Manufacturer: Antares (View all products by Antares)
Model: Custom Close Contact Jumping Saddle (View all Custom Close Contact Jumping Saddle reviews)
Category: Close Contact Saddles
Purchase: I purchased this saddle "custom" for myself from Antares in 2004. I am very tall (6'3) and saddles "off the rack" that fit are almost impossible to come by. The saddle has a 5AAB flap which I was told by Thierry (one of the owners of Antares who fit my saddle) that it is the longest most forward flap they make. I had the saddle fitted approximately to my two TB horses I owned at the time. The saddle is a medium tree and is the regular grain leather with calfskin on the pads and seat.
Likes: The leather is wonderfully sticky and tacky. There was absolutely no break in time on the saddle.
Dislikes: First of all, these saddles are not actually custom. You get to choose from two different tree sizes, a seat size and then a variety of flap options. This does not constitute a custom saddle in my book. For the money they should provide more options based upon rider AND horse height, weight and conformation. The panels are made of foam so they are not precisely fit to the horse in the same way a wool panel can be. This also means the panels cannot easily and affordably be adjusted. Mine cost $350 to have changed and they didn't fit afterwards. The rep didn't take a wither tracing or measurements of any sort to determine the appropriate panels before taking my saddle away to "fix" it. The panels are non-gusseted. This allows for very few options when it comes time for customization to a horse with a flat back or if you are trying to have the saddle re-adjusted to fit a different horse. Unless your horse is quite steep through the back, the non-gusseted panels will dig into the horses back. The tree doesn't fit anything I've ever owned. It never fit either of the two horses it was fit for. Their medium tree runs closer to a narrow and their wide closer to a medium. Their solution to every fit issue is to change the panels and add more padding. Clearly this is not the solution in most cases. I spent a year and thousands of $$$ trying to figure out what was going on with one of my horses. He was having issues with his hind legs, tripping and stumbling behind. X-rays and ultra-sounding showed nothing wrong. The accupuncturist and masseuse couldn't pinpoint anything particularly other than his hind end was tight and his back sore. I decided to take wither tracings of all my horses just to give me an idea of how wide they were. It was at this point I discovered that all three of my horses are either wide or x-tra wide depending on the manufacturer. Three months prior to my discovery I had had my local Antares rep out ot fit my saddle to the horse I described earlier. He took $350 of my money and proclaimed an excellent fit. Then the horse started having issues behind. After I started to do some research on saddle fit and compare my saddle to the wither tracings I had taken I realized I was basically crushing my horses back. The tree was three sizes too narrow. Upon changing saddles the horse has returned to 100% normal with no tripping/dropping out/stiffness through the neck. He now literally moves like he has new hind legs. It's amazing and I feel ashamed for compromising his comfort and health because my expensive saddle was supposed to be custom. The Antares rep took my money rather than to tell me the saddle couldn't be made to fit. They literally do not offer a tree wide enough for any of my horses. I will never buy another Antares. Even if the representative I worked with wasn't horrible, I wouldn't buy from them again. The saddles are not well designed for the comfort of the horse.
Quality: Well constructed. The leather is sticky and nice. The calfskin is not very durable and prone to scratching and staining.
Summary: Too much money. Not truly custom. Great for rider comfort. AWFUL for the horse. Representation and customer support is horrible. If you want a truly custom saddle get one from David Stackhouse, Black Country, or Schleese.
Usefulness Rating: 3.2 out of 5.
35 reader(s) voted.
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