Manufacturer: Australian Stock Saddle Company
Model: Southern Cross -- Fleece Panel
Category: Trail Saddles
Purchase: I purchased my Southern Cross from the Australian Stock Saddle Company in Malibu, CA in 2007 for $2,500 not including all the extra accoutrements, such as saddle bags, crupper, breast collar, wire cutters, and a pad. I bought this because I ride long, fast,wild and often alone. I liked the security of the poleys and the deep seat. It was supposed to be great for my horse, too, for whom I give exceptional care.
Likes: This saddle is really comfortable for me. It fits me like a glove and is super secure for when I'm moving fast through the woods on my Morgan. Because it's so comfortable for me, I can out last anyone on the trail. Just try me!
Dislikes: The only quality of this saddle I don't like is that the tree is not very cushioned; it is very hard against my horse's withers. Other than that, my dislikes about this saddle have more to do with The Australian Stock Saddle Company's (ASSC) customer service than the saddle itself. Despite sending in photos and full tracings of my horse, this saddle has never fit her well. I sent it back to have the tree "adjusted," and it was a little better, but still too tight on her withers. I took the saddle to the Equinne Affaire in Springfield, MA and showed Colin Dangaard(owner of ASSC)the tracings and put them up to the saddle. Foolishly, I took his advice and bought a new pad--from him. And when the pad didn't help, he sent me shims. They didn't help either. As my horse filled out, the fit got even worse. After several emails and phone conversations with Colin, I threw in the towel. Despite my empirical evidence that the saddle did not fit, he would not help get me into a saddle that did. He insisted that he "has fit 80,000 horses" and that no one "knows more about saddle fitting than me." I know a lot of people rave about the ASSC, but I believe that there are others out there who had nothing but a miserable experience with Colin and his company.
Quality: The main feature that detracts heavily from me giving a high score to this saddle's construction is that the horse's back is not protected enough from the hard tree. There is only a thin layer of fleece over the bottom of the saddle. One of the brass D-rings on the back of the cantle busted in half when a rope I was using to pony got caught under the saddle bag that was attached to the D-ring--not really a fault of the saddle. Other than the above mentioned, it's a well-constructed saddle.
Summary: Suffice it to say that I wouldn't buy another Australian saddle of any kind. I'm riding in a bareback pad right now and have finally saved enough to take my horse saddle shopping. Yes, this time she is literally coming with me. As a side note, this saddle isn't great for posting, as the stirrups are too far forward. However, this feature does make it nice for trail riding.
Author: Kelly Robinson
Usefulness Rating: 2.8 out of 5.
5 reader(s) voted.
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