Anonymous asked in PetsHorses · 1 month ago

Are older English saddles really unsafe or bad for horses?

I have a total of 6 English saddles, with only one being under 20 years old, with only two of those being under 30 (two are 40 and one is anywhere from late 30's to early/mid 40's). The oldest 4 are high quality saddles that were considered high end in their day (Crosby, Stübben, Courbette), and the last 2 are a very solid mid-range brand (older RD Collegiates). I've never had any issues with any of these, of course there is no saddle that fits every horse and that is part of why I have so many, but for the most part, I've never had any safety concerns, any more difficulty with fit than any other saddle (if anything, most of these seem to be pretty versatile in fit for the most part), or any soreness or issues with any horses they've been used on. 

However, I have heard a few people say lately that all older saddles should not be used, ranging from that they are all built in a way that is sure to cause severe back problems in a horse for life, to that old trees are almost always compromised and even that the maximum life of a saddle tree is 15 years (I actually read on a forum about someone saying their saddle fitter told them this). In the lifetime I've been riding, I have never heard of this, not even once. Has anyone else heard anything like this? 


I've ridden with (and currently ride with) very reputable trainers over the years, none of them have had any issues with my saddles and have all checked the fit and adjusted some padding in certain cases on their school horses, but have never told me the saddles were unsafe or would hurt horses' backs. In fact, their lesson saddles are of the same vintage and their horses seem to be just fine (and they look after their horses very well).

Update 2:

All of my saddles are routinely checked over and well cared for, are in great shape for their ages, and are all completely sound. 

5 Answers

  • Ocimom
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    As long as you keep them in good shape and cleaned and inspected there is no reason to get rid of them.

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    Keep your older saddles ! They are worth their weight in GOLD, and anyone who tells you different doesn't know what he or she is talking about. A well cared for, well fitted older saddle is just as safe as the new ones coming out now, and in some ways is more safe than they are, because the method by which it was made has become a dying art form.

    Brands like Stubben, Crosby, Courbette, have all been around for decades, and these saddles have stood the test of time and hard use, and have developed a well deserved reputation for quality and craftsmanship. That's why there is such a demand for used saddles of these brands. People know they are made well and that they last for years with proper care- that's why they want to buy them. I learned to ride on a Stubben saddle when I was 9 years old, and my current dressage saddle is a Crosby. It's stood up to a lot of hard use, and I really like it.

    The only thing you do need to pay attention to with an older saddle is the condition of the tree. Trees CAN break occasionally, regardless of how well the saddle is cared for, and a saddle with a broken or damaged tree should never be used.

  • 1 month ago

    Actually, in many brands, the older saddles were far better made of far better materials than the current ones.  Brands like Courbette (and many others) were sold as the original owners retired, and the new company is making them cheaper and flimsier.

    I've heard of lots of old brands not being what they once were...  but never of an old poor brand getting better.

    Stick with your old saddles.  There's quality there.

    Some people just want to tell you they're better then you because they have NEW saddles and you don't.  Your saddles are just as good and probably better.

  • Snezzy
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    We have two old Stübben Siegfried saddles that are so old the Stübben company does not have records for the serial numbers. That suggests to us they might have been made between 1925 and 1945. We've had them both restuffed and had billets replaced on one of them. They are safe and, as far as we can see and our horses have told us, perfect. 

    Some people just don't like old things. I've even known someone who tossed out tens of thousands of dollars worth of antique books, several hundred years old, "because they were old."

    Others may have been caught up in the financial interest of "out with the old, in with the new" because someone has a business of selling new things. When IBM typewriters were the ones that every business hoped to own, the IBM company bought up and destroyed old IBM typewriters so that they could sell new ones.

    A used Stübben saddle, if properly kept, should always be worth several hundred dollars, and should be listed in your will so that it will go to someone who will adore it and not toss it out as "old" when you are dead and gone.

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  • Isabel
    Lv 4
    1 month ago

    I ride Western, and old saddles are super common.  People inherit them.  We always say that old Western saddles were made better.

    I’ve never heard that about English saddles.  I’d ask your vet what she’s heard.  She might know more about geriatric back problems than your trainer.

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