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Saddles, Saddles, Saddles. I know I'm not the only one continually frustrated by saddles.

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  • Saddles, Saddles, Saddles. I know I'm not the only one continually frustrated by saddles.

    Hello everyone.
    I've spent a lot of time away from COTH but I finally feel like I need to drag a bigger community into my saddle drama to get some different insight.

    My OTTB needs a new saddle. His current one doesn't fit properly, it pinches along the stirrup bar, it's not the right cut for his high withers, and doesn't offer enough flexibility for his broad shoulders.

    I had a fitter out, an INDEPENDENT one (so I thought , do those even exist anymore? Not around me) who charged me $150 to tell me that my saddle didn't fit (thanks, I already knew that, that's why you're here), and had me ride in some of her demo County saddles. I will not lie, the County saddles were fantastic. My horse moved better than he ever has in his entire life since leaving the track. The shocker was the price tag. $5300 out the door for our custom County Solution HJ. Yeahhh. Sorry, but I'm not a rich horse owner. It takes A LOT of arse-busting for me to afford my horse, and a $5300 saddle is not an option. My fitter is also supposed to be an independent fitter, however, she's recently become a rep "in addition to" being independent. And suddenly, my only option is this $5300 County. I find it really hard to believe that my horse is "such a difficult fit" that he can ONLY fit into this custom County for $5300.

    After a bunch of back and forth with the fitter, she tells me "fine, try to find one used". So I find some used, but most are out of my price range, even used. She tells me to look at Innovations. I find lots of Stabilizers, but she tells me those are the cheap saddles and won't work. (why? because they're actually in my price range?) Finally I tell her, listen, the custom "medium narrow" size County that I need is a Unicorn, probably because people rich enough to order the $5300 saddle to customize it, don't ever want to part with it. Can't we try a medium, which is what you had me ride in, with shims?" Especially since I imagine his shape to change some once he's working in a properly fitted saddle. (we're not riding at all right now, folks. It's depressing). So she says fine. Look for Mediums, or look at Albion K2 Jump saddles in Medium. Great. Looking for mediums. Find a few. She stops responding. Haven't gotten a hold of her for a while now.

    I'm fed up.

    Does my horse REALLY only fit in County saddles? He's had a few other brands on his back and they don't look right, but not many.

    Does ANYONE know of similarly shaped saddles to Countys? I'm really just looking for some other brand to expand my search! County holds it's value and people also hold onto their County saddles! I don't doubt that they're wonderful saddles. I rode in them, I get it. But I need more options.

    The specific saddle that she said would be perfect for $5300 is a 17" Medium Narrow County Solution HJ with Skid Row Panels.

    I'm thinking I'd be more interested in medium width saddles looking to the future.

    Can anyone help me? I'm feeling SO helpless, and now she's being completely unhelpful. I don't have any other fitters in my area. The other fitter I contacted wouldn't even call back. I'm feeling frustrated and lost, and like I may never ride my boy again, since I refuse to ride him in an ill fitting saddle.
    “Working horses is a little like being married. Sometimes you need to adjust and change your plan.”

  • #2
    Ugg. I hear ya. I don't hail from hunter land, but I hail from barrel racing land and I swear saddle fitting is just as difficult. And it is way too easy to spend a whole bunch of moolah on a custom fancy saddle.

    So I don't have any saddle suggestions for you .... but I hear ya!

    I found that a Tad Coffin jumping saddle fits my guy nicely, and even more lucky that I got a steal of a deal on a really, really nice used one (because yeah, I wasn't about to spend $6200 on a new Tad Coffin that we only use maybe a dozen times a year!)
    It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by beau159 View Post
      Ugg. I hear ya. I don't hail from hunter land, but I hail from barrel racing land and I swear saddle fitting is just as difficult. And it is way too easy to spend a whole bunch of moolah on a custom fancy saddle.

      So I don't have any saddle suggestions for you .... but I hear ya!

      I found that a Tad Coffin jumping saddle fits my guy nicely, and even more lucky that I got a steal of a deal on a really, really nice used one (because yeah, I wasn't about to spend $6200 on a new Tad Coffin that we only use maybe a dozen times a year!)
      Thanks! It's so frustrating mostly because the fitter isn't cooperating with me. I find it SO hard to believe he ONLY fits in County saddles, and she refuses to give me ANY other suggestions. She thinks I'm going to cave and pay $5300 for the new saddle. It's just not.going.to.happen!
      “Working horses is a little like being married. Sometimes you need to adjust and change your plan.”

      Comment


      • #4
        Take the horse to the tack shop and try on saddles?

        Comment


        • #5
          Even if you spent $5,300 for the saddle she is pushing, chances are it won't fit anyway. Half the people on this forum with custom saddles are complaining their's don't fit. Your horse may be a difficult fit but County can't possibly by the only saddle that will fit him well, your fitter is trying to force you into buying something you can't afford, which is never a good idea.

          Trumbull Mountain used to do a great job working remotely with people who didn't have access to a good, independent fitter, or didn't have big budgets, Jay posts here, why not try her? She used to get excellent reviews from the forums but I haven't heard her mentioned lately, is Trumbull Mountain still around?

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by tinah View Post
            Take the horse to the tack shop and try on saddles?
            There are no reasonably close tack shops to do that at, and also, I don't know of many/any places that would actually allow that....
            “Working horses is a little like being married. Sometimes you need to adjust and change your plan.”

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by One Two Three View Post

              There are no reasonably close tack shops to do that at, and also, I don't know of many/any places that would actually allow that....
              You might be surprised, it is not at all uncommon to do that in some areas.

              Comment


              • #8
                I have a horse like this. High long withers with dips, and a large shoulder. I got a steal of a deal on a Stubben Zaria Optimum in a 28 cm tree and it fits him like a glove. Might want to look at one of these or Stubbens in general.
                Proud Member of the "Tidy Rabbit Tinfoil Hat Wearers" clique and the "I'm in my 30's and Hope to be a Good Rider Someday" clique

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by BAC View Post
                  Even if you spent $5,300 for the saddle she is pushing, chances are it won't fit anyway. Half the people on this forum with custom saddles are complaining their's don't fit. Your horse may be a difficult fit but County can't possibly by the only saddle that will fit him well, your fitter is trying to force you into buying something you can't afford, which is never a good idea.

                  Trumbull Mountain used to do a great job working remotely with people who didn't have access to a good, independent fitter, or didn't have big budgets, Jay posts here, why not try her? She used to get excellent reviews from the forums but I haven't heard her mentioned lately, is Trumbull Mountain still around?
                  You should consider contacting the Saddle Geek who is truly independent and knows a heck of a lot about saddles. She used to post here a lot and I was very impressed by her knowledge. And, since she doesn't sell saddles, she is brand agnostic. https://www.thesaddlegeek.com/.

                  My feeling is that if you find the right fitter, you will discover more options. However, those are thin on the ground.

                  I think the Albions are nice saddles at a good price. I ride my TB in a Jeffries JMX which was a hellova deal, and he also fits nicely into a Kieffer Norbert Koof FL. Also well underpriced for the value, but you need someone who can look at the shape of your horse and give you suggestions.

                  BTW -- I couldn't drop $5K on a saddle, either. Most of mine cost less than a grand, bought used. I'm good at finding bargains but they are out there once you know what type of unicorn you're looking for .

                  Adding: you might look at Black Country saddles which often have a similar fit to the County.
                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Bogie, I had forgotten all about the Saddle Geek, yes that is another excellent option, based on previous posts about her(him?).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Is The Saddle Geek the person who posted here as jn4jenny? If so, let me add my recommendation--she is extremely knowledgeable. She posted here a lot and actually helped me personally when I reached out to her when I was saddle shopping. She paid attention to what I was looking for. I ended up with a Stubben Roxane VSS on her recommendation and couldn't be happier.
                      I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Trumbull Mountain and Patricia at Fine Used Saddles also do remote fittings and have a good amount of used saddles, so they can often help you find something right away. Did the rep do tracings? If not, can you take some yourself and send them in?

                        Jenny (the Saddle Geek) is also super knowledgeable. I don't know if she works off tracings or not but she knows a TON about what brands tend to fit what shapes.

                        Counties are nice saddles but they're not the most in vogue, so you might be able to find a used one for a fraction of the cost if you know exactly what you're looking for and are a good internet hunter
                        "These are my principles. If you do not like them, I have others." --Groucho Marx

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Had a similar issue - I have an OTTB with big withers and a big shoulder - but he's a smallish/narrow horse overall. Was also looking for MN County Innovation with Skid Row panel - does not exist anywhere! Lol. So. In the interest of finding a saddle in my budget, ended up with a M with a regular panel, which overall wasn't a good fit - I had to pad it up quite a lot. I rode in that for a while, and tried several saddles in an effort to find a fit. I honestly think a custom fitting might be the only way to get it exactly right for him - but he's 4, it's not in my budget, and as someone else pointed out - it might not fit anyway! Ended up with a lovely Butet from Redwood Tack after some trial and error - still have to use a shimmable half pad, though a very small Mattes one with just the shoulder shimmed a little. The Saddle Geek has an awesome YouTube video fitting a TB that might help you narrow down some features to look for - that is how I found my current saddle! I also am confident that if you order a consultation from her, she will help you find something in your budget that will fit you and your horse.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Oh! I forgot to mention that the first Butet we tried (4.25" tree) was actually too narrow - we needed a 4.5". I was quite surprised, because my horse is a little guy - don't make the mistake of going too narrow, either :-)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I can't recommend Jen the Saddle Geek enough in situations like this. You send her photos and tracings and she helps you to remotely identify options that work for YOU, your HORSE, and YOUR BUDGET (all three! really!). I'm not associated with her, just had good experiences.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Black County with a trap panel might be worth a look
                                ~Veronica
                                "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                                http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I have a saddle that sounds like it would fit but it's an 18
                                  good luck op. Saddle shopping sucks

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Jen's work is really eye-opening. I just finished re-reading her article, "Broke Girl's Guide to French and Italian Saddles." Not only is she extremely knowledgeable, she's also budget-conscious. She should be able to point you to a substitute for the County relatively easily.

                                    As others have pointed out on previous threads, British saddle makers tend to produce designs that fit thoroughbreds well. Black Country or a similar make might be just the thing.
                                    "The horse is bigger than you are, and it should carry you. The quieter you sit, the easier this will be for the horse." William Steinkraus

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I used to have CWD saddles and they were causing problems with all my horses. I spoke to one of my vets and she agreed this whole custom saddle thing is a load of (insert rude word here). Most horses fit the same saddle pretty well provided it's a good saddle. And you can use slight variations on pads to accomodate specific issues (be careful with shims though, can cause issues like princess in the bed with a pea under the mattress). Also it's shocking how many used CWDs, Voltaire's, and other high end saddles are being sold on EBay and in other places for half or less of what they were sold for new, even barely used. So I switched from CWDs (which literally made every horse I have, have a sore back) to Bruno DelGrange, after trying a friend's saddle on my horse for a few weeks. He liked it. So then I bought one, then two, and now have 3. But I am kicking myself because I bought them all new, and now looking on these various used saddle places to sell my CWDs, I see there are tons of high end saddles for sale at much reduced prices. So would highly recommend that you give that a try. Places like Pelham Saddlery in NH ship them to you so you can try them, and you can ship them back if they don't fit. Having a custom saddle built for you is a waste of time and money. And personally I have not had much luck with saddle fitters either, they all say something different. At the end of the day you're probably as good as anyone at telling what fits, and then if your horse likes it, and you're in a good position with leg under you etc, and if your horse doesn't have a sore back, you have a winner.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by One Two Three View Post

                                        There are no reasonably close tack shops to do that at, and also, I don't know of many/any places that would actually allow that....
                                        Several online shops allow trials for saddles.

                                        Farm House Tack
                                        Dover
                                        Trumbull Mountain

                                        to name a few.

                                        Schneider's also offers financing.

                                        There's no such thing as a rep for a brand that's still independent. Once you're a rep, you're a rep, period. As this fitter obviously made clear with their behavior. Rude.
                                        There's no possible way that only one County model fits your horse. I have never ridden in a County so have no suggestions for similar saddles.
                                        Last edited by mmeqcenter; Sep. 10, 2018, 11:02 AM.
                                        "The best of any breed is the thoroughbred horse..." - GHM

                                        http://www.mmeqcenter.com/sale.html

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