Custom Saddle Pricing
If you’ve ever pined for a quality custom saddle made just for you, to your exact specifications, you’ve probably discovered that they don’t come cheap.
Quality custom saddles that use quality materials (i.e. wood tree, premium leather, stainless steel or brass hardware) and quality craftsmanship techniques with no shortcuts, and are created by an experienced and skilled saddlemaker will generally run from $2500 to $3500 for a base model. Prices of saddles from the top flight makers (Rick Bean, Cary Swarz, Dale Harwood, John Willemsma, Chas Weldon, to name a few) will be higher.
That’s a lot of money, but you might be surprised to discover that with the materials cost and construction time figured in, most saddlemakers make a very average living.
Materials will typically cost a maker around $1000 or more per saddle. There are additional shop overhead costs (rent, power, etc.). That will leave less than $1500-$2500 as the saddlemaker’s share. A well-crafted saddle will generally take 40 to 50 hours to complete, enabling a saddlemaker to make four to five saddles a month, if the orders are there. The best makers have waiting lists, with some (such as Dale Harwood) extending as much as ten years. But many working makers don’t have a full schedule.
So, while $2500 to $3500 is definitely a lot of money, a quality custom saddle is a very good value. You’re getting a lot for your money – a saddle built with the best materials and craftmanship and tailored to your specific preferences.
But we can’t all afford to plunk down that kind of money for a saddle. And, that’s why we talk often about looking to the used market to find one of these quality saddles at a much lower price. Now, when you buy a used custom saddle you won’t have the opportunity to have it built to your specifications, but you will be able to buy a top quality saddle for far below top quality price.
Look for used saddles from top makers such as Jeremiah Watt, George Holt, Robert Chavez, Cary Scwarz, Rick Bean, Steve Mecum, Keith Valley, John Willemsma, Chuck Stormes … to name some of the marquee makers.