As horse owners or loaners who ride, one of the most important and most expensive pieces of equipment you will have to purchase is a saddle – even if purchasing a second hand saddle.
Nowadays saddles come made in various different types of leather, different sizes, shapes, models, and makes which of course means many different choices. You also need to decide on whether to purchase a quality second hand saddle or buy new.
What’s your budget?
The first choice you need to make is decide on how much you are willing to pay or can afford to spend on a saddle. There are a number of considerations within this choice.
How often will you use the saddle?
Is this for a happy hacker that is taken out once a week, or for a horse exercised for an hour or more everyday? You might be willing to spend more and invest in a higher quality saddle if it will be used more frequently.
What will you use it for?
Breaking in, everyday use, or competing?
If used for breaking you may be looking for something very cheap, but if it is your everyday or competition saddle you may be looking to spend more.
How will you pay for the saddle?
Cash, Part Exchange, Credit Card, or Finance?
Cash would be the most traditional method, with some companies allowing you to part exchange your existing saddle. However, you may find that finance will allow you to get the brand and model that suits you, your horse, and your riding needs. In some cases, credit cards can work out better as the APR may be lower than what the finance company is offering.
PayPal also offer 4 months interest free credit which you can get by simply applying on PayPal’s website.
Cheap and poor fitting, or pay more for a quality saddle that fits?
Should you get something cheap now because its all you can afford, even though it is not the most suitable saddle for you or your horse? Or should you stretch your budget and get something that fits your horse? Cheap is different to different people. One thing we suggest is ALWAYS avoid the imported leather saddles which you can buy for around £30-60. If you are on a tight budget, look at other finance options before you buy something which could be detrimental to the horse.
Will you be having a saddle fitter to advise on a suitable saddle?
Many people find saddle fitters too expensive. However, a good, honest, genuine, and knowledgeable qualified saddle fitter is worth their weight in gold. A poor fitting saddle can cause serious harm to your horse, not to mention you as a rider if you are sitting imbalanced.
However, if you are looking for a saddle fitter for the first time, make sure they are able to offer you what you need. If your budget doesn’t allow for a new saddle, find a good, qualified fitter who can provide a second hand saddle. Or discuss with the fitter that you cannot afford new, and if they are able to recommend a suitable saddle for your horse, you will buy online and then have them back to fit and alter the saddle as necessary.
What type of saddle do you need?
Do you want a GP, Jump, Dressage, Show or Working hunter saddle? Maybe you need an endurance saddle? Work out what you need before you start looking.
For many riders, a GP (General Purpose) will be more than sufficient. However, if you are competing in a certain discipline, or multiple disciplines you may need multiple saddles. You then need to establish what you want from the saddle. Does it need to be adjustable, as your horse changes shape a lot, or would you prefer a fixed size saddle? Do you want Velcro knee blocks that can be moved, or do you prefer large fixed knee blocks?
Do you prefer leather or synthetic?
Are you happy to have a cheaper synthetic saddle, which some consider easier to maintain. Or would you prefer an English leather saddle which if well cared for could last years and years? Some people prefer synthetics as they are lightweight. However, synthetics are not suitable for competing. So think about what you need it for short term and long term, as sometimes investing in leather may be a better option.
Does brand matter to you?
Some people are very particular about brands. However a brand that you like may not be suitable for your horse. Its best to take your fitters advice on which brand is most suited to your horse and you.
New or used saddles?
Choosing whether to buy new or used is a key decision. You may get a better quality on your budget by buying a second hand saddle, rather than a lower quality one when buying new. Things to consider are things such as depreciation. A saddle, like any item purchased new, will loose around 20% off its value straight away. That means if you spend £1000 on a brand new saddle, and sit on it only 3 times, you will only be able to sell it for £800 (if you are lucky)… Why? Because someone else willing to pay that much, will also opt to buy new. Those in the market for a second hand saddle will be looking to pay much less, and will happily settle for a saddle that is a year or more old. However, if you are someone who may be a perfectionist, and like to keep your saddles in tip top condition then buying new may be for you, as small marks or signs of wear could put you off buying a second hand saddle.
However, on the flip side, a second hand saddle, if bought from a reputable retailer can be the most financially beneficial way of buying a saddle. You will not be losing the depreciation from new, and you also have a trial or returns period. So if the saddle is unsuitable you can return it. If you buy privately, you will not be able to return the saddle if it doesn’t fit.
You will also get really good service from a retailer like The Saddle Bank, and if you are based in UK you could be riding in your new saddle tomorrow.
Where will you get one from?
You have decided what you want and need, but where will you get it from? Does your saddle fitter have the saddle you need? Do they offer both new and used saddles? Will you get it from an online retailer such as The Saddle Bank? Or will you opt to buy privately? Read our top tips for buying a second hand saddle online here.
There are many factors to consider when deciding on purchasing a saddle. Every person is different, has a different horse, different riding agenda, and different financial situation. What is right for you, may not be what is right for a friend. However, we hope this guide has allowed you to think about what you really need in a saddle, and will hopefully allow you to make the best decision for you and your horse.
Learn more about how saddles should fit….
If you are a horse owner or rider and would like to learn more about saddle fitting, and how the saddle can impact your horses performance and welfare, click on the link below:
Thank you for reading this article! We hope you found it useful!
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The Saddle Bank Team x