Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What kinds of saddles do you make?
A. We make saddles for all English disciplines, including dressage, jumpers, show hunters, field hunters, eventing and pleasure riding. For the most part, the basics of horse fit are the same for all disciplines. It’s the “extras,” such as the size and shape of the seat and flap, that determine the appropriateness for each discipline.
Q. Are these “off the rack” saddles that you modify or are they built for me from the tree up?
A. Each saddle is individually made to measurements taken of you and your horse. These are NOT “customized” stock saddles. These are unique saddles, individually made by hand from the tree up, by David and Lesley. No one else is involved in making a Stackhouse saddle.
Q. Do you make the tree as well?
A. No, we have a variety of trees that we buy from the UK. These trees are in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. They are laminated beech wood reinforced with steel. These trees are the foundation for a correctly fitting saddle.
Q. Why is tree fit so important? My horse fits a standard medium tree.
A. It’s important to understand there’s much more to a correctly fitted tree than just choosing narrow, medium or wide. The shape of a horse’s back, the height of their withers and other factors determine the most correct tree – and the tree is the very foundation of a well-fitted saddle. By putting a bare tree directly on the horse’s back, we can find the exact one that is the perfect fit, and then build the saddle around the tree. There is not a “standard mare needed for different body types – a medium in one shape may fit like a wide in a different shape.
Q. How do you fit the horse?
A. We come to your barn and put various trees on your horse’s back while he is standing square and level. We want to find the correct fit and shape tree.
Q. Can you fit my quarter horse, draft horse, thoroughbred, pony?
A. Yes. We work with horses of all shapes and sizes. We have a wide variety of trees to fit many different sized and shaped horses.
Q. My horse is very oddly shaped/asymmetrical and difficult to fit. Can you fit him?
A. Yes, absolutely. A correctly fitting tree is the key. Once we select the correct tree, we build the rest of the saddle around that basic foundation.Â For a very small minority of horses, we may need to build up the tree to conform the horses odd shape.
Q. My vet says my horse’s back is sore. Will a Stackhouse saddle help?
A. Possibly. Of course, it depends on why your horse has a sore back. Hock and feet problems, for example, can cause back issues. But if your horse is sore from a poorly fitted saddle, a Stackhouse saddle should improve the situation, along with appropriate veterinary attention.
Q. How do you fit me?
A. We start with a conversation, we listen to what you like or don’t like. We fit you on your horse in your current saddle. We want you at the appropriate stirrup length for your discipline. We then mark the position of your leg – measurements a taken at multiple points down the flap that will enable us to determine the length, width and forwardness required. The position of any blocks or rolls are also measured. These measurements are transferred to paper and a template is cut.
Q. What information do you need about my preferences? I’m not sure I know what I like.
A. We need to know the longest and shortest stirrup length you ride in, and your current and future riding plans. We also want to know your preferences in terms of thigh and knee blocks etc. If you don’t know what you like, we can help you narrow your preferences based on your body type and previous saddle experiences. Our experience has taught us which aspects suit particular body shapes.
Q. I really like the French saddles, but they don’t fit my horse very well. Can you make me one to look like them?
Q. How long does it take for the saddle to be made?
A. It depends on our schedule, of course, but it is generally eight to twelve weeks. We can sometimes offer fast delivery if we have everything required in stock.
Q. What leather choices do I have?
A. We have one leather quality – we use the finest English and French leathers available. We offer five regular colours – Cognac, Conker, Chestnut, Dark Havana and Black. We can also get almost any other colour you may want. We have been asked for and made Green, Red, Denim Blue, dark Blue and White over the years. We have also made many two tone saddles.
Q. Does the saddle arrive oiled?
A. For an additional charge, we can “roll and oil” your saddle for you so that it arrives “ready to ride.” This means that as we cut the leather we roll each piece to break up the fibers. This is what happens naturally as you use the saddle, it just speeds up the process. Once the saddle is complete we put five or six coats of olive oil on it to soften the leather.
Q. What other options do I have?
A. You can choose single or double flap, the shape of the knee pad, type and size of any blocks, contrast stitching and so on. These are all cosmetic choices and do not affect the price.
Q. Do you do foam or flocked panels?
A. Neither – our saddles have a “close contact” panel. This is made using a layer of best quality felt and natural latex rubber. We can do a wool stuffed panel but in our opinion that is inferior for many reasons. To learn more follow this link: wool or rubber?
Q. What do I do if my horse is young or likely to change shape/fitness in the future?
A. Some allowance for growth or change can be made. We like input from you, your trainer and in some cases, your vet to assist in the decision.
Q. How do I later sell a saddle that is custom-made for me and my horse?
A. Just the same as selling any other saddle, it is a matter of finding a suitable rider/horse combination. There are several stores who do very well with our used saddles. We also have a page on our website where we list used saddles.
Q. Can I get the saddle changed/adjusted in the future if I change horses?
A. Short answer – Yes.
Long answer – Your new horse may well be the same fit as you original horse, people do often stay with the same type. We can very easily check this by putting the same tree you have in your saddle on your new hoarse. If your new horse is a little narrower, you should be able to use a slightly thicker pad and not have any problems. If the new horse is wider, no adjustment made to the panel will help, it is the tree that needs to wider. We can strip your saddle down and rebuild it on a different fit tree. There are some restrictions, but we can easily go one fit either way, sometimes even more depending on the individual elements. There is significant expense involved to change the tree but it is less than ½ the price of a new saddle, depending on the individual circumstances this is often the most cost effective choice.
Q. Can you make me one saddle that will fit the two different horses I ride?
A. That depends on your horses – we look at both of your horses, you may be lucky and find that they are both the same fit. If they are different but still within a certain range, you will still be okay. We will fit the wider horse perfectly and then recommend that you use a thicker pad when using the saddle on the narrower horse. Think of it in terms of a pair of shoes, if your shoes are ½ a size too large you can use an insole or wear a thicker pair of socks and can wear the shoes comfortably with no problem. However, it the shoes are ½ a size too small, there is absolutely nothing you can do to make them comfortable. Exactly the same principles apply to a saddle.
Q. I’m nervous about ordering a saddle I’ve never sat in before.
A. We guarantee that the saddle will fit you and your horse. We understand that it can be a leap of faith to buy something that you have never sat in, that is why we suggest you speak with other riders who have been through the process to give you confidence in your decision. The guarantee means in the event of a problem it is our policy to correct it. We will only issue any refund once all efforts at remediation have been exhausted. The amount of any refund depends on the individual circumstances.
Q. What if the saddle fits me and my horse but I just don’t like it?
A. When everything fits correctly there should be no reason why you don’t like the saddle, however, it is impossible for us to guarantee that you will like it. A very small percentage of riders will experience difficulty transitioning to a new saddle, particularly if it is a wide or narrow fit, in most cases it is guaranteed to fit of the saddle for horse and rider, in the event of a problem it is our policy to correct the problem. We will only issue a full or partial refund once all efforts at remediation have been exhausted. The amount of any refund depends on the individual circumstances
Q. I’m just an amateur/pleasure rider, why do I need a custom saddle?
A. A well-fitted saddle is important for both horse and rider at any level. A well fitted saddle means your horse is more comfortable and can more easily do his job and you are more balanced and comfortable. A properly fitting saddle can eliminate a horse’s back problems associated with poor saddle fit. It can mean your horse moves better and with more energy. It means you can communicate more clearly with your horse and can progress more in your riding education as you’re not expending energy fighting the saddle for your balance.
Q. I know you work with professionals and even Olympic riders. Are you willing to work with just an average rider?
A. Absolutely! Every horse and rider needs a properly fitted saddle. You could argue that less-than-perfect riders need a custom saddle even more than gifted professionals who can more easily compensate for unbalanced saddles. We pride ourselves on working with all types of riders and making their riding experience and that of their horses more enjoyable and mutually beneficial.
Q. I don’t live near North Carolina. Do you come to my area?
A. Yes. We come to you, we do charge extra for travel expenses. The cost depends on where you live and how many fittings we have on the trip. We do keep a list of clients in different areas and if we can arrange more than one client in a trip, this will reduce the travel cost to you.
Q. Do you come back with the saddle or just ship it to me? How do I know that it fits when I get it?
A. We ship the saddle to you. We always follow up once you have received the saddle and had the opportunity to ride in it. We ask that you ride in the saddle with a thin pad and communicate with us how you feel and how the horse is going. Most riders immediately feel the difference in how much easier their horse moves and how balanced they feel. We can be confident that it will fit because we have personally taken the measurements – nothing gets lost along the way. Very rarely it is necessary to make some adjustment, we will do whatever is required.
Q. I am looking at buying a used Stackhouse saddle. Can you make changes to the saddle if I buy it?
A. It is always a good idea to check with us before you buy the saddle. Some changes can be made at very little cost and are worth the investment. Major alterations can be costly and may make the used saddle cost as much as you would have spent having one made to your requirements in the first place.
Q. How much does a new Stackhouse cost?
A. We are competitively priced. We are able to do this because we are not paying several people commissions along the way. Please call for up to date prices.
Q. Do you have some clients I can contact to find out their experiences with a Stackhouse saddle?
A. Yes, of course. We have many riders willing to share their experience. Contact us for a list.