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Black Country Saddle - RESOLVED

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  • Black Country Saddle - RESOLVED

    After hearing rave reviews about how wonderful Black Country saddles are I met with a local rep for the company.

    He was very personable and completely sold me on how superior the Black Country saddles were in every way. He explained his reasonings and they sounded good to me.

    I have a new imported mare and her back slopes down back to front where the saddle sits. My Devoucouxs didn't fit her well. (My Prestige eventer actually fit her very well, but it didn't fit me.)

    I decided to order a cross country saddle, and considered getting a dressage as well but decided to wait.

    I was told it would be made to fit her perfectly, and to fit me. I expressed concern about the fit because of her back shape. I was assured the saddle would fit perfectly and that she had a "typical" shaped back similar to many English horses so it would be very easy to fit her.

    I asked if we would need to meet for a fitting when it arrived for flocking adjustments. I was told the saddle would be made to fit so well from the tracings it would be ready to ride "straight out of the box."

    I paid $3500 and waited 5 weeks.

    The saddle arrived Wednesday.

    The first thing I noticed was how terribly cheap it looks. Uneven leather edges, raw cut unfinished leather, poor stiching, exposed glue, wrinkled seams where the leather was bunched & folded on itself. Uneven cut leather edges with no finish, and a single stitch holding 2 large pieces of leather together. One stitch.

    I was APPALLED.

    Everything I've read talks about what beautiful saddles these are. It looked like someone forgot to finish it. I sat it next to my other saddles and the difference in workmanship was obvious and terrible.

    I was in shock, but I thought I'd try it on my horse, thinking if it was a perfect fit I might be able to have someone "finish" the leatherwork.

    I placed the saddle on my horse, and the first thing I noticed was a significant "ROCK" front to back. The saddle fitter had gone out of his way to show me how my current dressage saddle had a "slight" rock and didn't fit her. To get the customized saddle in with a BIG rock was just ironic.

    I then noticed the billets are very odd and don't come off the tree straight down. Instead they actually point forward at about a 45 degree angle. When I girthed the saddle it literally lifted the back 60% of the saddle off of her back. The billets are in completely the wrong place and at the wrong angle.

    I attempted a 10 minute ride where the saddle crawled up her neck and the back flapped in the air. The tighter I made the girth the worse this got.

    I called the company rep and told him the saddle had arrived, and that I was rather offended. I explained the very poor workmanship and the incredibly bad fit. He said he would forward photos to England, and would have to see the saddle to see how to correct the fit.

    While, waiting for a response i had another saddle fitter view the saddle, and they explained the billet problem I had already discovered and said no "reflocking" would correct that.

    So far my emails and calls since Wednesday have not been answered or returned.

    How is it everyone thinks these saddles are top of the line?
    Am I the only person in the USA to have this kind of problem?

    I'm truly heartbroken about this because show season is starting and I don't have anything suitable to ride her in. I'm out $3500 and now I have to start looking for a new saddle.

    I'm hoping to get a refund, but I have a feeling the response is going to be "No Refunds."

    UPDATE January 24th.
    They have offered me a full refund or a new saddle. I chose the refund.
    Last edited by BadEventer; Jan. 24, 2011, 11:58 AM.

  • #2
    check the fine print on the sales slip you signed - most custom saddles are guaranteed to fit either horse + rider or at very least the horse.

    Since the rep doesn't seem to want to respond, call up the American head office or UK or talk to some shops that represent BC & ask for advice (I think Trumbull Mtn sales BC saddles).

    Sorry this didn't work out better for you


    • #3
      Okay, first order of business: did you see or sit in any Black Country saddles before you ordered them? Personally, it would have sent up HUGE red flags for me if the rep wasn't willing to show me what I was buying. It sounds like your quality concerns go way past just "being surprised by something bought sight unseen," but your description made me wonder.

      I have never seen a Black Country saddle that matches your description. The workmanship is usually highly competent; I won't tell you that their workmanship matches that of Stackhouse or some of the other extremely high end brands, but they are certainly comparable to County or Frank Baines or any of these other English brands coming out of Walsall. I actually think my Black Country Quantum (sold years ago) was better made than my current Amerigo CC, not that the Amerigo is some slouch of a saddle but the Black Country was more meticulously constructed. They are not "fancy" saddles with bells and whistles, but there certainly wasn't glue or unfinished edges, etc.

      $3500 is also a helluva lot more cash than Black Country saddles usually cost. Even the Vinici Tex Eventer monoflap, one of their most expensive models, only retails around $3100-$3200. And the Maelstrom, which is a premium calf leather model, is about $3350. So what's up with the $3500 price tag? It can't be "customization fees" because Black Country doesn't charge customization fees.

      And I don't think any saddle fitter worth their salt would EVER promise a guaranteed fit straight out of the box.

      All this adds up to "maybe this saddle rep took you for a ride." The problem here may very well be the rep, not the saddle. For all we know, he could even have sold you some cheap counterfeit.

      In short, try to take some deep breaths and contact Black Country directly. If I were you, I would also contact another REPUTABLE Black Country rep and see what their thoughts are on the saddle that you received. Trumbull Mountain and Hastilow USA move a lot of Black Country tack and can tell you whether you've been scammed. With any luck, Black Country will make it right.
      Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


      • #4
        Red flags everywhere, and everything jn4jenny said. You may have been ripped off in the name of Black Country by some charlatan.

        Keep everything you have, take lots of photos, registered letters to the company (multiple recipients) and ask your credit card company or bank to put a hold on payment if you can or file a grievance with the credit card company. Read your fine print.
        Click here before you buy.


        • Original Poster

          It is the Vinici Tex Eventer for $3200 plus sales tax & shipping put the bill at $3500.

          I did ride in one. It looked much nicer than this one. I don't remember any uneven cut leather pieces or exposed glue. I admit I didn't "inspect" the demo closely for workmanship. This saddle has such bad workmanship it was OBVIOUS at a glance. No close inspection needed.

          Supposedly this IS one of the reputable reps, rides himself & has been selling saddles for decades and came highly recommended.

          I'll see what it takes to contact Black Country directly. When I tried earlier today I was told all "claims" had to go through the "original vendor" and they referred me back to the rep. I'll try again. I'll also see what Trumball Mountain can tell me.


          • Original Poster

            Photos here.



            • #7
              Wow - yeah, that's not typical of BC workmanship. I also would seriously doubt the qualifications of any fitter that 'guaranteed' a fit based on tracings 'out of the box'. I echo everything all of the other posters have said. And I would contact Black Country in Walsall.


              • #8
                That's terrible. I wouldn't pay for that...good luck to you!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by BadEventer View Post

                  Don't buy a Black Country Saddle.
                  I'd been looking at Black Country for my new horse - as my current saddle fits but isn't perfect. And Black Country has such a terrific reputation on fitting and quality.

                  Having seen the photos..... I'm not inclined to have the fitter out; as I already had one horrible experience with Stubben and am NOT eager to repeat it.

                  I would be in your debt if you would post back and let us know how it works out. Thanks.
                  Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                  Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                  -Rudyard Kipling


                  • Original Poster

                    I've contacted Black Country Saddles & The Society of Master Saddlers.

                    The tag on the saddle says "The item bearing this swing ticket is embossed with the Society of Master Saddlers member's stamp and personal identification number. It has been manufactured wholly in the UK by a Master Saddler member of the Society. Your Guarantee of Quality."

                    I will let you know what response I get.


                    • #11
                      Wow, that looks terrible in the pictures. I have a Black Country Quantum, and while it doesn't fit my horse very well anymore, it is very well made and still looks practically new after 2 years. There are a number of Black Country saddles at my barn and none of them look like that. They should take it back with a full refund, no questions asked.


                      • #12
                        Yikes, that looks like crap. Not like any BC I've seen, BUT I did have 2 bad experiences with BC, so I wouldn't consider one.

                        1st - I came across a used BC dressage saddle (sorry, don't remember which model) that I took home to try. Knew the seller slightly(she was no longer riding), saddle was well taken care of, and looked brand new. Rode in it for about 15min. on one horse, and even though it obviously didn't fit him I did like it for me. Next horse I wanted to try it on hadn't been ridden in a couple of weeks, so I thought I'd longe him for a few minutes with the saddle on. Well, first canter on the longe he bucked and the billets completely snapped off! I couldn't believe it, but was thankful I wasn't on him I took it to the local BC rep. to get it fixed b4 I returned it to the seller and he just laughed it off. "Wow, must be some helluva bucker". Well no he wasn't

                        2nd- new BC rep. in this area is supposedly also a tack repair/saddle fitter of all types. Ask him to come out to see if he could restuff my saddle to help the fit on a new horse. I sat the saddle on her, and I swear in less than 30seconds he said, "doesn't fit her, and I can't fix it." Ok fine, but then he didn't even have time to talk to me about what BC might work for her because he had another appt. "Call me if you want to set up another appt. to try the BCs for her, and that will be $125.00" thank you very much
                        "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by Toadie's mom View Post
                          2nd- new BC rep. in this area is supposedly also a tack repair/saddle fitter of all types.
                          Bob Cooper sold me this saddle. Same person?


                          • #14
                            Wow, that is terrible. The workmanship is really shoddy and it obviously doesn't fit.

                            What is the felt on the bottom of the saddle? Is that supposed to be there?


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by fordtraktor View Post

                              What is the felt on the bottom of the saddle? Is that supposed to be there?
                              It's supposed to keep the back cooler. Recommended by the rep because of the type of riding I do.


                              • #16
                                Doesn't look very durable. Felt? Yuck.

                                But that's neither here nor there, the real issue is the horrible workmanship and fit. I hope you get your money back. Sorry you don't have a workable saddle for the season.


                                • #17
                                  Yes, the panels are supposed to be like that-- it's called serge.

                                  This is really terrible, BE! I have never seen that kind of bad workmanship on a BC saddle. And how could the fit be so terribly wrong after supplying tracings? Try emailing Nikki directly-- she is the sales director.
                                  Taco Blog
                                  *T3DE 2010 Pact*


                                  • #18
                                    Own a Black Country. Used. From Trumbull Mountain Tack. And the quality of mine is nothing like what your photos show. I am so sorry for your experience, it seems you got ripped off by the "saddle fitter". But I also think it unfair that you bad mouth Black Country. This is an issue of a con-artist. Not the quality of the company. Honestly if this person were reputable they would be in touch with you and working to make everything work. Contact BC and make sure they know they are being scammed.


                                    • #19
                                      The fitter didn't stitch that saddle together so badly, Woodrwo. Pictures don't lie.


                                      • #20
                                        OP, I'm so sorry for this headache! I hope you get some answers (and some recourse!) from both the dealer and Black County.

                                        I went through Trumbull Mtn, and I tried... 3-4 BC saddles, I think. They were all beautiful and beautifully made, both the brand new and the used. This is definitely an abnormal dud