Category Archives: second hand saddles

Buying a second hand saddle

Absolute Horse magazine published a great article on buying second hand saddles. Have a read and let us know what you think.

Buying a second hand saddle can be a high risk decision, so saddler Jon Homer, of Elemental Equine,, offers the following tips for consumers –

  1. May I suggest that you consider your saddle a long term investment, and try your best to purchase a well fitting, good quality new saddle for your horse if at all possible? This is possibly your single most important investment, after the horse itself, and you may be safeguarding your horse’s future health.
  2. Often the budget set aside to purchase a saddle is too small, as there are invariably unexpected expenses that mount up when buying the horse itself. ‘I’ll just manage with a cheap saddle’ is invariably what some owners tell themselves, when in fact they may be better off saving up their cash for a few months for a good quality saddle, and initially focussing on ground work and lungeing.
  3. If ‘new’ simply isn’t an option for you, please remember that a second hand bargain could turn into an expensive mistake if it needs to be replaced or you incur therapy or vet bills because it damages your horse’s back. If you do choose a second hand saddle, it is preferable to buy from a trained saddle fitter (as opposed to a private seller), as the saddle will have been checked, assessed and overhauled, if required.
  4. Buying from online auction sites is risky, as often the seller has little idea of what they are selling, and, if you buy without seeing the saddle in person, you can’t check to see if the tree is intact, or if the material or leather is in good order. If you do resort to such a purchase, pay by PayPal, as you will then have PayPal Protection in place if a dispute arises.
  5. If you do choose a second hand saddle that is not purchased from a saddler, you MUST do your research first to ascertain that it is a likely fit for your horse, based on panel size, gullet width, seat size etc, as of course you will be asking your saddler to fit it to your horse and make any adjustments once it has arrived! Make sure the adjustable head plate sets are included if you buy a saddle that adjusts in this way. Choose only a good quality brand with supple, thick leather that doesn’t curl. Make sure the stitching is in good condition and avoid saddles with scuff damage to the pommel and cantle, as they may have been involved in a fall. Finally make sure you know what you’re buying and the seller knows what they’re selling!
  6. One option if you are NOT buying directly from a saddler is to see if you can buy the saddle on a trial basis and return the saddle to the private seller if it doesn’t fit – or you could even take your horse and your chosen saddler to the seller’s venue, so your saddler can check the saddle’s suitability before you purchase.
  7. Older saddles of course have older flocking. For many people, modern Flair air bag flocking is preferable to wool flocking, as it provides a wide, even bearing surface and can be adjusted to suit the horse’s current musculature and fat coverage, as well as the rider’s symmetry. Having a well-fitting second hand saddle converted to Flair air bag flocking by a trained saddle fitter is a potentially good way to compromise, if a new saddle flocked with Flair is out of your budget.
  8. If you purchase a temporary second hand saddle while you save the pennies, another compromise is to use a Korrector saddle pad, which creates a shock absorbing pad under the whole saddle panel. The product has four Flair air bags for adjustment and a foam sheet for shock absorbency. You only use those pairs of bags required to correct the saddle. Korrector will make up for limitations that the saddle has, in terms of flocking or fit.