Prestige Meredith Saddle
Retail Price: $3,400
What I Paid: $3,000
Purchased: February 2014
Prestige Meredith Saddle Review
Last winter I found myself in desperate need of a new saddle. I had a vague idea of what I wanted, but not much clue about what I needed. After a long and arduous search, I met a Prestige rep through a fellow blogger [thanks a million Emily!] who brought several models for Miles and I to try. In the end, the Prestige Meredith saddle won out and I ordered it the next day. For those that are unfamiliar with the brand, Prestige Italia was founded in 1974 and built around the concept that “the saddle must be developed around a tree of new design, characterized by the utmost flexibility, intended to distribute the weight of the rider uniformly over the horse’s back, and able to adapt to different morphologies.” The company is represented by professional riders such as Nona Garson, Lucy Davis, Meredith Michaels Beerbaum, Ian Miller and Sinead Halpin.
Prestige saddles are what I would consider “semi-custom” because they offer several customizable options beyond what you’d expect to find with brands at your local tack store, such as leather type, flap size and shape, knee and thigh block size, etc. Additionally, Prestige saddle trees are measured in centimeters, not your typical medium, wide, etc. In my opinion, this gives you the option for a closer fit for your horse and the rep will take wither tracings and measurements to send to the master saddlers in Italy to confirm the size you need. The best thing about the Prestige saddle trees though is that they are somewhat adjustable. My understanding of the process is that the trees can be changed +/- approx. 2 cm throughout the lifetime of the saddle. You have to send the saddle to the NJ warehouse and it costs around $400, but that’s still way cheaper than buying a new saddle if you end up needing a different size.
Another really cool feature of these saddles are the billet straps. My understanding is that on many saddle brands, two of the three billet straps are actually attached to the saddle tree at the same place. This means that it really doesn’t matter which two straps you use to attach the girth. But on Prestige saddles, all three billets are attached at slightly different places, which allows you to ever so slightly change the balance of the saddle depending on which ones you use. I was super skeptical of this proclamation at first, but I’ve found it to be 110% accurate. I notice a difference in balance depending on which billets I use with Miles, and I’ve found I use different configurations to fit differently shaped horses.
Okay, okay. Enough about the brand — what I do think of this saddle? It’s amazing. For all the horror stories I’ve heard of ordering custom saddles, my experience was painless. The Prestige rep came to my barn and I tried several different models. Then she measured Miles and we talked about options. The rep told me to sleep on the decision for a few days; she wouldn’t allow me to order on the spot which I greatly appreciated. I never once felt obligated or pressured to buy. The saddle took about 6 weeks to come in and was shipped with free leathers and leather balm. It came out of the box beautiful and ready to go; the calfskin is deliciously beautiful, smooth, soft and supple; I had absolutely no break-in time.
I love the design of this saddle, although I don’t believe this model is for everyone. It feels like you’re sitting on a cloud, but the seat is fairly deep [which I happen to really like]. It allows me to feel secure and I’m able to really “sink down” into a nice, rocking canter but at the same time, I don’t have trouble getting up out of it for half seat or two point. The medium-sized knee and thigh blocks really help stabilize my leg position; I never realized I was fighting against my previous saddle until I sat in the Prestige Meredith!
Miles loves the saddle too! It has great wither clearance which is difficult to find for my high-withered Thoroughbred and the panels are great for his long, flat back. He moves more freely in this saddle than he ever did in my old saddle and I can tell it’s allowed his shoulder a much larger range of motion.
So far, the saddle has held up perfectly to regular use over the last year. It cleans up perfectly with a bit of Higher Standards Leather Soap and Prestige Balm; the leather is as supple and soft as ever with hardly any signs of wear, and the Prestige rep has continued to be amazing. I’ve emailed and texted her a few times since the purchase with questions and she’s always been prompt and responsive.
Saddles are very personal purchases; it has to feel right for both you and your horse. I believe that not every model or every brand is right for all horses or riders. With that said though, I highly recommend the Prestige brand and it’s definitely worth trying out. The quality is amazing [especially for the price], the customer service I’ve received has been outstanding and overall the make a high-quality, excellent product.