Well enough about $45,000.00 dollar saddles, if that is what you're looking for then your reading the wrong Blog. The people that make these pieces of artwork are in a completely different segment of the saddle-making world. Are they worth it, yes they are, every penny of it. Some of their work will literally take your breath away, even if you have been doing your very best for the past 35 years building the best saddle that you can. Are they any better built, stronger, better materials or any of the things that matter in fitting a well built saddle to your horse so he and yourself can perform at the best of your ability.NO, their just Artwork more than a working piece of equipment.
So now that we have made the distinction between artwork and what I call "using gear", lets move on to... how do you find a saddle on-line that you will actually get what you paid for. The most important thing I guess is a saddle that fits your horse so he can perform to the best of his ability. We have a saying on our website that says " A better fit means better performance ". If you have ever tried to take a long hike in boots that don't fit you would soon realize what a horse is going through on a 20 mile ride. While he can't talk to you about his discomfort, his only choices are to just suffer the pain or buck you off and go back to the trailer on his own.
With my 35 years of building saddles, I would think that I would have a fair chance of buying a saddle from a maker and not get screwed and get what I paid for. As far as I know, I have never lost an order in 35 years because I don't flower carve, I only do geometric stamping. I guess you have to ask yourself, in your eyes what makes a saddle attractive to look at. Is it the style of the tree, the flowing lines of the saddle, the finished color of the saddle or just what it is that makes you like this particular saddle. I guess this is where I would start, I would bring up every Saddle Maker that has a web site that I could find and study the pictures and READ the text that he has written. After you have scoured the internet and talked to friends that have ordered online and you feel like you have really put some effort into finding several makers that you feel is worth your time to call and talk to in person. There are several sayings that have been around for years and they still apply today,
1, You get what you pay for and
2, if you see a man or woman that is a full time saddle-maker, making using gear and not art work then you're looking at a person who has a partner that has a good paying job!! To cut to the chase, there is very little or no money in making saddles. You say to yourself, with what they cost a maker has to be making money. There are a few makers that have the one talent that can allow them to make some money and that is SPEED. There are a few guys out their that can keep their quality up and use good materials on good trees and design a saddle that will fit your horse and make you comfortable and still produce a lot of equipment. It's the only way that it can be done. More to come in part three if your still interested. As before this is Bob at Bitterroot Saddle Co.