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Re: [RC] [RC] ???dressage saddle??? - Flora Hillman

I second this advice.   I ride endurance in a 23 year old (personally modified from Thoroughbred-fitting to Arab/and/ Welsh pony fitting) County Competitor, zippered half chaps (the Velcro ones lose their grip after a while), and just switched to using Wintec Webbers rather than the traditional leather stirrups.  Over the years I'd gotten rather intolerant of any saddlery related hardware creating irritating bumps or bulges under my leg, especially when traveling 50 to 100 miles.  (However, I do tolerate it with my jumping saddle for foxhunting, but only because there are <ahem> centuries of tradition I have to uphold whether I like it or not.)  
The WW thin profile and low clasp eliminate that annoying mid-thigh bulge caused by the stirrup buckle.  (Not that it ever bothered me on my CC which has a nice, deep recess for the stirrup buckle to snuggle into, but I could still *see* the bump, and THAT irritated me.)
I very much like the WWs ... but a word of caution --  you should secure the WW's little catch hook firmly in place with duct tape. The catch is shaped pretty much like those used on turn-out blankets, and it didn't seem as if it would take much to cause it to release on it's own.  You may also want to put a sheepskin stirrup leather cover over, and down the length of, the WWs in order to protect the saddle.  The WWs are processed synthetic, your saddle is natural leather, and in the long run the *contact contest* of these two rubbing together means your saddle will eventually be the loser.  (Read this as "holes and tears" in the soft knee pad -- very expensive to replace)
I use sheepskin only as a saddlepad for my horse.  The County Competitor is universally known for having an incredibly soft, incredibly comfortable seat.  If you needed something softer, I could only suggest strapping a Lazy-Boy to the back of your horse, and riding down the trail that way.  <grin>
New CCs are up there in the thousands of dollars, but older CCs (10 or more years) go for about $500-$800, and you can find them in a lot of tack exchange stores, and on E-bay.  The serial number and date (month/day/year) of manufacture is stamped on the underneath panel of every CC -- right in the "channel" where the billets fall. Make sure you check these numbers so you will know exactly how old the saddle is, and if it is (therefore) priced accordingly.  County can tell you how to interpret the number sequence.
Consider going to the Wintec "Webbers" ($35.00 from State Line) and a good pair of half chaps. I like Ariat.  
If you don't want the County saddle, drop me a note....I'll take it! :)
After trying numerous saddles for Magic trying to solve his sore back problems, a friend loaned me his County Dressage saddle. Magic just loved it...with only a small cotton pad under it. I was impressed! Unfortunately, he doesn't want to sell it. (: