Manufacturer: Dixieland Gaited Saddles
Model: Plantation Saddle with Western Fenders
Category: Trail Saddles
Purchase: I had this saddle custom made for me by Dixieland Saddles. I was using an Eli Miller endurance saddle and the tree did not fit my horse. I am tall 6' 4'' and weigh 200 lbs and need a large seat and long fenders. I loved the seat in the Eli Miller and it had long fenders but the tree had too narrow a gullet and was quite flat so even with a Supracor pad, I had pressure points at the withers and back of the saddle in the loin area of my short backed TWH. I used the service Dixieland offered of having me photograph my horse using fiberglass forms of various Steele Equi fit trees and having them assess the fit of these trees on my horse. Cynthia Wright, owner of Dixieland Saddles, told me which tree was best on my horse and was especially helpful and perceptive. I hadn't told her about the problems I was having with my Eli miller saddle. When I told her I was riding an Eli Miller saddle on my horse, she said there was no way the typical Eli Miller tree would fit properly and went on to tell me exactly what the issues would be! She was 100% on the money! I was impressed with her experience and judgement. I was even more impressed when the saddle arrived and it fit my horse perfectly. The saddle cost under 1200.00 including large seat, extra long fenders, leather covered endurance stirrups, plus other extras including shipping and insurance. I shopped around really hard and in my opinion there is nothing out there that even comes close to this saddle for that price. There was a charge for the trial tree forms, I don't remember what it was, but money well spent.
Likes: I had never seen a Dixieland Saddle until UPS delivered mine. I've made a living for almost 50 years as an artist/ craftsman. I'm really critical of craftsmanship. I also worked with Amish craftsmen for years in Pennsylvania. I know there are exceptional Amish craftsmen as well as very average workers. The men working at Dixieland Saddle are exceptional and the workmanship is top notch. The color and surfaces are rich with a nice low luster, hand rubbed finish. I was actually stunned by the beauty of the saddle after I rubbed the excess leather cream off. The pictures on the Dixieland web site don't do the saddles justice. Apparently, Dixieland Saddles doesn't use the glossy surface they had used in the past on some saddles. Cynthia Wright said all saddles have the low luster, hand rubbed finish now. Really nice. My Eli Miller saddle is about 4 lbs. lighter than the Dixieland Saddle and I think most of that weight must be in the difference in the thickness of the leather. The quality of the leather is exceptional and I would rather deal with a few pounds extra weight and have this saddle last a life time. The thickness of the leather in the skirt is almost twice the thickness of the Eli Miller. And the Eli Miller is a really good saddle. The seat leather is also thick, supple, and flawless and the foam padding is just right in my opinion because I don't like the overly thick padding available on many of the saddles like the Tuckers. The seat is deep and really comfortable and has already save my bacon when my horse spooked sideways. I didn't even come out of the seat. I am thrilled with this saddle and I think if these saddles were out there in the saddle shops sitting next to their competition it would be no contest! Since the Dixieland is essentially a custom made saddle that won't usually happen. I'm really glad I took the risk and ordered this saddle without being able to sit in one because mine is a real winner. My horse is very happy also, but he still gets spooky when bears are around!
Dislikes: I don't really have any issues. The saddle I ordered has a slimmer pommel than the earlier hornless endurance styled saddles Dixieland built. It has the plantation style pommel. I would like to have the pommel even a little bit smaller in diameter so I can really get my hand wrapped around it. So far, due to the deep seat, the saddle has kept me well balanced so I haven't had to "grab leather"!
Quality: I think the materials and fittings are absolutely the best available. I work occasionally for a local driving harness maker. There is a whole range of metal fittings available to harness and saddle makers. They range from pot metal to quality stainless and brass. The same is true of leather, thread and everything else. I really feel Dixieland Saddle is trying to use the best materials out there to build the best saddle they can. By marketing these saddles directly, they cut much of the retail markup and are able save the buyer money.
Summary: This is a great saddle at a great price. Being able to buy this saddle from the maker is a huge advantage. Working with Cynthia Wright was a real treat because she is very knowledgeable, low pressure, and is really committed to satisfied customers. It is essential to buy a saddle that fits your horse. I think the tree form trial and photo analysis is important and gives the saddle maker valuable information. It's not perfect but much better than the withers wire or paper pattern form.
Author: Blue Mountain Trail Rider
Usefulness Rating: 2 out of 5.
5 reader(s) voted.
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