Brand Review: Custom Saddlery

Custom Saddlery is one of the biggest dressage saddle brands in the world. Some of their sponsored riders include Stephan Peters, Juan Matute Guimon,  and Patrik Kittel. They also offer a range of jump saddles but I have personally had no experience with them but have heard good things.

Custom Saddlery offers 29 different models of dressage saddle with 4 different categories, Custom, Wolfgang, Icon, and through their partnership with Stephan Peters, Signature. All of these saddles are customizable from the color of the leather, the color of the welting and the stitching, and cantle designs.

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An example of a custom made cantle! Photo Rights: Custom Saddlery
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An example with pink welting and stitching! Photo Rights: Custom Saddlery

I have had the pleasure to ride in multiple different models of Custom saddles in the past year. My trainer in Wellington, Fellow TPE writer Lauren Knopp, has all of her horses in them and when I ride with her, I ride in Custom. My goodness, I could not be more in love! They are so comfortable and really do help your leg get put and stay in the correct place the entire ride, even when you do get a bit unseated ;).

Most recently I rode in Custom’s Wolfgang Omni 2 Monoflap Saddle and it was such a dream. When riding a large strided horse, sometimes it is difficult to keep your leg in the correct place and not be put off balance. But, when I was riding Duke, a hefty 16.3hh gelding, my leg wasn’t slipping around at all, it felt just like I was on my own small strided pony, Pinky Promise.

Being a long-legged rider can sometimes be difficult in a dressage saddle because some knee block styles just don’t work. But fear not, Custom offers a wide variety of knee block styles to fit everyone’s needs. I personally love the look, feel, and security that the knee block that holds your thigh in place. I am someone who is longer in the femur/thigh region so full-length knee blocks don’t tend to be comfortable. So, if you are someone who is like me, definitely give this model a try!

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Pictured here is Duke and I going down the long side at his working trot, look at that stride!

The quality of the products used to make these saddle is impeccable. From the premium buffalo leather to the imported wool used to flock it to the premium wood tree, I don’t think you can get much better. The combination of these outstanding features plus being handcrafted in a state of the art facility provides both horse and rider with a custom fit masterpiece that is perfect for both parties.

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Can you tell that Duke is comfortable in his Custom saddle?

When buying a saddle you want to have the best customer service that you can rely on every time. From the fitting of your saddle with your local representative all the way up to the designers of the saddle. I asked my favorite long time Custom Saddlery user, Lauren Knopp, her thoughts on their customer service and here is what she said:

“Custom Saddlery goes above and beyond to make sure their clients are happy. I’ve ridden in Custom for 6 years and I won’t ever ride in anything else. They always make sure your horse are well taken care of in every aspect.”

 

 

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Pictured here is Lauren riding one of her horses, Greggory in her Custom Saddlery Wolfgang Star Saddle.

 

 

However, with all things, there must be at least be one flaw, though not unwarranted. Because these saddles are made with high-quality products and handled with such care, they come with a not so humble price tag. Base models start around $2,695 USD and goes up as customization is added. Luckily for those on a budget who would love to be the proud owners of a Custom Saddlery saddle, you can find consignment saddles through your local rep and online retailers. Large scale retailers such as Dover Saddlery and Smartpak also offer select models such as the Wolfgang Solo and Signature Stephan’s Advantage.

 

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Horse & Rider #OOTD on Point! Feat. Samshield, Centerline Style, E.C Equestrian, Custom Saddlery, and Showmark

 

You can check Custom out on their website here, and follow them on Instagram @customsaddlery. Big thanks to Lauren Knopp for helping me out with this post and taking some awesome photos of Duke and me! If you are ever in Wellington and want a dressage lesson you can find all of her contact information on her website www.laurenknoppdressage.com. Hope y’all enjoyed this review on Custom Saddlery!

 

Until Next Time Preps,

Sydney

 

Finding a New Barn

While I, like the rest of us, wish that we could all stay at our childhood barns. In a euphoric and naïve haze we can dream about the facilities, trainer, and friends you grew up with and had become comfortable with. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for about 99% of us, and we must spread our wings and find greener pastures. When you’re starting your search or making the decision where to move your special animals, there are three major things to consider.

  1. The trainer and the program

If you’re moving to train, make sure the person you’re moving for is actually worth the move. You don’t want to uproot yourself and your horse for a subpar training schema with someone who doesn’t lift you up. Make sure they’re good, healthy minded people, whose passion is continuing people’s riding educations. Ask questions! If you’re going into a full training program, how does that effect how many times you ride your horse in lessons or does that mean the trainer rides them? Can you take lessons on schoolmasters? Are you required to participate in extra-curricular activities such as clinics that cost a fortune or instead of a good gallop in the pasture, is your horse required to do treadmill or water resistance activities? How do they train when you aren’t around? Are they the type to bring you down to get more money out of you or give you the boost to help your long-term goals? If showing is important to you, are you required to go to a certain amount of shows per season? Are you allowed to take lessons from other trainers or go to clinics? Do you have to use their farrier and vet? It might seem like a lot, but listen to their answers carefully and ask for a copy of the requirements in a contract before agreeing to anything. All these things can vastly impact your barn life and your price. (p.s. all these things are real and have been experiences first hand by myself and my group of friends)

  1. The facilities

Facilities are probably the second most important thing when choosing a barn. Try to find somewhere that will help you with the transition, like if you’re horse is used to 24/7 turn out, find somewhere that will help ease them in to a stall. It’s also important to find a stable whose facilities align with your discipline and horses’ needs. What’s the turn out schedule like? How big are the pastures? How many times are stalls cleaned and what’s the size? Do you have control of their feeding regime or are all the horses fed the same brand of grain and anything extra, you have to pay for and feed? Who works there? I’m not kidding when I say a lower income barn I know of that specialized in younger girls (10-16 years old) had an actual sex offender on their payroll. Another barn I boarded at let all the teenage girls with little hands on horse experience “run” the place, including the once a day feeding, cleaning stalls, workout schedules, and “turn out”, which consisted of 35+ horses running together in a 6 acre pasture. You can imagine how hands on I was at the latter with my two horses to avoid allll of that… Arenas and trails are other greatly important aspects to consider when deciding on a barn. If you live somewhere where the weather is consistently hot or snows or has lots of rain, an all weather, covered arena might be worth looking at. If you’re an eventer, do you have access to school cross country or do gallop sets? If there are large pastures horses stay out over nights, is there a covered dry area for them to get out of the wet or cold? Is there trailer parking available? Is the tack room dry and comfortable? Is there a security system? SO MANY QUESTIONS TO ASK.

  1. The budget

Be sure to have a good understanding of what you (or your parents) can pay and what you’re paying for before agreeing to anything. Pasture board, full board, training, full training, and all inclusive all have different prices, especially at nicer barns, so make sure what they’re asking price wise is in line with the quality of the training and the facilities. Get a break down of how everything is charged and why before making a decision. I’m not joking when some barns will charge extra for horses to be turned out more than once a week/on the weekends or will charge for unnecessary supplements that they believe all horses should be on. Again, hands on experience here. Be calculating and careful when discussing money to make sure you’re getting honesty about what will be charged and why and if things are optional.

In the end, you’re trying to find somewhere whose equestrian philosophy and facilities align with your own beliefs and needs. There are plenty of other things to consider, but these are just the bare minimum. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Happy riding and barn shopping, y’all!

Until next time,

Bailey