From Endurance to Dressage
Not long ago, I wrote about my prematurely aging Custom Revolution. Frankly, I am a bit disappointed that such an expensive saddle could wear out so quickly. I bought the saddle used about 6 years ago, but it was in like new condition. I've kept it covered, cleaned, and well conditioned. Even so, it has started to fall apart. The seat has a split, the pommel's leather is cracking, and the stitching on both knee rolls is nearly gone.
The local Trilogy rep suggested I get a seat saver, which I did. She also said that the saddle had plenty of miles left in it and that I should keep using it. I agreed, but I also started looking around to get a feel for what I might like as a replacement.
As luck would have it, I was able to hop up on the ranch owner's horse who was sporting a newer Custom Revolution. Even though the seat size was a bit small at 17 inches, I was instantly impressed with the deep seat. It was certainly deeper than mine anyway.
That planted a seed that started growing, and before I knew it, I started getting messages from people selling saddles. The most intriguing email came on behalf of Leslie Webb, a well known trainer, competitor, and author.
Leslie lives in Bakersfield. Last spring, she decided to retire from showing and riding although she is still available for coaching, clinics, and lessons. This fall, she decided to clear out her barn and tack room which included nine County saddles.
I didn't know much about County saddles, but some quick research revealed that they're a workhorse of a saddle known for their ability to fit a wide variety of horses. I gave Leslie a call and within a week I had one of her saddles to try out over the weekend.
Given that my Custom still has plenty of wear left in it, I decided I would give the County a try but only for comparison's sake. It wasn't in my budget to buy a new saddle, but then I tossed it up on Izzy. The dang thing fit like it was made for him. It definitely fit better than my Custom which has always been a wee bit too wide for him.
Just in case it didn't fit as well as I thought, I decided to lunge Izzy before getting on. It was probably just coincidence, but his stride was suddenly longer than it usually is when I lunge. I climbed on and immediately grinned. I had no idea that I actually preferred a deeper seat.
I worked Izzy at all three gaits. Sitting the trot became nearly effortless, and the canter felt amazing. Interestingly, I was unable to do a rising trot. I simply couldn't get my legs underneath me. I was disappointed but secretly relieved that the saddle wasn't going to work.
I called Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, who suggested two things. The first was that I needed to stretch my hip flexors. The County was putting my pelvis in a better position, but I was probably drawing my leg up. Additionally, she suggested I get video of me riding and send it to her so she could see what was happening.
When I next rode in the saddle, I had best friend video, but before I got in the saddle, I did some whole body stretching. Amazingly, my leg draped better and I was able to post the trot. All of a sudden, I really wanted the saddle, but I forced myself to ride in it a third time before making a decision.
Of course I bought the saddle, a County Connection with a 17.5 inch seat and a medium tree. I've been riding Izzy in it all week, and I can't believe how much better I am riding. I am struggling less with my position because I feel more balanced in the saddled.
Last night, I was able to school Izzy through some naughty moments much more effectively. In fact, we tried changes of lead through the trot for the first time and nailed them.
It could just be coincidence of course, but I am going to believe that the saddle is magic.
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 Second Level. 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%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
3/6-7 El Sueño (***)
4/17-18 El Sueño (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read