“ Brand: Thorowgood / Type: Dressage saddle „
When it comes to riding my horses I have over the years collected a variety of saddles and bridles. Having multiple horses at any one time means that I tend to have a saddle per horse as well as a few bridles per horse therefore I have quite a lot of tack! Since August last year I have had two new horses which have both needed new saddles. As they were both youngsters and were bound to change shape I didn't want to spend a fortune on a saddle which may or may not fit in a years time so I called my saddler who was able to come out to me with a range of different saddles to try.
My saddle stocks a range of saddles by Thorowgood who have been making synthetic saddles and bridles for years. Synthetic means normally that they are not leather and are made of another material. They also make saddles which can change the shape and width of the saddles which is great for horses that change shape over the course of the year as you can fit your saddle to your horse without having to buy a new saddle! I didn't want a synthetic looking saddle as I prefer the leather look and I find leather saddles a lot more comfortable than synthetic ones, it is just personal preference.
My saddler had brought the latest range by Thorowgood called 'T8' and according to Thorowgood's website "The new T8 hybrid saddle series combines the luxury of real leather with the well loved fit of a Thorowgood. The stylish design incorporates quality leather on seat, knee pads and trim to give the feel of riding on an all leather saddle." As soon as my saddler pulled out the T8 Dressage saddle from his van I instantly liked it, if I hadn't of known it was a Thorowgood saddle then I would have thought it was by another brand simply because it looks nothing like their usual synthetic saddles so even better. In August 2011 the T8 range had just been released which was great as I did manage to get the saddler's trade price!
To look at the T8 Dressage Saddle looks lovely, the leather is of great quality and the seat is incredibly padded. A Dressage saddle is different from the usual general purpose/VD saddle due to the cut of the saddle flap, it is a lot longer as us dressage riders ride with a long leg but the knee pad is rolled slightly and padded to help keep the leg in position. The saddle is only available in black leather which was perfectly fine for me as all my horses have black tack. Unlike other leather saddles there is no glossy shine to the Thorowgood T8 which is a slight shame as you know when your saddle is clean as it gleams but this doesn't which I don't mind particularly as I use this saddle to school my horse in and I won't be competing in it.
Underneath the saddle flap when you lift it up you can find the 2 girth straps which again are longer than on the general purpose/VD saddle as the girths are smaller. If your horse is particularly wide you can change the position of the girth straps to give a better fit once the saddle is on the back of the horse. I haven't needed to move mine so I can't comment on how easy it is to do but I cannot imagine it is hard as the girth straps are only looped into buckles and they look as if they can be easily undone to change. However, if you do have this saddle fitted by a saddler they will be able to show you how to change the straps and in any event if they are a good saddler and the straps need changing they will do it for you to ensure the best fit on the horse.
The T8 Dressage Saddle is classed as a universal fitting as if your horse has neither high withers nor low withers than this would be the best fit. As I mentioned above the saddle can change it's width according to the size of your horse. A horse's saddle size is measured around the withers and the sizing usually starts from narrow, medium-narrow, medium, medium-wide, wide and so on to around an extra wide. This saddle is adjustable and can be adjusted by inserting a metal 'gullet' into the underneath of the saddle. Now to someone who knows nothing about saddles then this may seem confusing but it really isn't! The gullet is held in place in the saddle by screws, so to change a gullet you simply turn over the saddle, unscrew the screws and take the existing gullet out (the saddle HAS to have a gullet in at all times) and then pop the new gullet in and screw the screws back in! Simples! It is however very important that you know what your doing when changing the widths of your saddle as it could lead to major problems with your horse's back so if in doubt call a professional saddler. You get a little kit when you purchase the saddle with the tools required to change the gullet.
I have had my saddle now 9 months and I have to say I am really pleased with it! I had it fitted professionally by the saddler who sold me the saddle so I know it fits my horse properly and won't cause any back problems. The seat is incredibly comfortable to sit and to ride in as some leather saddles I have had are majorly uncomfortable but this although firm is incredibly comfortable and so it should be having been flocked with 100% British wool! The knee pads again are leather and padded so they are comfortable also and teamed with the movable knee blocks (these are positioned underneath the saddle flap in the knee area) manage to keep my leg in position and also makes me feel secure in the saddle.
Now this saddle may not suit everyone especially if you like a saddle with a deep seat and high back although not a particularly shallow seat or high cantle you won't feel much support at the back of the seat but fortunately I don't mind not having a saddle with a deep seat and as I find this saddle incredibly comfortable it really doesn't bother me but may bother others. I ride in this saddle probably 5 days out of 7 and it is still in great condition although I do make sure it is cleaned on a regular basis with a leather care product to ensure it is well looked after but it doesn't take much to clean and so far it looks as good as new (apart from the marks in the girth straps where my girth has been which is expected!).
Overall, I really cannot fault this saddle whatsoever! It is extremely comfortable to ride in and fits my horse perfectly. I do expect him to change shape over the summer and knowing that I can change the width of the saddle to accommodate his changing shape then even better. The only thing I will have to do is buy a different size gullet (priced at around £19-£21). I have had two people ride in my saddle and they have both said how comfortable it is and of course another good thing about it being a hybrid leather saddle is that it is actually quite lightweight which is a lot nicer for the horse. Without a doubt I would definitely recommend this dressage saddle especially if you are wanting a great looking adjustable saddle which doesn't look synthetic. I cannot recommend this highly enough! 5 stars from me!
~ Useful Info ~
Availability: Thorowgood stockists only
Seat Sizes: 17", 17.5" and 18"
Price: I paid £500 for mine at trade price when they were first released but expect to pay from £600 upwards depending on where you buy