A combined series of events put my saddle hunt on hold for a couple of week, but on Friday a Black Country Solare showed up at my door. I knew literally nothing about this saddle other than it might fit my horse and work for me.

It showed up absolutely beautiful. Black with blue piping and blue stitching? Count me in!Β 

The leather was great quality, and it was well equipped with two pairs of D rings and blocks.

The box was even an improvement!

My only concern was it looked a touch narrow, but I figured it was close enough for a test ride.

Overall, it looked a bit high in front but sat level, and it didn’t seem especially tight around the shoulders. I took it for a few test rides, and they all ended with some variation of the below sweat marks. However, May seemed to like the saddle. She even stood completely still at the mounting block, something we have always struggled with.

For me, the saddle fit my legs great. I felt it helped me keep my ankle in line with my hip, and it helped my leg stay steady over fences. See below for one of the first jumps we have jumped in about 4 months. To me, the greatest compliment I can give a jump saddle is that I don’t think about it when I am jumping, and I didn’t have to with this one. A saddle that holds me in or pushes me out of balance is a big no no. One that makes me feel like I can do what I need to, while supporting me is awesome. ​

[wpvideo tfYYit65]

However, then I watched this video is slow motion, and I saw the below:

My leg is in a great position, but the saddle is clearly grabbing at May’s shoulders. Damn… If you watch it in even slower motion, you will see the saddle snap back down onto May’s back as she extends her front end forward. Definitely not ideal, and not something I would want to have happening on a regular basis. Our distance to this jump was good, if not a touch long, and I would hate to see what this saddle would do at a tight spot or over uneven ground on cross country. Unfortunately, that means I had to pass on this one too…

Then, I noticed some swelling/irritation around those dry spots, and I decided it really wasn’t wide enough for poor May. (good sport about it though!)

I give this saddle a solid 8/10. Leather and balance was great for me, but I am still not 100% sure a wider tree would be right for May. I’m still debating buying a new one, in the wider tree, but I have a few other things to try first. Next up – a 34cm 18″ Prestige saddle.

As for why May is wearing a fly mask? Well I showed up to the barn a couple of weeks ago to find this:

A nice swollen, dripping eye. She ended up having a small scratch, and I am riding her in the fly mask as a precaution. The vet has seen it twice, and it appears to be fully resolved at this point. Small speed bumps really can slow you down!

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  1. martidoll123

    oohh i love that you are trying all these saddles and I feel like i am trying them right along with you! I love that County too bad it won’t work. Onward and upward. Hope May’s eye clears up this year has been bad for bad eyes anyway!! I have seen a lot of weepy horses this year. She looks cute jumping in her fly mask. Like Batmare or something (Rather than Batgirl right)???

    1. Emily

      I’m glad you’re enjoying my adventure! Trying these saddles and sharing the experiences with everyone has been, no joke, the best part of this whole journey. I know when I started looking for saddles, I was at a loss. I have read a lot of blogs and a lot about saddle hunts, but very few of them talk about horses in May’s…. build πŸ˜‰ So I figured I would take you all on the journey with me!

      The eye seems to have fully cleared up. It was supposed to clear up much faster, which is why I had the vet out a second time, but as of Thursday night, it was a very faded dot, no longer a scratch, and it should be gone by now. I do have to say, I am not against riding in the fly mask on some buggier nights though! (I like BatMare… BatMare takes no sass from no one) πŸ™‚

  2. I hate saddle shopping. It’s just so endless and unsatisfying. I’ve had saddles flip forward like that on Nilla and a wider version didn’t solve it; I had to find a different type of saddle.

    1. Emily

      I think that is my biggest hurdle with getting the Black Country ordered new and custom… If it still doesn’t work the way I wanted it to, I will be stuck with it and out of a good chunk of change! Definitely going to try to find another option first.

  3. KC Scott

    Ohhhh the BC is soooo pretty, it’s a shame it didn’t work because that jump video was nice! Good luck with the Prestige. Is May’s eye better?? P had an eye thing happen last year, he was so bad for the antibiotic applications!

    1. Emily

      I was so disappointed the BC didn’t work. The leather was soft and grippy, like a much more expensive french saddle. The BC Solare has a different balance point than the other BC saddles, and it was great for me. Oh well… I think that is just how it goes with horses!

      The eye SEEMS to be better. I don’t think I will totally believe it is resolved for a couple of weeks without it getting any swelling. She was actually really good for the medication, so I could do it in the field. She would stand totally still and just squeeze her eye as tightly closed as she could. Hopefully that is over with now!

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