Hey there, Childeric

My latest trial saddle arrived last Tuesday night, just late enough for me to not be able to immediately run to the barn and sit in it. Those among us with serious lack of patience issues will understand how deflating this is, and just how long it makes the subsequent 7 hour sleep and 9 hour work day seem.


When I opened the box I wasn’t quite as optimistic about the saddle as I’d been from photos. She was stiff and squeaky and had dirt caked into all of her crevices (poor Childeric, that’s exactly how I feel at the end of a horse show weekend so I can empathize). The nail heads were covered in enough green varnish to where you could barely read the brand name. She looked like she had obviously been a little neglected. The leather also looked a bit slick, which has been my complaint with almost every dressage saddle I’ve sat in except the Devoucouxs and CWD, so I was a bit worried right off the bat. Beyond the superficial things though, it’s in good shape. The tree is solid, there are no tears or significant rubs, the stitching is all intact, and the panels and billets are good.

shiny and scratched and dirty and kinda green

I got to the barn on Wednesday and plopped the Childeric on Henry.  He did not immediately try to kick my knee caps off or pin his fuzzy little drama queen ears, so we were off to a good start. I slid it back until it settled behind his shoulder, stepped back and looked at the balance, made sure it wasn’t rocking or bridging, checked the evenness from the back and shoulder clearance from the front. It’s not 100% perfect like custom, but it’s pretty darn good. Certainly significantly better than my Makila was.


Since I was concerned about it feeling slick and no longer own any full seat breeches I sprayed it with a little bit of stick tight before I got on. I shouldn’t have done that. I spent the first 5 minutes trying to unstick myself enough to post properly. Lesson learned. Don’t spray the Childeric – she only looks slick.


As soon as I got on I was encouraged right off the bat. It fit well in the seat and I immediately felt comfortable in it. A lot of dressage saddles I’ve sat in have made it feel like my hips are being wrenched from their sockets, but not this one. How come the French seem to be the only ones capable of making saddles that don’t hurt me (well, not physically at least, the financial pain is another story)? My only minor criticism was that i could feel the buckles on the stirrup leathers a bit under my thigh (but this gave me the perfect excuse to buy Trainer’s old leather webber style leathers off of her and sell the stupid TSF leathers that I hate). We picked up the trot and immediately Henry felt like he was moving pretty well through his shoulder – his other telltale sign of whether he likes a saddle or not. Trotting like a foundered shetland pony = bad. Trotting like a normal “6.5 mover” Henry = good.

1/4 of a container of conditioner and an hours worth of elbow grease later, she was much prettier

The real test for me with dressage saddles has been the canter. It either really works or it really doesn’t. We picked up the canter (a decent trot-canter transition for once, I might add) and I immediately knew it would work for me. My leg hung well, I didn’t have to fight the saddle to sit correctly, and I felt like the balance was very good. It wasn’t as sunshine-and-rainbows as my trainer’s Devoucoux Loreak, but it’s also not anywhere near the same price range. No dramatics from Henry either, just a normal canter. When I asked him to collect a little more he easily did it without complaint. I think we have a winner all around, ladies and gentleman.


While I’m not over the moon thrilled about the price, it was still a fair deal and one of the cheapest of this model that I’ve been able to find. I’ve already scrubbed her clean (it took a toothbrush and two differently shaped sponges) and conditioned her a few thousand times and she feels and looks tremendously better. She was so thirsty I used 1/4 of a container of conditioner… I kept globbing it on and she kept soaking it up. I think my winter project will be a re-dye so that the seat looks less faded and green. Dying the saddle black, painting the trailer white…

21 thoughts on “Hey there, Childeric

  1. My saddle fitter taught me a lot about the anatomical differences in the female pelvis, which has everything to do with which saddles you feel good in and which ones you don’t. For example, women of German and Scandinavian decent tend to have tall, straight pelvises that are very similar to the typical male pelvis. This is why you see German women looking so effortless and natural riding in German saddles that were originally designed for the male anatomy. Women with short, tipped pelvises (me! I’m of Italian heritage…) feel better in saddles made for their type of pelvis. I currently ride in a Spanish-made saddle and it’s SO much better for me than the Passier I used to have. Might explain your love for French saddles!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow that is very interesting info! I am getting ready to start looking for a dressage saddle and wondered about that cause the German ones are not that comfy 🙂 (I am short, squat and wide LOL). And so is my horse. However Amanda made me sit in one French saddle that made me want to leave my husband Hee hee hee….


    2. Probably. I think I’m some weird mix of French and Irish with a smidge of Cherokee thrown in for fun. Most things German and English made feel like they’re ripping my hips out of their sockets.


      1. Definitely good info. I haven’t ridden in enough dressage saddles to form a ton of opinions, other than I haven’t loved anything I’ve sat in. I rode in an older Albion style for a while that was okay, but my horse at the time didn’t love it. The wintec pro was again, okay, but not great. The only dressage saddle I’ve ridden in that I actually liked was a county connection. Sadly, I probably won’t be able to afford one of those that will fit my strangely backed horse anytime soon.

        I am like a heinz 57 mix. Polish, German, French, etc, etc, etc. My problem is usually that I feel like I can’t sit down. I have that issue with plenty of saddles though and I’m not sure if it’s a conformation issue on my part, or the fact that I just don’t know how to ride correctly in a dressage saddle, or both. I guess tipping forward is probably the best way to put it. My horse being built downhill probably doesn’t help much either. So, needless to say, I have a lot of issues.

        Thanks for the info, Tonia. 🙂

        Glad it looks like the Childeric will work for you and Henry, Amanda. 🙂 I always wonder why people take such poor care of their tack, but it allows thrifty people like you and I to pick up a good deal.


        1. Have you tried an Amerigo Alto? A friend with a downhill horse uses one, and it solved the problem she had of wanting to ride in a modified two-point. (This only applies to the Alto as Amerigo has a zillion models.)


          1. I haven’t. I have no had good luck with saddles in general, as my horse tends to need something closer to a hoop shape, or at the very least, very wide to accommodate his shoulder. I’ll definitely have to look into it. Thanks!


    3. For anyone interested in my saddle fitter’s full “lecture” on what I mentioned above, watch his Youtube video on the topic: https://youtu.be/yZEo_1mGhRs

      …He’s kind of a funny old guy but he sure knows his stuff and the info has helped me immensely when shopping eBay for used saddles (my only option due to limited budget…someday I’ll buy a custom…someday…) If you have the opportunity, it can be really beneficial to have a fitter come out and do a consultation on you and your horse. Find one who won’t require you to purchase something from them (as many fitters are just saddle huckers for certain brands), and who will let you pay them to basically just watch you ride, looking for asymmetries and compensations. It can be really helpful to hear things like “Your horse is more built-up on his left side than his right.” or “You are stiff through your ribs on the right side and could benefit from some lengthening and gentle twist stretches on that side.” Sometimes knowing these things can save you money in the end because the solution isn’t always a new saddle, but rather a slightly different way of riding that will correct the weaknesses and asymmetries in both you and your horse.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooh, good luck with the new saddle. I’m going to an international competition as a spectator soon. All the French saddleries (CWD, Meyer, Devocoux and more) will be there. Sooo many pretties…


  3. Props to you for thinking about tackling re-dyeing leather… you have more guts than I do. I’d be afraid I’d either sandpaper/grit up the leather too much and thus ruin the niceness of the leather, or it wouldn’t dry/cure properly and I’d have black butt.


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