Manufacturer: County (View all products by County Saddlery)
Model: Stabilizer XTR (View all Stabilizer XTR reviews)
Category: Close Contact Saddles
Purchase: This saddle retailed for about 2800 when I purchased it 3 years ago in Virginia. I was actually having the local county rep/saddle fitter look at my wide pony when she pulled out a 16" Stabilizer for me to put on him in an XW tree. Although she was not here to sell me a saddle, the Stabilizer was like riding bareback. This was the only saddle a size too large for me that I felt secure and balanced in. I decided then to order the XTR for my hard to fit pony and my hard to fit petite size.
Likes: The leather is pretty much pre-broken in. I have had many, many english close contact saddles and NONE of them fit as well as this XTR. County was kind enough to make mine a 15", which is my size and to custom cut the flaps to my smaller legs. I also had dressage length billets on it because I do not like the feel of buckles underneath my legs when I ride. There was no problem with my customization and the delivery took about 3 or 4 months. Right from the start I loved the instant connection to my pony and he was comfortable and soft. I use the Logic girth (different review!) and have no problems with the saddle moving or shifting as I ride, even up and down steep hills. The craftsmanship is the best and after several years of ownership, I have yet to find any problems with my saddle.
Dislikes: It is pricey, of course, which makes it out of reach of most people. It is worth every penny if you are willing to take the plunge. I can recommend NO saddle over this one and as I have said, I have owned many of the top off the rack makes. If you are one of the lucky ones who can fit comfortably in an off the rack saddle, then you may not find the investment necessary.
Quality: As someone who knows leather qualities and makes my own bridles and strapgoods (from none other than the finest Sedgwick tanned leather from Walsall, England), I understand the quality and leather grades in a way that many people may not. This saddle is top quality in it's construction and the leather used is supple and wears well. The stitching is tight and the custom flaps were made to my exact specifications. The balance of this saddle is incredible.
Summary: In changing times of jobbing out to India/etc to keep costs down, I can truly recommend this England Made saddle over any of the others as being the quality of old. This is especially important if you have a hard to fit horse or you would like a saddle made to fit YOU, too.
Usefulness Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
6 reader(s) voted.
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