Manufacturer: Crest Ridge Saddlery (View all products by Crest Ridge Saddlery)
Model: Elite Guffey (View all Elite Guffey reviews)
Category: Trail Saddles
Purchase: Ordered from Crest Ridge Saddlery via their website, shipped to my home. I had never heard of them before, but read the reviews (ALL the reviews, actually!) of Western saddles on this site, and checked them out. They specialize in gaited horse saddles, but they have a standard tree that will fit other breeds and can be adjusted. I paid $1193.
Likes: I love this saddle! The folks at Crest Ridge were very helpful in the fitting guidance, providing tips to help clarify instructions, and reviewing the photos and measurements I sent via email. They recommended specific saddles for my QH/Arab, which has high narrow withers that spread into a relatively flat back. The first-ride test with a white towel was a new experience--I would NEVER have put a saddle on my horse without a pad, but this one fit like a glove. The towel showed completely even weight distribution, indicating a great fit. I now ride with wool felt pads 3/8 or 1/2" thick, sometimes with a thin blanket for color. My horse loves the saddle, and actually seems to pull his hind up under him much more readily than he did. The saddle itself is very well made, with real lambswool underneath, and high-quality leather and stainless steel fittings.
Dislikes: The fender drop is nearly straight down from the seat; my old saddle was more of a "chair"-type seat, so that took some getting used to. Until the leather started softening up, I was getting pinched between the fenders and the off billet and tie strap until I got used to the seat. Even with the gel cushion seat, though, some jeans are VERY uncomfortable in this saddle in hot weather; although the leather may breathe, the gel may not, I don't know. I switched to stretch pants, and no more problems. The oddest thing for me was the number of tie-downs (5, including a crupper ring) and the extraordinarily long latigo straps that came with the saddle. Instead of standard D rings mounted on the tree, they use an O-ring on a perpendicular base that's screwed into the tree. Very sturdy, but noisy as all heck, I guess because I removed the latigoes (which hung 6" past my horse's flanks). I unscrewed each base and removed the O ring, finally silencing the jingles.
Quality: Construction of the saddle is solid. It feels sturdy, and is reasonably lightweight (less than 30 lbs) although it looks like it should be much heavier. The stitching in the seat is eye-catching, and my English-riding barn friends all comment on how beautiful the saddle is. I don't have tooling in the leather, it's all flat for easier care, so surface scratches show but are easily rubbed out. The underside of the leather is roughout natural, not stained.
Summary: This saddle is a great value, comparing it to other custom and semi-custom saddles. If your horse can be fitted by them, I'd highly recommend giving them a try. I had ordered a plantation-style saddle as well, but had to return it because I wasn't comfortable in it although it fit beautifully as well. They were great about the return. And I've contacted them since with a question about the fleece "coolback" pads, and they responded promptly. For anyone looking for a western saddle, check out Crest Ridge.
Usefulness Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
6 reader(s) voted.
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