Manufacturer: Down Under Saddle Supply (View all products by Down Under Saddle Supply)
Model: Kimberley Synthetic Stock SAD 280 (View all Kimberley Synthetic Stock SAD 280 reviews)
Category: Trail Saddles
Purchase: Horse.com, under $200
Likes: My priorities were: 1. fits my horse (gaited, high withers, short back), 2. lightweight / small profile for easy carrying, 3. comfortable for me, 4. low maintenance, 5. no horn (felt like it got in my way so wanted to try something different), 6. under $500. This saddle did that for around $200! Amazing! That would give me more room for an extra thick seat cover. It's comfortable this size even with a thick cover, but my legs are touching the poleys and I think there is supposed to be a bit of space in there? I've only ridden Western saddles and only have done trail riding before. I read tons of reviews on Down Under saddles before I purchased, so I was also worried I wouldn't like the girth, overgirth, the plastic stirrups, the flaps for the stirrup leathers, the synthetic fabric, the weight, and the stirrup leathers. After trying it I love the stirrup weight and sticky base. And they don't leave a bruise when I carry the saddle and a stirrup smacks my leg. The leathers are lightweight also and just lay on a bar so they are easy to exchange with kid leathers as needed. I'm 5'3 with the 17" and at the middle of the available holes, so good length. The weight shows it is a solid saddle, but it's just light enough to be in my acceptable carrying weight. I'm glad I didn't go with leather because I would not like another pound or two. It looks awesome. The sticky seat is a wonderful feature. The overgirth doesn't bother me. There are tons of other rings to hook stuff to. The fact that this saddle comes with everything you need except a pad is terrific. I love that this saddle has no horn, because the poleys do the work of making you feel secure. I've sat in English saddles and absolutely hated the feel of those knee roll things. These poleys are nothing like that in my experience. As the reviews say, the girth seems way too short when you first put it on - buckle doesn't ever reach the buckle to attach it to. But once you figure out how to use the Australian style girth strap on the girth itself (special style for all Australian saddles) with an appropriate pad it seems much longer. My horse is 15.1H and with a Skito pad with inserts I can cinch it up to the 4th-5th holes. And I actually find this much much easier to cinch than my old western saddles - no more trying to pry around loops. Down Under will size the saddle for you. I put painters tape on my horse's withers every couple inches, used a wire to follow the shapes, and then translated each to poster board. I mailed those that and a picture of the tape to Down Under, and they gave me their opinion on which one would fit my horse- in one day. If you get the wide and it doesn't fit, you can pay Down Under to adjust the tree down to a custom fit either before it is shipped to you, or after you get it and try it. However they cannot adjust UP, so it is best to check with them first. They told me a stock average would be a good fit, and that I should get the stock model because of the serge panels. It is the best fit saddle I've had. No sliding back and forth to see where it looks like it is supposed to go like the westerns. I put it on and it goes in one place on his back like a glove, and is stuck there. Doesn't bug his shoulders, has a nice short back, and feels solid and balanced. He gaits much more happily now. Last night I took an old piece of felt lined fleece and cut a seat cover with long legs out of it. I mention this because a western cover isn't a good fit with poleys, and there are not a lot of Australian options to choose from out there. But if you get a cover that is cut to go over the poleys you don't even need straps - it sticks like glue to the poleys and the suede seat. I don't feel like it is very close contact, but my horse did start to respond noticeable faster and lighter after I started using this saddle. Not sure that was the saddle though!
Dislikes: There is a little ring by the stirrup flap that is uncomfortable on my legs, and the stirrup leathers do pinch when I wear shorts, so I put a homemade seat saver on the saddle (first I used a towel and that was fine also) to correct that. There is a little ring by the stirrup flap that is uncomfortable on my legs, and the stirrup leathers do pinch when I wear shorts, so I put a homemade seat saver on the saddle (first I used a towel and that was fine also) to correct that. I wish they came in 20 and 21 inch because I'd buy more for my guests to ride in. As it is I think I might buy another smaller one for the child guests to ride in.
Quality: Much better than expected from a synthetic.
Summary: If I need another saddle in the future, I'll buy more of these.
Usefulness Rating: 3.81818 out of 5.
44 reader(s) voted.
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