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Saddle Review: Devoucoux Chiberta Lab

If you’re in the market for a cross-country saddle that combines lightness, flexibility and chic French design, this is the one for you.

Originally from New Zealand, Rhonda Thomson and husband Paul moved to Melbourne six years ago to set up their equestrian property Harney Park – electing to leave behind, she jokes, their three uni student kids while bringing five horses with them!

An equestrian since she was just six years old, Rhonda’s passions are dressage, show jumping and hunting – a fairly mixed bag if you will. A great believer in the importance of good saddles, she previously rode in a NSC Advanced Competitor and a French Meyer jump saddle.

Currently the proud owner of three Warmblood mares, sisters Lilly, Chilli, and three-year-old Calais, Rhonda was in the market for a new saddle. While style, comfort and quality were on her wish list, she also wanted one that was a good fit for all her horses. Deciding that another French saddle – which she loves for their exceptional design and quality – would be ideal, the hunt was on.

But when you’re in the market for a second hand saddle, trying them out is far from easy. “I had heard great feedback about Devoucoux saddles and loved the look of them.  So I couldn’t believe it when I visited a website and saw one that was $4,000 less than the new price. And the saddle was in brand new condition,” she adds.

To say that Rhonda is thrilled with her purchase is an understatement. In fact, she’s so enamoured of her new acquisition that she would happily display it as an ornament in her home rather than relegating it to the tack room!

And the fit? “It’s been great on all my three girls. The lovely wide panels and gusset really suit the Warmblood shape.” She’s also very impressed with her saddle purchasing experience, particularly with the option of a trial period: “The service was fabulous and I liked the fact I could try the saddle and send it back if it wasn’t right. I received the saddle in just a few days, and they even included an orange belt to match the orange feature strip on the saddle – the height of matchy matchy!”

But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. So how did the saddle shape up in the heat of competition? With its light composite saddle tree and a design that encourages close contact, it was, of course, a comfortable and versatile success. “I rode in the saddle at the recent Melbourne Show Jumping Club event at Werribee with five-year-old Chilli and Lilly my dressage horse. It was so much fun and the saddle was fabulous,” a delighted Rhonda reports.

Feature Image: Rhonda, Chilli and their new Devoucoux Chiberta Lab saddle.