Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Manorgrove Side Saddle

As much as I love my off-side side saddle, it isn't really the most practical of items for me as the seat is a tad small for me to any serious, everyday riding in and I can't afford to get off-side aprons made for showing anyways(there are very few vintage ones about- especially ones to fit someone who is 5'9" and a size 14/16!).

When I went to the Nationals and spoke to the side saddlers there, prices for a custom saddle seem to start at £2600 and go upwards from there which is WAY WAY above what I could afford. With Hattie's awkward conformation, finding another antique one to fit her, would be like looking for a needle in a haystack so needed to find another solution.

Over the past year, I had seen the Equxtra Manorgrove side saddle for sale on Ebay and always thought it looked like a nice saddle for a reasonable price. I did a bit of research on the saddle as I had never actually seen one in person and was worried that it was a saddle made in India out of Indian leather. A couple of the side saddlers at the National show said that it was an English leather saddle made in Walsall (which is only about 45 minutes away from me) on a proper Alton & Butler side saddle tree NOT a cheap Indian made saddle on an astride tree and that it looked well made but that was just about all they knew about it.

Also thanks to the power of the internet, I managed to track down several people who had experience with the saddle (in the UK and the US!) and all but one was very happy with it. One lady in the USA had one made for her broad Morgan and uses it for USEF hunter classes (including jumping to 3'6"), Prix St George dressage, and for eventing. The one person who wasn't happy, said that it wasn't wide enough for her extra wide horse but that the quality was excellent.

So with that info, I booked the Equxtra saddler to come out and fit Hattie! I had explained on the phone about Hattie's conformation and how saddles slide forward on her and he said that there were several things he could do.

Then the fateful day in late August arrived and the saddler came out to measure Hattie up!

The saddler took tracings of her and I showed him how the off-side side saddle fit on her as well. He agreed that she was definitely a medium/wide fit as she is quite chunky at the withers.

So, what he is going to do, is put a point strap on the off side of my new saddle and put the 1st and 2nd billet straps as close to the tree points as he can get (just like on my off-side side saddle). He is also going to put the 3rd billet strap a little further back just to stabilize the back of the saddle so it doesn't tip forward and drive down into her withers when it's girthed up.

He liked the style of my antique three buckle Owen girth as because it forks out, it helps to stabilize the saddle and spread the weight evenly so he's going to make me a new one for my new saddle as well.

Since my thigh measures 21", he said that the size 17" seat (UK measurement) would fit me and would not come past Hattie's last rib. The saddle is going to be brown with doeskin seat and pommels and serge panels. He's going to make my fixed pommel a bit wider than normal so that it gives me a bit more comfort and support when my arthritis is acting up in my knee. I also opted for the Mayhew stirrup fitting instead of the Owen one as the Owen one can bit a bit fiddly.

The saddler won't be putting an overgirth on Hattie's saddle as the buckle tends to rub her behind the elbow. The off-side flap with have a tab fastening which will be comfy for Hattie and convenient for me!

He's currently making another side saddle so mine should be ready toward the end of October!!


  1. Wow!!!! So happy for you!! Bit jealous too.

  2. I can't wait to get it, I will post pix when I do. If you are in the market for a side saddle, then it may be worth contacting the saddler as if he ships to the USA, then he probably would ship to Australia. You'd have to do tracings of your horse but it may be worth looking into.

  3. Thank you for your very informative site.

    I am writing a couple of westerns. In the first, the normal shoot them up bang bang, my wicked little heroine Elena of the second book, is the Commercial Traveler of Patent Medicine's trinket girl. Sam the traveling sales man, as western hero.

    He of course gets tricked by the Irish horse trader. I got so tired of westerns where, the 'cowboy' picks the red sports car in the corral, with out even kicking the tires.

    The trinket girl threw a hissy fit, because the first book was boring, just a man fighting off nine mean Indians alone, killing card cheats, back shooters, almost dieing in the desert and falling love with the wrong woman.

    Of course she likes him... most. But, he was never going to be home any way, even if she could catch him. So she set her cap for another. Disaster strikes.

    She insisted she was much more interesting, being unmarried and preggy in 1881. That left her with only one option.
    After poisoning her first enemy...(atta girl), she has more options, of how to make life hell on earth those fool enemies who insist on breathing.

    Her friends have no limit to what she will do for them.... like being their partner in building a hotel, a wainwright shop, and setting her father up with a saddle factory.
    Then again, fate strikes her hard.

    Down, up, and as low as it goes, she gets up.
    She couple of murders...imagine, the nerve of some people, to want to murder her friend Sam, now a silver mining town Marshal.
    She wins.
    The question remains, will she, now very well off, marry poor Sam.

    I saw on another site, 1880 there was a new up to date side saddle, and everyone back then was really into being 'Up to Date'.
    Her father is a Mexican saddle maker and barber. So she has an idea of saddles. Your site will help out. I doubt if I'm going to go heavy into detail, but the proper ones can be done, in a line or two.
    It was very much a help, that you 'told' me of riding corsets.

    Thank you very much. You have a very nice site.
    Bill Cameron

  4. Hi I was just wondering is the Manorgrove saddle lighter than the antique side saddles ?

  5. It is a bit lighter but I wouldn't say that it's VERY light. Side saddles are still heavy things new or old :)

  6. Thanks for the info ..love your blog !

  7. Did you like the Manor grove saddle in the end? I'm a similar size with a wide short backed horse looking for a hacking side saddle so would love to know what you thought. Thank you