Manufacturer: Cliff Barnsby
Model: AVG Bonfire / Evolution 3-1
Category: Dressage Saddles
Purchase: I purchased this saddle brand new from usedsaddles.com. It was on clearance for $1000 because Barnsby has changed the name of the model after ceasing sponsorship of Anky Van Grunsven. What used to be called the AVG Bonfire is now the Evolution 3-1 and retails up to $3500. Needless to say, this saddle was a steal. Who could pass it up at that price? From what I've seen, this saddle sells used for $1000-$1200 most commonly. I always keep an eye out for great deals at usedsaddles.com because amazing deals like this can pop up from time to time.
Likes: First of all, the workmanship of this saddle is amazing. The area where the skirt meets the flaps is recessed and literally sculpted to make a completely flush transition. The leather is to die for... buffalo grain grippy seat, super soft deerskin padded knee rolls, and lovely smooth grain leather flaps. And it smells like the inside of a new Mercedes. Ahhhh. This saddle has very substantial knee blocks that for me are anatomically perfect and work well to maintain a nice long leg effortlessly. I am going to this saddle from a Bates Isabell. In the Bates, I found the steep seat restrictive, but even the largest knee blocks lacking. In the Barnsby, I feel a bit more restriction in the legs ability to creep forward, but more freedom in the seat. I like this combination much better. I like that the channel is rather wide as not to impinge upon the horse's spine. I always felt like the Isabell was a bit tight in the channel. The Barnsby has beautiful long flaps that are a good fit for my longer legs. The Isabell ran a bit short in flap length. So there are many reasons why I am preferring this saddle over my old one.
Dislikes: I bought a wide tree #4. It runs a bit narrower than what I would consider wide... more like a medium wide. But it fits all the horses I am riding currently, and fits especially well with a Theraflex saddle pad.
Quality: As described in the section above as to why I like the saddle, the construction and quality are first rate. It is a work of art. People see and touch this saddle and say "oooo, ahhhh!" It is very elegant and extremely well crafted with very high quality leather.
Summary: This is a great saddle. I would highly recommend the AVG or Evolution (as they are the same saddle). The AVG saddles came in several different versions to best suit the rider. The Bonfire version (which is what I have) has a longer flap. The Evolution similarly has options within the same model and one of them is identical to the Bonfire.
Usefulness Rating: 2.72727 out of 5.
11 reader(s) voted.
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