Manufacturer: Hilason (View all products by Hilason Saddlery)
Model: Black Trail / Endurance Saddle Model #122 (View all Black Trail / Endurance Saddle Model #122 reviews)
Category: Trail Saddles
Purchase: I bought the saddle directly from Hilason through their website and received it, along with a free saddle pad, about a week later. I paid $449 for the saddle with fenders and stirrups.
Likes: I read other negative reviews of Hilason saddles and was expecting sub-par quality and craftsmanship. But I was actually pleasantly surprised. The saddle is well-made and looks more expensive than it is. This saddle does require a dressage girth and not a regular English girth; I think that might've thrown other reviewers off. Flocking on the underside creates ample spine and wither clearance. The seat is comfortable and secure, and the saddle did not roll or slip during mounting, dismounting, or riding up and down steep hills. It remained balanced with evenly distributed weight on my mare's back.
Dislikes: The fiberglass pommel insert is a bit too narrow for broad-backed, mutton-withered horses like my mare. This problem was easily solved by removing the fiberglass (the pommel pocket is zippered for easy access) and replacing it with a soft stuffing material just to hold the pommel's shape--I used an old polo wrap folded over a few times. This did not adversely affect the stability of the saddle. I wasn't crazy about the stirrups that came with the saddle, but they were easily replaced with my EZ Ride stirrups for greater comfort.
Quality: This is actually a very well-made saddle and should stand up to plenty of miles on the trail. The leather is high-quality and is soft and supple; even the fenders did not require any breaking-in. The billets are leather but have a nylon core for extra security and to prevent stretching. The suede seat has the right amount of padding and is comfortable without being too squishy. Some of the outer seams do not have the fancy "finished" look of more expensive saddlery, but they are secure. I imagine the look of the seams could be addressed by a saddler for a relatively low cost if it bothered someone. Extra D-rings along the cantle are a big plus, and have stood up to my overstuffed cantle bags without a problem.
Summary: I think this is the perfect saddle for the recreational or semi-long-distance trail rider. The construction is sound, the appearance is nice, and the comfort level for both horse and rider is high. For broad-backed, round horses like my Arab, this saddle is a lifesaver. I am not entirely sure it would work well on very high-withered, narrow horses, but I haven't ever tried it on one. The seat size has been an issue for some people; I think this is because the Hilason saddles run a size small. So if you ride in a 15" Western saddle, you'd need a 16" Hilason, or a 17" if you like more room in the seat. I normally use a 15" Western or 17" English seat; in the 16" Hilason I'm secure but not wedged between the pommel and cantle.
Usefulness Rating: 2.4 out of 5.
5 reader(s) voted.
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