So I had a local saddle fitter (yes, a new one) out on Sunday to take a look at my Genesis. Originally, she was going to look at the Diablo, but I decided that wasn’t going to be the right thing, even if we could get it to fit May. So I mostly just wanted to see if there is anything we could do to help the Genesis sit more in balance for me and reduce the rocking for May. (nope… ) So the conversation  mostly turned to my “next” saddle.

The conversation went something like this:

Saddle Fitter: “Well, what have you tried so far?”

Me: “In alphabetical order?… of saddles I actually put on my horse’s back and didn’t just rule out immediately? Albion, Barnsby, Black Country (Solare and Wexford), Bliss, County, CWD, Duett, Ovation, Prestige, and Stubben…. at least as much as I can remember.”

Check out the full recap of my last deep dive into saddle fitting here. 

Let me just say, that when you outline it like that… you get some crazy looks from your newest saddle fitter.

Super cool saddle… Didn’t come CLOSE to fitting her

Saddle fitter “oooook. I am surprised you didn’t like the black country saddles.”

Me “Well… the one that the rep sent me was way too small. I have picture evidence!”

At least she agreed that it was definitely too narrow for May. Her recommendation was to find a black country in the width/seat size I needed, and we could reflock it to get it perfect. She isn’t the first saddle rep to suggest this brand to me, so I decided to take a look.

did ask her what model of their saddles would be best for me. Her response, “Your specs are going to be hard to find, so just start there.” Yeah… no. I already have a saddle I don’t love for ME, so I am not going to buy another one.

Fine, so I turn to black country’s website. You know, the place that should explain the differences between their models. Right?

At first, it started out pretty good. Below is the description for the Wexford:

The Wexford is a deep-seated jumping saddle, similar to the GP range, though offering a wider seat for comfort than most traditional jump saddles.

This saddle comes with large supporting knee and thigh blocks for the ultimate in rider security and an extra forward flap option for the taller rider.

The panel and tree combinations within this saddle allow for a multitude of profiles.

Now of course, I remember I sat in the Wexford, and it put me in a bit of a chair seat, so I am crossing it off. (Thank you blogging and making tags for stuff.)

So let’s look at the Quantum.

The Quantum Jumping saddle is built on a close contact tree and panel, it gives a flatter seat required for stadium or cross country jumping. Knee and thigh blocks to support your position. This is also available with an extra forward cut flap, for taller riders.

I mean… alright. A flatter seat. That is somewhat helpful. Except, it looks like this:

Not what I call a flat seat

So by flatter… did you just mean flatter than a GP? Huh…

Then I remember that I had really liked the Solare. So is that similar to the Quantum?

We are proud to introduce you to the new Solare Jump Saddle – ideal for those riders looking for a quality saddle and the latest innovations.

Made with vintage leather, the Solare offers excellent value for money with the saddle combining cutting edge design and technology providing riders of all levels and ability with a close contact saddle and a forward-fitting seat that allows freedom of movement.

Custom-made as always, this saddle has a discreet knee roll providing support without blocking the leg position whilst the forward cut flaps help the rider’s balance and security.

I…. what? The above tells me nothing about the saddle. So… then I jumped down to the solare monoflap. (Nearly impossible to find in my specs but hey, a girl can dream.)

Providing an outstanding closeness to your horse, the Vinici Solare jumping saddle is certainly one that stands out from the crowd.

This saddle is high-spec throughout and has been developed to incorporate the well-established Vinici single/mono flap design.

Feeling at one with your horse is key to success and the hugely popular Vinici design has now also been developed into a jumping saddle with a slimline, one-piece tree making it ultra-lightweight.

This superb saddle incorporates the highly regarded flexible overlay girthing system with the straps lying on top of the panel, helping to aid rider-feel.

Designed to enhance rider position when show jumping, the Vinici Solare is a fantastic example of the craftsmanship and technological advances available today.

Really? Does anyone care about all the marketing speak? I get it. They want you to talk to their reps in order to buy their saddles. (Upsell! Upsell! Upsell!) However, it is a really frustrating experience when you already know that you don’t like the rep in your area, AND you have limited funds to try all their models without the support of a rep.

I figure it is worth comparing this to the Stubben saddle explanations:

The S Roxane is a deep jump seat, square cantle saddle that features matching panels and large blocks in both the front and rear. It offers great security while using softer leather on the layered fronts to provide for a very comfortable ride.

Starting at $3,695.

The Ascend offers a classic hunter coupled with the advanced technology of Stübben spring tree at an affordable price point. It features an extra soft seat with a narrow twist and square cantle. The nicely padded smooth fronts combined with the versatility of our velcro block system allows the rider to choose the level of support desired. The rich redwood colored leather, complimented by a soft contrast stitching, offers an immediate broken in feel.

The hunter rider will experience an effortless, close-contact feeling with the controlled performance of this exquisite creation by Stübben.

Starting price of $2,495.

Alright so… You can see through these two examples that the Roxanne is a deeper, more secure saddle. Probably better for fox hunting. Meanwhile, the Ascend has a more narrow twist and is probably better for jumping in the ring, but with more support than a more traditional jumper saddle.

So while I continue to try and sell my Dressage saddle, I will probably keep the Black Country Solare in the back of my mind. I LOVED the bliss, but the chance to save $1000+ and still end up with a great saddle… that is hard to pass up.

So what do you all think? Do you think this is a purposeful tactic on Black Country’s part to encourage people to use their reps? Or do you think it is just a marketing person gone haywire? Ooooorrrr Does this type of thing not bother you at all?

Let me know your thoughts!

This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. Erin

    Team Bliss! Get what you want for both of you right off.
    Plus, it made your butt sing.

    1. Emily

      Hahahaha I really want my butt to sing.

  2. Amanda C

    I have always found those stupid descriptions to be particularly useless anyway, so I just go by eyeball and feel and don’t even read that crap.

    1. Emily

      Hahaha I have mostly just been eyeballing them at this point… It is just frustrating when you don’t have the ability to see them in person and sit in them. I could probably do a whole rant on Black Country’s use of MySpace angles…

      1. Amanda C

        Maybe try finding pics of the saddles on facebook instead? Real people selling them (even if not one in your specs) probably take more reasonable/realistic pictures than some of these saddle companies do.

        1. Emily

          Yeah I have been stalking the facebook posts. Once I sell my Dressage saddle (aka in year 3005), I will be able to have a more serious look at what’s out there.

  3. Nadia

    I’m with Amanda- I’ve never taken into account what their descriptions say. Especially since a “deep seat” can be completely different for two different brands.
    Interestingly I DID just try the Genesis as a potential dressage saddle for June, and while I liked it, it was way to narrow for her in a Medium, so I feel your woes.

    1. Emily

      Hey – if you want to try a genesis dressage saddle in a wide tree, hit me up 😉 Hahaha

      Yup, descriptions are useless. I will just stare at their pictures taken from weird angles and try to guess… I guess lol

  4. the_everything_pony

    Yeah I hate when companies do this. It’s so annoying. I think it’s setting everyone up for failure in all honesty, because if you can’t see through a description which saddle might fit you/your horse best, you can’t tell the saddle fitter which saddles you like. Which then as the day goes on and you’re trying saddle after saddle, it feels pointless. That’s just me lol.

    1. Emily

      Exactly hahaha. Even when I had brand reps out they either
      A – only have demos in medium trees
      B – Brought out saddles that are completely unsuitable
      C – Have one that they swear WILL fit my horse… with $1K in custom options

      At this point, I will know what works… I just need to see/read it!

      1. the_everything_pony

        Exactly! I wonder sometimes if they’re really able to dupe people with the “it WILL fit your horse!…. for just $999 more!” lolol

        1. Emily

          Oh this demo saddle is EXACTLY what we would order for you…
          Except with a short, forward flap, half panels, upswept back, different tree, and the stirrup bars set farther back.

  5. Centered in the Saddle

    As a person who has done marketing writing/product descriptions for my job, the Black Country descriptions honestly sound like a writer who was trying to write copy to make two saddles sound different when in reality they probably don’t have that many distinguishing characteristics. It’s just fluff copy that’s easy to churn out without thinking that hard.

    1. Emily

      What do you all flock your saddles with? Oh It’s 100% Fluff Copy.
      hahaha Yes. totally fluff copy. I bet the person that wrote these has never actually sat in a saddle…

  6. roamingridersite

    First, I ADORE my Black Country and the rep who came to fit it was amazing. I know she travels up and down the East Coast. I’m not sure if she goes to KY or not, but if she does she is worth at least an email to. I bought my Wexford used on Facebook and the rep looked at Eeyore before looking at the saddle and then proclaimed my cheap find to be exactly what we needed. A few flocking adjustments and it was perfect. She didn’t even try to sell me new billets when I asked if I should change them out and said to get back with her in 1 year for the next check. Really, she is amazing.

    As for the descriptions, when I was looking at the BC I was a bit confused by the way they wrote them up. Pretty non descript. I know the rep I worked with said that she looks at how the rider tends to sit in their current saddle before recommending one model over another. Basically if you tend towards a tipped forward posture, she may pick a Quantum for you, but if you tend towards a chair seat it may be the Solare (don’t quote me that is an example) and according to her anyway, they aren’t an easy comparison just by saying a deep seat or forward flap because those terms are very personal to each rider.

    Good luck on the saddle search. It sounds like you have been through the full spectrum as it is.

    1. Emily

      For the record, I think you are spot on with the Quantum/Solare thing. I think the reason I liked the Solare is because it helped me sit a bit more forward.

      Would love your rep’s name. Can I send you an instagram message?

  7. Holly

    BC was the ticket to my dressage saddles woes, so I’m pretty much in butt singing bliss right now, but I agree their website and copy sucks. I think my saddle is a W (might be a MW?) but obviously you’re welcome to sit in it.

    1. Emily

      Oh I would love to check it out at Team Challenge! (assuming you are bringing it haha)

      1. Holly

        I would take it to work with me if I could, I’m sure as hell not going to team challenge without it

        1. Emily

          Bahhahahaha now THAT is the way I want to feel about a saddle.

  8. Megan K

    a friend of mine got a black county custom made and oh my god, the thing never stopped twisting on the horse’s back no matter what they did to it. She ended up selling it and getting a devoucoux. that experience kinda turned me off of black countys, at least as distributed by my local rep. Maybe a different rep would work differently.

    it sucks HOW MANY you have tried, at some point it makes you feel like nothing is working and you’re just screwed.

    1. Emily

      I feel screwed hahaha. I don’t think I would order a black country new. I would just order the bliss (the rep in my area has a STELLAR reputation). I would only go with a black country if I could find one used, in my specs, and have a trial on it.

      honestly, I have been avoiding buying new because it seems that, no matter what brand, way more people have issues with their saddles than are happy with them. At custom prices, that is just INSANE to me.

      1. Megan K

        i think it very much depends on the brand and the particular rep you have.

        I have a county, which a lot of people have issues with. but my rep has been saddle fitting LONG before she became a county rep, and I respect her and her work. I’ve been very happy with my saddle. It fits both of us perfectly. I’m not sure I’d recommend a county to EVERYONE purely because.. not everyone has access to my awesome rep 😛

        I got a custom because I was tired of getting saddles that half fit me, or half fit the horse, or half fit neither of us. I know I’m a funny shape: I have LONG ASS THIGHS that hop over the front kneeroll of almost every saddle I’ve sat in. My horse is super narrow with the biggest withers I’ve ever ridden. I could spend years trying to find a custom saddle that worked for both of us… or I could find a rep I trust and bite the bullet. I picked the latter and have never looked back. I can only afford ONE fancy custom saddle, so we’ll probably never have a dressage saddle that really fits, but as I dont forsee myself pursuing upper level dressage right now I’m fine with that.

        Every time you post about this i feel your pain HARD. I’ve so, so, so been there. I hope you find a solution!!! If you keep circling back to the custom bliss, and you like the rep, then it might be worth it.

        1. Emily

          Ugh yeah. I think that is where I am at. There are one or two reps that I really trust, and I am probably just going to order a saddle from one of them once my Dressage saddle sells. This whole mess of playing around to try and find a wide, but not too wide, flat but not too flat, short paneled saddle for May that also has a semi deep seat, close contact feel, short but forward flap for me is just.. not happening.

  9. Heather

    I’m really hard to fit, forget about my horse! My short legs generally don’t fit in normal flaps, so I’ve learned what works for me and I can get a good idea visually as to if the saddle will work for me or not. So I wouldn’t even look at the descriptions, I just look at the pretty pictures. Also because how a saddle feels is so subjective – if it makes my butt sing, it won’t necessarily make other people’s butts sing.

    1. Emily

      Hahhaa Girl I feel you on that one. I can click through THOUSANDS of saddles and check off all the reasons they won’t work. It is really subjective.

  10. Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership

    Saddlers all seem to be the devil. Half the time what they say is just gibberish and marketing speak. I find that trying saddles is the only way to figure anything out.

    1. Emily

      I agree. It just sucks that it’s so expensive to even try stuff!

  11. emma

    ugh i’m so skeptical of the entire saddle fitting/marketing/selling industry at this point (not including the makers tho!). like… there’s so much garbage out there, so much jargon, so many gimmicks and factions (wool! foam! treeless!) and everyone has an agenda. after trying to go “by the book” (and spending $$$) for a couple years, i decided that my horse will tell me if the fit doesn’t work for him. and, turns out, a lot of horses go very well and happily in fits that would NOT be considered technically correct according to the books. so…. listening to the horse about how they feel tells us a lot.

    meanwhile, somehow we as riders manage to lie to ourselves about fit lol (or at least i do), and will go with something that doesn’t work for us. my experience has been that a bad fit for me only just makes things worse for the horse, bc it’s like the horse is carrying two separate entities rather than one cohesive balanced unit. so yea… at this point, all that marketing lingo is just so much crap if it doesn’t help you understand what will suit your geometry etc.

    fwiw the way you’re going about things – trying all the saddles etc – is basically the approach i took, too. tho i’m lucky enough to have a fairly robust consignment network within a 45min drive that has unlimited free trials. and also – i would 100% try a saddle flocked with Fluff Copy (TM) omfg haha

    1. Emily

      I might start a saddle brand… 100% Fluff Copy. I bet all the H/J people at WEF would pay $$$$$ for it!

      My stubben works well enough for May, but not nearly good enough for me. So frustrating. It is definitely a WHOLE LOT of TOM FOOLERY happening with that industry.

  12. eventerinprogress

    I feel every bit of this.

    Trying to find a jump saddle with similar specs as my dressage has been basically impossible, and most of that has been achieved by emailing the companies directly because their blurbs have been so incredibly useless.

    1. Emily

      Soooo useless. It’s an insult to anyone with any clue as to what they are even looking for.

  13. martidoll123

    Wow that was a lot of comments to read through. I still want a Stubben like mine in same specs EXCEPT a smidge bigger for my fat ass. I bought the demo i could afford. I know I could sell mine to get what i want…but i can’t imagine the hell you have gone through. UGH. the good thing is we all learn from you as you suffer through this 🙂 HA!

    Hope you can sell your dressage saddle soon so you can just order a damn Bliss. And be Blissful 🙂 HA HAHA

    1. Emily

      DYING TO SELL MY DRESSAGE SADDLE. The new Stubben rep in KY is a good friend of Erin’s, so hopefully she can find someone to love it.

      1. martidoll123

        oohhh see if that new stubben rep comes to TN (NOT that i need anything now just asking…for a friend) HA

  14. L. Williams

    It’s definitely just a marketing game to reel people in.

  15. Katie

    Stumbled on this thread and now feel the need to try a bliss. Not the my current horse is difficult to fit, but having been through some saddle woes previously I don’t want to order anything I don’t absolutely love and finding good reps is so hard! I did own a Black country Maelstrom that I LOVED, but didn’t fit my last horse. Loved one of the stubben dressage saddles, but no butt singing in their jump saddles.

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