I need a new saddle...musings and an observation
I need a new saddle, well, both my horse and I need a new saddle. I am currently riding him in a 16 1/2" Stubben Edelweiss with a 29 cm tree. He is outgrowing the tree and the seat is now a bit too small for me. Actually, its killing my back when I ride. So far, my horse is still comfortable, but my saddle fitter thinks he will continue to build muscle and need something else else come spring. She doesn't push any brand and quite frankly, brand new is not in the cards. So I have been scouting Ebay and other used saddle sites to see what is out there and what they are going for moneywise.
The issue that I am having is I really don't know what I would like (okay, I think I know what I want, but liking to ride in it might be another story) and what would possibly fit my horse. I do want a wool flocked saddle so that it can be adjusted for my horse. I am lusting over County saddles (used), but I don't really know how they ride and if I would like it. The plus is sometimes one pops up that has skid-row panels which my saddle fitter did suggest for my horse. Being more realistic, I would really like to stay under $1000 for a new to me saddle, which basically puts used Counties out of my reach. Any suggestions on other brands that come with skid-row panels, a flat seat, and wool flocked? Okay, I also prefer a narrow twist close contact saddle. I used to like my current saddle, so realistically I could just get another that is bigger in the seat and tree, but I don't know if it would still make my back hurt being basically the same saddle.
Now for the observation. Just what is everyone doing with their saddles to cause the various rips, stains, missing billets, and other "imperfections"?! I just can't believe how bad some of these saddles look that I am seeing for sale. I never really thought that I took that good of care of my saddle, but it looks brand new compared to some of these and I ride 4-5 days a week all year round outside.