Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why I love Black Country saddles

Well, my new-used County Perfection saddle fits me well, and it fits Riley well, but it does NOT fit Harv. And now that I have experienced the County's 17.5" seat I know that I've been riding in a saddle too big for me for years. Saddle fitters have told me that to fit my long femur I need an 18" saddle, but...

They were wrong!
They were wrong, and I have an 18" Black Country Eden that is too big for me but fits Harv. The good news is,  a little Net research and a few phone calls are making this possible. I'm consigning my 18" Black Country Eden and getting a used 17.5" version with serge panels (soft wool underside, not leather). I trialed it for five days. Harv is in heaven. I'm in heaven.

Ten things to love about Black Country saddles
I love Black Country saddles. I love the folks that make them and the folks that sell them. BC does not have the name recognition it deserves -- they are the hidden treasure of the saddle world. What makes them so wondrous?

Olympian Claudia Tarlov in a BC Eloquence saddle
  1. Great feel! Soft leather and padding make BC the "LaZBoy of saddles." When you sit in this saddle it feels like you're home.
  2. Got a cold-backed horse? They offer a serge panel option (wool underside rather than leather) for sensitive backed horses. Harv loves his!
  3. Unlimited customizations at no charge -- leather color, seat depth, gussets, billet type, you name it, they can add it.
  4. They have good resale value.
  5. Got a wide-backed horse? Try their hoop tree design.
  6. Got a thoroughbred? They have saddles to fit those big withered, slender guys. They are best known in the eventing world, I think, and they do a lot of thoroughbreds.
  7. The saddles are competitively priced, with no compromise on the quality of their "low end" saddles.
  8. Customers report fast turnaround on orders.
  9. Quality -- the leather, workmanship, and design are built to last
  10. Service! Trumbull Mountain Tack Shop is a super outfit.
     A word about Trumbull Mountain
    I believe they are the only BC dealer on the East Coast, and they are probably the biggest and most experienced BC saddle dealer in the U.S. The staff there spend time with you; they are experienced in fitting horses long distance, and they ask very detailed, astute questions. If you trial/demo a saddle, and send them good pix of the saddle on your horse, they'll give you their honest assessment of the fit. If they think another model of saddle will work better on your horse, they'll tell you, even if it is a less expensive model. I have sent pix and even a video, and I could tell when I spoke to them they watched it closely. They respond promptly via phone or email. They want you to be happy/satisfied.  Their blog  Saddle Fitting - The Inside Journey  has a lot of great information about saddle fitting, their saddles, and their company.

    I should mention that I never asked them to evaluate if the Eden fit me. The focus was Harv.  I wonder what they might have told me about the fit of the saddle to me...
    I wo
    Ralph Hill, eventer, in a BC Vinici


    COTH threads
    Black Country saddles! from
    Black Country saddles from
    Mazing Saddles!  from the British BBC


    1. My only question:

      Are you getting your Black County saddle in (gasp!) brown? ;-)

    2. No, I bought it USED -- which is crazy enuf, buying a saddle to fit a 23 year old horse. Who knows how long it'll be in use?

      But the BC brown saddles are gorgeous and you can get contrast piping on the pommel. Would've if I could've.

      The serge panels are the BEST.

    3. I'm tall too and have an 18" dressage saddle. Tell me more about how the 17.5" saddle is a better fit for your leg. I rode in a 17.5" saddle same make as mine and it seemed too small.

    4. I think it may have to do with the design of the saddle - my 18" put me in the middle of my saddle but there was a lot of pommel in front and cantle in back. The Black Country Eden saddle tends to leave you alone position-wise, which I like, but I was pretty darn far from those knee rolls.

      The County Perfection is just a nice saddle overall and it is great for a chair seat. I rode in my trainer's 17" and it was pretty good, but the 17.5 I got on trial was better. I think the smaller size put my knee in a place where the thigh block could do its thing, and that really helped stabilize my leg.

      One more thing: Conformationally, I have no butt. Maybe that's the most important point, while I might have a long leg I'm not draggin' a wagon that would take up seat space.

    5. I agree wholeheartedly with most of your post and I have recommend Black Country to many friends (and have owned one myself), but I disagree on the resale value thing. Unless you consign it through one of the few dealers that moves a lot of Black Country tack (aka Trumbull Mountain), you'll have a tough time getting its true value on the used market. I have known many folks who tried to sell their BC's on the private market and because it's still a low-name-recognition brand in the US, and because so many of them are custom (meaning it's risky to buy one without a trial ride), they can be really tough to resell privately. Fortunately Trumbull is a great organization and can usually unload a used BC on a customer who would otherwise have purchased a new BC, but it's still something for potential Black Country buyers to keep in mind (especially if they're buying a super duper ultra custom BC, like one with very specific flap options/unpopular color for their discipline/etc.)

    6. Name recognition IS a problem. Still, someone mildly interested can do a quick google search to find the many bboard postings on how great these saddles are.

      I perused and searched for the Vinici without luck -- all the older ads show them as being sold. The used one I bought was only at Rick's saddlery 3 weeks, and I wish they had posted it to Craigslist. That is their "hot new" saddle though.

      Any good saddle is likely to have customizations. My county had to be reflocked b/c it had been made for an asymmetrical horse. :-)

    7. Not into treed saddles any more. I am all Ansur treeless. Solves the fit problems and I have three happy horses.

    8. I must admit I didn't like the thigh block on the BC I tried, but I will say that the ladies at Trumbull Mountain are wonderful to work with. Very helpful.

    9. Great post. Trumbull Mountain helped me fit my horse long distance and, believe me, he was not an easy shape to match. The wonderful people at TM also considered me when they perused their saddle collection. They sent me an Albion Comfort with a short flap for the petite (5ft tall) rider!

      Like the realization, which you described, I found that I have been riding in saddles that were far too big for me. The short flap allowed me more leg on my horse and better feel than the close contact or monoflap saddles in my possession. I did not know a flap cut to fit my length of leg existed! And now I am still astounded by the lack of bulk under my leg, not to mention the impact leg position has on one's seat (and vice versa). From the way my horse feels, I would imagine that he is experiencing the same epiphany in saddle bliss.

    10. Trumbull Mountain sold me a Black Country Eden (18") for my roofy backed Thoroughbred last summer. Love it. It has dropped panels and wither gussets which help fit that narrow back and high wither, but it's a medium tree. More money than I wanted to spend but very, very comfy.

    11. I LOVE my BC Wexford! I have told so many friends that its like sitting on a couch, and when they hop aboard to try it they've all practically groaned at how nice a ride it is! And man, does that saddle really keep you in position. Its beautiful,(two-tones of brown), well made and so very comfortable... not sure I'll ever buy another brand

    12. Great post - and you're right, Black Country saddles are wonderful. The quality and fit, the delivery time and fitting options are outstanding. Just a couple of quick clarifications:

      1) Trumbull Mtn. is probably the largest BC retailer on the east coast, but there are quite a few others - Dutchess Bridle and Saddle in NY and Hastilow USA in PA are two in the northeast, and if you go further south, you have Dynamic Equine in NC, Patti Merli (who covers much of the east coast), Palmer Equine in FL and Two Time Tack in WV ... to name a few! Also, Trumbull Mtn. now has only one person on staff with any fitting experience; they lost their two most experienced fitters (Nancy Okun and myself) when the shop relocated at the end of last year.

      2) "Saddle Fitting - The Inside Journey" is actually my blog rather than Trumbull Mtn.'s, and I'm glad you find it helpful! I started writing it when I was still working there, so naturally I made reference to the shop often! They are still doing articles on their web site and in their e-newsletter, however.

      Thanks for the chance to clear things up!

      Best -
      Kitt Hazelton


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