Monday, August 24, 2015

Pre-product review - Philippe Fontaine saddles

I might have a slight addiction problem known as tack-a-holism. But when there is a deal that is too good to pass up, the temptation totally outweighs the voice in my head that says "you really dont need this."

You could say I made a slightly impulsive purchase when Stubben advertised their summer half price saddle sale. I honestly only went in to window shop to make myself feel slightly better about doing something with my horse taking some time off and losing progress in our training by the day. Well I came out with not one, but two new saddles. That's right NEW!

I did sit on them for a day before pulling the trigger...and did my due diligence and did some research. Surprisingly little came up, but the little that did all said nice saddle for the price.

So I went ahead and decided for the price they were selling, why not give it a try!

 Philippe Fontaine Lyon
This is considered their hunter/jumper model. Unfortunately it may be too small as all they had left was a 16.5," but I am hopeful as I do fit in this seat in some brands. Also they only had it in a wide tree - right out of the box does not seem wide (which is better for my narrower ottb). My biggest dislike right off, which knew before buying them, is they are foam flocked. I prefer wool so adjust and change as needed...I guess I can change that down the road if I love it that much. PF boasts the saddle is on their E-motion tree and memory-Flex panels. The brown is a lovely color and not too light or red or any weird shades that, in my experience, wear and fade terribly lighter. 

(* Just a note that Stubben acquired Philippe Fontaine back in 2011 according to my research. Stubben distributes and sells these saddles but does not manufacture them)

The Philippe fontaine website's description of the Lyon: Excellence in performance begins with a well balanced saddle. The hunter/jumper Lyon is designed with a wider seat and a lower center of gravity and is crafted in soft doubled leather. Rider position and security are enhanced by correctly placed front blocks and supportive rear blocks on Velcro. The close contact French style panels are sculpted wider to provide a larger contact area on your horse's back.

The Philippe fontaine website's description of the E-Motion Tree:The E-Motion tree is an integrated spring tree and panel system. This unique tree has a narrow twist and a balanced center of gravity and features a low pommel and a semi cut-back head. It provides controlled flexibility and impact absorption. The tree will flex at all points of pressure. A very limited number of tree widths are needed, as the tree points flex in use and adapt to the horse’s conformation. The E-Motion tree is light weight, immune to extreme heat or cold, and retains its shape, and recessed stirrup bars eliminate the bulk of stirrup leather buckles.

Initial thoughts:  The leather feels buttery soft and nice quality. Some of the stitching seems a bit messy, which Ill try to get a close up shot of...not a huge deal and most likely why it was in their half off bin. The tree width seems narrow for "wide" which I am not complaining about but I have read their trees all tend to run narrow and curvy. I am anxious to sit in them, but the padding feels soft, but not too overdone being a "close contact." The velcro block is nice to adjust, though not a huge area to move it if you for some reason wanted it moved somewhere a bit more outside the allowable area.

  Philippe Fontaine Royan
This is considered one of their dressage models. I love it in person even more than their stock photo online. It got a bit wrinkled in the delivery process, but the flap has more definition or nuances than in the photo. 

The Philippe fontaine website's description of the Royan:  The Royan is covered in extra supple and durable leather with an attractive stitching detail. The soft padded seat and knee areas offer extra comfort. The Royan is built on the E-Motion tree with memoryflex foam panels, and has concealed knee rolls and two long dressage billets. The front billet is attached to the tree point to stabilize the saddle’s contact area.

Initial thoughts:  The leather feels buttery soft and nice quality just like the Lyon. The Billets seem a bit stiff, but being brand new imagine some conditioning and breaking that in will change that. I guess it was more noticeable on this one being they are longer...Some stitching again seems weird, but could be why it was in the half off bin or just something Ill need to look at closer and clean it up. I like this one also seems to have a closer contact feel or build compared to some other dressage saddles and not too ridiculously padded flaps so I can still feel my horse's sides under my leg.

All in all both saddles are nicely made for the cost. I am anxious to sit in each and give them a spin to update here! 


  1. Oooh I like the stitching on the first saddle a lot. Curious to see how they feel when you ride in them! :)

    Can you reflock/replace the foam with wool?

    1. Yes, my thoughts were to do just that if i decide i like them :) Unfortunately, the day i went to try them out my mare came in needing stitches so Ill have to wait that much longer.

    2. Yes, my thoughts were to do just that if i decide i like them :) Unfortunately, the day i went to try them out my mare came in needing stitches so Ill have to wait that much longer.

  2. oooh exciting!! so many new things to play with! what does this mean for your Stubben? just curious bc i'm back to contending with the idea that my bates really might not work for isabel ugh....