Model: Haute Ecole
Category: Dressage Saddles
Purchase: After a long and fruitless search for a second dressage saddle to show in (to transition from my Wintec Pro)I had left no stone unturned. My 5 year old Arab stallion was constantly seeing me come home from the tack shop with yet another trial, excited that 'this may be the one'. The UPS route driver now knows my house very well from my Ebay purchases made with fingers crossed. I tried saddles from the 1,000 to 7,000 dollar range (Schleese, Prestige, Albion, Black County, and Country) I was convinced that I needed a large thighblock (!) and very deep seat as a beginner dressage rider looking to develop a secure and relaxed position in the saddle. My trusty but sensitive stallion usually told me very quickly what saddles worked for him, and what ones didn't. And video tape of my own position was driving me insane. I finally took this one home on trial, lo and behold, it worked. as it was used and for sale for about 900.00 and retails for around 1500 new, though I don't think it's made any longer (?).
Likes: I thought I wanted big external thigh blocks to help me. I was wrong. This saddle has a very 'close contact feel'. But the textured inserts on the flaps make putting your leg where it needs to go and keeping it there effortless, without all the bulk. I found I had to ride with a little shorter stirrup, but that's fine as the twist is on the wide side, and I find it very comfortable, while the close contact keeps my leg 'on'. The panels were very well suited to my 15.2 Egyptian Bred Arabian's back. He is VERY shortbacked and quite broad through the loin. The Haute Ecole has a nice wide channel, and in the wide width, fit like a glove a lot like my XW Wintec. It's a nice trim little saddle (which helps on an Arab, where there's not a lot of room, visually), very very light, and pretty straightforward. I had always needed point billeting before, but this saddle has straight billeting but I have no problems with it-it stays where I put it. The leather is very hard wearing. Seat is medium deep. You can really sit into the horse on it and lets you easily lighten your seat. Also, the stirrup leathers go though the flap, which makes it like a monoflap - sort of. And keeps everything in place when you have to 'get creative' with your leg sometimes.
Dislikes: It's a little 'different' looking with the pattern on the panels. But that's quickly changed when you sit on it and cover it up. Other than that, I really like it for the level that I'm at as a step up from my Wintec at First Level. It might not quite be 'enough saddle' for a bigger moving horse, warmblood, etc. But for an Arab, Morgan, etc., it seems like a good fit. I also don't know if they still make it, which is a worry for me. No one has ever really heard of this saddle. Which can be a good thing or a bad thing, whichever way you look at it. If you want to ride in a County like everyone else, then buy a County. I kept my mind open for the 'this is it' factor when I closed my eyes and rode. This saddle had it.
Quality: EXCELLENT. I like the leather best of all. Very tight little saddle. It's going to last me a long time, I'm sure. And I don't mind riding in it to cool out on the trails - it's not going to get scratched easily. .
Summary: Really, it's like a close contact version of any of the 'better' saddles. Just not a lot of bells and whistles it's a great saddle for schooling and training, as well as work outside of the ring. It's a nice trim look for the show ring, and I think suits smaller horses best. I love this little saddle, and My stallion does too!
Author: Eliza Banks
Usefulness Rating: 3 out of 5.
11 reader(s) voted.
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