Last Monday I drove down south to pick up the trial saddle that I was promised during the whole Prestige debacle. The shop didn’t have the model of saddle that I ordered in stock, so I ended up taking home a 17″ Prestige X-Contact with a forward flap—nothing like my saddle, but the other options weren’t any better.
There’s no doubt that the X-Contact is a handsome saddle. It’s got a lot of small details that I really liked, aesthetically. I loved the inclusion of the Prestige logos and the strip of leather that accents the bottom of the flap. Plus the back of the saddle, in particular, was very cute. What a great spot for a nameplate!
There are definitely some things about the X-Contact that I thought were tacky, though. The billets, for example, are terrible. They’re thick, short, and feel like they’re made out of cardboard. I had trouble tightening up my girth because of how chunky they are. The X-Contact also has removable blocks (the shop owner took the back block off for me before I left the store, my short legs hate back blocks). The velcro under the blocks is a horrible pale tan color that reminds me of those old saddles with tan suede knee pads (blegh). The stirrup leather keepers also look unfinished compared to the rest of the saddle.
So on the outside I thought the saddle was very attractive, but once I looked closer I wasn’t really impressed with it—especially since this model retails for $1,000 more than the model I ordered.
Of course, the real test came when I tacked Raglan up and went to ride in it. The result? I absolutely hated it. I couldn’t use my girth with it because the short billets wouldn’t reach, which also meant that I couldn’t use my breastplate either (since my plate needs the girth to have a ring on it). The saddle didn’t fit Raglan (it slipped sideways when I went to get on and gradually slid back as I rode) and it tipped me so far forward that I felt like I was a few milliseconds away from face planting into Raglan’s neck.
I’d be lying if I said that this experience didn’t make me a little bit nervous about whether or not I’m going to love love LOVE the Prestige saddle that I ordered. I would never consider spending $4,000+ on the Prestige X-Contact. But I remember really loving the Prestige Passion K when I rode in it, so hopefully everything will turn out okay. Until then, I’m definitely not riding in the X-Contact.