There are a number of factors that go into finding a fantastic saddle. Here are some things to think about when looking for saddles. Note: this is more geared towards looking for a used saddle.
1. Will it fit your horse
This one is number one because it will greatly affect how your horse rides. If your saddle doesn’t fit, you’ll either end up with a misbehaved or sore horse (or both).
2. Will it fit you
Most people will have a range of saddles that will fit them – though one size will be better than others. For me, I can ride in anything from a 16″ to a 17″ without any issues, with 16.5″ being ideal. It’s important to know that the seat size is mostly dependent on your thigh length – Not the size of your butt.
3. What quality is the saddle?
This is where knowing brands is important. Some will last longer and/or put you in a better, more balanced position than others. Is it synthetic or leather? Typically leather is higher quality. Generally, it’s best to steer clear of no name brands. I find that I’m most partial to older nice brands such as Stübben or Passier, because they last forever and older saddles end up much cheaper despite their quality.
4. How much wear does it have
What kind of condition is the saddle in? Is it used or abused? What does the stitching look like? Does it need to be reflocked? Is it missing billets? Is there any staining of the leather?
This isn’t something that scares me off, personally. Some brands last almost forever, and personally, I’d rather something high quality and old, than new and of lesser quality. Other brands have gotten better or worse as time goes on. Google is your friend for finding out these things.
Again, google is your friend here. Look up comparable saddles online and see what people are asking for them. Look a more than just one. eBay will typically be the cheapest, while places like Pelham Saddlery will be on the average to high side. Look around on Facebook’s market place. Know what you should be paying. This is two fold: one so you don’t get taken advantage of and two so that you don’t insult someone by asking for some amount less on a saddle that’s already greatly discounted. Also, if the price is too high for that saddle: don’t be afraid to make an offer. The worst thing that happens is they say no to your offer.
7. Keep your eyes open
Some of the best deals are found where you aren’t expecting. Some random post in your towns Facebook page that just says ‘old saddle’. Know what the saddles you like look like even if the person doesn’t know the brand off hand. Sometimes that $25 older Stübben isn’t a mistype of $250. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and if you don’t ask, you might miss out.