Need New Stuff, Need It Yesterday

There are a few big-ticket items that I’m in need of.

Thankfully, a new bridle isn’t one of them anymore!

I got a ton of great suggestions for a new bridle for P, then saw that Lund Saddlery was asking for backers on Kickstarter. If you pledged $127, you received the monocrown bridle (with free shipping) that I was already leaning towards. I saved about $15, which is a new bottle of fly spray, so…winning. I can’t wait for it get here!


But I do need a new helmet, new stirrups and a new jump saddle. Let’s start with the helmet.

Right now I have a Charles Owen AYR8, which has served me faithfully for the last 3 years. But despite it’s name and the claim that it has vents to keep your head cool in the summer, it’s so hot. And the liner isn’t removable, so I spray it with the CO helmet deodorizer, but it’s to the point where that’s no longer masking the “jock strap smell” (my husband’s words). The padding has also broken down to the point where it’s slightly too big for me, which is a common complaint. I’m also not convinced it does any favors for my face. I have a loooong, oval face and feel very mushroom-headish in this.


I saw this at Rolex:


And it’s so pretty, but my dislikes about the helmet remain, so I resisted.

The Samshield has a removable liner, but the lowest-priced one (and the look I like the most), the Shadow Matte, I’ve heard scratches easily.


Samshield’s Configurator: dangerous


BO has a GPA, which she likes ok, but is looking to trade in for a Miss Shield after a fall she had last week. I’m not a fan of the look, but the ventilation looks like it would suffice for summer in NC. It says it has removable foam lining, but from some of the reviews, it sounds like the lining isn’t all that easy to actually wash. The Easy 2x is the design I like the most of the GPA.


I’ve heard good things about One Ks, though as with the GPAs, they’re not really customizable. That’s certainly not the most important thing, but is an extra bonus.

A local-ish tack store has a lot of the models I’d like to try, so I’m going to get up there hopefully sometime this week to see what will work with my noggin. If anyone has any input, I’d love to hear it!

On to stirrups:

For both my jump and dressage saddles, I use plain old fillis irons with Super Comfort Stirrup Pads wrapped around them.


Truly I don’t actually NEED new stirrups, but my left ankle that I broke last year still doesn’t have full range of motion, and not only do I tend to lose my left stirrup, but riding for too long causes that ankle to ache. So if there’s something out there that can alleviate that, I’ll try it.

Plus they’re getting slightly rusty. So bye-bye.

I love how the Lorenzinis look and almost bought a blue pair at Rolex, but then remembered a lady I was in a clinic with who had them, and they were SO BEAT UP. And she said they were fairly new and had no idea why the paint was just falling off of them. A quick Google search confirms hers weren’t just a fluke. So for $265? Negative.

The MDC stirrups have great reviews, but there are so many options. Do I need flex? What exactly are “intelligent” stirrups? Maybe the Super Sport ones would be best, since there are options. But so do the Ultimate ones, so what’s the difference? It’s almost overwhelming.

Literally all I know about stirrups are that I rode in a pair of those blue and black Herm Sprenger ones once (someone else’s horse) and will NEVER ride in those again. They were terrible- for me.

Again, input is always appreciated 🙂

Last, not least, but certainly the most dreaded….a new jump saddle. I’ve moaned and ranted about this before, but it’s truly time to get a new one.

My CWD fits P, but it does nothing for my position, especially with jumping. My leg always slips back. I kept thinking it was just me and have tried everything short of tying my leg to the girth (which I’ve actually considered except…P. ‘Nuff said). Then a trainer said, “I think it’s your saddle.”

And my world collapsed.


Because I hate saddle shopping. A custom saddle was just not in the budget for my still growing, still filling out OTTB, who is super hard to fit. Because not only does he have large withers with dips behind them, he also has very large, yet slightly asymmetrical shoulders. And I am fairly tall with stupid long legs. Finding a used saddle to fit both of us has proved to be an impossible task. So when a CWD came in that fit P and I could handle, here, just take my money.

Now P is 7 and in good shape, so it’s time to get our “forever saddle.” Ha, I’m not that optimistic. But really, it’s time I got a saddle that fit me as well as P. When I was at Rolex, I found this beauty:

Bliss of London Paramour Eventer

And after sitting in a few of their models and sizes and talking to their reps, I was intrigued. They can customize just about everything. So I got the contact info for a rep local to me. We’ve emailed back and forth a couple of times, and I’m not so sure it’s going to work out. She doesn’t seem to have anything in stock and kept saying she’ll have to order, then sent me a picture of one saddle she can get from someone in KY. I’d like to ride in a few models, not just one. I thought that was pretty typical. But I’ve been talking to her since May 5, and she’s not very communicative, and now I’m kind of over it.

So I’m keeping my options open because the last thing I want is to wait and wait for this to pan out, and then hate the saddle when it’s on my horse.

Stackhouse and Voltaire saddles are other ones I’ve heard really good things about. My dressage saddle is a Stackhouse and I love it, but I’ve never sat in one of their jump saddles. A pro is that they’re right here in NC and Trainer J is one of their sponsored riders so there’s that connection. A con is definitely the price. Dressage saddles are around $6,000, no idea what they run for their jump/event saddles. And I almost don’t want to know.

I’ve ridden in a Voltaire Palm Beach and loved it. But I can’t find any info on a local rep (I have an email out that I’m hoping they’ll answer), and their saddles are made overseas.

I’m still a little uneasy buying a custom saddle- it’s so expensive and there are so many horror stories out there. Not to mention the time between the test ride and actually getting the saddle can be lengthy and I’m all about instant gratification. But I’ve also pretty much had it with the used market. With all the money I’ve spent on shipping back and forth trial saddles, I probably could’ve already had a custom saddle.

Maybe I’ll just give up and ride bareback.

No, wait. P’s withers. Ouch.

Do any of you have any good or bad custom saddle stories to share? Any insight on the brands I mentioned (or didn’t)?






15 thoughts on “Need New Stuff, Need It Yesterday”

    1. It is SO pretty. Too bad the rep isn’t into making sales! I’ve tried a couple Prestige saddles before- one I really loved but it didn’t fit P. But thanks for reminding me- I’ll definitely check them out again.


  1. The Bliss is pretty but those are some weird angles and proportions. Strange design.

    As for helmets, I love my Samshield (and rumor has it that they have a new XC-specific model coming out this year that will be significantly cheaper than the current one). I keep it in it’s little cloth bag between uses and it’s got like one little scratch on it after over a year of use… just like any other helmet. Don’t throw it around like a hooligan and it’ll be fine. But if you don’t want to drop that kind of $$, definitely try the One K’s. They have a lot of options for fit and are fairly flattering to most head shapes. You could easily dress it up with some well placed decal strips around the center piece or something.

    Bit of Britain has an MDC rental program, or if you’re willing to sacrifice an hour of your life (because omg he talks a lot) you can call Martin Cohen himself. He’ll talk you through the different designs and make suggestions for ones to try, and send those to you. He might also have some demo ones available at a discount.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With the non-communicative rep, BoL saddle is out. They were super comfy to sit in though.

      The Samshield is my #1 choice right now, as long as I like the fit when I actually try one on. Good to know the scratching isn’t a crazy issue. I’ll try to refrain from using my helmet as a basketball from now on 🙂

      I’ll definitely try out the MDCs, so many options!


  2. i suspect you and i may have different priorities in shopping (i’m frugal to basically a fault haha, and basically choose economy over almost everything else). so take that as you will. my experiences with helmets is the One Ks tend to fit the ppl that don’t fit the COs (like me!). i’m pretty happy with my defender. my stirrups are the cheapie lightweight compositi composite stirrups and i luff them. i definitely stopped losing my stirrups as much and you can also really tell the difference in weight even when just carrying the saddle to and from the trailer. for saddles? i got nothing. i loathe saddle shopping. good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bahaha, believe me, I’d much rather NOT go this route, but a new helmet is definitely needed (since I fell yesterday…see todays post, smh). I like the look of the One Ks and will definitely try those out. I’ve never tried composite stirrups, but am ordering a bunch so I can actually make comparisons, and will throw some in there to try. I loathe saddle shopping, too. It’s the worst EVA.


  3. I have a OneK and love it. I had a samshield and a GPA, and I won’t go back. While you can’t customize them, they do have fun options like glitter and chrome… because shiny is necessary in life.

    I also checked out the Bliss of London saddles at Rolex because they have a flat, hoop tree option for my tank of a horse. They looked great, they felt great, I started doing the research… and I found a lot of unhappy customers on Facebook. I won’t drop any kind of money on a company with poor customer service, especially not a custom saddle company.

    I had a Voltaire Palm Beach that I loved for my previous horse. The saddles are beautiful, and I have found them to hold up really well. Unfortunately, they have foam panels, which isn’t something I would probably buy again. I talked to a Patrick Saddlery rep in Louisville, and while she was amazingly helpful and knowledgeable, it just isn’t in my price range at a moment. (They start at around $4,500 new and are very hard to find used). I do know a couple of people with their saddles and all they say is that they wish they had bought them sooner, but I have a hard time spending more than I paid for my horse on a saddle to go BN/N in. 🙂

    As for stirrups, I have the MDC Sport Classic stirrups. The heavy stirrup and wide base give a really secure feel. My left ankle can cause me a lot of pain in jointed stirrups, but the stable, wide base of these is great. I have had these maybe 3 years now, and they still look awesome and stay right on my feet no matter what is going on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome, thank you! When I rode in Aiken a lot, I would ride in the trainer’s Voltaire and I just loved it. I’ve never heard of Patrick’s Saddlery but will definitely check them out.

      I’m loathe to get a custom saddle, but I have really exhausted the used saddle market. We’ll see how it goes.

      I’m going to order the MDC Sport stirrups from SP, thanks for the review! My plain fillis ones don’t have the wide tread so I’m hoping these will help them stay put a little better.


  4. I don’t envy you the search. I feel like I will have to go through a saddle search sometime soonish. But with all you guys need, it sounds like your search could end up being $$$$$.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Have you looked into any Hastilow saddles? Mine has fit two of my tbs as well as a pony beautifully. They have the changeable gullet system which I know some people aren’t a fan of but I love! I seriously love my saddle, it fits my oddly long thighs and puts me in a great balance. I’m 5’8 with a 19.5 inch thigh if that helps. Could be worth seeing if you have a Hastilow rep nearby. They are a lower price point then Voltaire for sure, much more of a typical English workmanlike saddle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is a Hastilow rep close by- I didn’t even think of them! The only person I know who rides in Hastilows is one of their sponsored rider (so probably a bit biased), but will definitely contact them.


      1. Can’t hurt! I think most of the authorized Hastilow fitters are technically independent fitters through the Society of Master Saddlers in England but the rep I worked with was definitely biased towards the Hastilow 🙂


  6. yeah I just had the ‘it’s not you its the saddle’ issue with jumping as well. I have a devoucoux chiberta but the flaps are too short. I wouldn’t buy a devoucoux brand new though. I have standards *snort*. Also for some reason, every single person I know who had a custom built new devoucoux has NOT liked it.

    i tried a county solution though and loved it. LOVED it. dunno what area you’re in but I’m in PA/NJ and the rep was extremely helpful, and showed up with a lot of saddles to try. still a little salesman-y, but tbh I’d rather someone be salesman-y to me than ignore me and be unhelpful.

    good luck. i think the trick with saddle shopping is finding the right one before you off yourself from the process.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bahahaha, that is totally the trick! I tried a few Countys when I first got P, but none of the demos fit him, so she told me I’d need all these extras custom-made, and it would be $5,500. For a scrawny 4 year old OTTB. Yeah, right. I may try them again though now that P has filled out and should be done growing.


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