Friday, 22 July 2011

Off-Side Saddle Wanted

Fellow rider and blog reader, Sheryl Gardner, asked me if I could put out a wanted post for her as she is looking for an off-side side saddle. I don't have one for sale as I need mine for my dodgy hip and back but maybe someone out there has one? She is in Colorado and can be reached at sheryl @ (take the space out before and after the @ symbol). Here is her email...

"I am a para-equestrienne (disabled) and am looking for an off side side saddle so that I can continue to ride. I have a saddle fitter here in the US that can make any necessary adjustments, I just cannot find one and so far have not been able to find anyone to make one custom. I would consider a restoration project. My seat is 20.5 so 20-21.5 would work, I suppose I could have a western saddle modified, so western or english saddle would work."


  1. Tattersalls and Steele both will make a custom offside saddle.
    Don't try to modify an existing saddle; you'd never be able to obtain a correct seat. And unless the fitter is a trained sidesaddler, be warey of having him/her make any major repairs.

  2. Talk to Lillian Chaudhary too, she might have a saddle or a tree in need or restoration that might fit the bill.

  3. I saw a reversible side saddle on ebay( I think, could have been a side saddle shop...can't remember....arrgh)
    so you could make it normal and off side. worth a google search?

    btw leila, I need some advice.
    would you take a chance if you found a side saddle really cheap that still looked fine even though the seller says the leather's too old to use?
    I found this saddle on ebay, it still looks fine, probably 20th century, but the seller thinks it's crap because it has dry ( cardboard-y) leather in some places and a roller bar fitting. form the picture it looks like the panels may need replacing ( and I'm assuming the billets to, that goes without saying), but otherwise it looks fine. it looks like a average size seat, maybe slightly smaller than the 14"width I have now ( on the Elan that doesn't fit, sigh) but I've got some room to spare.
    I contacted her about measurements and about the tree ( is it still sound) because I don't mind a project and would love to restore a saddle to it's former glory.
    the saddle actually looks better that they're making it sound. could this be a good gamble or should I stay away from it?
    what would you do?

  4. That reversible saddle was on ebay and was a very small seat size for a child or VERY petite woman (LOL, which is why I didn't bid for it myself) so probably wouldn't work for a man or even a shorter statured man.

    I saw that "cardboard" saddle on ebay too and thought that it didn't look too bad myself. As long as the tree is sound and it fits you and your horse, I think with lots of saddle soaping and a very good leather conditioner (like love Effax) applied often and the obvious restoration like new billet straps and the panels needing attention, that it would be ok.

    I would rather buy that saddle which needs some attention than any of those horrible Indian made saddles on Ebay.

    Lots of people use those transitional Victorian to Edwardian saddles as the seats are still flat enough for modern riding and they have cutback heads. It's probably the same date as my Beck Morrow and I find that comfortable to ride in.

    It doesn't matter about the roller bar fitting either as even some 1920's side saddles were made with roller bars. All you have to do is use a collapsible safety stirrup like a Copes or Scotts and you are fine. I feel off my 1920's off-side side saddle last year and that had a roller bar and my Cope stirrup opened up fine.

    Just make sure that the tree is sound, there is no movement in the fixed head and that it fits you and your horse :)

  5. oh, well too bad about the reversible side saddle, I thought it would be just the thing, but I didn't know about the size, guess I'm not much help ;P
    I'll keep my eyes open anyway, who knows...

    about the cardboard saddle, I got a response from the seller.
    she stressed again that the leather was very brittle, it does however have a nice patina according to her, which makes me think the leather can't be that bad.
    she measured the gullet and said it was about 4" which would make it narrow. the seat would fit me in lenght (20") but in width would probably be a bit small, she said it measured 10". I think that is a bit peculiar, 20"x10" seat? isn't that a bit unusual, the saddle doesn't seem to be that small from the picture.
    I measured my horse with my flexible ruler. if you trace the withers-tracing on a piece of paper, take the center at the highest point of the withers and go straight down about 1", she is 4" wide. my current saddle is 4" wide in that exact spot too and it has a gullet size of a good 5.5". after that point, my saddle continues narrower en my horse flares out. about 12" straight down from the highest withers point my horse is 17" in width. the saddle is about 2"-2.5" narrower.

    so here we have it, the cardboard saddle would appear to be very narrow and small, even though I'm not sure about the measurements, the seller didn't seem to be very used to measuring side saddles, she even said so herself. my own saddle is a bit narrow too ( I knew this already ofcourse, though it's nice to know why now) , though this seems to be padding and panels mostly. I asked one side saddler I know what it would cost to take of the panels and replace them with a wykham pad, but it would be more than 400 euros ( about 450-500 pounds) for sure! I'm not sure if I want to spend that, especially if I don't know if that will fix the width problem.
    (I'm actually tempted to take the panels of myself, I know how, and fit it on my horse. sadly I wont be able to get them back on again :P )

    dilemma, dilemma. I think I'm going to let that cardboard saddle go. it sounds like it's to small and do I really need two saddles that won't fit? part of me wants to save it and resell it ( hopefully for a profit haha) but the other part of me wants to make a bid and be done with it, just see if I can get it here and save it... I just don't know.

    for now I've got my Elan for sale with the dutch side saddle association, it's coming with me to horsecamp in two days, it doesn't fit emily but it might fit a horse there. so hopefully I'll at least be able to ride in it for once. :P

    you are so lucky with your side saddles everywhere. I actually asked the association and there isn't a single event in Holland where they sell side saddles, there are no markets at all. I've got ebay and the internet and my best bets are to get it online somewhere or fly all over the world with my horse :P

  6. okay, so I slept on it and I decided that I'm not gonna chance it. I need a decent medium tot med-wide fit for emily so I'm not going to bid on the charity cardboard saddle.

    BTW I was just wondering, I measured emily's bakc the other day and she has room for about 18" of bearing surface of saddle. so she has 18" of space on her back for the saddle to put weight on. does that mean I can only look for saddles with 16" seats ( or 20" in american measurements) or is it possible to look at 17" or 18" too, because when i look at some side saddles it looks as though the seat is longer than the panels are. for instance that mayhew you have ( had? ) for sale. it's 17 1/4" but the panels stop making contact with hatties back a good inch and maybe more before the seat ends.

    so does that mean the seat can be larger than the weight bearing surface? and in my case: does that mean I can look for/at 17" seats too?

    and exactly where do you measure gullet and points? I always thought you measure the gullet right above where the panels begin at the front of the saddle. and I assumed that you measure the points horizontally. but that would make emily a 19" wide horse. when I take her withers tracing and go down along het shoulder about 12" ( that's how long the long point is right? ) then I go to the other shoulder and go down about 6"or 7" ( I don't really know how long long and short points are so I just made an estimate) then I trace a line diagonally across these two points on my withers tracing an they make emily a decent 17" wide, which would make het e medium to med-wide fit.

    so exactly where are you supposed to measure your horse/ withers tracing?
    I'll probably have to make do with measurements from withers tracing to get an idea of saddles that fit me and the horse so I'm trying to learn as much about measuring and fitting as I possibly can ;)

    I'm leaving to go on holyday for two weeks in two days, I'm going to help out at a ponycamp for young children. I'm bringing my side saddle because I figured there has to be a horse that fits my saddle so I can at least ride around in it. I've put it up for sale in holland and I
    m thinking about putting it on ebay when I get back if it hasn't sold by then. the sooner I sell it, the sooner I will be able to spend that money on a new side saddle again and in the meantime I'm going to find out everything I can about measuring!

  7. up on craigslist there is an off-side side saddle by owen
    seat is 20"-12.5" might be a bit small, I don't know. maybe worth a look for your handicapped friend?

  8. Lieke, you have to be careful with most of the side saddles for sale on Craigslist, Loot, Gumtree, Adoos, as most of them are scam ads. My black Swain side saddle is on those sites still being "sold" by someone in "London".

    This Owen is ALWAYS being sold on Craigslist and I remember when it was sold on Ebay a couple of years ago by the Ebay seller, Saddlemalc. I believe it went for something in the region of 3500 GBP. The low price of it makes me believe that this is a scam ad to tempt people to buy it. My Swain side saddle sold on ebay for over 2500 GBP but the scammers list it for 1000- 1200 GBP to tempt people with the low price. They prey on people's greed to snap up a bargain.

    The photos in the Craigslist ad are the same photos that were in the Ebay auction which is something scammers always do when putting up ads on these free classified websites.

    They never "sell" cheaper catalog saddles but always trawl ebay looking for side saddles ending on a very high price to steal photos and info from to make fake ads on classified websites.

    Maybe this Owen ad is legit but my gut is telling me, it's not. To anyone deciding to purchase this saddle, I suggest you meet the seller in a neutral high populated public place like a McDonalds, food court in a mall (NOT a car park!) and to pay cash when you see the saddle and to use extreme caution just in case it is a scam ad.

  9. Measuring is tricky Leike as different brands each had there own particular tree and panel shapes. I measure Hattie's width with a flexicurve on the part of her withers in the "groove" where the tree points of a normal saddle would sit.

    For seat size, it just depends on how long your horses back is. I know Hattie can carry a 17" UK (21" US) and 17 1/2" (21 1/2" US) seat but would probably struggle at 18" (22" US) unless is was a brand of saddle that had a more "compact" style of seat like what an Owen (and even later Whippys like mine) have where the seat is built more over to the off-side than longer seated saddles like Knouds, M&M's and C&W's tend to have.

    It's all trial and error really :)

  10. haha, I was afraid of that ;) well, at least I know I need to have a deent medium to medium wide fit wit some flare to fit her shoulders. after my holiday I'm going to put some energy in selling my current saddle and then hopefully will have some cash to spend on a nice side saddle.

    about the owen: too bad, I saw it and I immediately thought "this could be something for that friend of leila's" But if craigslist is such a scam-pond, I best stay out :P

    I've got one of those flexicurves too btw, measured exactly where you say you did. but for an indication in width of tree, did you measure diagonally or horizontally across the tracing?

    anyways, I'm off on my vacation :D I'll definitely keep reading your blog ( I've become somewhat of an addict haha) but my phone won't allow me to post, so....

  11. Hello, Ive got an owen off-side, which is in very good condition 16 inches x