I BOUGHT A SADDLE. Finally. I’ve been looking and searching and researching and test riding for what feels like months. It is complicated by the fact that I currently only have one chance per week to test ride in a saddle so timing out trials has been tricky.
But it’s all over now! I tried out a saddle last night and it was a keeper. Yay!
It’s an M. Toulouse prototype event saddle for taller/leggier riders. Apparently they have made three of them. It’s built on their adjustable Jennine tree, but they updated the flaps to be longer and more forward in the lower part to better fit riders that are long from hip to knee (hi, that’s me!)
Here’s how it stacks up to my criteria:
Wool flocked. Yep! It has the Toulouse Soft Touch Panels, which are wool flocked with a thin layer of foam lining the panels. They can be refitted and reflocked, which was what I was looking for.
Front and back blocks. This was a must-have for me. I like having the added security of the blocks, particularly thigh blocks. I imagine this appreciation will only increase when I get out on cross country!
Adjustable tree. Yes! I was potentially willing to go with a fixed tree if everything else was perfect, but I really wanted to have the adjustability factor since I ride so many different horses. This saddle should last on many horses for a long time, between the adjustable tree and the ability to have the panels custom fitted.
Wide channel. A nice wide channel between the panels is important to me, particularly at the back under the cantle, to give maximum comfort to the horse’s back. This has easily 3-4 fingers between the panels.
Within budget. Pretty much! I had sold my previous two saddles and had that money to put toward a new one. I had some decent contenders, but after doing my taxes I was able to increase the budget a bit and put some of my return toward a saddle. In the end, this saddle was only about $200 over my initial maximum budget. Plus, it was deeply discounted so I saved about $800 off the retail price.
Deeper seat. I like the security of a deeper seat. It doesn’t have to be ultra-deep but I don’t love the flat huntery close contact saddles. My saddle has a nice deep seat that feels secure yet balanced so I can easily get up out of it over fences. It also has a nice amount of padding so it’s squishy and comfy without feeling like I’m sinking into a couch.
Bonus points: Adjustable blocks! Both the front and rear blocks are on heavy-duty Velcro so I can customize the fit of them. The thigh blocks placement is interesting; there is a pocket in the flap where they go rather than being attached underneath the flap. I like it.
Bonus points: It is brand spanking new! I’ve always gone with used saddles and been very happy, but it is super fun to have a new one all my own. The leather is nice and soft, but it’s new so it is a bit stiff. I can’t wait to get it broken in to my own legs and seat!
Bonus points: It came with new matching leathers and irons. Which I badly needed anyway!
Bonus points: It came with a really cool cover. At first it looked like a normal dust cover but then I found it has a strap and clip that goes through the channel between the panels to secure it, and it has a handle on top! Very convenient, and the cover will never slip off by accident.
ALL THE POINTS: IT’S SO PRETTY. I love the stitching on the flaps. And the color of the leather. And everything about it.
I love it. I’m so excited to have my own again. No more messing with stirrup length for 10 minutes before every lesson.