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View Full Version : DK saddles (Bond or Freedom)



Moogles
Dec. 21, 2008, 08:21 AM
Talk to me about DK saddles. I have heard good and bad stories about customer service. I don't want this to get too opinionated, I just want to hear what you liked and didn't like about the saddle. For those that use FLAIR panels, does the change to cold temps change the saddle fit? Thanks.

TropicalStorm
Dec. 21, 2008, 12:23 PM
I sent you a PM :)

3Hanns
Dec. 21, 2008, 12:30 PM
I too am considering this saddle...would love more feedback...

cheekyhorse
Dec. 21, 2008, 02:38 PM
DK saddles are made by Regal saddlery based out of Victoria BC. (Kevin Lote is the saddler) I've PM'd you too.:)

Forte
Dec. 21, 2008, 05:16 PM
I personally do not care for DK's customer service and I know many other people who feel the same way. If you like these saddles, I would go directly to Kevin Lote of Regal Saddlery, who also makes the DK saddles. The saddles are very similar, but Regal ones are a bit cheaper, and I find that Kevin is a much more pleasant and knowledgable individual to deal with than Danny from DK is. I have had my Regal saddle for almost 6 years and am very happy with the quality and fit.

Moogles
Dec. 22, 2008, 01:35 AM
Thanks for the PM's everybody!

Ibex
Dec. 22, 2008, 12:04 PM
I personally do not care for DK's customer service and I know many other people who feel the same way. If you like these saddles, I would go directly to Kevin Lote of Regal Saddlery, who also makes the DK saddles. The saddles are very similar, but Regal ones are a bit cheaper, and I find that Kevin is a much more pleasant and knowledgable individual to deal with than Danny from DK is. I have had my Regal saddle for almost 6 years and am very happy with the quality and fit.

What she said! :yes:

I have a Regal that I bought used, and absolutely love!

SWBelgians
Jan. 19, 2009, 01:32 PM
I have a Freedom and love the saddle!
I have dealt with Danny at EA and he fitted the saddle to my cob right there in the parking lot:lol:

Everyone who has sat in my saddle loves it. Unfortunately I am doing full time rescue work with drafts, so it doesn't see much use :(

Beth

SpyglassEventing
Jan. 19, 2009, 02:47 PM
Though everyone in my family is an eventer, we all at one point had DK dressage saddles (in addition to jump saddles). I will avoid talking about customer service, but I would like to comment on the air pannels. While they are purported to make the horse more comfortable, we had one horse in particular who became incredibly back sore due to the saddle. We were told by various other saddle fitters and vets that the air pannels move around too much and distribute the riders weight unevenly, causing the horse discomfort. I additionally found that the saddles have too resticted of a seat, with huge thigh blocks, that may initially make a beginner rider feel more "seatbelted-in", but eventually hinder a rider from having a free and moving seat. My bigger moving ISH didn't want to use his body with this saddle. I sold the DK and bought a passier relevant, which I love for its simplicity.
ETA: I forgot to mention that we also had issues with the air bladders losing air or outright deflating.

Ibex
Jan. 19, 2009, 03:09 PM
Ok.... having spoken to someone with a new DK over the weekend, ABSOLUTELY call Kevin at Regal. I choked when I heard how much more they charge for the DK than the Regal!

Gucci Cowgirl
Jan. 19, 2009, 04:11 PM
DK's used to be the popular saddles in my old barn....they are comfy but kind of hard to fit properly. If you have a horse who is wide, or has small withers, good luck trying to fit them!

Because they are light, air saddles, they tend to bounce around a bit and it can be tough trying to find a girth that anchors them down, and to find saddle pads that don't fly out from under them.

we ended up all selling ours within 2 years.

humbledagain
Jan. 19, 2009, 09:26 PM
I have two DK saddles, one is over 7 years old, the other is 5 years old. I love them. I found Danny to be outstanding in both customer service and his ability to fit horses. And when I did not work with Danny I have had great luck with his reps.

For me, the two things I took into consideration when trying saddles were, does it fit me and will it fit my horse. To be blunt here, I had major crotch issues with saddles. Quite simply I do not have this problem in the DK saddles, enough said about that....... As for the fit for my horse, I always questioned how you could buy a saddle one day and it would continue to work as your horse progressed through the levels. I mean hopefully, as you continue to train, your horse will change and become more developed. So how could the saddle you buy in one year, continue to work 6 months or one year later? What saddle could change as my horse changed? Again, with annual or semi annual fittings your saddle will always fit your horse. While that may initailly sound extravagant, at the end of the year with all the money I spend on taking care of my horse (feed, vitamins, vet etc) a saddle fitting is very small piece of the expensive pie.

As for the expense of his saddle, I recently retired my one horse (he ws 18) and purchased another one. Danny was able to refit the older saddle to the new horse. The expense was minimal (cost of a saddle fittling) and it fits my new boy beautifully; of course I knew it would fit me since I had owned it for several years. As for the air panels, I love them, and neither of my horses have had any back muscles soreness. In fact the area behind the saddle on both of my horses is always round and well developed. While I think my training is primary to creating that muscle development, it is clear that the DK saddles never inhibited his movement.

While I know this can be a very heated topic in my experience the DK saddles have been a great investment. In all of the things I worry about with my hores, saddles are no longer on the list and that means a great deal to me. Good luck finding one that works for you.

adelmo95
Jan. 19, 2009, 09:58 PM
I had a DK saddle that was fitted, and then refitted by Danny and the saddle never did stop sliding to the one side so I spent my whole ride trying to keep my saddle sitting straight. My horse was blamed for the problem, however it did this on every horse it was put on (It was not refitted to the other horses that I tried it on. The other problem I had was that the saddle slid forward unless you had the girth as tight as physically possible, and I was riding horses with decent sized withers and these horses were NOT built downhill. I found the sliding forward problem odd as the only other time I have had a saddle slide forward while I was riding was on a rather round pony without much wither, never on a high withered thoroughbred...

The positives I will say about the saddles: The leather is lovely, and the seat is very comfortable to sit in.

Indy-lou
Jan. 21, 2009, 02:13 AM
I have a DK Freedom saddle and it worked very well for me and my horse (we were at the same barn once as Gucci Cowgirl) . Leather is lovely and fit for the horse was good, comfortable for us both. Mine has the Flair panels. Now that I have moved away from that area of Southern Calif, I would have to travel to get it "serviced". I am now in the boondocks. My question is, has anybody had theirs retrofitted/stuffed with wool flocked panels? I have also looked at purchasing the Flair air pump system through the Flair website which is based in the UK and doing my own maintenence. Does DK now make the saddles with wool flocking?

Ibex
Jan. 21, 2009, 08:36 AM
I have a DK Freedom saddle and it worked very well for me and my horse (we were at the same barn once as Gucci Cowgirl) . Leather is lovely and fit for the horse was good, comfortable for us both. Mine has the Flair panels. Now that I have moved away from that area of Southern Calif, I would have to travel to get it "serviced". I am now in the boondocks. My question is, has anybody had theirs retrofitted/stuffed with wool flocked panels? I have also looked at purchasing the Flair air pump system through the Flair website which is based in the UK and doing my own maintenence. Does DK now make the saddles with wool flocking?

I know someone who very successfully had her Regal restuffed with wool because they couldn't get the air right with the bladders. :)

Forte
Jan. 22, 2009, 11:56 AM
I know several people who have had problems with the air bladders in both the Regal and the DK. For that reason, when I got my Regal many years ago, I requested wool flocking. I have the saddle fit checked, the wool reflocked, and saddle tree adjusted if necessary, once a year by Kevin. This runs me about $250-$300 Canadian. The people I know with DK air panels have to have the air checked every three months, and it cost about the same every time!! I think it's insane to pay $1000 a year for saddle maintenance.

Indy-lou
Jan. 22, 2009, 02:07 PM
Forte: Do you live near Kevin and take your horse and saddle both for adjustments with the wool flock, or do you just send him the saddle?

Ibex
Jan. 22, 2009, 02:11 PM
I think Forte is in the Vancouver area, as am I. Kevin is at the barn every few weeks, but I beleive they're doing more fittings in other parts of NA as well now.

Forte
Jan. 23, 2009, 04:23 PM
My horse is in Delta, just outside of Vancouver. Kevin comes to this part of the world about once a month, so he will come to my barn and fit the saddle to the horse in person. In only one case did he have to take the saddle back to Victoria with him, because the saddle needed a major overhaul to be adjusted to a very different shaped horse. In that case, he put the saddle on the Greyhound bus and got it back to me within a week.

joannr24
May. 10, 2009, 02:52 AM
I have three DK saddles. One for each of my horses as they all have significantly different backs. I must say that I love his saddles and I have always found him easy to deal with. I recently bought a mare who's back had been almost ruined by a girl riding her in a horrible saddle. After Danny fitted my saddle to her back the horse has improved drastically.

I have a question though. One of my horses is starting hunter/jumper training. I would love to buy a DK jumping saddle but its just too much money.

Has anyone ever ridden in DK jumping saddles? If so do you like them? There is a used Antares at my barn which is very comfortable and seems to fit my horse ok. It is only 4 fingers wide at the gullet though where DK's are six fingers wide. The saddle easily clears his spine but may sit on his dorsal ligaments a bit because its only 4 fingers wide.

I really like Danny's saddles but I know there are thousands of horses ridden every day in other saddles which are just fine.

Do you feel the Antares are ok and does anyone have an opinion on the DK jumping saddle?

Thanks for any help.

BTW, my horse is a 5 year old Paint who is pretty wide but still has withers.

adelmo95
May. 10, 2009, 10:39 AM
I had bad luck with my Antares in terms of saddle fit and it was fit by one of the reps. Within a couple of weeks my horse's back became very sore, the one positive I will say is that because of the 30 day guarantee they did take it back. I also know of a lot of people who absolutely love there Antares saddles and their horses are fine in them.

For me my all time favorite saddle is an Amerigo DJ saddle. I have been able to use the saddle on a wide range of horses from a fairly round quarter pony, to a modern type warmblood with very pronounced wither and all have seemed comfortable in it.

Koko
May. 11, 2009, 01:42 AM
I have had both the DK dressage (Freedom) and jumping (Malibu) saddles, as they were "the" thing to have at my old barn. Such hogwash. I am SO happy to have sold them. First, I will say, that they are beautifully made with lovely leather, and have cushy seats. Other than that...I would NOT recommend Flair Panels on any saddle. (The DK's might be okay if fitted w/wool (w/out the Flair); but I'm not sure whether Danny offers this). IMO, I found that the flair panels in the jumping saddle would cause me to bounce drastically if I did not come down from a jump perfectly centered and balanced (not so good for eventer). IME, the saddle should help you stay in the middle of your horse; not throw you off. The flair in the dressage saddle also made it difficult to sit closely and feel the horses movement. While annoying, the dressage saddle wasn't as dangerous as the jump saddle.

My second problem with the DK's is that they can only really be fitted by Danny or his reps at a very high price. A friend of mine dubbed the saddles "The gift that keeps on giving..." That is, once you pay the $5K for the saddle, you are locked into regular saddle fittings w/Danny (at least once a year), at a minimum of $250 per visit. Also, the resale value does not hold up on these saddles very well.

Finally, any anytime spent with Danny is time wasted time, IMHO. He is knowledgable enough, but can be an extreme jerk to his clients. The CLIENT must kiss his a$$. He was okay with me (smoooooch), but I saw/heard him treat folks very poorly... even those who spent ALOT of money on his saddles. He is a "salesman" though and through. He gets very defensive and hostile if you disagree or question him. The old adage that "the customer is always right," does not apply to Danny.(There are plenty of posts about his customer service style.) I do not recommend DK.

horsechica58
May. 11, 2009, 01:58 AM
To be blunt..I hated my DK Freedom.

1. It was a complete crotch killer for me.

2. It slid forward ALL the time, even right after being adjusted by Danny himself.

3. I too had issues with it "bouncing" off the horses back.

4. It also felt like I couldn't really sit in to my horses back (kind of hard to describe what I mean..) but instead it felt like I was kind of perched on my horses back.

5. It actually encouraged my leg to move forward so that I was "water skiing" rather than most saddles that encourage a shoulder-hip-heel line.

and finally, my horse and his conformation/movement/whatever was blamed for the poor saddle fitting.

Some people love them, unfortunately I was not one of those people :no::lol:

StarDoozer
May. 11, 2009, 10:28 AM
You will never, ever hear me say anything bad about anyone on the internet.

But my experience with this man was awful. First, the saddle never fit my horse even though it was designed for him, custom, blah blah blah. The thing never stopped sliding up his withers. And NO other saddle had ever, or has ever, done that on him. After multiple fittings I realized this just wasn't going to work.

At this point, I started riding him in my friend's Albion which he loved. Long story short, when I called Danny to ask about reselling the saddle (which he had PROMISED me would be easy to do if I ever wanted to resell it) was rude and said, "Nope, not sure where to advertise it. Can't help." Blah Blah Blah.

Finally got rid of the stupid thing for a fraction of it's price to a very nice woman who LOVES it. More power to her. But anyone who called me about it and asked about having it fitted was warned.

Thumbs down.

Derid
May. 11, 2009, 07:38 PM
I purchased my Freedom based on the recommendation of my trainer, that had recently purchased two, one for her grand prix gelding and another for a rounder-backed 4yr old. Within a year she had resold both saddles.

I was riding a VERY sensitive TB at the time, the saddle worked extremely well for both of us. She was indeed high-withered with a tense back and I was very happy with the way she worked under this saddle. However, the TB entered my broodmare band and the saddle was fitted to a 3 yr old wb/tb X. It was never quite right, and I felt like I was sitting on "throne." The saddle slipped forward, and because the mare had alot of suspension there were times when my control was not what it should have been for safety, so I went back to a Bates (did I hear the gasps from bleachers) for a few years.

Fast forward 5 yrs, the mare had a sarcoid where the girth lies and was off for a year, I was injured and we moved to outside of Nashville. Well, earlier in the year I contacted Danny for a saddle fitting or requested that he provide me with a name of someone he was willing to recommend. Initially, I heard nothing, but following a second request he said he was coming to Nashville on such and such a date. Well, in the end he didn't come because it was not a good time for the host. And, that was fine for me. But, then I got a new job that required I move up to Frederick MD for a couple of months beginning 4 May. I received an email from Danny's office requesting that I contact an individual that would schedule me in to the fitting date. I called, I emailed I heard nothing....then on the day I was driving to Frederick (last Monday) I received a voice mail that 18 people had appointments with Danny on Saturday, but he could stop by my boarding barn on Sunday for the fitting. Great, right!!! It was, except it was Mother's Day. My Mom is 89, I hadn't been home for Mother's Day for 32 years (I had only seen her 3 times in ten) and my brother had planned the brunch 2 months ago (and he just doesn't do things like that). Well, family first.

From his email, I got the impression that Danny was shocked that I would not be available on Sunday, and pointed out that I hadn't mentioned that I was not available on Sunday (which was true). I did apologize and asked if there was possibly another day (he was in area on Thursday) or if nothing else, was there someone I could contact that would be able to fit the saddle. And, that is where we stand......he did not reply, and I'm looking around to find someone to fit the saddle.....

If I could change out the panels (flair to wool), I think I would for my 2nd mare. I'm willing to try one more time to fit this saddle to the mare, but it's also beginning to be too much trouble....and, the two times I've contacted other specialist about fitting the DK, they upfront stated that they were uncomfortable with the prospect.

I would not do it again if I didn't have easy access to Danny. Unfortunately, after reading this forum.....I'm not even sure who even owns the company. There are red flags all over this one.