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  1. #1
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    May. 7, 2009
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    Default What can you tell my about County Saddles?

    I am shopping for a saddle for DD, she is 5'7" long in the thigh, and super skinny ( like 98lbs). I was looking on ebay as I would like to go used, and when I found the County saddles the prices were much less than I expected.
    Can you clue me in on the comfort of them, the cost of them new, how they fit ( she rides several different horses) and the quality? Honestly they are going for $500 and $600 used on ebay and I was shocked I thought they were a LOT more money than that.
    Kim
    If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.



  2. #2
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    Jun. 29, 2004
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    Default

    That sounds much too cheap unless the saddle is in awful condition, I would be suspicious.

    I am not a huge fan of County, although many would disagree with me. I especially don't care for the leather they use, I have ridden in nicer but that's just my opinion.



  3. #3
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    Feb. 14, 2003
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    Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
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    Default

    If you are finding County saddles for that price, they are older models. They have several styles of h/j saddles, all are quite different from one another in fit and the way they sit you on a horse.

    I love my County. They are generally customized for horse or rider, so if you buy a used one, or try several, they will all be a bit different from one another.

    If you are interested in them, I'd have the rep come out and do a fitting. It is around $100 for them to come, bring a variety of saddles and have you ride in them. Your daughter will have a much better idea if they are suited to her needs.

    I have a customized Innovation in buffalo leather that fits me like a glove, is wool flocked so I can change it as my horse changes his muscling/weight, and is specialized to his unique fit. I love it. The leather is very nice, quite thick and is wearing like iron. It is very grippy as well. Mine is very comfortable.
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!



  4. #4
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    Dec. 11, 2006
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    Delta Quadrant
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    Default

    I got my old Pro-Fit used for $550 in '99, but it was also 15 years old or so at that point. It was in great condition when i got it, and I still have it, though I only use it for shows to "save" it up, and let a newer, not as prestigious brand saddle take the brunt of my riding.

    There are deals to be had out there,depending how desperate people are to sell.
    There's coffee in that nebula.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 3, 2000
    Location
    Pennsylvania
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    119

    Default County Stabilizer

    I recently bought a County Stabilizer on E-bay (my first and only purchase there). I was a bit skeptical but the saddle was a custom tree size that i would have had to order (narrow/medium) and the rest of the sizes were exactly what I needed. The seller provided ample photos of all angles and I decided I couldn't pass it up. It was a much lower price than I had thought it woud be. More than loving this particular saddle, it had to do with my 15 yr old tb who's conformation had changed some and he had developed "shark fin withers" that were causing him pain from an ill fitting saddle. I hired a saddle fititer who was extremely helpful in assessing his discomfort and how to best fit a saddle to his anatomy. The thing about the County is they give ample room below the pommel to clear those high withers and then the saddle is so well padded all the way down. We re-flocked it (it took a ton of wool!) and it really has made a wonderful difference. I personally want a Butet but for now, for my old guy that is forever with me, the least I could do for him after years of showing and learning and wear and tear, was to make that part of his body we knew was sore, as comfortable as possible. It's not about me, it's about him. Probably tmi but it's my story and I'm tellin it!



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 21, 2009
    Posts
    740

    Default

    I had a County Stabilizer for my horse with hollows behind his shoulders.
    HATED IT, worst decision I've ever made. I rode in the thing a few times and decided there was no way it was going to work, and ordered a custom Antares.

    I didn't like the leather, it was really slick and slippery. I know some people love the Stabilizer, but it was way too flat and I couldn't stand it at all.

    I wouldn't buy this saddle without riding in it. Ask the seller if they will do a trial period. What model are you looking at?
    Does DD have a horse? You also have to take that into account as well.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 3, 2000
    Location
    Pennsylvania
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    119

    Default

    Tegan

    You said you bought it for your horse. What issues did he/she have and did the saddle help those at all?



  8. #8
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    Feb. 12, 2009
    Location
    Charlottesville, VA
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    429

    Default

    That sounds a little too good to be true. I love my County. I bought it because they could fit it to my horse and he was so hard to fit. I bought mine used as well, but got it from the rep. Have you called your local rep?



  9. #9
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    Jun. 29, 2004
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Snappy View Post
    Tegan

    You said you bought it for your horse. What issues did he/she have and did the saddle help those at all?
    Tegan mentioned the horse had hollows behind his shoulders. Those kinds of problems frequently benefit from foam panels, which can be cut out to fit properly, whereas wool flocking will keep "oozing" into the spaces and losing its shape, if that makes sense. I know County's are wool flocked so maybe that contributed to the problem.



  10. #10
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    Dec. 21, 2009
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    Default

    The horse had high withers, big shoulders, and hollows behind the shoulders.

    Honestly, I used a local tack shop, so I don't even know if the County was the right choice for this horse. It was a long time ago, and we didn't know better, so this is what they told us to buy.

    My big issue was the slippery leather and the position it put me in. I just couldn't stand riding in it. Years later, I rode in my trainer's County dressage saddle, and I didn't like it either. I know tons of people love County, so it must be personal preference, but I would just recommend a trial period before buying any brand of saddle.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar. 24, 2004
    Location
    Central PA
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    1,267

    Default

    I'm definitely a County fan. I'm not sure why one of the above posters said the leather on County saddles is not very nice, I own two Counties and the leather is absolutely beautiful. Maybe the leather on her particular County was not nice -- I don't know. I bought my Stabilizer first. It has the smooth calf leather which was nice and soft. It was a bit slippery for the first three rides or so, then it was perfect. I couldn't imagine liking another saddle more than my Stabilizer (and, yes, one of my trainers has a Butet and I've ridden in it. Horse HATED it.) But I bought by TB, and my medium-tree Stabilizer was too wide. FWIW, my TB is not dainty at all. The County trees are very generous. That's when I tried the Innovation which was a new model at the time. For me, it is soooo much better than the Stabilizer. I like the position it puts me in, and it's a very secure saddle to ride in.

    So, really it comes down to personal preference. The different County models are very different. Many people love one and hate another. And, as you've read above, some people don't like County saddles at all. I think most people would agree that they're well made and will last a long time if properly cared for. Some of the older models (of any saddle brand) are "out of favor", and if you don't like the saddle, it may be hard to re-sell.



  12. #12
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    Dec. 2, 2002
    Location
    Berlin, Germany
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    Default

    I, too, am not a fan of the leather used on the stabilizer. It's quite slick compared to other higher end customs. The buffalo leather is definitely different, and not slick at all, but the calfskin is reallllly slick compared to my antares. Additionally, I find that one needs to have the right "conformation" to appreciate the county... it's something about the width of the seat that I can't really put my finger on. My trainer has several countys, and while they are awesome saddles for her, I can't stand to ride in them. They hurt my hips- a lot. This is probably because they are made for her, but I've ridden in quite a few countys at this point made for several different types of riders, and I've never found one that doesn't do this to me.

    That being said, most of the custom counties I've seen have been superb fits for the horse. They do a really nice job making truly custom saddles for the horse, and from what I've heard, they offer awesome customer service.

    However, if you're finding countys on ebay for a few hundred bucks, I'd be hesitant.
    Here today, gone tomorrow...



  13. #13
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    Feb. 13, 2005
    Location
    Columbus, OH
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hellerkm View Post
    Honestly they are going for $500 and $600 used on ebay and I was shocked I thought they were a LOT more money than that.
    Here's what happened.

    Once upon a time there was a very brand called County that started quietly selling saddles. They sold perfectly nice tack out of perfectly nice leather. They charged a very fair price for their tack--think mid-range, equivalent to what you'd pay these days for a Pessoa or a Bates. Most of the saddles that County sold in "once upon a time" have all the features that "once upon a time" riders wanted: plainer flaps, shallower seats, etc. Those traits have long gone out of fashion, although the saddles remain functional.

    Then the County brand started getting brand recognition for its straightforward, good quality tack. And at that point, County did two things: jacked up the price of the product to the stratosphere and built an elaborate saddle rep system to market and sell the product.

    Don't get me wrong, County still makes very fine saddles out of perfectly nice leather. But are they worth $3500-$4000? In my opinion, no. They are absolutely no better constructed nor built out of better leather than the average Black Country saddle, which is fully custom at $2500.

    So why the price difference? Simple: County buyers are paying for the convenience of a saddle fitter who will come directly to their barn (often for free) and bring a whole bevy of saddles that they can try right there, in the barn, on their horse. And that kind of service is going to cost you. You are basically buying a $2500 saddle + $1000 in extra markup to pay for the rep's training, travel, and service to you. Black Country doesn't use reps and barely advertises at all.

    It's a simple case of low hanging fruit. If you're the only brand that will go to the buyer and create a moment of zen between horse and rider, that rider is likely to just buy your saddle. Never mind that there were probably 5 other saddles on the market that would have produced a similar effect. Saddles are an emotional and functional purchase, first and foremost, and The Brand Which Produces Zen First Usually Gets the Sale. Props to County for figuring this out and making a fortune off it.

    Hence why you see the older County saddles, most of which are long out of vogue, selling for next to nothing, and the newer ones sell for much more. The older ones were not sold under this rep system, nor with this markup. And to be fair, they lack the gee-whiz of some of the newer Counties. County does put a lot of R&D into its products, as do all of the upper-scale brands.

    Again, this is not a knock on County tack quality or the saddles themselves. Perfectly nice tack, and it's no more marked up than the average CWD/Antares/Devoucoux/Amerigo/etc. But you don't see ancient CWD/Antares/Devoucoux/Amerigo's going for $600 on Ebay, and that's because there was never a "beforetime" with those brands the way there was with County.
    Last edited by jn4jenny; Dec. 29, 2009 at 02:22 PM.
    ________________________
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  14. #14
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    May. 7, 2009
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    jn4jenny THANK YOU that was awesome and explains why some are so low and some are sooooo high! Great help in my decision!
    Kim
    If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.



  15. #15
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    Dec. 2, 2002
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    Berlin, Germany
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jn4jenny View Post
    Here's what happened.

    Once upon a time there was a very brand called County that started quietly selling saddles. They sold perfectly nice tack out of perfectly nice leather. They charged a very fair price for their tack--think mid-range, equivalent to what you'd pay these days for a Pessoa or a Bates. Most of the saddles that County sold in "once upon a time" have all the features that "once upon a time" riders wanted: plainer flaps, shallower seats, etc. Those traits have long gone out of fashion, although the saddles remain functional.

    Then the County brand started getting brand recognition for its straightforward, good quality tack. And at that point, County did two things: jacked up the price of the product to the stratosphere and built an elaborate saddle rep system to market and sell the product.

    Don't get me wrong, County still makes very fine saddles out of perfectly nice leather. But are they worth $3500-$4000? In my opinion, no. They are absolutely NO NICER or better constructed than the average Black Country saddle, which is fully custom at $2500.

    So why the price difference? Simple: County buyers are paying for the convenience of a saddle fitter who will come directly to their barn (often for free) and bring a whole bevy of saddles that they can try right there, in the barn, on their horse.

    And that kind of service is going to cost you. You are basically buying a $2500 saddle + $1000 in extra markup to pay for the rep's training, travel, and service to you.

    It's a simple case of low hanging fruit. If you're the only brand that will go to the buyer and create a moment of zen between horse and rider, that rider is likely to just buy your saddle. Never mind that there were probably 5 other saddles on the market that would have produced a similar effect. Saddles are an emotional and functional purchase, first and foremost, and The Brand Which Produces Zen First Usually Gets the Sale.

    Hence why you see the older County saddles, most of which are long out of vogue, selling for next to nothing, and the newer ones sell for much more. The older ones were not sold under this rep system, nor with this markup. And to be fair, they lack the gee-whiz of some of the newer Counties. County does put a lot of R&D into its products, as do all of the upper-scale brands.

    Again, this is not a knock on County tack quality or the saddles themselves. Perfectly nice tack, and it's no more marked up than the average CWD/Antares/Devoucoux/Amerigo/etc. But you don't see ancient CWD/Antares/Devoucoux/Amerigo's going for $600 on Ebay, and that's because there was never a "beforetime" with those brands the way there was with County.
    I can see the point of your post, and generally speaking, I agree. I feel that County's products are far below the quality of other saddle makers in the type of leather, construction, and general "feel".

    That being said, I'm going to have to disagree on the fit- I once knew a pony whose back was literally lopsided- when viewing his topline from the back, it was like looking at two different ponies. Many, many fitters came out to see him, and all of them rubbed their chins, and honestly said they were going to have a very hard time making a saddle that would fit him for the long term. County made him a saddle that fit PERFECTLY. Sure, in terms of the leather, craftsmanship and overall feel, it wasn't a $4000 saddle. But the fit was lovely, and it created a noticeable difference in his overall comfort.

    With that out of the way, I have met some County reps that I wouldn't *take* money from to tell me about saddle fit, much less trust to actually make a saddle for my horse- some of their reps are truly novice horsemen who portray an exaggerated knowledge of saddle fit related to high-performance competition horses.
    Here today, gone tomorrow...



  16. #16
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    Feb. 13, 2005
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    Columbus, OH
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrenchFrytheEqHorse View Post
    With that out of the way, I have met some County reps that I wouldn't *take* money from to tell me about saddle fit, much less trust to actually make a saddle for my horse- some of their reps are truly novice horsemen who portray an exaggerated knowledge of saddle fit related to high-performance competition horses.
    Agreed. Compared to the average independent saddle fitter, County reps are no more likely or unlikely to be good saddle fitters. They do get some basic training, but saddle fit is both an art and a science. It requires technical skill, the ability to essentially predict the future, a talent for looking at a broken horse/rider and figuring out what is being caused by equipment failure and what's being caused by other things, etc. I have thought about going into the saddle fitting business, but honestly it's so much grief and guesswork even for the best-trained and most experienced among them. And on top of all that, you get to work with mostly uneducated customers. It doesn't take much knowledge of the topic to know when someone's talking out of their a-- and when they're not, but the average buyer would rather be TOLD which saddle than to educate themselves. And if that's their choice and they've got the money to blow, more power to them (I guess).

    Creating a saddle for a serious problem horse is even MORE of an art and a science. You need a set of master saddlers sitting at the ready (which narrows us down to County, Black Country, Schleese, Stackhouse, and a very small handful of other brands), an extremely competent fitter to take the right tracings and make the right decisions about panel options and tree width etc., you need someone who's willing to try something very non-traditional with the construction, and you need a brand that can also accommodate the rider in addition to the horse. Very tough stuff.
    ________________________
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  17. #17
    Join Date
    May. 7, 2009
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    I find saddle shopping one of the most daunting tasks to undertake. Not only do you need to fit the person but you need to fit the horse. Top that off with the fact that Dd does not OWN a horse at this point and we are left with fitting a saddle to a kid who is still growing and riding many different animals!
    I have read many threads on COTH about saddle fit and honestly I have been scared half to DEATH! a saddle is a HUGE purchase, one that I can only make every few years, picking the "wrong" one would deplete my horse budget for at least 2 years, so I greatly appreciate all of the answers I have received to this thread, I was truly just trying to understand the cost of what I had read to believe was a decent "brand" of saddle. I was a bit surprised at the low price tag LOL! We have several good local tack stores that sell used saddles , they also have trial programs, so we will try each one we like and see what we end up with, its just nice to know a bit more about the "brands" we are looking at.
    Thanks!!!
    Kim
    If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.



  18. #18
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    Oct. 12, 2009
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    College View
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    Default USED

    Given your circumstances, I would advise getting her a couple of moderately/lower priced, decent brand used saddles, one medium and one wide, both with wither clearance if possible. And a wither pad, a cashel pad and lift pads and the like. Don't spend any more on a saddle than you can afford to lose. That is what riders that ride a bunch of different horses have. The gal that rides for me has a rolling tack trunk that hold 3 saddles that she leaves here. Worry about the expensive one when she gets a horse of her own and has stopped growing.

    No one in the know is going to fault her for not having a "status" saddle yet, and any horse that she rides that has major saddle fit issues, the owner of the horse should provide the saddle, I would think.

    I know the details of saddle fit may seem very intricate, but except in some hard-case horses, it really isn't that bad. The vast majority of the time, I think most horses can be fit perfectly fine with off-the-rack saddles.
    Last edited by headsupheelsdown; Dec. 29, 2009 at 03:45 PM.



  19. #19
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    Nov. 13, 2004
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    City of delusion in the state of total denial
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    County makes a quality saddle that holds up well. As they are custom-built, you'll want to make sure that you can sit the saddle on a couple of different horses before you buy. If you have two neighbors with County saddles, they will probably fit very differently.

    I am also a long-legged rider (I should really get out a tape measure again, but my lower leg is 21" and my thigh is also quite long.) I absolutely LOATHE the Stabilizer because, due to the relationship between the working center and the knee pocket, I either have to sit right on top of the pommel with a long stirrup and tip forward, or sit well back on top of the cantle and get chair-seated. I have never met a Stabilizer that did not put me in this position. I think that because of your daughter's build, she would prefer the Innovation or perhaps the Conquest.

    I think I recall that one of your other daughters has a Beval saddle and I think they are great and fit a variety of horses. Many of the Beval models come with a forward flap option (I am thinking particularly of the Natural) and they are not hard to find used, plus they tend to have good resale value. The World Cup--not the new World Cup Gold, but the original World Cup that looks like a Crosby with padded flaps--doesn't have that option but is forgiving of a long leg and fits just about everything. It is my absolute favorite saddle--I have had two, and sold them both for what I paid for them.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
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  20. #20
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    May. 7, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renn/aissance View Post
    County makes a quality saddle that holds up well. As they are custom-built, you'll want to make sure that you can sit the saddle on a couple of different horses before you buy. If you have two neighbors with County saddles, they will probably fit very differently.

    I am also a long-legged rider (I should really get out a tape measure again, but my lower leg is 21" and my thigh is also quite long.) I absolutely LOATHE the Stabilizer because, due to the relationship between the working center and the knee pocket, I either have to sit right on top of the pommel with a long stirrup and tip forward, or sit well back on top of the cantle and get chair-seated. I have never met a Stabilizer that did not put me in this position. I think that because of your daughter's build, she would prefer the Innovation or perhaps the Conquest.

    I think I recall that one of your other daughters has a Beval saddle and I think they are great and fit a variety of horses. Many of the Beval models come with a forward flap option (I am thinking particularly of the Natural) and they are not hard to find used, plus they tend to have good resale value. The World Cup--not the new World Cup Gold, but the original World Cup that looks like a Crosby with padded flaps--doesn't have that option but is forgiving of a long leg and fits just about everything. It is my absolute favorite saddle--I have had two, and sold them both for what I paid for them.
    My youngest Dd does have a Beval JR and we LOVE it!! I am a huge Beval fan and would love to find a used one that fits DD well. I plan to keep looking until I find what she/we like if it happens to be a Beval I will be thrilled!
    Kim
    If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.



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