Ready to buy a saddle but now sure what you should be looking for? Here are our top ten suggestions of what you should consider whether you’re buying new or used.
1. Where is it made?
We recommend only American-made saddles. Our chronicles of the imported saddle and why it’s a bad idea can be found here. Imported saddles can cleverly disguise vinyl, pressed paper, and nickel as high quality. We’re not fooled, and neither are the people who fell for one.
2. What is it made of?
This often goes hand in hand with where it’s made. Leather and Cordura are reliable, quality materials. The hardware should be stainless steel or brass. Anything else is not worth your money. Trying to decide between a leather, Cordura, or combination saddle? Check out our help article here.
3. What size is it?
You want your new saddle to fit you and your horse correctly. Do you know what size seat you ride? What size tree your horse fits? We have lots of helpful articles on saddle fit so you can easily find out. Our downloadable gullet templates have helped hundreds of customers fit their horses quickly and efficiently.
4. What is it made for?
Take a look at the function of the saddle you’re interested in. You don’t want to buy a Cordura trail saddle to do roping. Every saddle is built for a purpose and some saddles are built for a specific type of horse. Make sure your saddle fits how you want to use it. Confused about the different types of saddles? Check out our article here.
5. How much does it cost?
Grandpa isn’t kidding when he says, “You get what you pay for.” Here at Horse Saddle Shop, it’s true in one sense. All our products are high quality, but a Cordura saddle is not going to last as long as its leather counterpart. Short on cash, but still want a quality saddle? Get a used leather or new Cordura. Want to use your saddle and take it to the grave decades later? You need leather.
6. What is the shipping cost?
Anyone knows that when you make a large, heavy purchase online, you’re likely to pay high shipping costs. Make sure you compare shipping costs as well as any other fees such as taxes or handling fees. We like to make cost comparison easy, so we offer free shipping on all saddles to all 50 states and we do not add handling fees.
7. Can you return it?
You got your saddle, but it doesn’t fit your horse. Can you return it? We wouldn’t recommend buying a new or used saddle without a return policy. It’s just too much of your money to risk. All our new and used saddles are returnable. If you come across a saddle shop that does not take returns, beware. High-quality saddles generally do not get returned very often, so if the shop is selling good saddles, there’s no reason not to take them back.
8. Are you getting good customer service?
Does the person on the other end of the phone call or email know what they’re talking about? Do they treat you with courtesy and offer good service? If not, don’t buy. A saddle is a big purchase—-too big to make from a bad company. Especially beware of companies that have little to no customer service, or employees that cannot answer your questions in a timely fashion.
Some online “saddle shops” are merely drop shippers who have never handled the product, sometimes never even pet a horse. There’s a reason why we call our employees saddle experts. They’ve fit all shapes and sizes of horses and riders for years (some of them, for decades). They know the products, they know horses, and they know riders. We believe customer service should serve you, giving you the information you need to make a good choice.
9. Can you customize it?
So you’ve narrowed down your choices and you have a few you almost like. Many saddle manufacturers have customizable options for their saddles. These options can include seat material and color, concho choices, and tooling designs. Call our saddle experts to see what’s available.
10. How much has it been used?
Whoever is selling the used saddle should be able to tell you how much the saddle has been used. Leather saddles can stand up to years of use if taken care of properly; cordura saddles cannot. A good indication of how much it has been used is how clean the fleece is. If the fleece is dirty, pass on the saddle. Clean fleece is a good indicator of a saddle that has been taken care of well or only lightly used.