midnightrun wrote:I wouldn't buy a knock-off trooper from eBay...EVER. I have heard horror stories about them...broken trees, metal pommel/cantle breaking...a real nightmare.
If its a Trooper you want, I would stick with the trustworthy brands...Tarpin Hill/Heskett, Tucker or Haggis. I've never ridden an M&W, but they appear to be another good option. Make sure you pay attention to seat size...the different brands fit differently because of padding and seat design. You should be able to score a good used trooper in the $500-600 range (maybe a little less for Tarpin Hill or a little more for Tucker/Haggis).
I have owned all but the M&W. I prefer the Tarpin Hill the most (I have two, and a Bob Marshall treeless)....Haggis second. The Haggis is probably the best built of the the three, with excellent craftmanship...but its a heavy saddle and you sit up higher than in the Tarpin HIll and Tucker. I felt too "suspended" in it. Tuckers have never felt comfy to me...and I have ridden a handful. Used Tarpin HIlls sometimes need the seat restrung if you find yourself sitting on the tree bars.
Perhaps try out a few different models at a trial if you can before making a decision...or buy used. If you dont like the saddle, or it doesnt fit the horse, you can resell it and probably not lose much if anything.
Mr. Cooper ...please read midnightrun's post carefully...he knows EXACTLY what he is talking about and I confer completely with his assessment of the selection out there. I currently ride a Tarpin Hill Super Duty trooper with the gel seat, though I own about 4 other original troopers in various stages of conversion. I also own a deep seat Association I use to ride colts (and the occasional parade) but 10 miles is about maximum. Forty miles is no problem with the Tarpin Hill. My trialling travelling partner has an M&W he swears by, but I haven't ridden it enough to comment.
There were some knockoff M&W's on Ebay a while back. I'm sorry they're picking on Tucker at the moment.