Manufacturer: Steele Western Saddle (View all products by Steele Saddle Company)
Model: Classic Model (View all Classic Model reviews)
Category: Trail Saddles
Purchase: The saddle I had used on my mare previously was not a good fit. She's older now, and her shape changed. Time to hunt for her third saddle. She told me there were problems, and I began searching. Every saddle had "something" wrong with it. I went as far as to get the Steele Equi-Fit Fit-To-Be-Seen-Forms and tried them on my horse. Better, but nobody's sitting the form - so what happens when weight, etc. is added? I learned so very much about saddle fit, it's amazing. I wanted to get a forever saddle that I KNEW for sure was correct for me and my horse. When making big decisions, it has to "click" or it just isn't there for me. After months of researching, and no "clicking", I came across an ad for Steele Saddles in a Trail Rider magazine. WOW! I love thinking outside of the box. Different tree concept, no skirts, less bulk. With saddles that had huge skirts and then fleece or wool or felt bottoms - how was I to know how it truly sat on my horse? Sure - run my hand under it, but there's just too much guesswork there for me. In mass produced saddles, it would be too easy to hide a "boo-boo" that my horse may suffer for. Steele Saddles are made FOR trail riders BY trail riders. This has been a family business for over 150 years. It's interesting to read how the Steele Saddle came to be created over several years of fine-tuning. I paid $1,640 for the Steele Classic.
Likes: CUSTOM TREE AND SADDLE COMPANY located on the www at steelesaddle.com is located in Tennessee. It's not a huge mass production facility. There's a handful of guys who make the trees and then build the saddle. If you don't believe that this tree can fit MOST horses, then order a demo saddle. You can try it for two weeks! The demo saddle that I tried was about ten years old! They have lots of them, so you get one that is the sizing you'd actually use. They help you choose which to try. Sure, some other saddle makers let you try the saddle for like three days, but you'd better not get any horse hair on it or get it dirty. WHAT? Put a saddle on a horse once, and it's got horse hairs on it and dust. Custom Tree and Saddle Company WANTS you to trial their design and really ride in it as much as you want to. If your horse is going to have problems, he/she may not tell you after riding in it only once or twice. It may take a while of repeat riding. Another thing about these Steele Saddles is that there's the standard western seat measurement of a seat of 15", 16" or so, like all saddles have, but these saddles also have what they call the "rider's groove". That's how it fits the rider. I have a "small". That fits my seat and butt area. Talk about comfort! They don't have over-padding, it's not necessary. I can feel my horse much better without all the padding - skirting - fleece, etc. All of that stuff just isn't necessary! It's an entirely different fit concept. This saddle is comfortable for me and my horse. When I get on my horse, I settle into the most comfortable saddle I've ever been on. I KNOW it fits my horse because I can see it and she tells me so. Arena riding and long rugged trail rides - we're both comfortable. No skirts, no fleece/wool/felt. The bars are a totally different design from the norm and they're padded and then covered in leather. I got a medium brown which is a lovely rich color. My mare is a redhead and it looks wonderful on her. They gave me a low dally horn rather than the little skinny western horn and made my fenders shorter for me, per my request. There's all kinds of custom things that they will help you with. Without all that extra skirting, etc., the sweat pattern on my mare is just where the bars sit so I know she's cooler and more comfortable. The sweat pattern is also completely even - and the bars touch her perfectly front to back. I can see it and feel it. No guesswork involved. I also use a very thin pad. Less bulk there too. The saddle fit is so good, I don't need to "correct errors" in the saddle fit with a pad. If you like felt pads with wool/fleece bottoms, they carry a line of round pads from Reinsman that are made just for them. Rather than the 1" felt center - there is a 1/2" felt center.
Dislikes: The only thing I don't like is that I got leather tie/off billet straps rather than nylon. The leather was too thick and I had to pay have it shaved thinner by a saddle-guy here. Cheaper than shipping back and forth to Steele. It would be nice if they updated their website a bit. But - after many conversations on the phone with the "guys", any question is answered and their knowledge and passion for their product and craft is evident and without question.
Quality: Top notch materials, construction and attention to detail. The trees are made of Southern Yellow Pine and encased in fiberglass. They are stronger than any other saddle tree and the company guarantees them for LIFE. The seat/saddle is shaped kind of like a Plantation Saddle, but I own the Steele "Classic" which is a western style. The fenders turn easily and it's comfortable from day one. There is none of that breaking in period.
Summary: IMPORTANT NOTE: "STEELE" MAY BE A FAMILY NAME IN TENNESSEE, BUT STEELE EQUI-FIT TREES AND THE STEEL SADDLE IS NOT THE SAME THING! TOTALLY DIFFERENT CONCEPTS. TOTALLY DIFFERENT COMPANIES. TOTALLY DIFFERENT PRODUCTS. If you're looking for that "last" saddle, then go to steelesaddle.com and look up the Comfort Tree and Saddle Company. Hard to believe it's this good or that it will work for you and your horse? Try a demo! I'll have this saddle forever.
Author: Nancy and "Grace"
Usefulness Rating: 4 out of 5.
60 reader(s) voted.
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