March 6, 2013


A while back, I asked for your opinions on a County Dressage saddle, and was very grateful to get so many good, thoughtful and correct responses.  I love the honesty you all showed me even when I was clearly very interested in the saddle.  I appreciate that more than you will ever know.  The auction ended and I let it go, on your recommendations.

Then it was relisted a day later for $800 or best offer, and thinking I had nothing to lose, I made a ridiculously low best offer, so low I wouldn't be sad if it didn't fit, which the buyer accepted and it arrived this morning.


There was a moment after our warmup tonight in which I felt him sigh, relax underneath me, and stretch through his back into the contact in a way that he hasn't done in weeks.  He moved so freely and so happily through his back that my instructor stopped her lesson for a moment to watch us and commented on how good and content he looked.  He's gotten cinchy lately specifically with my old ugly Collegiate, and hard under saddle, and I blamed myself for both of those, but after feeling how he went tonight, I am inclined to think that the Collegiate was hurting him.  Poor guy.

 The fit isn't custom, but it's really good.  Like everything I put on him, his long back appears to need a back riser desperately while standing, but when he gets going, his back and the fit completely change.  I'm a big proponent of evaluating saddle fit more under saddle and on the longe than while standing, especially with a horse like Connor.

I did ride him in a borrowed back riser just to see what happened tonight.  I liked what it did for the back, but hated what it did for the front.  Don't judge it based on the above or below photos.

This sweet, sexy saddle pad is also borrowed. I've never had a Dressage saddle before, so I have no Dressage pads of my own.

For me, it felt like clicking into place with an old friend.  Suddenly the stuff my trainer asks me to do all the time - sit more underneath myself, post with my hips up toward my wrists, put my shoulder blades down my back - were so much easier to do.  The short flaps gave me leg positioning I've never felt before in a Dressage saddle - I felt like I had so much control over my leg, and my instructor said as much when she said my lower leg appeared to be a lot more stable and that I was inadvertently cuing him less.

The final verdict is: trainer was initially supportively skeptical, as she always is with my questionable decisions, until she saw me in it ("It's a perfect on you!  We'll get your stirrups a hole longer than that when you're used to the Dressage saddle."  My response was: "But these feel so long already!") and saw him move under it.  After a visit from the saddle fitter and some minor flocking adjustments, it will be perfect.  So, so excited!

Now to start shopping for a black bridle, a half pad, a schooling pad, an 18" girth, and a show pad...


  1. I am soo glad it worked. at that price I would have taken a chance too.

  2. Congrats! That is SO awesome. I love getting a good deal and to have it work well for Connor is even better.

  3. Congrats! That is SO awesome. I love getting a good deal and to have it work well for Connor is even better.

  4. Awesome! It is amazing how saddle fit affects riding. I had a similar flap length epiphany though it was having an extra forward flap on a jump saddle. I couldn't believe how much more balanced I felt. We need pics of you riding in it!

    I am assuming Connor wears a cob size bridle? If he wears a horse size, I have a used bridle that I don't need.

  5. Yay! I'm glad that it worked out at a steal for you! Things have a way of working out. Did you find out how much it'll be to replace the billets?

    As for bridles- I bought my Smartpak Plymouth elite and have been thrilled with it. No way could I find something else so nice in that price range. I am also a huge fan of the Smartpak saddle pads however I bought my a/p ones when they were having a mega sale on them. Not sure if I've shred this before but Adams horse supply might have some of the stuff you're looking for (girth, pads, etc) and if you use the code missyou you get 10% off- and free shipping over $100. :)

    Congrats on the new saddle!

  6. Heidi, he is in a Cob size bridle but I think a small horse size might work for him. He's on the last hole on the cheekpices and the browband is a little snug. I am definitely interested. Let me know what you'd like for it and any other details at jalean 11 @ gmail. com, without spaces. Thanks!

  7. Thanks, Hillary! I have never bought from Adams before, but I have been thinking about giving them a try after reading your post a few weeks ago. There was a billet replacing thread on CoTH forums a while back, and everyone said it ran around $5-$15/billet unless your billets are sewn directly into the tree, which mine are not. It should be under $100 all told, which, considering what I paid for it, is not bad at all.

  8. Wow on the great 'new' County! Looks lovely and can't wait to see pics/videos of you riding in it. Are you having Sara Ivie's fit it for you? I think she does a great job and takes her time getting the fit just right.

  9. Awesome!! It's amazing what a decent saddle will do for you. :) Glad you snagged it.