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

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VS:

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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!!!

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note how far back the billets are placed :

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whopping width!

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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)

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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

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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!

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

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the girth straps vaguely stitched on… completely dangerous!

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panels not even remotely symmetrical!

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

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

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

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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!)