A good, well cared for, secondhand saddle can be often a very good buy.
It is possible to find a good quality second hand saddle for your horse that is better than a brand new saddle. But take care as second hand saddles can also have many faults caused by use on another horse.
Although there are many bargain saddles for sale - always make sure that any saddle you buy is in a safe condition and fits your horse perfectly.
A cheap saddle may end up being very expensive if your horse or pony's back is damaged as a result of an ill fitting saddle.
It is worth buying a secondhand saddle from a saddlery or saddle fitter who will check and fit the saddle - the slightly higher cost will be worth it. A reputable saddler will always be happy to supply after sales care.
Also remember that the saddle must fit the rider as well! A seat which is too large or small will make you sit in the wrong position.
You can usually tell if a saddle has been well cared for by its general appearance and the feel of the leather.
When looking at a second hand saddle look carefully for signs of damage.
Check for areas of wear on the saddle - girth straps are the most likely place to find cracked and worn leather. Scratches, scuffing and damage to the pommel and cantle may indicate that a saddle has been dropped or damaged in a fall.
If you can see any signs of repair on the saddle ask the seller why the repair was done. Avoid a saddle which has been damaged in a fall as the may be problems with the tree.
A small split in the seat of a saddle should not cause many problems and may have been patched for cosmetic reasons, but a replaced tree pocket may indicate a bigger problem.
Check for signs of loose or rotting stitching.
Make sure that the saddle nails, D-rings and girth straps are secure.
If you can see any cracks in the leather, especially the girth straps, avoid buying the saddle. Safety is much more important than saving money by buying a cheap saddle.
Ask the seller why the saddle is for sale and how they have cleaned it. Overuse of some saddle dressings can cause leather to weaken and the stitching to rot.
If you are buying the saddle privately try to get a saddler to check the saddle before you buy it. It is worth every penny to pay for this service!
Always get the fitting of the saddle checked and adjusted if necessary before using it on your horse.
An old saddle will have adapted and settled into the shape of the horse on which it was used. A good saddler will spot any areas which need to be flocked to fit your own horse or pony.
A good place to find a bargain - but buyer beware! If the seller is local it my be possible to view it before you bid.
And remember if it doesn't fit you can always put it back up for sale on eBay!