A guide on WHAT NOT TO BUY when buying a side saddle online!!! by Becca Holland

  • It has become common place for experienced side saddle riders to post links of craptastic side saddles from eBay onto their Facebook pages, warning newbies to stay away at all cost!
    “I’d like to know what is wrong with the saddle please. Am new to the side saddle world and would like any helpful pointers on what to avoid for when I look for saddlery…..”
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    This is a question that experienced side saddle riders hear all too often from new comers who are desperate to get started and all too often rush out and buy the first ‘side saddle’ that they see for a cheap price on ebay. Be warned, those who buy cheap, buy dear!
    The following comment from Becca Holland (who is a member of the FLying Foxes Side Saddle Display Team in England) sums up the whole experience of ‘caveat emptor’ (Let the buyer beware)
  • Becca Holland: The big giveaway with these saddles is the position of the leaping head (lower pommel). To ride well the leaping head should be more or less directly under the fixed (upper) head. These saddles are made in India, but NOT by someone who has ever ridden (or possibly even seen) a horse. They are built on astride trees and are universally x x wide (to the point where they pretty much arrive flat!). They are not built up correctly on the left side, so will not stay central on pretty much any horse on the planet without 15 sofa cushions under them. They tend to slip left dangerously and are impossible to make comfortable for either horse or rider. The main things to look out for/avoid when looking at a sidesaddle are…
    1) colour, good black sidesaddles are very unusual. Most good sidesaddles are brown.
    2)Panels – most good sidesaddles have white linen/serge panels, when viewed from behind off the horse the left panel should appear more padded than the right.
    3) Price – Alas you are unlikely to pay much below £1500 for a good, solid well made second hand sidesaddle nowadays. A brand new, well made saddle is more likely to be pushing £2500 – £3000.
    4)If you see a saddle advertised as “nearly new, only used 5 times etc, great starter side saddle” for a low price, be very suspicious! It is most likely unrideable, and will turn some poor unsuspecting rider and their horse off side saddle for life!
    These are not hard and fast rules, for example an Hermes sidesaddle will usually have leather panels (but will also cost you £3-5000), and a lady on here has a beautiful black Stubben sidesaddle (but again, you won’t see this on Ebay for £200!)
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