I decided to start with a dressage saddle. I will eventually need a jump saddle but for now our work is on the flat. I started out looking for a Black Country. I loved my friends and they seemed to fit him well. On the wide side but he is filling out like crazy so wide is better than a perfect width. They are way spendier than I could afford so I went to the UK ebay and a UK site called preloved. I found a lovely saddle over there and with shipping it was $600. Used they go for twice that in the US.
The workmanship on BCS saddles is amazing. They are sturdy and the leather is to die for. I am not a fan of the switch to flimsy calfskin leather saddles. They might be soft when you get them but your expesive saddle will soon have holes. I love a good english made saddle. They seem to know how to make a saddle with sturdy leather that is still soft and supple. I put the saddle on Dickie and it was perfect. It had enough room for him to grow but sat very balanced. Sadly the knee block hit me wrong and the twist was too wide. I couldn't seem to get my leg stable and my hip was a mess after riding in it I tried a few times but could make it work. It broke my heart to sell this lovely saddle.
I spent the next few weeks sitting in every dressage saddle in town. I sat in $4,000 saddles down to the low price cardboard saddles. I sat in at least 20 saddles. Only a handful of the saddle actually felt good on my hip. I brough home a neidersuss because I used to own one and love it. It was a no go. Too tigh on Dickie and the thigh block killed me. I quickly came to the realization that saddles these days have giant knee blocks in the wrong place for the average person. When did that happen?
I decided to wait until my BCS sold because it would increase my budget. I found a few saddle in my price range I wanted to try. I also discoved the kent and masters saddles. They are a decent price new and come with lots of bells and whistles. They are adjustable, narrow twist, and have a removable knee block. Just when I was about to give up and wait until I could afford a new Kent and Masters, I found a JRD accord in my price range at my saddle fitters shop. I sat in a few JRD accords and loved the twist. They were too small for me though and out of my price range. This saddle was in my range and the right size. I made the treck to her little shop and was dissapointed to find it had a giant thigh block. JRDs are custom saddles so they vary drastically. She encouraged me to sit another saddle. It was a Cardanel. I would have discounted it simply because of the super deep seat but happened to read a review online the night before. The person said it didn't feel like most deep seat saddles so not to discount this brand even if you don't like deep seats. I loved it right away. It was the best I have sat it. I currently have it on trail. So far so good but I've only had one ride with teh holiday madness. I'm heading out to ride in it now......