Manufacturer: Black Forest Saddles (View all products by Black Forest Saddles)
Model: Ponderosa Town and Country Echo (View all Ponderosa Town and Country Echo reviews)
Category: Trail Saddles
Purchase: Purchased from manufacturer at blackforestsaddles.com. Paid around $600 (excluding the pad). Communicated with the seller many times before purchase - including sending them lots of pictures of our horses. Felt they were honest and very very helpful.
Likes: It is like a good mattress: Proper and firm support for your body (as well as the horse's), but like soft memory foam at every pressure point. Contours to both partners perfectly. That comfort is great for long rides. Way better than any treed saddle I've ever had. Very lightweight. Amazing being able to carry around your own saddle with one arm without getting tired whatsoever - like carrying around a bareback pad, but one you can actually ride in and feel secure! I like that the stirrups are interchangeable, and the seat can be removed and cleaned. It's very versatile, and obvious some thought was put into the design. My horse actually started to relax the first time I put this on him. I hadn't seen that in 5 years.
Dislikes: I'm 130lbs, 5'3" girl. The measurements said I would be a "2". But 2 was way too big - more like a 16" western (or even 16.5" for a person at my weight. More weight makes the seat slightly deeper, so slightly smaller). Wish I had gotten the 1 instead, since that came with an interchangeable pommel too! Sucks that you you have to buy a treeless pad to go with it, because that can run $200. There are some on ebay that are cheaper, but I went with the higher quality on the same site. Nice pad works with all my saddles. As with any treeless, you need to mount from a step to prevent the saddle from sliding. I have mounted from the ground though without problems in this one. It's got a good shape. And as with any true treeless - the horn is not 100% functional - you can use it to safe yourself in a fall, but with that much stress it could rip (and you wouldn't want to use it for roping or anything like that).
Quality: The quality of the materials is very nice. Easy to clean and doesn't look like shirt material like cordura does. People mistake it for leather (except close up). Nice fleecing. Next time I buy a treeless, it will likely be a Black Forest. I'm just a light pleasure rider who goes on trail rides during the summer. My saddle is still in excellent condition. I'd recommend going with the leather for more frequent riding though, since these things really retain their value and the leather version will probably last forever so it's worth the extra cost.
Summary: Excellent value for the price, and good resale value. Worth considering over the pricier other quality brands.
Usefulness Rating: 3 out of 5.
9 reader(s) voted.
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