From Endurance to Dressage
Besides having what I considered a really successful show day, I was also lucky enough to find a County Saddle Fitter at the show. A few years ago I retired my Custom Revolution saddle and replaced it with a new-to-me County Connection. I have been pretty happy with this saddle as it has met both Izzy's needs as well as my own. I've had the flocking adjusted a few times, but my previous saddle fitter never loved the fit for Izzy, so I was eager to hear what Tamara Solange thought of the saddle's fit.
First of all, let me just say that Tamara is one of those rarer saddle fitters who will work on any brand of saddle. She explained that wool is wool, so if she can help a client get a better fit in a saddle that she hasn't sold you, she is happy to do so. I really appreciated that about her. My previous saddle fitter felt the same way. Tamara's process was nearly identical to my last saddle fitter's, and she was equally willing to answer questions and explain her process.
Before I rode, I met her at her tent and inquired about a fitting. She volunteered to watch my test to get a feel for how my saddle was working and how it fit me. That was also something I really appreciated. It's clear that Tamara cares about horses and her clients. Once my test was over, she and her assistant brought their materials down to my trailer where Izzy would be most comfortable.
Tamara started off with a hands on diagnostic. She explained that she was feeling for knots or places where the wool flocking had compacted or shifted. Of course my saddle's wool needed to be adjusted. The first thing she found was that immediately beneath my seat bones, the wool was compacted. This is quite normal. She was able to show me how the saddle's panels get flattened on the edge which creates a sort of pleat instead of it being filled out and round. To fix this, she simply pushed the wool back into place so that it rounded the edge of the panel. She then added more flocking to fill in the low spot on the outer side of the panel, being careful to keep it level down the length of the panel.
Each time she made an adjustment, she placed the saddle on Izzy's bare back to see how level it was sitting. She worked on both panels alternately until she felt comfortable with how it sat. She also looked at my pads to see how thick they were. She explained that horses like Izzy, those with steep withers can be harder to fit because the pommel needs to be so high to clear the withers. This in turn requires a rear gusset that broadens and flattens the weight bearing area in the rear panel area.
While my saddle is wide and worked great for my well sprung Arab, it is a tad too wide for Izzy. According to Tamara, this is better for Izzy because if I went to a narrower saddle, I would run into front to back balance issues given Izzy's steep withers. She felt that using my pads to get a level balance ultimately created a better fit for him, and I wouldn't incur the expense of getting a weird shaped saddle that would be difficult to resale later on.
When Tamara was sure she liked her adjustments, she had me girth up Izzy and ride him both directions in a small circle. She wanted to make sure that the points of the tree weren't digging in. When Izzy dropped his head to munch on grass, she cheered. Being willing to stretch down on a small circle with me in the tack proved to her that he was comfortable with her adjustments, and that the saddle fit correctly.
I am excited to find a saddle fitter close to me. She comes to Bakersfield at least twice a year, and if needed, I can always make the hour or so drive to her. If you're anywhere here in Kern County, I can recommend Tamara as an excellent saddle fitter whether you ride in a County Saddle or not. Her fee, $185, seemed quite reasonable considering how high everything related to horses has become.
So, that concludes my weekend of I got you, Izzy, and I'll be alright!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: