BY ALLIE CARLSON
Saddles are often the most expensive piece of equipment an equestrian owns. They are a huge purchase that we put tons of time and energy into understanding. We have to find the perfect fit, not just for ourselves, but our equine partners as well.
Having owned not one, but two hard to fit horses with opposite fitting needs, I have been fortunate to have custom saddles for the last few years. However, because my geldings were a very specific fit, I never am able to use my saddle when I ride other horses since my saddle does not even come close to fitting. And while people are always nice enough to lend me a saddle, I wanted something that was comfortable for me too.
When I saw Arena Saddles come onto the market just a few months ago, I was intrigued. They looked very comfortable with the adjustability that I was looking for at a great price point. So, I took the plunge and brought home their Arena Jump saddle.
It arrived with nice, soft leather straight from the factory. I was prepared with all my favorite leather suppling ideas when it arrived, but pleasantly surprised when none were needed. The seat is super comfy, and just deep enough to make you feel secure without being too deep. I am quite picky about the support a saddle offers your leg. After adjusting the knee and thigh blocks, I feel extremely secure and have the proper leg support to suit any horse I might sit on.
Though I purchased the saddle to use on other horses, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it fits my hard-to-fit OTTB better than any other saddle straight out of the box. The Arena saddles line up offers an interchangeable gullet system, making it possible to fit a wide variety of horses without pinching from being too narrow, or the need for excessive padding from being too wide. I always ride Wyatt in a half pad and baby pad as that is the set up he likes the best, but this saddle would have easily fit him with just a traditional saddle pad.
While the tree/gullet is always a major sticking point in saddle fit, it is also important that the panels of a saddle lay smooth along the horse’s back without pressure points. Thanks to the CAIR panel system of air panels, this saddle can adjust (within reason of course) to the back of each horse you put it on.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Arena Jump Saddle. It is comfortable for me, my horse, and the others that I am lucky enough to ride. I felt the quality of the saddle matched the price point, and would highly recommend the saddle to anyone on a budget or someone who leases and needs flexibility of fit. It is a great saddle for the price, and definitely will be sticking around in my tack room for many many years to come.