Manufacturer: Black Country
Category: Jumping Saddles
Purchase: Purchased through a private seller from the UK, but tried out a demo first through Trumbull Mountain in VT. Paid $900 for it in November 2009.Saddles normally retail brand new for over $2200; it's difficult to find them used for much, if at all.
Likes: The BC saddles come standard with their "vintage" leather, which is a printed, grippy leather that really doesn't require any break-in process. It doesn't scratch easily. The saddle is the most comfortable I've ever sat in, ever. It was love at first sit. I have a high-end Amerigo monoflap Pinerolo which is just luscious, but this BC beats it in comfort. It's very well-made. The balance is incredible. I actually prefer to ride a bit deeper-seated to a fence, especially going cross country, and this saddle allows you to really sit back and be comfortable about it, unlike my Amerigo which puts you a bit more forward in the balance. I used to have a high-end Albion Kontact Ultima which also let me ride a bit deeper, but it wasn't nearly as secure. The BC just glues your lower leg into place. I could ride in this saddle for hours; it's that comfortable.
Dislikes: The demo I received from Trumbull Mountain was a 17.5", W tree, standard flap. The saddle was a bit too wide for my very average, easy-to-fit Trakehner gelding. The seat size was fine for me (I normally take a 17-17.5" jumping saddle - my Amerigo is a 17"), but not forward enough for my very long thigh. I'm 5'5, 31" inseam, 18" from hip to knee, and I have trouble with finding jumping saddles that are forward enough to accommodate my thigh. The off-the-shelf model wasn't forward enough. When I found my current saddle, it happened to be an 18", custom forward flap. Well, it's a bit too forward for me, so I think if I went with a 17.5", forward flap, it would be perfect. But this is nitpicking, for the price I paid, and all my fault for bargain-hunting on Ebay.
Quality: Lovely saddle, very well-made. Not quite the "eye candy" my Amerigo is, but constructed solidly. Wonderful wide gullet for those broad-backed or touchy horses. Leather is soft and supple. Seat is oh-so-comfy and padded just enough, with a medium depth (I don't like very deep saddles). Well-placed thigh block that doesn't interfere if you are in the correct size saddle. BC will customize the flap, tree width, panel construction, almost everything if you buy new, without paying extra. If I ever need another one, that is what I will do.
Summary: If you like to ride deeper to the fences, or want to foxhunt/trail ride in something that will be extremely comfortable for you and your horse, I'd give it a try. Trumbull Mountain will let you demo one, stirrups, leathers, and all for a week, so there is nothing to lose except shipping. If you prefer the more forward balance point, like you find in the Amerigos, Vegas, and most of the French saddles (Antares, Devoucoux, Forestier), then you'll probably find that this saddle wants to put you too far back. Definitely recommended for those people with wide-backed horses, or downhill horses.
Usefulness Rating: 0 out of 5.
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