Category: Dressage Saddles
Purchase: The Schleese saddle fitters (Jochen Schleese in particular) came to my barn to sell and adjust saddles. My first clue was that lots of people hauled horses in from a distance to discuss saddle fit and horse performance issues. I recognized some problems I'd been having too - struggling for a seat position, sore back and an inability to sit the trot. Although I'm not particularly tall, I have a long femur and finding a saddle with a seat that both supported my back and also accommodated my long leg was a difficult and expensive proposition. My knee kept creeping over the front flap as I struggled to get my legs underneath me. Jochen assessed my situation, which also included a short backed fussy mare. He pulled a size 18 seat Wave from his truck. I never tried another saddle. Cost (demo price): $4295. Expensive? Yes! Worth the price? Absolutely!
Likes: The Wave has a deep seat which provides me with support. A size 18 saddle in other models was too big (I owned a Schleese Infinity which gave me a sore back) because the seat was flatter, yet I needed the larger flap which came with a size 18 because of my leg length. The deeper seat addressed both a need for a smaller seat size while allowing a more generous flap. The tree is more hoop shaped and the tree angle fit the shoulder of my horse very well. She has not only a short back but large shoulders and modest withers. I'm currently riding three horses, all with different saddles. I get crotch rubs in the other saddles (Albion SLK Ultima and an older model JRD) and never a rub with my Wave.
Dislikes: I bought the saddle in February 2008 so I haven't had it long enough to comment on wear and tear. The Schleese reps are quite variable in their skill levels and I bought my first saddle, a new Infinity, from a rep. I would not do that again because the saddle was a poor fit for me and my horse and I had to sell it at a quite a loss within a year. Jochen knows his stuff and he is worth waiting for. Fortunately Jochen comes to my barn two or three times per year, but if you live in a smaller area, competent saddle advice might be an issue.
Quality: I bought my Wave saddle with the French leather, requiring essentially no break in period. It was soft, comfortable and ready to ride in from the get-go and I maintain the softness with a leather conditioner recommended by Schleese. The stirrup bares are set back in this saddle, a feature which works well for my build and helps me sit correctly without working at it. The thigh blocks are attached with velcro and can be adjusted or exchanged for different sizes and shapes of blocks. There were no flaws or defects in the saddle, although it was a lightly used demo.
Summary: Schleese saddles are expensive. If you can buy a used one, I'd do that. I would also evaluate my access to Schleese services and reps after I purchased the saddle; some are definitely more knowledgeable than others. The saddle? My horse and I love it and would recommend it to others.
Usefulness Rating: 4.8 out of 5.
25 reader(s) voted.
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