Dressage saddle hunt, info on these saddles??

I have a young horse who is currently in a Windsor BlueLine, tree is MW (#3.5), seat is 17" or 17.5" (will have to look tomorrow). I had the large blocks modified, because I felt like my legs were somewhat restricted. Even with the modification, making the blocks smaller and less bulky, I am not liking how my leg falls.

My local fitter, who is not affiliated with any particular brand, will be coming out in the next month or two. The Windsor BlueLine fit this horse better than the Windsor Elite, which I have for my other horse. The tree and panel shapes are different. My younger horse has come along well, and developed a much better top line.

Since I will be looking to try something else for ME, I have a few saddles I’ve seen only by photos, that are closer to my Elite as far as the knee block. (The Windsor Elite has a less bulky block and I love my position in the saddle.)

Can anyone comment on the following? I am looking at:
Black Country Eloquence
Frank Baines Elegance
County Competitor
Custom Icon

I’m wondering about tree shapes as well as how they feel to the rider.

Links to the Windsor BlueLine and Elite in the next post, so you can see what I am in right now. The BL seems to fit the younger horse well, although the fitter will give me an assessment when she comes.

Windsor Elite:


Windsor BlueLine:


The BlueLine I am riding in has smaller blocks, but does not allow my leg to drape well. My knee slide over the block too easily. The Elite feels great and my leg drapes easily.

My trainer has a Custom Icon that I plan to try, as well.

I think Black Country makes the Eloquence and Frank Baines the Elegance.

I saw an Eloquence model on the Black Country web site so apparently Beam Me Up is correct.

Having visited the web site now I know why the company is called Black Country! :slight_smile:

Thank you both!

The Black Country Eloquence has a fairly straight tree longitudinally and laterally. It can come with a variety of panel modifications including more depth in the front panels or upswept rear gussets. The block is moderately large with a point billet that can be changed as well, and a swing billet. We have modified the block for some customers, shortening or narrowing, as well as, making it velcro. The twist is moderate, not narrow and not wide. It also comes in a hoop tree version.

The Elegance by Frank Baines is also a straighter type tree but twist feels marginally narrower and the panels also have some options. I find the stirrup bars to be slightly further back and the panels suitable for a large number of horses. Their block can also be modified.

Thank you, Jay. I was hoping you’d post. :slight_smile:

I tried my trainer’s Icon Flight, and what a nice difference! I seem to recall that there was a previous Icon Flight, does anyone know how it differs from the current model? The saddle seemed to fit the hirse well, and happily, me, too! Are the blocks standard or are there options?mthanks in advance.

I recently purchased the Black Country Eloquence and love it. I have ridden in a variety of dressage saddles over the years and it is by far the best to date. Incredibly comfortable and lets you find the right position without forcing you into position.

This is my second Black Country saddle. I was so happy with the quality of the jumping model I have that I wanted another of the same brand. If you are on the East coast I can recommend Patty Merli as a Black Country rep and fitter. She went above and beyond to make sure my first Black Country saddle fit correctly on a hard to fit horse.

Some of it depends on your build. Personally I have a County Competitor and love it having tried many saddles. There is a big difference in age of saddles here too. Older models have a lot less on them in the way of less blocking than newer ones. I needed a used one for budget reasons, but actually liked the old ones better anyway. I’m tall and have a long thigh, so it’s difficult for me to get ones with a lot of blocking to fit my knees and I can’t afford custom !

Definitely worth trying the models on your horse. I tried some BC saddles- the Eloquence on one horse was awful feel for me but on my own horse felt well balanced. Similarly, I’ve ridden in a CS Icon Flight and Star and liked them on other people’s horses but didn’t like either one when they were on my own horse.

Great feedback, thank you!

IIRC, one of these makers has serge panels? Is there an option for leather? And do any of these have an adjustable tree (not essential if it fits the horse)?

Saddle shopping is so frustrating. Everything costs $4000+, and I don’t really understand it (I couldn’t tell you what kind of twist or panel I need, and most of the ones I try “seem fine” to me.).

It’s like you are speaking in a foreign language.

Sorry, not helpful to your thread.

Saddle shopping is so frustrating. Everything costs $4000+, and I don’t really understand it (I couldn’t tell you what kind of twist or panel I need, and most of the ones I try “seem fine” to me.).

It’s like you are speaking in a foreign language.

Sorry, not helpful to your thread.[/QUOTE]

Yeah, not so much. :lol:

That’s why I turn to the professionals, and those here with experience. I understand the saddle makers’ vocabulary, that’s not an issue for me.

It’s more that there is no truly objective information for tree angles, shapes, panel dimensions, seat depth, etc., available to those of us who are NOT professionals, to compare saddles. That’s where the art of the fitter comes in, along with the rider’s VERY SUBjective input on how a given saddle feels to THAT rider.

It isn’t at all like someone else who might be shopping for a golf club, that’s for sure. “I need this club, with ‘x’ degree of angle, on ‘y’ shaft, and fitted to me.” YKWIM? Yes, you do! :smiley:

My County Competitor was made in 2008. I’m the opposite of camohn: I’m short, with short legs and thighs that hang forward, not down. It was bought for my previous TB who was aging and refit to my current TB when I bought him as a 4-year old.
We chose a short forward flap for me, and a Skid Row panel for the aging boy :sadsmile:.

Love how it fits my anatomy (slightly tilted pelvis/sway back). And with small knee rolls under the flap, I can move around. I don’t like feeling stuck.

I love love love my Frank Baines Elegance (and it didn’t cost 4000$). My horse has fairly prominent withers and big shoulders, and is a medium-wide with a fairly flat back. I am a narrow twist kind of girl.
I did try a Custom (not sure which model) which fit my horse well but I felt so stuffed in! The Elegance seems more understated - no giant blocks. I feel so at home in it. Since I bought it I’ve actually lowered my stirrups 5 holes (!) and like it even better as my leg hangs properly now (FEI clinician lowered my stirrups 3 holes after riding my horse and proclaiming we couldn’t be “that many holes apart” …and then I broke my foot and rode for 2 months without stirrups. Came to truly appreciate the saddle and was able to go two holes lower after that).