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Saddle Up for More of the Same

Aug 2, 2016

I recently came across an article from a few years ago from a trade magazine. It was an article about saddle marketers focusing on the drop in sales of saddles and tack and various comments from leading manufacturers on how they are dealing with it. The article implies that these manufacturers are creating new designs based on the perceived needs of their customers.

Marketers Are Not Listening to the Consumer

Unfortunately, most of my customers would not have access to this article, and you really would need to read it to fully appreciate my view of what was said. But I can tell you that it is a good example of how the marketers are not listening to the consumer, but are totally concerned with their sale! This is why riders continue to be disappointed when they buy expensive equipment that doesn't perform to their expectations.
This article was very misleading since it implied breakthroughs in saddle design. It was a well presented article if you just looked at the pictures and ignored the narrative. The fact is there were no real changes in the way these saddles were being designed. I hate to refer to the annoying expression "thinking outside the box" but here was a blatant example of a group of marketers stuck "inside the box".

Design Changes?

Out of seven western saddle producers interviewed only two came up with anything vaguely resembling a design change. One was simply a change in materials which isn't necessarily bad. However, a comfortable saddle has more to do with good fit than with comfy cushioning. The other was an old idea being rehashed one more time; the flex bar concept. No saddle has ever been made to fit better by concentrating on only one dimension of a tree!

Quality Control and Fair Pricing are Just Good Business

One maker mentioned light weight. There was no mention of what the weight might be but unless his saddle is under 25 lbs it doesn't qualify as light. A couple of companies didn't even mention design changes but referenced a drop in business and seemed prepared to wait for the market to recover for an increase in sales. Whoever said using better leather, producing good workmanship and concentrating on affordability was right.....but those are "givens". Quality control and fair pricing are just good business; nothing new here!
They all say today's consumer is smarter than before but they sure aren't acting like they really believe what they say.
In summary not one of them had "reinvented the wheel" of how they put a saddle together as was quoted. It was just more examples of improving on old ideas.

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