Category: Dressage Saddles
Purchase: I bought this saddle used from ebay for somewhere around $550. I think they retail for around $1200 - $1500. I bought it because I wanted to learn dressage (I am an h/j person). I chose this particular saddle because I am familiar with Courbette's reputation for fine saddles, and because I was attracted to the flex tree as being able to fit a wide variety of horses without a lot of fuss.
Likes: First of all, my trainer was impressed with this saddle right away, which made me feel good about having bought it. Take my review with a grain of salt since this intermediate h/j person is a complete beginner at dressage!
I was very worried about having a saddle that would put me in the correct position. I am an advanced enough rider to know that it doesn't serve me to ride in a saddle that works against me, and I wanted to be able to feel what it was like to sit correctly without having to *make* myself do it (and thus learning incorrectly because wrong was more comfortable). I tend to ride intuitively, so I learn better if everything besides me is correct to begin with. This saddle is *wonderful*. It takes the effort out of sitting classicaly, but it is not so built up that the rider is locked into a position. This means to me that I can still sit wrong through my own fault, my trainer waggles her finger at me, and this helps me learn.
I would recommend using dressage webbers or upside-down leathers with sleeves, however. While the stirrup bars are indeed recessed, I can still feel that annoying buckle under my thigh. Don't put the free end of the leathers into the keeper on the flap, or that annoying rub is MUCH worse.
I have popped this saddle on three different horses so far, and it has fit all of them, including my own hard to fit beastie. The long billets are very long, so I would recommend regular girth size minus 24 to 26 inches (instead of the standard 20) to get the dressage girth size.
Dislikes: I don't dislike the flex tree, but I would recommend buying used unless your beastie wears a medium tree. I had also bought a new Courbette magic close contact, which also had the flex tree. The CC saddle was too tight, but the tree flexed more after each ride (the pommel sat a little lower each time). I could not "tough it out" to break in the CC saddle, however, because it was making my very green beastie buck quite a bit. I have sold the CC saddle.
I haven't had the tight tree problem with the Aristokrat (my beastie takes a mw [blue] gullet in his Wintec, and a 32cm in a Stubben). I don't know if this is due to the different structure of a dressage saddle and that they sit behind the shoulder, or because it was already broken in when I bought it. I am leaning to the broken in theory.
Quality: Courbette's usual excellence! Not much else to say about it! :o)
Summary: If you're thinking about this saddle, I say buy it!
Usefulness Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
6 reader(s) voted.
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