Solo Saddlers Wide Featherweight Review - Zaid Mahomedy
I received the saddle a month ago, and was really excited to get it out and used, and I must say - I was not disappointed!
My initial thoughts when unboxing:
A very neat saddle, well thought about design, easy to adjust panels for the different shape of the horse's back, with a convenient adjustable girth position placement option. The material seemed nice and strong, the seat very soft to the touch, and the stirrup leathers covered with the neoprene protectors, ending in broad tread stirrups with cages.
I was worried about the twist width (which is wide) as I am a very thin person, and I have had trouble with other saddles that had wide twists, which usually causes me some discomfort.
My background - I ride and train horses for endurance, do trail riding, and backing/schooling of horses.
I saddled up a mare that was quite a skittish horse normally, and that would spook at a lot things. This was a good starting point as I could test out how secure I felt if she did spook at anything. I would classify her as a medium-wide sized horse.
When I mounted, the first thing I felt was a sense of the saddle sucking me into it, something I, and the others who tested it later, couldn't really explain. The saddle grabbed me and held me firmly in place, but in a good, comfortable manner. What I also noticed was that the twist didn't affect me at all, because the stirrup position was directly below me, and didn't cause my legs to be hanging ahead of me, and out of balance.
The ride went really smoothly, the mare didn't spook much at anything, she was really free in her movement and extended herself very well (her trot was at such a good pace, the other horses were cantering behind to keep up). After the ride, I ran my hand down her back, checking for any sign of discomfort/sensitivity, and there was none.
Other horses ridden:
I used the saddle on our stallion, who is easily classified as medium-wide, but more on the wider side. He is very finicky about saddles, and will buck really badly if he is not happy.
I initially took him out for a 10km ride, doing the different gaits at different speeds, and there was absolutely no trouble from him. He seemed extremely relaxed with it, and didn't even think of bucking, which was really good. We did a few more rides in the saddle with him, with a similar outcome (finding a saddle that worked on him well was difficult - we have had a few saddles tried, and the Solo Wide Featherweight is just one of two saddles that has worked well).
Thereafter I tried it on a wide Friesan gelding, who I am currently training. After adjusting the velcro pads to the widest setting, I placed it on his back and checked the saddle fit - it was very good - complete spinal clearance, free shoulder movement, and it wasn't too long - it was ideal. He worked well in it and didn't have any pressure spots/sensitivity after the ride. I used it for another 3 sessions, and I got the same results.
My final thoughts and conclusion:
I, and the others that used it, tested it on a few horses (I myself have now ridden 120km + in it, the last ride being a 30km training ride), in different conditions (we took horses for training rides, easy hacks, swimming), and our thoughts are quite similar - it is a great saddle, very secure , comfortable, and works well on the larger/wider, as well as the medium sized horses. Not one of the horses had a sensitive/sore back after a ride. It is definitely a saddle we recommend!
Being fully waterproof is a big bonus, as it allows us to take the horses into the dam,without worrying about the saddle getting damaged, and if it does get dirty - a simple wash with the hose and its clean again!
If you are a happy hacker, trail rider, endurance rider, or just want a comfortable saddle to use while doing a relaxed ride - this saddle will definitely suit you, and you should give it a try!
If there was anything I would say could be improved on - I think the saddle should have a few D-rings added on to attach items (breastplate, bottle holder, crupper at the back etc).
I am grateful and thankful to Solo Saddlery for the opportunity, and look forward to many more rides in this saddle!
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