Sunday, March 25, 2012

Advice Needed - On Line Used Saddle Purchase

If you've got advice - please offer it.  I'm considering buying a used About the Horse saddle - there's a saddles for sale listing on their site - About the Horse isn't responsible but just provides a place for third parties to list About the Horse saddles they have for sale.  I've never made a major purchase from an unknown, remote, individual seller before, and wondered what experiences people had and what you can do to protect yourself.

Ideally, I'd like to have a chance to try the saddle on - I'm pretty sure it'll fit Pie (with a shim) and Drifter, as it's the same bar size as the saddle Heather's using on them.  The question is whether it'll fit me - it's a 16.5 seat and it may be that a 16 will fit me better.  So, the sorts of questions I have are along the lines of:

How do I pay and make sure the seller actually ships the item to me?

How do I make sure I get a refund if I return the saddle?

You get the idea - any thoughts are welcome as I'm a newbie at all this.


  1. I would find out as much as you can about the saddle and the seller before any money changes hands... Ask for as many photos, measurements, etc as you can, and see if they would be willing to do a trial. (You may just be responsible for shipping both ways.) If they are difficult about providing more information than the ad includes, I would be wary.

    I would go through Paypal for the transaction, you have to pay some fees, but they do have pretty good buyer protection and should refund your money if things go south.

  2. Pay through Paypal. The shipper should send you a tracking number when the saddle ships so that you can track it. Be sure to arrange any 'return' agreement in writing ahead of time.
    I have had very good experiences buying and selling online, I just use some precautions.

  3. Hi, not sure how helpful this may be BUT I had great help online with action rider tack ( regarding our treeless and pad. They actually referred me to other indpt reps to speak to that helped me find a treeless saddle by having me send pictures of Laz, his stance, back, shoulders, front view, above view, etc etc. I ended up getting great info to make a decision of which treeless and pad to get for us, although nothing is 100% guaranteed for saddle fit and they had at the time a 15 day trial period which I thought was a fair allowance. In terms of payment, or refund and general honesty of purchase/return..have you check them out via yelp, or other social media sites to see how they have helped past clients?? GOOD LUCK :)

  4. IMHO, the risks in a transaction like this are far greater for the seller than for the buyer. Horse people are (generally) very honest. It's far more likely that the buyer will pretend to be a legitimate buyer, and come up with a scheme to defraud the seller, than for a seller to post a pretend listing for an item they don't have, or won't actually ship. So please keep all this in mind as you negotiate with the seller. Put yourself in their position as you try to sell a saddle to someone, how you would want to protect yourself from the buyer scamming you. It will help you find a solution that works for both of you.

    I HIGHLY recommend that you conduct the negotiations by phone, and then confirm by email. Phone is a much better way to discuss these difficult issues and feel reassured that the other person is on the up-and-up. Use email to confirm what you agreed on over the phone, so that neither party "forgets" the things you both agreed to.

  5. Buying something from someone through the Internet has always caused some unsettled feelings for me. I like going through eBay where sellers are rated. You might check to see if the seller is listing the saddle on eBay as well and whether they have a rating from previous sales. Lacking that you might look into PayPal and see if they have any safety nets set up for situations as you describe, where you might have recourse to stop payment. Since your PayPal account can be funded by a credit card, and since credit sales can be disputed, maybe that same thing works through PayPal.
    I think I'd share my concerns with the seller, create some sort of sales agreement together and find out about references.
    Just some ideas.

  6. I am curious too, the biggest thing I've gotten online is a book!

  7. Scary! Personally with something like a saddle that may or may not fit I don't buy online or from an individual. Unless it's something really common, like an Abetta, I'd buy that online because I know it'll fit pretty much anyone.

    Personally unless the deal is crazy good and you can resell it easily if it doesn't work I'd stear clear.

  8. No good advice here. I have done all my main Internet shopping through standard vendors or eBay.

    I've always wondered how many transactions have problems when private buyers/sellers are involved.

    As noted above, I think most horse people are pretty honest about things. Lots of communication and, if you can get it, a written contract might be good approaches.

  9. I would use PayPal to protect your purchasing information. I have only purchased saddles online through ebay. I had good luck with the sellers, just not with the saddles.

    Are you buying a western/trail saddle? I ride in a 17.5" seat (dressage saddle). I think that I would be squashed in a 16" and I am petite, but maybe you are talking about a western seat. I know that they are measured differently.

  10. Val - I'm a neophyte at Western sizing, but my understanding is that a 16" seat will generally fit a large adult - that would be me (I'm almost 5'10") and a 17" fits an extra large adult - either taller or heavier. I've been riding in my trainer's 16" Western saddle and it fits me fine other than the slightly too short stirrups.

    I also ride in a 17.5" dressage saddle, but I believe the sizing is quite different.

  11. Sizing is off an inch between western and English, I believe.. Circle Y has a way to measure based on pant size, and a 16.5 should be fine, I ride in a 15.5 and wear a size 8 pants.

    I've bought all my saddles used and over the Internet. As long as you pay with Paypal, you are very safe. Also make sure you get a seven day trial, you'll have to spring for shipping it back, but that's the worst of it.

    I also agree, talk to the seller by phone. That way you can get some basics answered.

  12. I think we are probably similar in size (I'm 5'9") and ride in a 17.5 dressage saddle. My western saddle is a 16. My husband rides in a 17 and he's a big sturdy guy.
    I haven't purchased any saddles online but I have sold three through eBay with good luck. I like using Paypal for all the reasons cited in the other comments. I also like the protections offered by eBay. For me it was definitely worth the fees to have the peace of mind.

  13. I've bought several saddles over the years, mostly from local tack shops that carry decent production saddles. My advice would be not to purchase online from a third party. I would not spend that amount of money for a used, third party saddle unless I was buying it directly from a saddle maker (face-to-face) who could fit you and your horse personally. I can almost guarantee the sellers don't have the fitting knowledge to know if their saddle is right for you or your horse. All they want to do is sell their saddle, period. I'd take my money and do a road trip to a good saddle maker. I'd only purchase a saddle of that cost from someone who knows a wide variety of horses and understands how to fit them. They should offer you a free trial period and you won't have to worry about them taking your money and running. I recently drove two states away to do this and I have no regrets. I bought a very expensive, but slightly used Bob's saddle. The saddle maker spent an entire morning with me and I learned a boatload of great stuff during my appointment with him. He didn't make my saddle, but he sure knew how to fit saddles to riders and horses. It was a delightful experience and I figure since I'll probably never buy another saddle again in my lifetime, I'm glad I didn't buy it online from some unknown third party. Just my .02 cents.

  14. Rontuaru - thanks for your thoughts, which are very good ones. My case is a bit different - I'm looking for a saddle from a specific saddle maker - About the Horse (Black Rhino saddles) - they have some unique design features that benefit the horse. Also, I know the precise bar size needed for my horses since my trainer in Wisconsin uses these saddles and is very experienced with their fit. So, in this case, if I know the bar size (About the Horse changed its bar size numbering system in the 2000s, so it's important to know if a seller is referring to old/new bar sizes), design (one of my horses needs a round rather than square rear skirt due to a short back) and seat size, I could buy the exact saddle I need over the internet.

    But in general I think your advice is very good for most cases. Saddle fit is crucial for the horse's comfort and ability to move, and you can't fit a saddle over the internet. My experience with "saddle fitters", however, particularly those at tack stores who are trying to sell you something, isn't great - many of them don't know what they are doing and are happy to sell you a badly-fitting saddle. There are good ones, though, and finding a knowledgeable one is very valuable.

    For my dressage saddle, I had a (good) saddle fitter come and make tracings of all my horses and reflock my old saddle - it works perfectly for one of my horses and works well with slight shimming on the other two.

  15. My only advise is to use Paypal's invoicing system as it was a true business transaction. There will be fee's but they are nominal.

    Paypal has very good dispute process and resolution in the event a transaction goes south. - spoken from experience.

  16. DON'T DO IT!!!!! I bought a saddle on line, requested a whole heap of photos and got them. What I couldn't see in the photo is that the tree was so ever so slightly crooked. It felt terrible! Another friend bought a second hand saddle on line and the person obviously sat lop sided and so when she sat in it - you guessed it she sat to the side! Unless you can try before you buy I personally will never buy a saddle on line again.
    But good luck in either way you decide to go

  17. Know someone who bought a used saddle throught the site. Great Saddle. will help you fit the horse to what tree you need.


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