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The facts on the making of Australian Saddles - where and why?
Australian Made Saddles: Many customers ask "why are the genuine Australian made saddles so expensive?". Firstly, in Australia the minimum wage is quite high for experienced tradespeople. It requires five years of apprenticeship to become a saddle maker in Australia. In addition, any good hand-made Australian saddle takes as long as 40 hours to complete. Then there is the cost of using the very best saddle leather. Both Towoomba Saddlery and Syd Hill Saddles use Hermann Oak leather from Missouri, widely considered the best skirting leather in the world. Australian made saddles are also constructed using the best lock-stitch sewing machines and automated cutting tools. Then you have the cost of importing the saddle (freight, customs, etc.) and finally the fact that the exchange rate for the Australian dollar is quite unfavorable at the time. If you see a new leather Aussie saddle for less than $2,000, it is highly unlikely that it was made in Australia, regardless of what name is on the saddle. Are they worth it? Absolutely. You will not find a better made saddle anywhere, and an Australian saddle (taken care of) is a lifetime investment.
I think I can get one cheaper: Some people think they can purchase an Australian made saddle for less money when they visit Australia on vacation. Firstly, most of the saddles we offer are designed for the export market to fit the horse breeds within this particular country. It is unlikely you will find the saddle you need to suit your horse in a Australian saddle shop. Most of these saddle shops have 4 or 5 saddles on the floor, whereas we carry over 1,000 saddles in stock. We have something to suit almost any horse, rider and budget. In addition, what happens if the saddle doesn't fit your horse and you need to make an exchange?
What about making the same Saddles here in the U.S.? Australian saddles have many advantages over other saddles, however they are also the most difficult and time consuming saddles to make. Several US companies have tried to come up with an Aussie saddle, but overall these saddles have many shortcomings. Many of the actual advantages of the Aussie saddle are lost due to companies trying to commercially produce a product that is normally hand-made. A quality Australian made saddle can take up to 40 hours to make. So to reduce this time will reduce the overall quality and the many benefits of an Australian saddle. We know of no company in the U.S. making Australian style saddles on a quantity basis. If you hear of one, let us know!
Asian made Saddles: If you want the very best, then there is no doubt you should buy one of our Syd Hill or Toowoomba saddles. However, for most people the price is outside their budget. That is why we introduced our Kimberley Series Saddles, back in the 1980's. Over the years, we have also moved production of the Down Under Collection Australian saddles and Exmoor Collection English saddles to Asia as well.
How are our Asian Saddles Different? Firstly, many catalog and internet companies purchase the lowest price Aussie style saddle out of India. These saddles cost the importer around $60 to $80 each and they often sell them for less than $200, a very nice profit on a sub-standard product. These saddles are generally made from a painted (pigmented) leather that is poorly tanned and will not accept leather oil. Accordingly, the saddle leather gets much drier over time - this is what is referred to as cardboard leather. As it dries out it tears fairly easily, creating a serious safety issue for the rider. Furthermore, many of these saddles are not rigged correctly, and are difficult if not almost impossible to tighten the girth enough to stop the saddle slipping on the horse. But really, what does one expect for such a low price? Nothing changes when it comes to saddles, you get what you pay for. You cannot spend the least and expect the most - quality & satisfaction comes at a certain price. Unfortunately, thousands of these low quality saddles have been sold in the US over the last 20 years, and these saddles seldom work for the purchaser and generally end up being offered in magazine advertisements, generic websites, and on-line auctions. There has been a flourishing saddle industry in India ever since the British occupation - over 200 years. There are extremely talented saddle makers in India and they can produce beautiful saddles if you are willing to pay to have it done correctly. If you want a super cheap saddle, they can make those, but they might not be suitable for horseback riding.
Our Kimberley and Down Under Series Saddles: We do not sell cheap Asian made saddles. Our Kimberley and Down Under saddles are quality saddles, backed by a 2 year to 10 year product warranty (depending on saddle model). We have long term relationships with reputable manufacturers, and our saddles are made exclusively for us to our strict quality and materials standards. The saddles are made to our design, and we know that they will work correctly - we've tested them ourselves. We personally meet with our manufacturers on a consistent basis to work on product improvements and quality control.
Whether you spend $375.00 or $995.00 with Down Under, you can be assured of the best value Aussie saddle available for the price anywhere in the World. Our Kimberley Saddles are all hand-made from a soft naked leather, that will further soften after additional oiling and use. The stitching thread is nylon bonded, to ensure that everything, even the stitching, is long lasting and very durable. Our Kimberley Saddles have an extremely high reputation and with proper care will serve the customer well for many years. The Down Under Series saddles have even higher quality leather and special attention to detail during production.
The Kimberley Series and Down Under Series saddles are the next best thing to purchasing a genuine Australian made saddle. See what our customers say about our Saddles.
Additionally, all of our Kimberley and Down Under saddles have adjustable saddle trees, that we can custom adjust to fit nearly any breed of horse. Find out more about horse fitment.
Honesty, Integrity & Support: The most important consideration is not how much you spend on a saddle, or even what series you purchase. Instead, you should carefully consider from which Company you intend to purchase and how helpful and knowledgable they are. It is extremely important that you can get the specialized assistance you need, both before and after the sale, to ensure you experience the many benefits available from an Australian Saddle. Australian saddles are very different and require a certain expertise in making sure you purchase the correct type of saddle for your particular horse breed, along with the right saddle for your riding style. Down Under has this expertise - no one knows more about Australian saddles and the customer's requirements than Down Under.
Find out more about Australian saddles.
Note: Colors of the products my vary slightly from the photos due to differences in computer monitor displays, dye lot variations, effects of lighting, etc.
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