Manufacturer: Collegiate (View all products by Collegiate)
Model: Convertible Close Contact (View all Convertible Close Contact reviews)
Category: Close Contact Saddles
Purchase: Purchased through VTO Saddlery online shop vtosaddlery.com when they had their after Christmas sale of 25% off the entire shop! After the discount and plus VTO's incredible flat rate Priority shipping of $3.39, the saddle came out to $750. What a steal! VTO Saddlery is awesome, they ship fast, their prices are great and I can't say enough wonderful things about them.
Likes: WOW! I am sooo impressed beyond belief. My previous impression of Collegiate saddles was not favorable. A couple girls that I used to train with bought Collegiate saddles back in the early 90's and I was not the least bit impressed with the cardboard-like leather. I tested an older Collegiate dressage saddle recently and again the same problem... I think some vinyl was even used instead of leather in some places on both saddles. Ick. BUT, and this is a HUGE but... The new Collegiates (at least this one) are constructed of very nice, super supple leather right out of the box. Even the sweat flaps seem to be made of excellent quality leather when that is one place that even Pessoa likes to hide cheap hide. It's my understanding that Collegiate has changed hands and is now manufacturing alongside Bates. It shows. The quality is just out of this world for a saddle in this price range. The stirrup bars are not the old style flip ups, but just like the Bates stirrup "hooks". Some people don't like the hooks, but personally I love them and feel that they are much safer than conventional stirrup bars. I can't say enough about the advent of the Easy Change gullet system. Most non-custom, off the rack saddles come in two tree widths... medium and wide. Stinks for you if you have a narrow horse, a shoestring budget, AND the audacity to want a NEW saddle. The Collegiate Convertible solves this problem quite nicely. And I love that I can ride a 17h Thoroughbred OR a 17h Percheron in the SAME SADDLE! Oh, I am also loving that this saddle comes in two flap lengths. The regular flap length is shorter and positioned for short stirrup riders who are using the saddle primarily for jumping while the longer flap version is better suited to equitation riders who ride with a longer stirrup or those with longer legs.
Dislikes: Very nice quality and super soft leather is used on the seat, knee rolls, and panels requiring no breaking in. This is nice, however the super soft leather makes it a bit more likely to scuff. Hardly a valid complaint though...
Quality: Even stitching throughout, lovely hides used in construction, soft grippy leather. I anticipate being very happy with this saddle and its quality for a very, very long time.
Summary: Hands down, you absolutely cannot find a better value than this saddle. Consider trying this one out new before you think about buying a more prestigious brand used. I think the only low rating this saddle was given on horsetackreview was from someone saying the flaps seemed too short and forward and were conducive only to riding short stirrup when she wanted to jump and do flap work... It makes me wonder if she perhaps did not avail herself of the option to order the long flap version??? I honestly can't see anyone being unhappy with this saddle.
Usefulness Rating: 3.92 out of 5.
25 reader(s) voted.
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