I wrote a few days ago on what I thought were the bare minimum prices for quality new and used western saddles. Following that post, I received a few inquiries regarding how much a custom saddle should cost. So I decided to take care of it.
Most custom handmade saddles will cost between $2500 to $4500, with more extensive decorating or saddles from renowned saddle builders costing substantially more. Most custom saddle builders charge more for added features and design.
There is a reason why most custom saddle builders have extremely similar pricing. The best materials (rawhide wrapped wood tree, Hermann leather, best hardware) will be used by the majority, at equal costs. They will take about the same length of time and price around the same amount of money to make the saddle.
The higher the saddle maker’s repute, the more he can charge for his services. Differences in pricing are mainly due on skill level and reputation. A custom Wade saddle by Steve Mecum, one of the best saddle manufacturers working today, is seen to the right.
It should be a red flag if you come across saddle manufactures selling custom handmade saddles for much less than market price. What are their methods? They are either employing less expensive materials or their competence level prevents them from charging the going fee for their services.
At these costs, you may be able to find an up-and-coming young saddle builder who is still trying to establish himself, and his saddles can be a terrific value. To make that distinction, you will need to be a savvy tack person, because the maker with low costs is often a hobbyist learning his trade on your saddle.
A bespoke saddle is a significant investment. Make certain it is a wise investment. Avoid being duped into ordering a “discount.”