Burning Money. Saddle Fit 2.0

Okay…anyone else having issues with the new wordpress editor??? Pictures are coming in either super big or super tiny and not where I want them. Frustrating. Sorry for any weirdness in this post as I try to figure this out. 

Well, there is $230 I’ll never see again. Plus I lost my temper which is something I try to avoid doing and in general I am pretty good at fuming silently to myself. Of course the moment I snapped was the moment Bette, who had so kindly invited me, happened to pull in and walk up. Sorry, Bette. My limit had been reached.

H’Appy hasn’t been too many places with me and I was pretty nervous about how he would behave. I warned both the fitter and the lovely woman in charge of organizing this that he can be interesting in new places and asked if I could come early. I was the first appointment of the day and was given the ok. We pulled in about 40 minutes early and I unloaded H’Appy to walk him around the facility and settle in.

Easy big fella

Turns out I needn’t have worried. He was on his best behavior and beyond some angry grazing he never made a peep, pulled on the lead rope or acted a fool. I was really, really proud of my big orange beast. He has come a long way from the anxiety ridden mess that I brought home. 

When it was time for the fitting, I walked him over and introduced ourselves. I had had a lengthy conversation several days prior with the fitter’s wife and went over my saddle fit concerns, his size and background, my background and budget. They knew he went in a wide tree in other brands and I was looking for a close contact/jump saddle in a 17-17.5″ seat. When we walked up I told the fitter that H’Appy gets nervous around new people and asked him to take it slow before poking or prodding him. I filled him in on the history since May, the lameness eval and the fact that his current saddle is too narrow down his spine putting pressure on the spine and creating back pain. I showed him the area of concern as well. 

Seriously, calm down!

Well, my idea and his idea of slow were very different and before either of us knew it he was digging his fingers into the spot I told him was sore. Surprise! H’Appy about flew out of his skin and any calm he had before that was out the window. The guy turned to me and told me I needed to put him on a muscle relaxer. I blinked and stared blankly not knowing really how to respond to this.

He moved on commenting “I don’t think your horse trusts me” as H’Appy bent like a pretzel trying to keep his eye on this strange man who was determined to shove his fingers in all his sore spots. Once he poked his other side he commented again about putting him on a muscle relaxer to which I responded that my vet said no drugs were needed, had prescribed massage which I got done (of note the massage lady who took her time found soreness in his right shoulder stemming from his foot pain but barely anything in the back) and a new saddle which was why I was there. No medicines thank you.

I mean really…

The fitter moved on to use his super cool measuring stick and make a tracing of his back at the gullet area. He measured him as an extra, extra (yup two extras) wide in the brands he carried and then told me that he only had medium trees with him. I stared. At this point my patience was about up with this process. If he didn’t have any wide trees he should have told me that on the phone so I knew ahead of time that I wouldn’t be riding. In fact, had he told me he didn’t have anything wider than a medium I would have ridden with the potential new trainer and saved the hour trip and money. But there I was so I stomped off to hand H’Appy over to Dusty so I could look at the saddles he had.

He carries Smith Worthington and Prestige and pulled several out for me to look at and sit in on a saddle stand. Only one fit my needs. One was an AP that he was fond of but I told him I don’t want an AP saddle and the others didn’t fit me at all. The issue was that it was too narrow to go on my horse. So quite pointless really as we all know the fit in motion can be very different than on a stand. 

It was a pretty saddle though. Grippy, soft leather, and was comfortable enough without stirrups or a horse underneath it

He tried to pressure me into buying it. He had a whole talk about how the tree can be widened and the flocking redone and while I don’t question his knowledge or ability there, why on earth would I buy a saddle I never got to try on my horse? How does that make sense?

Then he dropped the bomb that he doesn’t sell any saddles he physically has and it would be 8-10 weeks before I could get anything. What the actual heck?!? I had told him very clearly on the phone that I needed a saddle now. Why not inform me of this little fact before?

Right at this moment I was done. I knew I would need to pay for this and had gotten nothing of use from my afternoon. I explained to him very pointedly that I would not order a saddle I haven’t ridden in and that is when Bette walked up while he mentioned for the fourth time about needing to use a muscle relaxer except now he decided to inform me that “it will help his brain” and questioned the need to find a new vet because obviously my vet was terrible for not putting him on drugs. 

And because my blood pressure is now up again, here is a picture of my love with vampire teeth. I need to calm down.

I lost it. Completely lost it. First, no a muscle relaxer has no effect on the brain which is not a muscle. Some can have a sedative effect but there is no mental benefit from a muscle relaxer. Second, you are not a vet. I have already told you I’m not going to drug my horse and either talk to me about a saddle or nothing at all. I was mean. I was bitchy. I was done.

I walked back to the truck seeing flames, turned around to grab my riding equipment that I didn’t get to use and Bette walked back to the trailer with me to meet H’Appy. We chatted a bit and then I went home. On the way home, while Dusty drove, I began a fevered search online of back pain symptoms, diagnoses and treatments. H’Appy had never shown so much reaction to back palpation before but if he was that painful it could account for his demeanor under saddle. I ran that rabbit hole during the hour drive home. 

Once home I palpated the crap out of his back the way I was taught by my vet. Start at the withers and using the meaty part of your fingers, slowly and firmly slide down the length of the back towards the butt looking for a reaction. I did it three times pressing down as hard as I could. Nothing. No flinch. No ear flick in my direction. No reaction whatsoever.  Let me repeat that. NO REACTION WHATSOEVER. 

Here is a hint. Any horse no matter how good they feel can react to finger tips and nails dug into a single spot without warning.


No pain. No reaction.

All is not lost though! Last Tuesday I ran into the local tack shop to get a new blanket for Gem. Hers is nearing 7 years and has never been waterproofed since purchase and the heavy rain (we ended up with just over 5″ Monday-Thursday last week) made me worry it wouldn’t be good enough. Anyway. There sat a gorgeous Black Country Wexford saddle on consignment in my budget. It looked a bit narrow but I took it out on trial because why not?. I rode in it Friday and my butt sang the songs of the heavens. Well, mostly. It was a bit big for me and a size narrow for him (it was a medium wide) but I did like it. The thigh rolls kept me so secure I felt like he could have bucked to the moon and I would have stayed on.

The Wexford is a deep seated close contact built to feel extra secure and is very close to an all purpose. I’ve scoured the internet looking for reviews and read everything from “too bulky, no feel of the horse” to “I ride to the 1* level in it on xc and stadium and love it”. I was a bit worried about how much saddle there is. It is billed as perfect for the novice jumper, fox hunter or any one who wants a arm chair feel. Hmmm…not sure I want an arm chair feel in my saddle. I did find out that they make a Ricochet model that uses the Wexford tree and a traditional jump seat that is more low profile and I’d like to try that as well before deciding. There is a Black Country dealer in Aiken, but she charges $200 + travel fees for a fitting and I am already $300 in the whole with useless fittings now. I’m going to contact Trumbull Mountain and see if they can offer suggestions over the phone/internet and try out a few models through them for minimal shipping costs since I already have a good feel for what I need – 17″ (hurray for half sizes!)for me and wide for lard ass. If I was ordering custom made, I’d go the dealer route but I can’t afford that so will need to be looking for a close enough fit in a used saddle.


38 thoughts on “Burning Money. Saddle Fit 2.0”

  1. Oh HELL no, I would have lost it too. I would have asked for my money back because talk about a waste of time for you!

    I hope TM can help you with a Black Country – I looked at those too when I bought my County and heard great things about them!


    1. The reviews I read compared them to County a lot. I love the County saddles but even used they are well outside my budget. It sounded like a lot of people in my position went to Black Country and were happy.


  2. ugh i’m sorry it was such a bad experience with the fitter. i’m so deeply skeptical of that entire profession at this point, even as i understand that…. ya know, saddle fit matters. ugh. saddle shopping and fitting is the absolute worst. i’ve heard great things about black country and LOVED the one i sat in, but yea. monies. so so so much monies….. good luck! also fwiw robaxin was a miracle drug for charlie – he went on a 2 week course starting the very day i brought him home. i’m not a vet and obvi don’t give medical advice, but i’ve heard that back soreness can be really challenging and often doesn’t go away on its own. meaning it can be useful to give a little medicinal support along with the stuff you’re already doing with H’Appy in terms of massage and saddle fit, etc. obvi the messenger in this case was…. a bit unreliable haha. but if H’Appy is still so sore it might be worth checking in with your vet to see if she thinks robaxin might actually help him.


    1. The thing is that he isn’t painful when I palpate. He wasn’t for the massage lady (lots of soreness right shoulder) or for Dusty who pokes way harder than anyone I know. It’s hard to medicate a problem that isn’t really there.

      My plan is to recheck with vet once I have a saddle. She can then eval his feet after a few cycles of shoes, the saddle and make any recs at that time


      1. that makes good sense. i mean. anybody can get a pain reaction from poking if that’s specifically what they want to get haha, glad to hear that you aren’t seeing the same indications of a pain issue during your more normal palpations!


      2. I’m not saying he isn’t sore. He is. It’s just that I’d rather fix the cause of the soreness (bad gait due to painful feet and bad saddle fit) before throwing meds at him. He may need robaxin and I’m fine giving it but not until I know I’m not still hurting him


  3. Damn, I’m frustrated with you! I now realize I was very lucky: in our area we have an independent saddle fitter, she sells nothing. Has a trailer full of the type you specify, I tried I think 22 saddles that day. And I bought a used saddle on her recommendation, no commission for her or anything. Wish you had that there! Hoping the next person isn’t so pokey to H’appy!


  4. I’ve heard great things about the quality and durability of Black Country saddles! I looked at a couple of them when I was in my saddle search last year. Good luck! Forget that saddle fitter – waste of time, money and emotions!


  5. How frustrating! I’m so annoyed for you! People who are experts about everything make me crazy. It’s like, you come to them for one concern, and because you consider them an “expert” on that, they think they’re an expert on everything. Good on you for expressing yourself and going home. I think so many time we think “but people said this person was good” and think we’ll make a go of it. But really, people drink the Kool Aid far too often and it’s way better to trust your instincts. Or, it has been for me at least. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah. Like ok you mentioned it once. Fine. I wasn’t receptive. Move on. By the fourth time you jam it down my throat I’m going to be not so nice.

      I’m not against medicating my horse if needed. But I work in medicine. If the underlying reason for the issue isn’t fixed no amount of medicine will help. I need to correct the bad posture due to painful feet. Check. Next is fix the saddle issue. Once that is done I can then help him with meds to get feeling great. But shoving meds down his throat while simultaneously hurting him with a bad saddle won’t fix crap

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m going to text you in a second 😉

    Ugh about the fitting. Muscle relaxers relax muscles, not change brain chemistry (I’m as unscientific as they come- give me all the business majors- so if I know that, everyone should) and what a waste of money to not even have saddles in the sizes you were clear you needed.

    I used Trumbull Mtn to ship back and forth a few trial saddles and they are excellent to deal with. One trial I had, it rained the whole week and they happily extended the trial an extra 7 days. I hope they can get you riding in something soon!


  7. HOLY SH!T. I would have been SUPER PISSED. You may want to look into Hastilow USA used saddles, if you’re going the Black Country route. I got a super nice Used Black Country Quantum from them a few years ago. http://shop.hastilowusa.com/saddles.html?product_condition=20

    I have never had any personal dealings with them, but there are numerous BAD REVIEW threads on COTH for Trumbull Mountain. Just be careful!



    1. Hastilow was the first fitter I tried and while they didn’t really help me besides seeing what I didnt like AND doing the tracings and letting me have them but their website does have a lot of used saddles and they were very nice to deal with (Even if I didn’t get what I wanted from them) so definitely look around……at used saddle places. Since you kind of know what you want you might want to put a ISO ad somewhere too!! Worth a try. Oh and if you are just going to throw money around, you can just send it to me (I kid I kid I know how mad you were when you were texting me yesterday LOLLOL)…;)


      1. It feels like I’m burning money left and right but that’s horses in general. Ugh. I was so pissed when I left there. Knowing what I want will help me place ISO ads and look around easier. B.C. has a used section with good prices on the website plus several other places carry them too. Hopefully I can find what I want sooner rather than later

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I really liked the BC Quantum. It was a really well balanced saddle. I don’t know what leather was used, but it wore like iron, which was great for me, as I’m not easy on tack. The 4* eventer in my area rides in Black County and loves them.


  8. OMG I would be FURIOUS. I had someone try to sell me a $6K CUSTOM saddle, but she only had demos in Mediums. She told me I could try it, but I would have to borrow someone else’s horse… Nope for $6K MAY would have to love it AS MUCH as I would.

    Anyway – reach out to Equestrian Imports. They have 2 W, 17.5″ Black Country saddles AND an Amerigo Vega in a W, 17″ seat. They will do a full online saddle consultation for $135. I KNOW it feels like lighting more money on fire… but that is less than the cost of shipping and returning one saddle.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I can not believe they try and sell you a saddle that they don’t even have in stock to try on your horse. That is the hugest red flag ever. You should be able to ride in the saddle, get pictures, measurements etc before even considering buying. What a crock he was.

    I agree with Equestrian Imports. She can even do the fitting for you remotely, and she is good. She will tell you exactly what brands and models will work for you, then you can scour the internet for deals.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. 😂medical advice from nonmedical people. Id be pretty vocal about paying for a service that wasn’t what was discussed. Why I don’t like sales people, they get under my skin so fast. Hope you can find something.


  11. Catching up on reading blogs but WOW. Dear god I’m sorry. That is HORRID. I don’t think I would have even paid him, and I would’ve been just as pissed as you. That was just ridiculous with drugging and whatnot. I would quite like to punch him for you. There was a vet I knew that in order to let people know their horse needed their SI done, he’d take a pen and push super hard over their croup and of course many of them practically fell down. Even horses that weren’t sore would nearly drop to the ground, and while most of the horses did need the SI injection (they were reiners and got sore often from stopping), the ones that were truly sore would palpate sore when I just did my fingertips. I mean you can make a sound horse sore by pressing in the right spots with the wrong parts of your hands. UGH he sounds like the worst tho.

    I’m glad you found a saddle that seems to work! Crossing my fingers you find something!


  12. Ohhhh my goodness, I would have lost it, too. Saddle fitting is so important and it seems there are some really terrible fitters out there! Hopefully at least you have a good lead with the Black County. I have never ridden in one but I have heard good things!


  13. I would have been furious and just left. It’s not like he actually did anything, other than poke your horse and bring the wrong sized saddle.

    I am superfrustrated for you right now.


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