I’ve been riding horses since I was 10 years old; started out with English and then transitioned to Western. After I started working for One Stop Equine Shop and doing these product reviews, I have been reminded of how much WORK it is to ride English! It really is a total body workout. Up until recently, I knew someone at the barn that would lend me her saddle, so I could test out the different outfits or boots. She has since moved away and took her saddle, leaving me lost and needing to figure out a solution ASAP. I talked to our Collegiate Rep and we came up with the perfect beginner’s English starter pack. I will be doing a two-part series on these different products; starting with the Collegiate Honour Close Contact Saddle.  

When I first opened the box with this saddle, I was in awe with the quality and craftsmanship…and in love with that new leather smell. It is made of high quality, soft, supple leather. Collegiate has mastered making a quality product while keeping comfort of the rider in mind. Some of its features include:

Collegiate combined modern style with classic techniques to bring you a quality saddle at an affordable price. There are several features that allow you to personalize the way this saddle fits you and your horse. The triangle front thigh blocks and shaped knee rolls are great for helping you maintain a correct leg position. I love that you have the freedom to move the blocks to best suit your needs. After riding in it and figuring out my body in this saddle, I ended up moving mine down a little. Another way to customize the fit is the simple and quick changeable gullet system. If you do not know, (I had to freshen up on my English saddle parts as well) the gullet is the channel that runs between the panels on the underside of the saddle. This means that you can make the front of the saddle narrower or wider by changing the shape of the gullet. I don’t think I will have to do that for Bentley as it sat pretty good on her withers and had ample space at the back of the saddle too. 

After assembling all my tack (bit on the bridle, attaching stirrup leathers, adjusting stirrup length, etc.) it was time to ride. I don’t know about you but getting new tack is the absolute best feeling. Getting to try new things with Bentley is so much fun and what owning a horse is all about, am I right?! First thing I noticed when sitting in the saddle for the first time was how comfortable it was. The narrow twist (front part of saddle that touch inner thighs), deep seat and square cantle really allow you to stay snug and secure while riding. All these features allow for a beginner to get on and ride like a pro. That combined with the silicone gel on my Dublin Ladies Performance Thermal Active Tights, my butt was NOT leaving that saddle. I was able to post, sit the trot and canter, and 2-point with ease.I highly recommend this Collegiate saddle for any beginner or seasoned rider. It is a great investment, at an affordable price and backed with a 10-year warranty on the tree as well as a 2-year warranty on the saddle.

Not looking for all the bells and whistles this saddle has to offer? Check out the Collegiate Graduate Close Contact Saddle. You still get the quality that comes with any Collegiate product and some of the same features as the Honour Close Contact (i.e. semi deep seat, square cantle, adjustable thigh blocks), but for an even more affordable price. This saddle is made of naturally tanned Argentinian cow leather for the seat then contrasted with durable Buffalo leather flaps. It also has the contrast stitching to give it a more attractive, classic look. Check it out on our website here.

The Collegiate Honour Close Contact Saddle comes in sizes 16.5”, 17”, and 17.5” and colors black or brown. Pictured is size 17.5” and brown. For part two of my review, I will go over all the tack that I used with this saddle. Stay tuned!

P.S. Love the Dublin outfit I’m wearing? Read my review on it here. And be on the lookout for my review coming up on the One K Defender Rose Gold Stripe Helmet that I am wearing. 

For your horseProduct reviewRiding style: english