The combination of a horse blanket and saddle is comparable to the suspension on a vehicle. This is the area where the rider feels the horse and the horse feels the rider. Much like the suspension under your car feeling and responding to the weight of cargo, riding is a two-way interdependent relationship.
While comfort is important for both horse and rider, it is important to maintain a balance between comfort and safety. What is comfortable and safe in an arena setting may not be comfortable and safe in the backcountry. For example, think of how the suspension on some 4x4 vehicles does the job for a specific application; it’s not necessarily designed for the comfort of the rider once you take the car off road. Similarly, some saddles are specifically designed with function or comfort in mind, occasionally sacrificing one for the other.
What we are looking for in a saddle is the ultimate combination of efficiency, safety and comfort. You could compare this kind of saddle with the rugged quality of a Range Rover or Jeep Cherokee, which also maintain comfort and luxury for the rider.
Like 4x4 vehicles, saddles and saddle blankets come in many shapes, colors, sizes and price levels. Many people pay a lot of attention to how the saddle looks. If you ride the country we ride and put in as many hours as our guests do, saddle comfort becomes your highest priority.
After considering all of this, we often forget to ask the most important question of all: Is this saddle good for the horse? Is the saddle comfortable for the horse? Does it leave ugly, uncomfortable rubs where the horsehair turns white when it grows back? Does your horse still look relaxed when you put your saddle on? How about sore backs, which can result in bucking?
The Hideout Saddles
The Hideout has quality horses, saddles and equipment. We add and update saddles on a yearly basis. For The Hideout saddles, we try to find a middle-of-the-road saddle that provides comfort and quality for a reasonable price, as we have 40-odd saddles that we use on a regular basis.
The AH Saddles
In the pursuit of increasing the quality of the experience of horse and rider, we listened to feedback from some of our experienced riders and guests. One of the suggestions was to have super saddles available. Many guests agreed that they would be willing to pay extra to ride in a top-notch saddle. From a financial point of view, however, it would be hard to justify investing in 40 such saddles at once.
So, last year we had several guests try out different quality saddles, and the saddle used by our trainers and Marijn turned out to be the most popular saddle, by far. Naturally, it is also the most expensive saddle at a cost of approximately $4,500 a piece without excessive tooling, stirrups, breast collars, etc.
One of our guests, who strongly believed in the idea of luxury saddles at The Hideout, decided to buy us eight of those saddles. We shopped around and started to add professional custom and handmade saddles of the highest quality at The Hideout in 2011.
This process is how the AH Saddles were born. Saddles carrying the AH brand of Authentic Horses are, much like our horses who carry this brand, carefully selected and are made with the highest quality.
All of these AH Saddles are custom made, one at a time, to specifications stipulated by the customer. Many factors are considered in the construction of these saddles, including the types of horses that the saddle will be used on, type of rider, size of rider, saddle dimensions, rigging styles, seat styles, horn styles, cantle type, cantle height and tooling patterns.
Anyone who has studied the history of the American horse knows that horses came to America with the Spaniards, who learned horsemanship from the cultures of North Africa. The Spanish conquistadors influenced the Mexican riding traditions, which in turn inspired the Californian horse history and culture and evolved into Western Horsemanship.
Considering this, it should not come as a surprise that good saddles are derived from the Spanish saddle, which is one of the best and most comfortable saddles for both horse and rider. They are built by hand on a custom Spanish-inspired wade type tree.
Unlike most Western saddles, the front of these saddles are narrow for increased comfort. The big horn with a high pitch (32 degrees) is called the Guadalajara style, which is a very common horn type on Spanish-style saddles. This horn and tree are strong enough to handle bull roping, and the large surface area of the horn makes it less dangerous if a rider accidentally bounces their chest on the horn. Overall, it’s one of the safest saddle designs on the market.
The Saddle Tree
Our saddles do not cut corners when it comes to trees. We only use the best trees, and are of the bar tree pattern that fits horses very well. A well-fit high quality tree prevents injuries and our horses feel comfortable, even during long, taxing all-day rides. The comfort of the horse adds to a safe riding experience.
The Leather & Lining
The leather on our saddles is the highest quality American made Herman Oak. Our saddle makers personally inspect each side of leather that goes into these saddles to ensure that the leather is uniform, consistent and free of defects. The saddle is lined with the finest 100% pure wool, not the acrylic fleece found in many mass-produced factory saddles.
All leather has a smooth and a rough side. The rough side looks like suede. Tooling is done on the smooth side, while the rough side it is more abrasion resistant. As you ride a rough-out saddle, it will smooth out around the pressure points of the rider, giving it a unique appearance.
Our saddles are “half breeds,” which means that some parts are rough-out and the tooled areas are smooth. The saddles are unique works of art, crafted individually by hand one at a time. Together with our saddle makers, we strive to maintain the individuality of our saddles and make sure that no two saddles are exactly alike.
No matter what the customer desires in a saddle, we will do our best to craft an individual, personal saddle that will meet the customer's specifications and needs. If properly cared for, these saddles should last a lifetime.
Since these saddles are very expensive and we partner with the guest who invested in these saddles, we ask an extra fee of $250 / week per guest to ride in and use these saddles.