Product review: Arena Saddles, for the rider of any discipline

When I first bought my off-track Thoroughbred, I was still riding regularly in a saddle my parents had bought for me more than 15 years ago. It was probably a little too small, given how many years had passed and the fact that I wasn’t in high school anymore. But it had been instilled in me – by my parents and my trainer – to take care of my own stuff.

So the saddle was still in fine working order. The only problem was, it didn’t fit my horse.

Saddle shopping is hard.

For one, it’s a huge investment. It wasn’t easy to explain to my husband why I had to fork over so much money for a new one. Secondly, finding the right saddle that fits both you and your horse can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. There was a lot of trial and error along the way. And third – I was constantly worried that after running the credit card, I would be hit by a freight train with buyer’s remorse. What happened if this saddle seemed great now, but what about in six months, when my horse’s back changed as he grew to be more fit?

Arena Saddles is a brand that was new to me when I stumbled across it for the first time just recently. But the quality European leather and overall craftsmanship made them stand out right away.

The first time I rode in their jumping saddle, my legs and seat felt right at home. The removable knee (and thigh) blocks put my position in just the right place. The wide, and just deep enough seat, made me feel secure and in-tune with my horse. The saddle is comfortable for a grueling, hour-long jump lesson with my trainer, or a hack out in the back pasture, or even for a long trail ride. I’m never thinking about sore muscles or a pinch on my leg somewhere.

My tricky Thoroughbred seemed to enjoy the fit just as much as me. As I predicted, his body has changed quite a bit since I first bought him as his fitness level increased. He has huge shoulders and therefore can be difficult to fit. But the part I loved most about the Arena Saddles brand is their fitting system, which allows me to use exchangeable gullets, essentially making sure that fit will never be a problem for us again.

Arena Saddles is competitive on price but doesn’t skimp on quality. I see many years of riding in this saddle in my future. Maybe I can break our past 15-year record. 

Review by: Justine Griffin / Reproduced with permission from Heels Down Media