Now, county is a brand that I had ruled out for May about 3 years ago. I threw a wide tree on her back, and it didn’t fit and I moved on. However, I have been riding in Holly’s wide tree conquest for the past couple of weeks, and it has fit May pretty well. (I think this is a combination of being a different model and May’s fitness being better).
So, when I got a message that the saddle fitter was coming to the barn, I threw myself on the list. Why not? Plenty of used saddles floating around on the market, and maybe a demo would be an option in my price range. Of course, on the day of the fitting, it was warm but WET. Our outdoor, with all the jumps set up, was basically under water.
Fine. I didn’t think I would jump, just get a feel for a few things. I threw on my Dressage bridle (easier to see how comfortable she is coming over he back), no boots on her, and just my river boots for me. (and a helmet… but I think I skipped gloves). Seriously, I had no intention of doing more than getting a feel for what I might want.
First up, the County Solution, which is described as “The Solution® features an elongated balance point to allow riders to find their perfect balance over any fence.”
In my opinion, this was a fairly deep seated saddle with large blocks. Secure and well balanced, but I hated the blocks. Luckily, they had some smaller blocks on hand, and the saddle’s blocks were velcro. So, we swapped them out. I liked the “pencil” blocks more, but they were basically non-existent. Overall, a solid first option with a good balance point and a secure feeling. I think this is the updated version of Holly’s conquest.
This time it was into the sensation. This one was… fine, but I didn’t feel like was quite right for me. I couldn’t put it into words, but it just didn’t make my butt sing. The innovation was also a hard pass. The stirrup bar was too far forward for me (a standard problem I have with a lot of saddles. I think it’s a result of my conformation.)
So then they put me in the monoflap. I was CONVINCED going into this that the monoflap was going to be my winner. I tend to like monoflaps. I had been riding in a monoflap before Holly’s saddle… and the Bliss I liked was a monoflap. The balance was good, the feel of it was good, but I still found myself thinking back to the solution. The solution just made me feel solid and brave (who understands that??).
Then, the rep was amazing, and asked me if I wanted to jump in them. “Oh, I can’t. It’s raining.” Hah… they weren’t concerned. So they let me jump around in the rain in the monoflap and then the solution. Hilariously, I had the exact opposite problem in each saddle. The monoflap didn’t give me quite enough support, and I felt very loosey goosey in it. I could ride more effectively to the base, but didn’t feel as confident when things weren’t quite right.
Then the solution… felt super secure no matter what was happening. Buuuuuut I found myself throwing myself out of the deeper seat a bit on takeoff. I really wanted something in the middle.
The next day, I took a lesson in Holly’s saddle. And you know what? It basically WAS right in the middle of the two. The balance point was still great, but it had bigger blocks than the monoflap and a flatter seat than the solution. Buuuut Holly’s really was a 1/2″ too small, and I did prefer the more standard county flap to the shorter one.
So I went looking… and I found one with upgraded leather and the correct specs. At $1,600… a price that allows me to not only buy that saddle immediately… but also keep my Dressage saddle. Saddle was purchased this weekend and arrived at my door this morning… fingers crossed that when I get home and open it, that it lives up to my expectations!