My tack store has a lot of saddles, both in the store and on our mobile unit. I figure it’s part of my job to be knowledgeable about these saddles, so I periodically check them out on a 10 day trial to assess them.
Our best-selling saddles are, without a doubt, Sommers
. They’re German made saddles that are fully customizable- in fact, we have a saddle coming in next week that’s adorned with purple crystals at the customer’s request. We sell their dressage saddles most frequently- the Savoy and Spezial are the most popular.
Last week, I checked out a used Sommer Savoy FlextraEQ.
A little background info on the Sommer FlextraEQ: it has a straight tree, which is purportedly designed to fit on the straight-backed modern warmblood. The straight tree means less deep panels, which puts the rider in closer contact with the horse. The panels are independent of each other and are designed to spread slightly when weight is in the saddle; this means the rider’s weight is distributed more evenly over a wider area. The tree is flexible throughout- not just in the saddle’s twist- which means the saddle follows the horse’s movement more closely.
Sommer’s designed the saddle to be comfortable for the rider, too. The saddle’s tree design supposedly makes riders follow the motion instead of being put slightly behind it, as many dressage saddles seem to do. The saddle claims to open up the rider’s hip flexors, length the leg, and align the spine. The monoflap design seeks to reduce the amount of pressure from the rider’s aids.
The saddle has a very deep, wide seat and large, prominent thigh blocks. It’s very different from my dressage saddle, which is a somewhat minimalist King’s Sandringham
|Sommer Savory FlextraEQ
The leather on the saddle is very nice: it’s butter soft and supple, shows little wear, and isn’t slippery. The saddle I checked out had a medium tree which was slightly big on Gina, who is a typically built, somewhat narrow Thoroughbred. (For reference, both of my saddles- the Ainsley and the King’s- have medium trees and fit her well.) It’s surprisingly light for such a large saddle- the monoflap seems to take a lot of weight off!
The Sommer is a joy to sit in. It’s ridiculously comfortable. It felt like sitting on a pillow, it was so padded and soft. I felt as if I was really sitting on my seat bones without a lot of wiggling or adjusting. I’d taken my stirrups directly from my dressage saddle and put them on this one without shortening or lengthening them, but once in the Sommer, I found I had to lengthen them by two holes. (I probably could have lengthened them another hole or two.)
At all gaits, I felt I had a good connection with Gina and could feel her moving underneath me. At the trot, the gigantic thigh block was a nuisance; my leg was rammed into the block regardless if I was rising or sitting. I’d guess this was because my stirrups were too short- the problem was alleviated slightly when I dropped my stirrups.
The Savoy really impressed me at the canter. I have a hard time keeping my seat quiet when Gina canters. She’s a very “up” mover with a lovely canter which is a lot more comfortable in two-point! In this saddle, I felt super secure (as opposed to slithering uncomfortably all over the place), and I didn’t have to struggle to maintain my position. I didn’t have to think about it at all. Because my position was better, Gina was lighter in the bridle and more willing to really step underneath herself and use her back.
|Richal riding Princess Pony
I made Richal try the Savoy, because she’s a professional dressage person. She thought it was a great saddle and commented on how much she liked the thigh blocks. She also mentioned that the stirrups felt short to her- and she’s about 3-4″ shorter than I am!
Gina didn’t appear to have any major differences in her performance with this saddle. The King’s fits her well and she’s generally easy to ride and well behaved, so I wasn’t really expecting any miracles. She’s better when I’m better, so I wasn’t surprised that when the saddle corrected some of my problems, Gina improved.
|“Of course I’m better when you stop riding like a sack of potatoes.”
Overall, the Savoy is a really, really nice saddle. It’s well-constructed of high quality materials. It’s lightweight. It does most of the things it claims to do. I don’t think it will suddenly transform anyone into a Grand Prix rider (although I think some people believe that…) or cause your horse to have an epiphany regarding canter pirouettes, but it may certainly help you improve your position or make your horse more comfortable.
This particular saddle is for sale for $3200, so it will not be staying with me! But if I had the money? I’d totally get one. With purple crystals.