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If you take care of it, your saddle could last you years so it's important to take the time to research properly to make sure you get the right one for you.


Saddles
When you're looking for a saddle, whether it is brand new or second hand, it's always important to know whether to look for leather or synthetic.
We put together this guide to give you the difference between the two so you can make the decision:
Leather
Leather saddle for horsesA leather saddle has the potential to last a lifetime if, and it is a big if, it is made from good, top quality leather and is well looked after. Sweat, rain and damp storage conditions will destroy leather if it’s not regularly cleaned and oiled, meaning regular maintenance is a must.Western Leather saddle
Head of design, research and development at Albion, Paul Belton believes you simply can’t beat the feel offered by leather saddles: “For me feel is the most important consideration,” he says. “If the rider feels good they will ride better, and if the horse feels good he will perform better. Whether you feel more comfortable in a leather or synthetic saddle is very much a personal choice, but I’ve always ridden in leather saddles because they mould very well to both you and your horse, especially when a natural wool flocking is used.
Mexican Leather Saddle“The other considerable advantage leather saddles have is that they absorb heat and sweat, whereas synthetics can be like wrapping a poultice round the horse’s back,” Paul continues. “This can actually weaken the muscles and is a particularly important consideration if you’re planning to event your horse.”        
Paul has worked with leather and synthetic materials at Albion and although leather is still his personal preference, he believes world-wide shortages of leather along with improvements in the performance of synthetic saddles could lead manufactures traditionally known for working with leather to increasingly develop alternative ranges. 
Racing leather saddle“Four weeks ago Russia stopped supplying China with leather,” Paul explains. “Having lost their major supply, China is now buying up leather from European suppliers meaning English saddlers are having to fight for supplies of good quality leather. It seems inevitable that there will come a time when we have to think about using alternative materials.”
Synthetic
Once upon a time synthetic saddles were seen as a very short term solution, but they’ve come a long way from when they first started out covered in a cheap nylon fabric, usually wearing out after only a year. Nowadays they can be difficult to distinguish from all leather saddles and with routine care will last 10 years or more. While they probably won't become a family heirloom, to be passed on from one generation to the next, their durability is considerable, especially when you take into account their very reasonable price point.
Synthetic racinng SaddleThe appearance of leather look materials mean it’s hard to beat synthetic ranges like those offered by Tekna: “You can buy a brand new synthetic saddle for the same price you would pay for a second hand leather saddle,” Aimee says. “None of the saddles in the new Tekna range exceed £500.”
In addition to the significant cost savings Aimee says synthetic saddles are usually more lightweight than their leather counterparts and much easier to maintain. 
Synthetic saddle for horse riding
“There are now many synthetic materials on the market that are soft and pliable like leather but are not affected by rain and can simply be wiped clean with a damp cloth,” she explains. “The weight of synthetic saddles is also a big draw. Because the saddles weigh so much less, they are easier for children or smaller adults to lift, and the lighter load can benefit veteran or younger horses too. In addition, synthetic saddles tend to be very versatile and will often be able to accommodate hard to fit horses.”
 

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