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Novice’s Guide to Selling a Horse Saddle

Found, purchased, or inherited, you’re hoping to sell a horse saddle even though you have no idea what makes a saddle valuable. Never fear, in this guide to selling a horse saddle (for the totally clueless) you’ll learn:

If you are considering selling a horse saddle, there are a few things you should keep in mind. If you are new to the subject of selling horse saddles, this article will provide you with some tips on how to get started. Selling a saddle can be a great way to make some extra money, but it is important to do your research before you get started. Without research, you might end up selling unsafe equipment to a rider or getting stuck paying the return shipping cost if you sell a lemon!

How to Value a Horse Saddle

When determining how much a horseback riding saddle is worth, there are several factors to consider. Brand and Condition have the most impact on a horse saddle’s value.

1. Brand: How to Find the Brand Name on a Saddle

How to find the brand name on a horse saddle.

The internet makes researching the value of a brand of saddle easy, but finding the brand name? That’s a little trickier!

English Saddles usually have a metal plate near the front and center part of the saddle. Under a small flap hiding the point where stirrups attach (called the “stirrup bar”) high-end saddle manufacturers place a metal plate with brand information. If you find a Passier or Hermes logo in this spot, you’re in luck! If there’s no mark, however, it often indicates the saddle is low quality. Unmarked english saddles often don’t fetch a price high enough to bother with.

Western Saddles usually make the brand name a little easier to find. As shown on the saddle below, western saddles are often clearly marked with a leather stamp showing the name of the manufacturer.

western saddle with brand markings.

Once you know the brand name, you can easily research more about the horse saddle.

2. How to Assess Condition

For saddles: the condition is almost everything. While a good brand can make a saddle worth more, the condition is make-or-break. For horse saddles, some “breaking in” is to be expected, but signs that a saddle is worn out can sharply reduce the value.

In the next section, I’ll show you how to tell the difference between an old saddle that’s worn out and one that’s simply broken in.

4 Signs your Old Horse Saddle is Worthless

  1. Deeply cracked leather – some surface crackles are ok on vintage saddles, but deep cracks indicate a prolonged period where the saddle was left without being oiled. This type of leather is not as strong as well cared for leather and reduces a saddle’s value.
  2. Rotting or weak stitching – tug on a spot where stitching holds together two panels of leather. Do the stitches break? Do the threads pull? Saddles with strong stitching are still useful. If the stitches break as you tug at them, it’s a sign the saddle has aged past its usable life
  3. Dry powdery leather that flakes when touched – is the leather of the saddle flaking or disintegrating? Like cracking, this indicates a lack of care and weakened leather- it may also indicate a condition called “dry rot“. This leather cannot be restored because it has lost all its natural oils, causing the leather fibers to lose their connection to each other.
  4. The “tree” is warped or broken – saddles get their structure from a wood, steel, or other hard structure under the seat of the saddle. If this structure breaks, the saddle cannot be safely used for riding and is only worth what someone will pay for it for decoration. (find instructions for checking for a broken saddle tree below)

How to Check if a Saddle’s Internal Structure is Solid

  • Hold the front of the seat of the saddle against your stomach with the back of the saddle facing away from you.
  • Pull the rear of the seat toward you while bracing the saddle on your abdomen.
  • A saddle with a flexing-tree will bend slightly, but a fixed tree should remain still.
  • If you hear a crunch or feel uneven movement, this indicates that something is very wrong and the saddle is not safe to use or sell.
  • A flexing “spring tree” saddle will bend easily and but “spring” back to its original position.

This may be easier to examine with a heavy western saddle by putting it front-first on the ground. Place your hands firmly on the back of the saddle. The saddle’s seat should remain stationary. If it wiggles, moves, or buckles, you’re dealing with a shattered tree.

Saddle tree checking instructions adapted from The Veterinary Care of the Horse 3rd Edition by Sue Devereux (2019)

Selling a Saddle with a Broken Tree

A broken tree can painfully stab a horse when the rider mounts, stands in the stirrups, or jumps. Horses in pain often buck, rear, or bolt. For this reason it is very important to disclose a broken tree.

Saddles that are worn out, have dry rot, or have a broken tree are worthless as riding saddles. However, some saddles may have some small value as decorative items. Some very unique saddles (especially ornate parade saddles) may have value as museum pieces.

To sell this type of saddle, use craigslist or a flea market booth. The value of horse saddles (even vintage ones!) for decoration is usually $30-$60. You should be very, very clear about the condition of the saddle.

Mark pricetag as: BROKEN TREE. FOR DECORATION ONLY. To reduce legal liability, you may wish to throw away or compost old saddles that are no longer safe to use.

cleaning a saddle before sale is essential.

How to Find out the Size of a Horse saddle

Yes, saddles come in sizes! Smaller riders use seats that are shorter, while larger riders need a bit more room to sit comfortably without being pushed back over the back lip of the seat.

If you’re hoping to get top-dollar for your saddle, you’ll need to sell it to an actual horseback rider. And all potential buyers who are riders will want to know the seat size of your saddle. Here’s how to calculate seat size using a tape measure, according to two expert guides on saddle fitting:

Measuring English Saddles

Measure the seat of an English saddle from the nail head located on either side of the highest, front-most part of the saddle (oriented as it would be on a horse) to the middle of the highest point of the back of the seat with a yardstick or tape measure (source with photos demonstrating). For english saddles, never measure from the middle of the front of the saddle. Take the number (in inches) and that’s the saddle’s seat size. English saddle seat sizes come in 1: and .5″ increments.

Measuring Western Saddles

To calculate a western saddle’s seat size, measure the distance from the highest, front-most part of the saddle (oriented as it would be on a horse) to the stitching on the rear end of the seat. Like English saddles, this measurement in inches equals seat size. (source with illustrations demonstrating). For western saddles, you do measure from the middle of the front of the saddle.

Set a Price

Now that you know the brand, condition, and size of your saddle, and you have confirmed the inner structure is solid, it’s time to set a price for the saddle.

Ebay is a great place to compare your saddle to other saddles that have sold recently. Remember to only use “completed listings” that sold successfully to set a price. (After all, people can set any price they want!)

Decide how motivated you are to sell quickly

It’s no secret that when you need to sell something quickly, you’re likely to get a lower price for it. This is especially true of used horse saddles, which are often priced rather arbitrarily. If you’re ok with your saddle sitting in a tack store on consignment for a year, you might manage to get $1,000 for that used Pessoa jumping saddle. However, if you need the money from selling an old saddle now, be prepared to sell it at a deep discount via classified, ebay, or craigslist.

Be realistic about the price you expect to get. If you’re looking to get top dollar for your used item, you’re likely to be disappointed. But if you’re willing to accept a lower price in exchange for a quick sale, you’re more likely to be successful.

How to Sell a Horse Saddle

With all the information about your saddle, ready, it’s time to list and sell your saddle! The options for selling a horse saddle (including consignment, classifieds, or auctions) are explained in depth in my post on 5 Ways to Sell a Used Saddle– which uses the information you’ve learned here and explains how to negotiate a sale and ship a horse saddle.

Conclusion

If you want to sell a saddle, but don’t know how to determine its value, there are a few things you can do. First, research similar saddles online and see what they are selling for. Once you have a general idea of the value, you can start to narrow down your price by considering the condition of your saddle. Then, you’ll measure the seat and check the internal structure. If your saddle passes the test, you’re ready to sell as an informed seller.

If you don’t know anything about horse saddles, it is best to do some research before entering the sale. You should become roughly familiar with the different types of saddles so that you can accurately describe your saddle to potential buyers. By taking the time to learn about horse saddles before selling one, you can ensure that you get the best possible price for your saddle.

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