April 5, 2016

Product Review: Thorowgood T8 Dressage Saddle

Even though I'd never touched a Thorowgood saddle in my life before one arrived on my porch on Friday, I was feeling confident that this eBay saddle would fit. I assumed that I'd end up ordering a slightly wider gullet bar than the medium it came with, but that the tree shape would be right, based on everything I've read about Thorowgood/K&M/Fairfax saddles and cobby backs.

Survey says?

Almost perfect, pending the arrival of the medium wide gullet bar.

Fits exactly like I thought it would.  Great contact with his back all the way down, but just a hair too narrow in the gullet.With a slightly wider gullet, it'll be a perfect fit in front, and perfectly balanced front to back.

Liiiiiitle too high.

Fortunately, Thorowgood has a saddle fitting "worksheet" available on their website.  It allows you to use a flexible rule to both figure out what shape of tree your horse needs (high wither vs. normal vs. low), and what side gullet bar they need.  You shape the flexible rule against the horse's back or withers, and lay it against the sheet to determine sizing.

Point billets and movable velcro blocks.

Connor came out to be a Medium Wide, so that is on order and will be here soon.  But before I pulled the trigger on that, I rode one lesson in it to make sure I liked it well enough to keep it (and my trainer approved).

Connor not wanting to play my reindeer games.

And I gotta say, I'm pleased.  It strikes just the right balance of encouraging good position and not forcing me into a good position.  It's a 17" and I almost could use a 16.5, but that just means I've got a tiny little gap between my butt and the cantle, making it less restrictive.

The seat, knees and a panel behind the thigh are leather, while the rest is synthetic.  Also, it's wool flocked.

It also made some of my biggest positional issues a lot easier to fix - especially my tendency to ride with the left hip angle wide open and the right hip angle more closed regardless of direction.  That's not really a comment on this saddle, it's just that doing Dressage in a Dressage saddle is easier than doing Dressage in a jump saddle.  Even a glorious, well-balanced, well-fitted unicorn of a jump saddle.

My one complaint is that the twist seems a little wider than I like, but I didn't get off waddling in pain like I used to with Louie's old saddle (EquiNovice knows what I'm talking about!)  And even with the gullet situation being what it is, Connor went really well in it, especially at the canter.  He's always moved a lot better at the canter in a Dressage saddle.

I told my trainer the cover struck me as odd.  It says, "Real saddles made in England."  As opposed to fake saddles made in England?  That made her laugh, because she's from England, and apparently 'real' in this phrase means something like "proper".

As far as budget saddles go, it's definitely the best quality and fit for Connor I've ever encountered.  I've tried several Wintecs on him, and all of them bridged and/or pinched at the stirrup bars: this saddle does not bridge or pinch at all.  It's not a magical French unicorn made of tradition and engineering like the CWD is, but the Thorowgood cost $550 and the CWD cost me, uh, um, a few dollars more than that, so...yeah.  Definitely exceeding expectations in relation to cost!

My one issue is this:

I think it's time to admit that he really needs an 18" Dressage girth (this is a 20") but I am so not interested in trying to sell this tiny Dressage girth.  Anyone want to buy a 20" Total Saddle Fit girth?


  1. I'm so glad it's a good fit! Maybe I'll end up trying a Thorrowgood at some point. I didn't have a problem with the fit of the Wintec on my pony, but it was just so bulky I felt like I couldn't get my leg onto her side. That's neat that parts of this saddle are leather.

    I actually don't think you'll have trouble selling that girth - I had a 20 but decided Maggie really needed an 18 and was able to sell the 20 in a snap!

    1. I know what you mean about the Wintecs, and I don't get that impression with this saddle. It feels just like the Counties I've had on him in the past. Good to know about the girth!

  2. Lolz how much do you want for the TSF ? Also I'm so glad the saddle seems so promising!!

  3. If the TSF girth is one of their shoulder relief jobs, I'll buy it AND pay for international shipping! It's even the right length...

  4. Glad you could replace the much mourned mouse chewed isabell! I thought there was a deal about riding third? I think I should go down the thorowgood rabbit hole and see if my girl likes what we find there.

  5. I just bought that girth in a 20 a few weeks ago :)
    So happy the saddle is a great fit for you and Connor! Will go on my list to try when Fergie gets muscled up a bit more. We have a Wintec that we tried on her once - she hated it.

  6. Dressage in a dressage saddle is soooooo much easier. :-) What a great find for both of you.

  7. Thanks for the review!! I've been wondering about these saddles and how they'd fit Katai. This was very helpful!

  8. I tried the Thorowgood and liked it. I prefer a wide twist.

  9. Looks great on him! Woohoo for new tack :)

  10. That's a really nice looking saddle!

    1. It really is nice looking for only being $895 at full new price, and half synthetic. I continue to be impressed with him.