Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Shipping a Saddle as Checked Luggage on a Plane

Your regularly scheduled magical pony club weekend posts will continue tomorrow (and hopefully wrap up by the end of this week!) but I want to interrupt this series to talk about something else fun....

Didn't plan to bring a saddle back from the trip and yet HERE WE ARE! hahahaha. When T mentioned that she was thinking about getting rid of the Custom Advantage she had, I idly wondered out loud if it might fit Ruby? I am down a dressage saddle since selling the Schleese last summer, but hadn't seriously started looking for anything because I was hoping to have my current saddle looked at by the independent fitter who comes to my trainer's barn (I just have terrible timing because last time I asked she was coming the NEXT DAY and it was a work day so I couldn't do anything about it lol). I wanted to see if the saddle fitter would have any recommendations on makes/models that might work for us. My trainer and a ton of her riders have Customs, so I knew the fitter was familiar with them/comfortable working on them, and so I thought what the heck, why not? Worst case scenario it doesn't fit so I try to help T sell it ;) So I bought the supplies to pack the saddle up and bring it back as my second free checked bag (thanks Southwest!). Originally I was going to go the moving box/packing peanuts route (mostly because that's the only way I've ever had saddles shipped to me), but Renate had a more brilliant idea.....

Start with a "locking" Rubbermaid tote. I tossed a few vests/breeches on the bottom for padding so the saddle wasn't resting directly on the plastic. Drop the saddle in (using my new Ogilvys in the middle to take up space lol). 

Fill the rest of the empty space with balloons! Voila!
(way cheaper and presumably better for the environment than packing peanuts, and although the rubbermaid tote was more $$ than a cardboard box, I can also reuse it - win win!)

How it went on the plane - It's hard to see because the duct tape is black and so is the tote, but we wrapped it both directions with 30 yards of Gorilla tape, and also included papers with my name/phone number on both the inside and outside. Later I took a silver sharpie and also wrote them on the black duct tape, which ended up being a better idea. 

How it came off the plane - virtually identical except the papers with my name were damp (it snowed on us at the plane change in Denver and then was pissing down rain when I finally made it back to STL). 

A few of the balloons were a little deflated but the saddle was still safe and secure, yay! Now I just need all the stupid snow from the blizzard we got as soon as I got back to melt and my arena to dry out, sigh. 

Don't worry, I have black webbers and my own stirrups, these were just what we spent the weekend riding in lol. 

So for about $20, I successfully checked a saddle while travelling on an airplane and it arrived safe and sound :) although, I did have a moment of panic waiting at the baggage claim - all the luggage had come out and I hadn't seen it. Turns out they sorted it into the "oversized luggage" section (even though it wasn't, I carefully measured because I didn't want a surprise upcharge), so I just had to pick it up there instead!

I drafted this post shortly after I got back but I DID manage to get out and at least sit in the saddle for a moment last week, and Ruby gave zero fucks about the saddle... so I'll plan on taking it to my next lesson! (fingers crossed for this weekend)


  1. Always gotta mock my emergency tack setup. You should be happy I had stirrups and leathers 🤣

    1. You know the brown leathers on a black saddle made my brain itch 😂😂😂

  2. Shiny's saddle is a Custom (a jump model though) and I really like it! I hope it works out for you!
    I checked a saddle once (and only once...) and wouldn't you know? It didn't get on the plane with me. Thankfully they did deliver it unharmed a day later, but NEVER AGAIN will I check one! Jump saddles fit nicely in the overhead bin, thank goodness! (Though frequently they doubt me when I'm getting on the plane.)

    1. I don't think I'd want to attempt to fit a dressage saddle in an overhead bin, lol, so I'm glad this worked out! I can't imagine many situations where I'd need to fly a saddle (I am not much of a traveler 😂).

      I'm excited about the Custom, I'm taking it to my lesson tomorrow so we'll see what my trainer thinks and when the fitter will be out next! 🤞