Collegiate Saddlery created a winner in the new Triumph Jump Saddle
As a relatively new team in the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association, Bennington College was excited to be able to participate in the Collegiate Saddle Ride Program sampling one of the new saddles for a semester. Imagine it like equestrian Christmas, a large box gets delivered to your door and you know what’s inside is going to be great. You peel open the box and inside is a beautiful saddle neatly covered in the Collegiate signature navy fleece saddle cover. A small leather key-chain is clipped to the D-ring as a tiny bonus.
The Collegiate Triumph Jump Saddle is a lovely medium brown with fine lines that bring the classic look of the Collegiate into the modern age of streamlined saddles. The color allows for a match with most brown bridles on the market and complements all shades of horse. Our saddle was a 17.5” with a medium-wide gullet. Since the Triumph has an adjustable gullet system it can be changed out to fit most any horse with a traditional length back. I put it on eight horses in my barn and was excited that the medium-wide gullet was a great fit for six of them. The other two would need a slightly narrower gullet, probably medium, in order to clear the higher wither of those shark-finned thoroughbreds.
The balance of the saddle with and without the weight of a rider was perfectly even on the six horses it did fit. With a soft leather knee-roll and a rear leg block on the sweat flap the Triumph cradles the leg in the appropriate place under the rider’s hip well without forcing the leg into that spot. With some saddles boasting exaggerated knee-rolls and leg blocks that don’t allow for flexibility in placement of the leg, this one allows all shapes of rider to fit it as needed. In a college lesson program that is a crucial element to satisfying riders’ various body types. Our riders range from short with a short femur, to long and lanky with the longest leg and femur imaginable. Each rider loved riding in the Triumph.
The leather of the Triumph came pretty supple fresh out of the box and only improved with use. After the requisite “squeaky” phase, where new leather rubs and squeaks against itself, the saddle softened subtly without showing too much wear and tear. Blythe Poor (’22) said of the Triumph “it’s very comfortable and has held up under several different weather conditions.” The Triumph was ridden in all weather, inside and out. Students took great pleasure in riding in the snow in our lovely corner of Vermont and with a simple swipe of leather conditioner the saddle returned to like-new condition.
The dreaded first scratch happened with coach Tara Lowary hooked the seat with a stray belt buckle. All it took was a little leather cream to buff out the scratch and the saddle was ready to go again. In terms of durability, the Triumph has been tried and tested and found to exceed expectations.
Team member Ellery Schiller (’21) had only rave reviews saying the overall appearance was pleasing and complimented every horse who wore it. School horse, Kenai, loved it so much that he learned how to collect and go on the bit while riding in it, something Kenai’s old saddle didn’t seem to allow, so his new birthday present will be a Collegiate Triumph.
All in all, the Collegiate Saddle Ride Program was an outstanding and educational experience for all team members. They learned lesson in fitting a saddle to both the horse and the rider. They learned how to care for leather goods correctly. They even learned that the seat of a well-made saddle can be infinitely more sympathetic to a rider’s posterior than an old model school saddle. We, the Bennington College Equestrian Team, would like to thank Collegiate for the opportunity to be a focus group for the new line of saddles. We are excited to have more Collegiate saddles in the barn, with models from as far back as fifteen years still holding together and strong, we are proud to be supporters of the Collegiate brand.
[Content provided by Bennington College IHSA team coach]