- What kind of leather is the saddle made out of? This will help to determine the length of life for your saddle. It is well known in the saddle making industry that Hermann Oak leather is the best quality leather available for tooling and durability. When using Hermann Oak leather for barrel saddles specifically, there is no need for doubling or lining fenders and seat jockeys which adds unnecessary weight and bulk under your legs.
- Is the saddle lined with REAL sheepskin or synthetic fleece? This is one of the most common areas a saddle company will cut corners. It is far more economical to use synthetic fleece to line saddles, which in turn may or may not lower your price point. However, the benefits of lining your saddle with REAL fleece and it’s pounds per square inch shock absorbing abilities compared to artificial fleece, far out weigh the lower price point you may receive. REAL sheepskin lining in our WOODY’S CUSTOM SADDLES was a definite must have. Ask us how you can tell if saddles are in fact lined with REAL sheepskin as opposed to artificial fleece.
- Is the saddle ‘factory made’ or ‘bench made’? The price point is often an issue in this area. Bench made saddles being a higher price point than factory made saddles. The reasoning for the price difference is quite clear. When a saddle is bench made only a couple people make your saddle and it doesn’t leave the bench from start to finish. This bench made, handmade process ensures the consistency and quality of your saddle. It is not a rushed process by any means. Factory made saddles are made in a production line, more quantity the better, where several people might touch your saddle before it is completed increasing likelihood for error and decreasing the quality of craftsmanship. This is one of the reasons that handmade saddles tend to be a higher price point than factory made saddles.
- What is inside your saddle? The quality, durability and fit, all start with a quality saddle tree. This is another area a saddle company may cut corners as the consumer cannot see the tree in a finished saddle unless they ask to see one. There are some common pressure points in a finished saddle to look out for which need to be addressed at the tree level. We have ensured our WOODY’S CUSTOM SADDLE trees have all these special features to alleviate these common pressure points. We have also incorporated some special features in the leather of our finished saddles that help to alleviate further common pressure points. Feel free to contact us for information about what to look for when inspecting a saddle tree and saddle. Give us a call directly or schedule a saddle fit to discuss the features in our WOODY’S CUSTOM SADDLES.
- What is your horse REALLY telling you? Listen to your horse, but don’t put words in their mouth. We are all often overwhelmed by all the information around saddles and saddle fit. We all naturally want the best for our horses but we can sometimes read into problems that aren’t really there. Keep it simple. Visit with us about some red flag signs or behavioural issues your horse might be having if he is experiencing saddle fit issues.
Saddle and tree makers have been trying to develop the ‘perfect’ saddle fit for hundreds of years, and it is a guarantee the search will continue for a hundred more. There are so many factors that come into play with regards to saddle fit. No two horses are exactly the same; they may be close but not exactly the same, which is why the ‘perfect’ fit will remain elusive. Individual horses change their back confirmation throughout the year, shifting from being in shape to out of shape and back in shape again (especially here in Canada). Horses will also experience back changes throughout their lifetime as they age. WOODY’S CUSTOM SADDLES’ philosophy is that with an open mind and the right equipment, we can help you attain the BEST POSSIBLE FIT for you and your horse.
We feel the different sizes in our WOODY’S CUSTOM SADDLES fit a wide range of horses and people by incorporating some features that we feel are mandatory to great saddle fit. We personally use our products and personally inspect each and every saddle that comes in and out of our doors for quality. Whether it means a saddle purchase from us or not, we aim to help educate our customers the best way we can so you can reach optimal performance and comfort for you and your horse. We understand the demographics and the conditional struggles here in Canada and we are here to help bridge the gap between you, your horse and the BEST POSSIBLE FIT. In the end, if you are in the market for a new saddle, make your own evaluations. Talk to the saddle companies directly to ensure you have the accurate information from each company you are considering so you can make an informed, educated decision.
Happy saddle shopping!
DJ & Terryl Woodward