Black Country saddles - talk to me about them!

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Black Country saddles - talk to me about them!

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  • Black country saddles
  • Can black country saddle width be altered

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  • 1 Post By JustDressageIt

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    11-23-2012, 02:53 AM
Black Country saddles - talk to me about them!

Long story short, saddle fitter came out tonight and recommended a completely custom Black Country Ricochet as Ronan is a ... Unique... Shape. Looking at ~$3300 total cost.

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    11-23-2012, 04:59 AM
Super Moderator
I've always wanted a Black Country english saddle.Black Country Saddles
    11-23-2012, 06:39 AM
So what extras is he/she ordering on it, because otherwise that looks a pretty standard flocked panel GP/Jumping saddle with medium depth tree profile?

Just interested.
    11-23-2012, 10:35 AM
Ronan is a very tough fit. We would be getting extended K-panels and a shoulder gusset.
He's not your typical fit - he's got a warmblood body and a thoroughbred wither.
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unclearthur likes this.
    11-23-2012, 12:46 PM
Originally Posted by JustDressageIt    
Ronan is a very tough fit. We would be getting extended K-panels and a shoulder gusset.
He's not your typical fit - he's got a warmblood body and a thoroughbred wither.
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I noticed afterwards the blurb says a panel suitable for TB types - the saddle pics seem to show a plain panel and round, not square, cantle so they must be old.

I assume the shoulder gusset is what they call a 'front gusset' over here (ie runs down the panel's leading edge, below the knee pad) but I've no idea what a K-panel is unless it maybe entends diagonally from behind the bars to midway down behind the kneepad - like a 'dropped' or 'TB' panel. Both would make sense because warmbloods commonly have a hollow behind the shoulder and need extra panel there - our KWPN warmblood does and so does the warmblood/Irish draught X, even though he's built like a tank.

Thanks for the info and best of luck. Black Country are really well made saddles. I always say 'Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten' :)
    11-23-2012, 12:57 PM
Super Moderator
My friend has a GP and it is so comfortable!
    11-24-2012, 02:35 AM
The full story:

I had a saddle fitter out in early October from a very reputable, high-end store in my area. He didn't spend very much time with me or Ronan, and recommended a Kentaur Naxos (the only saddle he even tried on Ronan's back) with a Thinline pad. He didn't watch me ride, and he 'forgot' (?) to call me for a 6 week follow-up appointment. Basically I feel very short-changed by this individual, and not cared about at all. My budget wasn't that large, at $2500, and I felt very brushed off.
Last week I started riding with a GP coach who said right off the bat that the saddle doesn't fit. I called the company and complained that there is no way that a saddle would become that ill-fitting within 6-7 weeks from purchase. The GP coach said, hands down, to get either a CWD or another French-made saddle.
I complained to the company that sold me this saddle, and was told to contact another saddle fitter from the same company, and that they wanted to make it right. I met with her last night and am very impressed with how thorough the entire process is, and it really showed me how much the first fitter hurried though and didn't give the whole experience. This woman did tracings, took photos, and tried on various high(er) end brands which fit awful. She then suggested that I go with an entirely custom-made Black Country saddle. It would be truly custom as the tree would be made to Ronan's back, it isn't a "custom" where the padding is rearranged to the horse's back. We discussed other options, and her opinion is that he needs the support that a Black Country K-panel (or alternatively a dropped panel) will offer. She said that some other saddles may be able to be padded up to more or less work, but she's worried that they would sore him after time.
I fully believe that a saddle that fits only needs a small saddle pad to keep the panels clean.
She has taken the initiative to talk to the owner of the store and arrange full refund of the Kentaur as well as the Thinline pad that I bought to make the Kentaur fit; with the funds going towards the new purchase. I'm kind of excited about the prospect of a custom saddle, even if it isn't French - haha. I'm also a tiny bit excited about being able to pick everything out, from the leather colour to the type of leather to the piping colour. But I am trying really hard to not let that override my sensibilities.
She recommended, hands down, a Black Country Ricochet. Total price comes to about $3300.

.. thoughts?
    11-24-2012, 02:54 AM
Green Broke
So basically, it would be $800 for you to go from non-fitting saddle to complete custom saddle.

I've never heard anything bad about Black Country saddles, I'd say go for it..... after all, you can't ride him in a poor-fitting saddle. I am highly impressed that the company is being so helpful about getting you into a saddle that actually fits.
    11-24-2012, 08:48 AM
I'm not surprised the Kentaur didn't fit - foam panel CCs rarely do, IME. And fitting with a pad? Saddle don't fit then, does it? Some 'fitters' drive me nuts

Although templating gives an accurate width it's quite rare to have a bespoke tree in terms of its shape. Not unheard of, though - I have an Ideal Grandee built on a cob tree (flatter profile than the standard tree). In most cases, given a reasonable match of tree to back profile it's the panel shaping which makes all the difference, and how it's flocked. That can mean changing the depth of the rear gusset, adding or altering the front or top-front gusset, deepening or re-shaping the panel across the diagonal (where the panel behind the knee pad turns at right-angles to run beneath the tree) or extending the panel depth down the sweat flap.

All these alterations are designed to help support the correct tree width where the horse is poorly developed (either naturally or artificially) behind the shoulder and along the top of the ribcage. Simply stuffing a standard panel to achieve the same clearance is not the method of choice because

(i) The flock often has to be quite hard to maintain support under a rider's weight and this won't encourage the horse to 'come up' under the saddle nor the back muscles to relax
(ii) The panel shape becomes more rounded, reducing the area in contact with the horse thus increasing the pressure per-square-inch in the saddle area

It sounds odd but it's true that soft flocking - over a larger area - can give the same (actually better in terms of comfort) support than harder flocking - in a small area. Of course the more panel on the horse's back the more its way of going will be affected BUT this always has to be balanced against practicalities. A horse you can't saddle is no real use.

A saddle fitted this way usually makes a real difference to the horse's comfort and way of going. Bear in mind a flocked saddle often needs a top-up after a short time (couple of weeks to a couple of months) as the wool settles, particularly on a horse with an awkward shape.

Hope that's useful info :)
    11-24-2012, 12:22 PM
Delfina - my thoughts exactly.

Unclearthur - thank you! Very helpful information indeed. I'm on my phone but will reply more later with a real keyboard.
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