Model: Soft Neoprene Saddle (version preceding latest on market)
Category: All Purpose Saddles
Purchase: I purchased my saddle from General Feed in Santa Cruz after a price increase occurred following my special order, so it was a good $30 or so more than expected. It cost close to $300 by the time that increase and tax was all factored in.
Likes: I was a rabid fan of this saddle before and after it's purchase and I so wanted it to "work out". I think that neoprene is a fantastic material for use on a saddle and using it in the way they have is the wave of the future. It's comfort for horse and rider alike was quite obvious from the very first ride. However, I encountered so many difficulties I have basically abandoned it in favor of a Thorowgood synthetic saddle of similarly excellent comfort. The problems are detailed below...
Dislikes: The first problem was the position of the synthetic stirrup "leathers". I swapped positions of the "cinch" and these stirrup straps numerous times trying to get my leg into the desired position with my knee resting out of the way of the bulky lumps under the skirt. The second major problem was encountered at any speed and posting as it's lack of a tree or any cutout whatsoever which could have so easily anchored this saddle against the withers. I could never keep this saddle centered on my horse's admittedly "Arabian" (hard to fit) back, however I expect that the problem would have existed for others as well. I longed for a knee roll which I felt could have been absolutely dreamy and once I realised there was no living with this saddle I took a thick cashel neoprene saddle pad and a sharp knife and Sho-Goo (special neoprene glue made for sneakers) and set about to fashioning the missing components myself, right down to a functioning cutout around the withers to act as a quasi-tree with extra seat padding. It was a surprising success except that I was so overtired by the end of the second day working on the project that I accidentally didn't align both my knee rolls perfectly symmetrically and while the saddle was usable, it never completely overcame the problems caused by the lack of a tree.
Quality: I considered the design in need of change to realign the various buckles and lumps under the skirt so they don't line up perfectly with the raised spot on the inside of one's knee.. ouch! It also warranted fabric on the inside surface of the skirt to protect against wear with these raised areas. I hadn't mentioned but I had swapped out the stock western style stirrups and straps at one point in favor of using english ones and never went back. The saddle has so much great potential I do hope they will continue to work on this because it has a promising future and absolutely no competition as nothing like it exists anywhere.
Summary: I continue to love the saddle although I can't use it for hacking and I couldn't consider it safe for use on the trails the way it won't stay centered. It sits on the rack and I long to be able to try the newest model they have out now with it's obvious refinements made to the girth and elsewhere although clearly not to the degree I would have hoped for, particularly in the area of a knee roll, centering cutout for withers on the underside and english stirrups.
Author: Lauren C.
Usefulness Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
6 reader(s) voted.
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