I've had that particular saddle for 17 years. Before that, I had a smaller Crosby. My wonderful friend Dorrie, who was basically my third parent and is responsible for me getting show miles and falling in love with jumpers, only had a tack room full of Crosbies. I had literally never ridden in anything else until I started teaching at the lesson barn from hell last year and occasionally had to hop on a horse who had a Collegiate or a Wintec on.
Then one day Tracy let me ride the wonderful Miles, and she'd just gotten her Prestige Meredith. That was the first high-quality saddle I'd ever sat in. It was too small for me because I've got freakish conformation, but it was so nice. That planted a kernel in my brain: Maybe, just maybe, there is something to nice saddles. Maybe, someday, I could own one myself.
I made a deal with myself: when I get tenure, I'll get a new (used) saddle. A CWD, Devoucoux, or Antarés. Or maybe a Prestige! I'd enjoyed Tracy's, after all. Well, maybe I don't have to wait until I get tenure. Maybe just when I get a real job. Or maybe just when I've saved up the money.
Then Lex started bucking and rearing and generally being a pig. It was ulcers, of course, but the point remained: the Crosby wasn't helping me at all. I'd joked many times that it was just a piece of leather to hold the stirrups on, and that's true. It was hard and slippery, and wasn't gonna help me over the big jumps. M rode in it one day and was like, "This thing has got to go." (She rides in a Smith-Worthington, for what it's worth, and I think she has Devoucoux dreams.)
So then it became, I really need a new saddle now. SprinklerBandit enabled, as she does, thank god. I had a pretty low budget, even with my mom's help, so I wasn't super optimistic. I tried a couple: an Antarés that fit Lex perfectly and didn't fit me (I need a very forward flap), a Devoucoux that fit me great and didn't fit her at all. And then I just happened to check frenchusedsaddles.com, and they just happen to be about an hour from me. And they had a very well-loved but quite usable Antarés in a 17.5" (my smallest possible size) and a 5AAA flap--as forward/long as a flap gets.
I wasn't quite sure at first: I'd heard that Antarés tips people forward sometimes. I have enough problems with that on my own. But after a couple of rides in it, I'm totally sold. It really helps me out. When things go pear-shaped during a ride, it's like, "Hang in there, buddy. We're in this together." Whereas the Crosby was like, "See ya on the flip siiiiiiide!"
The saddle is full calfskin, which is an adjustment. I'm pretty constantly worried about scratching it, especially putting it on the saddle racks, because the flaps are so forward that they're likely to get scratched on the wall. My Smartpak lined leathers (pictured above) would probably have been fine but I decided to get used Antarés leathers on eBay just to be sure. But I know everyone loves calfskin, so I'm doing my best to stop worrying and love the softness.
Now, of course, I have to stop myself from buying All the Antarés Accessories. I no longer have a tack budget for the year. Please remind me of that. The good news is, Lex wouldn't look so good in an Antarés bridle, so I can't buy one of those.
Before I panic myself about my financial state (which is just fine, if I don't buy any more crap), I'll wrap up this review by saying that I am thrilled to pieces with the new saddle and can't wait to ride my horses in it.