hand saddle on the internet through sites such as Equirodi, is an efficient way of finding one that is of a good quality and that is within your budget.

Be precise about your budget and choose your favourite brand or model that is specifically designed for the activity that you have in mind, for example hacking out or for competition such as dressage or showjumping.

Insist on trying it out before you buy. Even if it looks ideal on the photos, in practice it may not fit your horse or be comfortable for either him or you. Make a list of your "must-haves" in terms of design, budget, purpose, choose your preferred colour and check the age of the saddle and its history beforehand.

Choose a Saddle that is right for your Body Shape

The advantage of a specialised Equestrian internet site like Equirodi, is that it has a detailed search engine, so you can find the saddle of your dreams, easily and quickly by searching according to brand, size, age, and purpose of the saddle.

There are two fundamental things to consider, in order to ensure that the saddle fits the rider.

The shape of the saddle needs to allow for enough space for the rider's thighs between the head of the saddle and the cantle, and it is the size of the seat ,which needs to correspond to the size/height of the rider, that is to say, if the rider is slim and light, then they could effectively be "lost" in the saddle, if the seat is too big, but equally, if the rider is large and muscular, then there may not be enough room for them if the seat is too narrow/short. It is important therefore to understand that the saddle seat size can vary from one brand to another and the buyer needs to find the right individual saddle size for them.

How do I Buy the Right Saddle for my Horse?

A good way of starting is to ask about the rider that the saddle currently belongs to (amateur, professional etc) and what it has been and is being, used for?

"English" style saddles are very popular because they allow the rider's legs to be freer and to lengthen more easily and they also allow more freedom of the horse's withers, but each discipline has its own preferred style of saddle for example, for dressage; show-jumping; cross-country; endurance; trekking; western riding; gymkhanas; side-saddle or multi-purpose and for each horse there will be a saddle to suit his own particular shape.

A narrow saddle will never suit a "round" horse and it is a basic requirement to check that the tree of the saddle will suit the back of your own horse. For a horse with a high/prominent wither, it is best to choose a saddle that will not constrict this area or block the movement of the shoulders.

Negotiating your Price and Checking the Quality of the Materials

If the price is right there may be some room for negotiation, but it is best not to abuse this.

As soon as the saddle is in your possession, check the condition of the stirrup-leathers, the tree, the stirrups and the girth straps and all the individual parts of them, but be aware that the saddle may not always be sold with all its accessories. In France, it is said that the saddle is being sold « nue ».Pay special attention to the saddle tree, particularly if the saddle is of a certain age and if the seller is not too far away, then the most practical thing to do, is to go and try the saddle, but if this is not possible, then ask if the saddle could be sent against the receipt of a cheque or an electronic bank transfer.

Feel the saddle to check the stitching and the flocking, or padding and the condition of the leather which should be supple and not cracked/breaking and make sure you know how to look after/treat a leather saddle and how to try it for fit on your own horse. In case of any doubt, ask for help from a professional or from your own riding instructor.

The Benefits of buying from a Professional Saddler

Certain brands of saddle makers have second hand saddles available on their own internet sites which can be ordered online and delivered direct to you. These, in principle, will have already been checked thoroughly by professional saddle makers, before being made available for sale. These same saddle makers will also be available to help and advise you about the right choice of saddle for your body-shape and that of your horse and they may even also take your old saddle in part-exchange.

Advice from RODI!

  • Make a list of your requirements in advance, to make finding the ideal saddle easier.
  • The most important thing is to find a saddle that suits both the horse and rider. If the saddle is right for you, then it needs to be right for your horse too, it should fit his body shape and allow him to move freely without any pain, or irritation.
  • Whether it is for sport or leisure, always ask to try the saddle before buying.
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