November 29, 2019

Royal Shopping: Saddle Sitting Edition

While at the Royal, I wanted to sit in as many saddles as possible, since there are brands there I hardly ever see in my area.  There's only so much you can tell sitting on the barrel horse, but I wanted to see if I liked any of these brands enough to put in the effort to track down a rep that could come out to me.  Even though none of these were winners, I thought it'd be interesting to share anyway.

# saddles tried: 4
Overall impressions: I spent a half hour talking to a gorgeous French fellow who said Connor had "perfect conformation for saddle fitting" right in front of his breeder, what do you think I thought of it?  😂  On a serious note, they did the best job of selling out of all of the brands I tried.  He had me sit in them with stirrups (no one else did) and tried hard to figure out my preferences.  He also asked for a conformation photo of Connor so that he could figure out which saddles would and wouldn't work for him.

"Is Daniel Radcliffe moonlighting as a Devoucoux rep?  More at 10!"

I tried the Makila S (monoflap Dressage aimed more at eventers), the Makila Lab (deep seat straight flap aimed at Dressage), the Loreak (a model aimed at eventers that they don't make anymore), and the new Makila Harmonie (monoflap with carbon fiber tree aimed at Dressage).

My favorite knee rolls and flap were on the Loreak (RIP), but my favorite seat balance was on the Harmonie.  I've loved carbon fiber trees ever since getting the low-down on them from Mary while she was fitting CWD.  I love the way they conform to and move with the horse, while still retaining the structure that allows them to distribute weight well.  Wood trees just can't move like that.  I remember from watching Mary demo the CWD 2GS how the carbon fiber tree allows the seat to move with each step of the hind legs (it almost twists through the waist with each hind leg movement), and I've drooled over the idea of that in a Dressage saddle ever since.

I also really like where the billets come off of the Devoucoux saddles, on the flap:


# saddles tried: 3
Overall impressions:  I had a bit of a language barrier at Butet, the guy spoke barely any English, and they also only had massive 18's with long flaps, so it was hard to tell.  Butet has one model of Dressage saddle which is then customized from there.  Since then, I rode in my barnmate's heavily customized Butet and found it to be very nice, but without enough support compared to some other saddles I've tried.  Which, it should be said, is more of a personal preference than anything else.

Can't decide between black or brown tack?  Butet has a solution for you!

So pretty

# saddles tried: 3
Overall impressions:  This young French Canadian fellow was the most charming and flirtatious out of all of them (you needed to know that, right?  It's very important to saddle fit).

The leather quality on the Antares just could not be beat.  After trying virtually every French saddle brand available last weekend, I feel like I can make that statement confidently: they are the best at leather.  The twists were nice, but they really like their straight flaps, and while I think I could make it work, I found myself still putting Devoucoux ahead of them on the whole.

Bruno Delgrange
# saddles tried: 2
Overall impressions: Like Butet, Bruno Delgrange only has one Dressage saddle model that gets customized from there.  The rep was apologetic, calling themselves a "small company" and they're clearly more focused on the jump saddle market. They were very open to remote fittings, which was nice, but the saddles didn't wow me enough to go to that effort.

I didn't end up with any photos from BDG or Equipe so have some more pictures of the Devoucoux guy

# saddles tried: 1
Overall impressions: This rep was nice, but the least thorough out of all of them, and it felt like she wanted to get me out of the booth.  She asked my preferences and what kind of horse I rode, and based on that said "here's your saddle". Oooooooooookay.  They were nice, but I definitely judged the saddles on how uncomfortable the rep made me feel.

No pictures since it ended up being a very brief interaction

The only thing I didn't try?  CWD.  Sorry guys.

The bottom line for me is, all of the French brands feel so similar, and it's not just because I was on a whirlwind saddle sitting tour.  I think you could blindfold me and ask me what nationality a saddle is at this point and I could pick out French vs English in a heartbeat.  Devoucoux was the only one that stood out to me, but it wasn't worth the effort to get my "local" rep out (who lives in VIRGINIA!)


  1. virginia is not local to you, hahaha.

    Now that I'm thinking about it, my friend had a milady that you probably really would've liked. It had the most minimal flaps I've seen on a devoucoux and a very flat, open seat.

  2. Yeah Virginia is super far! I am so surprised there are just not that many saddle reps in this country when you think about it. Interesting about the carbon fiber tree, I am definitely now going to hunt down a video lol

  3. I don't ride dressage so this opinion means nothing, but I've always thought the Beval dressage saddle to be very pretty.