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County saddles

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  • County saddles

    I have a County rep coming out soon to do a fitting. I've been looking at their saddles online and wondered why a person would want a dressage saddle with the slightly forward flap (like the County Competitor 2000)? What functional purpose in dressage riding (versus a straight flap) would the forward flap serve?

  • #2
    I have long legs and ride dressage w/ my stirrups on the short side (for dressage).
    I certainly wouldn't mind a slightly more forward flap.


    • #3
      Personal conformation

      My County Competitor (2008) has short, forward flaps.
      I ordered it that way because that's what fits my body.
      My legs don't naturally hang straight down – they come forward and down.

      With straight flaps I end up riding on my crotch – in a scissor seat. A forward flap allows me to sit on my seat bones while heels, hips and shoulders are still aligned.


      • #4
        Depends on a persons confo. I tried it and by no means does it fit me. Put me in a chair seat bad and I had to fight with the saddle. I ordered the connection and it fits me perfectly and also keeps me back in transitions. You just have to try them all and see what's best for you. Still waiting on mine to come in. So very excited
        Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


        • #5
          Rider conformation. I have lots of trouble with saddles due to long hip to knee measurement and scrawny butt. In order to fit my thigh on the saddle I can either go with a bigger seat size, in which case I swim around in it and end up sitting at the back in a chair seat, or I can go with an appropriate seat size and a more forward flap...even in a dressage saddle. If the flap is too straight, the knee roll pushes my thigh back and I end up sitting on my crotch.


          • #6
            IMHO many people try to ride dressage with long stirrup leathers and to straight legs. If you are always trying to stretch your legs to far down you will tend to stiffen and sit in a fork seat. The angles in hips and knees are needed for flexibility
            I wasn't always a Smurf
            Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
            "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
            The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


            • #7
              Well.... a County rep I met explained that they did build Competitors with those too-forward flaps a while back.

              "Too forward" was her phrase. Granted, we were talking about the probability of finding me a used County and I'm Short-on-Wide so her point was to help me not waste my time.

              But the others are right: If you have a long femur and the right conformation in your pelvis/hips, this flap takes your leg.
              The armchair saddler
              Politically Pro-Cat


              • Original Poster

                Well I happen to be long bodied and short legged. I am not going to be able to have my trainer present when I try saddles. I'm hoping the County rep will be knowledgeable enough to help me figure out what my conformation needs in terms of saddles/flaps etc. Is that reasonable to expect that?

                And earlier post made me think about something though: when I ride in my trainer's dressage saddle, my crotch is killing me (sorry for the tmi). I don't notice it so much when I ride, but later on. Could this be a conflict between my conformation and the saddle? I have been assuming that it's something I'm doing that is causing it.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by baysandgrays View Post
                  …I'm hoping the County rep will be knowledgeable enough to help me figure out what my conformation needs in terms of saddles/flaps etc. Is that reasonable to expect that? …
                  Absolutely reasonable. That's the least one should expect from a saddle fitter. Make sure you take your time trying out all the different models. We are all built differently – as are our horses. The saddle must work for both you and your mounts.

                  My County rep's advice was invaluable. She was knowledgeable, exacting and patient. She was not interested in selling me the most expensive product. In fact, she pointed out how the Competitor fit me better than the Connection. She swapped out saddles and made me try both several times, indicating how my seat changed w/each model.

                  You should expect the same from any saddle fitter, County or otherwise.


                  • #10
                    As somantu said, yes it is reasonable to expect any saddle fitter to help assess how the saddle fits *you* as well as the horse.

                    With that said, any custom saddle fitting experience is only as good as the rep. Just because someone works for a big name saddle company doesn't mean they are an expert.

                    I had a very bad experience with County where the rep suggested something that would fit me and my horse and it did neither of those. Other people have sworn by their local County reps. I think it's very much an individual thing.

                    My advice, which I've posted on many of the other saddle-related threads, is to ride in something for at least a week before making a decision. Sometimes it takes at least a couple of rides to really make sure it is the right type of saddle for you and your horse. Another piece of advice I got from someone who does saddles for some of the big name 4* riders in this county - "buy the demo model whenever possible because sometimes the custom you buy just isn't going to fit the same way".


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by baysandgrays View Post
                      Well I happen to be long bodied and short legged. I am not going to be able to have my trainer present when I try saddles. I'm hoping the County rep will be knowledgeable enough to help me figure out what my conformation needs in terms of saddles/flaps etc. Is that reasonable to expect that?
                      Is there anyway you can borrow the "best fit" saddle for a lesson, or arrange to have the fitter back at another time when your trainer is available? - you really should ride more than once or twice in a saddle that you are considering special ordering (I can't recall what the commitment is on a "standard" County saddle).

                      If there's an almost available on County's demo list, bring that in for a trial so you can have more saddle time, it'll also allow you to compare your rep's version of the saddle with the demo version.


                      • #12
                        I've purchased several saddles off the County demo list and they let you keep the saddle for a few days before you have to either send it back or agree to buy it. Last time I bought one off the demo list I knew what size my mare needed, ordered one that I thought would fit and it was way to small, obvious the first time I sat on it. I emailed my fitter pics and she agreed. I ordered one a half inch bigger, liked it, bought it and she came out and tweaked it a bit.

                        Then I bought a new horse, had the fitter out and she mentioned that she had just gotten a bull leather Connection in our size.

                        http://www.fine-used-saddles.com/catalog.htm?Vl=2&Tp=2 has a similar policy
                        I wasn't always a Smurf
                        Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                        "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                        The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


                        • Original Poster

                          Are the County reps pretty good about letting you know if there are demo saddles available or will I have to pursue that?

                          Here's my dilemma with buying a County saddle (or any saddle really). I don't have time to be a serious rider. Now don't get me wrong, I'm very serious when I ride, but between work, grad school, etc. I don't have time available to me to ride 5-6 days a week. I ride 1-2 times per week and take 2 dressage lessons per month. I'm months away from being able to do any training level shows. Even when I am able to show it's going to be small stuff. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around spending 3500-5000 for a custom saddle. If money were no object then great, but money is always going to be an object for me. To me, someone who goes out and spends that kind of money on a saddle is riding in it about every day and is a serious competitor. Am I thinking about this all wrong?

                          I'm also considering buying used, but because County saddles are all customized, I'm wondering if that is a bad idea? Anyone have any thoughts on that? Is it ok to have the rep out to fit my horse simply so I know what used saddle to buy? I don't want to offend her or make her feel like I'm wasting her time (although I will be paying her), but I don't know that it makes sense to spend that much on a brand new saddle given my situation.