From Endurance to Dressage
My "New" County Connection
Three weeks ago, I brought home a (used) County Connection dressage saddle to try out. My Custom Revolution was starting to show some wear. Knowing how much I was not looking forward to buying a saddle online, I took advantage of being able to demo a local saddle that didn't include any shipping. After a three day trial, I bought the saddle.
Even with a trial period, I was still worried that the saddle wouldn't be a good fit for one of us and that a few weeks of ownership would reveal some glaring fit issue. I am happy to report that I like the saddle even more now than I did when I first bought it.
I took some photos over the weekend of both saddles, and I am hoping that someone can explain what I am feeling in the County. I know my last lesson, which took place just before switching saddles, cannot account for the sudden improvement in my riding. All of a sudden, I can feel my seat bones, my balance has improved, and I am sitting the trot with a lot less difficulty. Chemaine Hurtado is a great teacher, but she's not a miracle worker.
During the very first ride in the County, I was worried about a chair seat. I just could not get my legs underneath me. If I stretch really well before riding, that is no longer an issue. The funny thing is that if you look at both saddles, the Custom seems to have a more forward flap than does the County.
Both saddles have the same seat size, but I occasionally bump into the pommel of the County when I lose my balance or post while leaning forward. This never happened in the Revolution. This leads me to think that the County is deeper, and however strange it may sound, the seat of the County also feels flatter. How can it be flatter and deeper.
In the County, I can feel both of my seat bones as though I am sitting on a wide chair. Does the County have less padding? I feel more "perchy" in the Custom as though I am hovering over it. It's almost as though I can smoosh my lady parts flatter in the County than I can in the Custom.
I think the twist is nearly identical in both saddles since my stirrup length is the same from one saddle to the other. Rather than use the leathers that came with the County, I took my Webbers from the Custom and used them on the County. If the County feels flatter, does that suggest a wider twist?
One aspect of the saddle that I know to be different is the knee rolls. The ones on my Custom are attached really poorly, and as such, they don't support my leg at all. The rolls on the County are much more firmly fixed. I actually find myself pushing against them, especially when I am lifting Izzy's withers in the canter.
Overall, I am riding Izzy so much better in the County than I was in the Custom. In the County, I feel that my body is in a more correct position. My seat bones are underneath me, and I can feel them. I am more balanced, and best of all, Izzy is working better than he ever has.
What do you think?
I like my County Competitor for a lot of the same reasons. I bought it used on FB last year and I swear I can sit deeper in it than I can my very beloved reining saddle, which seems bizarre. If I'm going to do canter work at all I prefer the County just because I feel like I get such good contact at the canter.
11/10/2017 06:34:46 am
YES! The canter is where I am really feeling plugged into the saddle.
11/7/2017 06:42:39 am
The way you describe the feel of the seat makes me think that the new saddle has a MUCH wider twist, which you like. My husband has a Custom Matrix which has a pretty wide twist, and I always feel like I'm sitting on a wide board. My saddle has a very narrow twist, which I prefer. You can see how fast the front of the saddle rises up on the Custom - I forget what that's called but it sounds like you prefer a slower rise, which the County visibly has. Also the County clearly has a deeper seat - ie the cantle comes up at a steeper angle. Saddle fit is such an individual thing, but I'm glad you found one that you like so much! The right saddle can really make a huge difference.
11/10/2017 06:36:45 am
You might be right. Since my stirrup length didn't change, I don't know about the twist though, but it does feel like that. I sat in a different custom and had to drop my stirrups two holes! That saddle was deep, but don't know how else it was different.
So funny, those are the two saddles I tried last year for an extended time, and I still use the custom on my coach's horse since she bought it! The custom doesn't work for me at all...in fact there's only one person in the barn that it really suits and who loves it. The county connection seems to fit to more people, at least in our barn. I ended up with a competitor, but a the majority of my barn mates have the connection!
11/10/2017 06:38:19 am
The trainer that I bought it from rode in County's exclusively because of their ability to fit so many horses and riders. I was worried at the start, but I sure do love it now!
11/9/2017 06:44:14 am
My friend has a County jump saddle, and I looove hers. The seat LOOKS flatter, but doesn't feel that way and it has what I call a "sit spot"... like right where your seat bones go. I really like it.
11/10/2017 06:38:52 am
That what mine feels like!
Comments are closed.
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)
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3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: