Manufacturer: Custom Saddlery (View all products by Custom Saddlery)
Model: Icon Flight (View all Icon Flight reviews)
Category: Dressage Saddles
Purchase: I've had my saddle about four weeks at this point. I have never had a "nice" saddle before and normally just go with whatever as I've never really had a moment of riding in any given saddle where it helped me any more than anything else. I can always pick out the differences, but I've never found anything that "clicked" and getting back into good riding shape after reworking problem horses the past 5 years made me assume it was always me and I'd have to just strengthen up. I sold a couple of my project horses and decided for the first time in my life to buy a pricey (not free by a long shot like I normally do) horse and got a Friesian which basically meant I'd need something to tame those huge shoulders and weird shaped back. I HATE shopping so I basically decided to go with a semi-custom saddle when I realized my existing saddles were just wrong. Shea Stewart with Custom Saddlery in TX did my fitting and one of the company's owners was even along for the ride. Without a doubt, it was the most fun I've had shopping for anything in my life. They let me ride in 6 or 8 saddles (I lost track), asked good questions to help me compare and were super patient (I rode my trusty QH mare and we fit the Friesian as the Friesian is quite young and I didn't feel I'd be able to ride her as much/effectively as the QH for this). They even kept track of which saddles I preferred and asked me ranking questions. The moment I sat in the Icon Flight though, I knew. It was like I could ride again and my QH mare actually could use her shoulders and the canter we'd been struggling with was effortless. I paid about $4400 for it and it was a brand new demo with short blocks and several other custom features that totaled over $1000 past the base price normally I believe. So yeah, rocking deal for this rocking saddle.
Likes: Oh gosh, I'm not even sure where to start. About 15 years ago I was a working student for a dressage trainer and rode LOTS of high level horses. I didn't/don't know everything by a long shot, but I could do the basic warmup on them and things like short tempis, pirouettes and such to get them warmed up and my body learned how to do that in many saddles. Since then I've been in project horse heading towards eventing land where I'm lucky to move more than 15 feet on a loose rein for months at a time on some of them. The moment I sat in this saddle, I was SO close to my horse and SO secure while not being restricted I just couldn't believe it. EVERYTHING was easy that I'd been working so hard on. I could pin point my body parts and ask. Best part was that my mare was SO relaxed and everything clicked that we'd been struggling on. My Friesian (who is technically the owner of this saddle although I'm using this saddle for both horses now) is only 4 and when she has some baby horse moments like spooking, its is SO easy to stick with her and get her back. Her huge movement is fun to ride now and well, riding is fun in general. I LOVE riding in this saddle so much. It is perfect for me (long femur, tallerish rider) but there is considerable difference in the Custom Saddlery saddles models, so be sure to try them until one clicks. Well worth it!
Dislikes: Geez, I'd have to go with the price but I seriously don't regret it a bit and I'm a cheapskate. The saddle is so effortless when I ride in it that when I get off and my legs have to actually walk again, I can tell I've just been worked over by the saddle in all those places you should be worked. So yeah, my saddle makes me sore but I don't notice it while riding at all. Best sneaky fitness saddle ever and I can't get enough of riding in it!
Quality: All the Custom Saddlery saddles I tried had the same basic (workmanlike) look and when you see them on the site, they don't look as nice as they are in person imo (but remember you can customize everything although once I saw it all in person I was overwhelmed and went with straight black). I was fortunate enough to have one of the owners there too and he was rough on the saddles! Tossing them around, pulling them apart and so on (even the fitter was a bit shocked lol), and they all looked great and responded as they should. The care on these is super easy (they do NOT recommend oiling or really cleaning especially on the buffalo leather - read the care guides!) and less is DEFINITELY more. I do not store mine in AC, just in my trailer right now as I have horses at my farm, a nearby farm, and trailer many times a week to ride. There is nothing on my saddle at this time I can nitpick quality wise, the buffalo leather is SUPER grippy and I don't have a single stitch out of place anywhere. The flocking was a bit loose/squishy when they initially pulled it out of the truck to try it, but they added flocking on the spot for my guys and it was perfect when they left it with me.
Summary: If this saddle clicks with you, its amazing. I felt all the Custom Saddles were very nice, but this one was without a doubt totally worth the price once I sat in it and I've NEVER felt that way about a piece of tack, vehicle, ANYTHING. Each model has something to offer and even more mind boggling is that they can swap basically anything from one saddle with another (knee blocks, panels, trees, etc). I have small blocks on my saddle that are "from" another model typically but the demo was sent to her that way. It works GREAT for me and I'd imagine the regular blocks on the Icon Flight wouldn't work quite as well as this one does for me. Take home message: Great saddles but take the time to get a good fitter that will show you all your options in a well organized way to get the optimal results. I'm considering buying a "cheap" Wolfgang Solo short block or similar model for my other younger horses now!
Usefulness Rating: 2.75 out of 5.
36 reader(s) voted.
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