Budget side saddle :-(

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a budget side saddle. All too often, I hear of people who are desperate to get started and the first thing they do is buy a newly made saddle on ebay for 200 or 300 pounds. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS!!! AS YOU WILL END UP WITH A TOTALLY UNRIDEABLE SADDLE THAT WILL NOT ONLY HURT YOUR BACK BUT COULD SERIOUSLY HARM YOUR HORSE TOO. Let the buyer beware…

These are what craptastic side saddles look like, please compare it to a fully rebuilt old name saddle:

crap saddle




It’s the very mistake that I made way back when I decided to start riding side saddle. I bought a saddle similar to the black one above years ago before I knew what to look for. Unfortunately, the person who made it has obviously never been anywhere near a horse, I doubt it would even fit a hippo. The biggest giveaway about these saddles is that they are made from black leather, are new, cheap, usually advertised with only one photo, sold with the tag line “perfect for beginners”, “only used twice” etc etc, in other words, will completely hoodwink a person who is so desperate to get started that all they see is the low start price and they don’t think to look too closely at the saddle itself.

If you study the top picture carefully you will notice that not only is the leaping head upside down, there is a balance strap on the nearside for some very strange reason!

Having bought one of these saddles and realising that it would never fit my horse, let alone any other horse, I tried to get my money back. I rang the company I had bought it off and explained that the billets (girth straps) were too far back, the fixed head was set at an acute angle therefore impossible to get my right thigh under it, and that there was a balance strap on each side. Their reply was that this saddle had been developed with the help of the Spanish side saddle association and how dare I question it or look for my money back ! They also told me to bring it to a GARAGE to get the fixed head (upper pommel) wenched out to a more agreeable angle. Needless to say, I dumped this “saddle” in a shed where birds and mice had a great time playing with it for the last 6 or 7 years.

When I was lamenting to a friend about the craptastic cheap side saddles that keep popping up on ebay, I suddenly remembered that I had one and I offered it to her, so that she could dissect it and photograph the insides to warn potential customers away from these dreadful pieces of tat. It gives me great pleasure to present her report!!!



note how far back the billets are placed :


whopping width!


Then it was time for a model to have a sit on it (on a saddle stand as it would not fit any horse on this planet)


I doubt any human leg would fit under this “pommel” with the angle that it’s set at… looks as painful for the rider as it would be for the horse


It is impossible to sit with square hips and shoulders, notice how the saddle is tilting the rider out to the left and how crooked it makes her. This saddle is sitting securely centered on a stand!



Again tipping the rider far over to the left!!!


the girth straps vaguely stitched on… completely dangerous!


panels not even remotely symmetrical!


extra extra extra extra extra wide, a whopping 24 inches between the points! (my good saddle is 17 inches between the points)


The girth strap webbing came away with a gentle tug…. all nails throughout were rusty




How the fixed head is attatched to the tree… it’s basically plastic and polysterene wrapped in cheap leather and GLUED to the tree!!!



5 thoughts on “Budget side saddle :-(

  1. OMG… ugly, uncomfortable, if not unriddable, but also dangerous! surely it is about time there were some safety regs issued! in the meantime, the best thing we could do is educating folks – so thanks for the post, a real eye opener!

    • Please feel free to share the photos and/or the blog wherever you want, If it warns off even ONE potential newbie then it will be worth it!

  2. I’m so glad I met you ladies on the SS page on FB! You really saved me from a terrible purchase, I’m sure! Now I’ve got one on a payment plan (I may need to sell a kidney) that is an old name, has been serviced by the Sidesaddlery, is balanced, and totally appropriate for me/my horse. In the end, it’s important to remember, you’re either going to pay at the beginning or you’re going to pay at the end. Either way, you’re going to have to pay for quality! It’s just better to pay in cash than in hospital bills. I hope this blog will save someone else for a bad investment!

  3. I once bought an inexpensive synthetic saddle that LOOKED just fine. When I used it to ride my (then brand new) American Saddlebred mare, it loosened and slipped and I fell. THEN, in a panic, she started kicking at the slipped saddle, whereupon it began falling apart, since it was put together with STAPLES and NAILS rather than screws, cutting her all over, terrifying her so that I couldn’t ride her on my own again until (after buying a proper saddle), paying a helper for nearly 20 sessions.

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