Saddle fitter.....should I ask for a refund?

Joined
9 September 2013
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Location
Peterborough
I have a new horse and needed a saddle fitting so found a person recommended by the local second hand tack shop.

The fitter charged me £75 (£20 for fuel, which I thought was a bit much as she lives 24 miles from my yard and does not drive a huge lorry/van).

I sent her an email explaining the horses size, the saddles that I had tried, as many details about the horses work, type, photographs etc etc and that my only requirement is that I wanted a black 17 inch wide GP saddle and my budget.

My horse is not especially unusual in shape or size and I had expected her to come with a few possible options. 3 days before she came a person at my yard said they had a winter for sale with changeable gullets. I phoned the saddle fitter, leaving a voicemail explaining this so that she could potentially bring a wide gullet. I did not hear from her so assumed she would bring one to fit the saddle.

On arrival she told me she did not have a wide gullet. I was very disappointed as she then could not look at the saddle and try and fit it. If she had told me this before (when i called) then I could have got one to get the saddle fitted. She told me to just buy a gullet online then video me riding in it and she would confirm if it fit. She only had two possible saddles to try on my horse, one which dd not fit at all and another in brown (when I said I only wanted black).

Therefore I have paid £75 for nothing. I still have no saddle (the wider gullet was ordered and a video done and it did not fit) and no options or even a template for future saddles. The fitter has not offered to come back or find me a suitable saddle.

Anyone got any suggestions what I should do? Feel like asking for a refund..... Annoyingly she is not a member of the Master Saddlers.
 

be positive

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9 July 2011
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I think it is too late to ask for a refund, I would have refused to pay in full on the day as she had turned up with only 1 saddle that fitted your brief so had not really kept to her side of the deal, although I am not sure I would have wanted to arrange it all by email as it would have been better to ask how many saddles she was likely to bring before booking.
I would not expect my saddler to turn up with just one saddle although he may not have one that fitted he would have a car full and a selection of gullets as standard just in case one required changing while he was fitting but I know he is unusual in that he is more interested in finding the right saddle than making money which in itself is rare.
 

ImmyS

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It does seem like a lot of money for what she provided.

My saddler initially came out with about 5 different saddles to try on, we found one that fit but was slightly too long. She charged £25 for her time.

I then found the saddle in the right saddle length, she came back with a selection of gullets, changed the gullet and adjusting the flocking, watched me ride then readjusted, for £45 and then charged the same again about 5 months later to do the same again as he had changed shape so much. I think this is reasonable and she’s always keen to find a good fit for the horse.

Horse professionals are like anything else, there are good and bad and some just might not suit you or your horses needs. I’d just put it down to experience and look out for another recommended saddler.
 

sbloom

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14 September 2011
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Suffolk
Difficult, the fitter may not have got your message, but if they have said that they did, then I would ask them to come back out with no callout charge once you have the headplate. I always get photos of any horse I am going to see to fit a saddle from scratch, then if I don't have anything suitable I can inform them and we can then decide what to do.
 

honetpot

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I think most only sell the stock they have and hope that they can persuade you that one is right for you horse.
I asked a saddle fitter if she had a brown, wide to extra wide fit WH show saddle in a 17inch brown. I paid £50 for her to come and show me non of those, she did get the brown part, and was adamant that something that was shown to pinch the ponies shoulder would fit. They are sales people.
I bought what I wanted on Preloved. This is why I have five saddles of varying widths stored and am loath to part with them.
 

Ambers Echo

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How frustrating! Unfortunately some people are just not very good at what they do/not very helpful. You could perhaps have refused to pay the full amount on the day but I agree with BP that it is probably too late for a refund.
 

Pearlsasinger

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I am afraid that I too would have refused to pay the full amount on the day, it's too late afterwards to ask for a refund. I certainly wouldn't employ this person again.
 

SEL

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Buckinghamshire
I've been in a similar situation where the saddler actually got quite annoyed with me for not parting with £1700 for a saddle she kept saying fitted the horse, despite the vet osteo's instructions we were not to go above 16.5". I had told her a shorter saddle was required before the visit, but she kept insisting the 17" would be fine because of where the last rib was (ignoring the croup high mare in front of her!). I actually don't think they had any 16.5" in stock and would prefer to have known that before I parted with £80 for a visit. To be honest the measuring they did from the last rib and around the withers I can do myself - but I was paying them because the mare is a bit of an odd shape and a standard MW 17" doesn't work.
 
Joined
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Wow, that is expensive. Thats more than my vet charges to come out and have a look at my horses old injury and he was there a hour. I now only use a fully qualified master saddler who makes saddles, all leather goods etc. The chap I use is £55 per visit, plus fuel if so far away, but if he hasn't found one to fit he tends to reduce the cost by £15+

I used a local tack shop before, she was £25 and I used her as she was cheaper, she told me the saddle fitted I had bought. Horse started bronking, got my usual master saddler out and it was 3 gullets to narrow. My master saddler said many saddlers aren't even qualified and just attend a 3 day course.

I'd move on, forget about it, don't recommend her and find a decent master saddler.
 

SpringArising

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That's a joke! £75?

I pay £45 including callout, which includes as much time as needed to look at the saddle and see me ride in it multiple times before/after adjusting.

I wouldn't trust any saddle fitter who said they can tell me if a saddle fits from a video either. Can you PM me who it is as you are not far from me?
 

apercrumbie

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While £75 is a bit steep, if they had brought a good selection of suitable saddles and I had found the ideal one, I wouldn't have begrudged it too much. To only turn up with two saddles, one being outside of what you specified, is seriously poor. I think I would write her an email explaining that you were disappointed with the service, particularly given the cost, and then chalk it up to an annoying day and find someone else!
 
Joined
5 February 2016
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That's a joke! £75?

I pay £45 including callout, which includes as much time as needed to look at the saddle and see me ride in it multiple times before/after adjusting.
£45 including call our for checking, adjusting flocking, and watching your ride in it a few times, seems too cheap for a quality professional to make a sustainable living from. Assuming you aren't within 5 minutes of saddler.

By the time include transport cost, insurance, CPD, cost of living etc. doesn't seem like much.
 

SpringArising

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£45 including call our for checking, adjusting flocking, and watching your ride in it a few times, seems too cheap for a quality professional to make a sustainable living from. Assuming you aren't within 5 minutes of saddler.

By the time include transport cost, insurance, CPD, cost of living etc. doesn't seem like much.
Well, I'm not going to complain!
 
Joined
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I had the same earlier this summer new horse needed a saddle .fitter charged £70 to come brought 3 saddles that were way more than my budget which I had already given her and she had said she would bring saddles in that price range. Then suggested I use my other horses saddle with a pad saw me ride in it thought it fitted 4 days later horse had sore back. So sorted it all myself in the end with a vsd I had so will probably be the only person in the country hunting and sj a vsd .lol
 

Polos Mum

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I agree too late to complain now. I have called to check what people are bringing the day before and if they only have 1-2 in my budget/ size/ colour I ask them to call me when they have some more !
 
Joined
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I would not have paid. I had one saddler who, knowing my budget and what I needed, appeared with 2 saddles who were way over budget although they did fit. He did not charge me for a call out. He came back when he had a suitable saddle and I paid for the saddle plus £25 I think. The second saddle fitter I used did not charge for any call outs/ fittings but he lives 5 miles away and I bought a m2m saddle from him.
 
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I recently paid £25 for a call out and tried 4 saddles and she was there the best part of 2 hours. I ended up ordering one as I knew I was likely to but well worth the saddlers time.

She lives on the other side of the county.
 

asmp

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My saddler is a master saddler and if she doesn't have anything to fit our horses, she'll tell us exactly what to look out for.
 

Wheels

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I recently paid £25 for a call out and tried 4 saddles and she was there the best part of 2 hours. I ended up ordering one as I knew I was likely to but well worth the saddlers time.

She lives on the other side of the county.
Wowzers she must make an absolute huge margin on all her sales to be able to work for that kind of money! If she was the other side of the country that might only cover her fuel, what about time, carrying stock, insurance etc as someone said above. I'm all for a bargain but that must be seriously unsustainable unless she is making a very good profit from sales in which case is it really a bargain for the purchaser or is it better to pay a little more for the fitting and less for the saddle (not aimed at you specifically just a general observation / comment)
 

AandK

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Wowzers she must make an absolute huge margin on all her sales to be able to work for that kind of money! If she was the other side of the country that might only cover her fuel, what about time, carrying stock, insurance etc as someone said above. I'm all for a bargain but that must be seriously unsustainable unless she is making a very good profit from sales in which case is it really a bargain for the purchaser or is it better to pay a little more for the fitting and less for the saddle (not aimed at you specifically just a general observation / comment)
The post says county, not country. But either way, I agree £25 is not much at all.
 
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I have a saddler who charges £50 to come to my yard and spend a goodly amount of time adjusting my 100 year old sidesaddle. I can ride in walk, trot and canter on a circle with a very loose girth and it won't move. I have commissioned other saddlers to check my astride saddles and been charged over £100 for a cursory glance. A local tackshop has a saddle fitter who is absolutely woeful so it can only be about moving stock. It is a real minefield.
 
Joined
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Which area are you from?
I pay £65 for my saddler to come out, but that includes around 3 hours of trying on 15+ saddles, riding in ones that fit to see if they suit me also etc. He’s very precise and it all has to be perfect.
 

sbloom

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We still don't know if she got your message, I think that's critical before we can make a judgement. I think always worth checking that the fitter has all the info required. Some very cheap saddle fitters on here (and master saddlers are qualified to MAKE not fit saddles, some of those that got their MS before the qualified saddle fitter qualification cam out will have had a decent amount of fitting training but many won'r). And yes there are ones out there that "qualify", and I have seen one describe herself as "fully qualified" when she posts on FB, in three days but that is only ONE company, many non-qualified fitters are well trained and experienced.

We all need to make a living, I did a 15 hour day yesterday, and do usually 2-3 of those plus a another half day on the road, then hours of admin, customer service, marketing...not forgetting direct and indirect costs such as van, fuel, insurance etc...I get a little upset when someone makes a meal of my callout, and I agree that if they're not making it on the callout (or fitting fee which I gather some fitters are charging even on brand new saddles?!), they must be making it on their profit margins. Or doing it as a hobby.

£25 covers 10 miles ie 5 miles each way at the Inland Revenue's recommended rate (after 45p for the first 10k miles).
 
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