Even though I'd been riding for years, and even bought a saddle (and two horses) on my own, I still didn't know anything about saddles except if I liked the way they felt under my seat. I asked my dressage trainer at the time for suggestions on what kind of saddle to buy. She said she was partial to Stubben brand saddles (I think), and that I should go to the tack stores and see if I could find a used one that might fit my horse.
I thought, fit my horse? Huh? Interesting. Well, he's a horse, and it's a horse saddle, so any of them should fit him, right? Knowing that my seat size is usually 16.5, I went down to the local tack store that carries English riding tack. They had many used dressage saddles, which was good. Then I looked at the prices.
$900! For a used saddle? What else does it do for that much money? Does it come with solid gold stirrups or something? Forget that.
So I went on the Internet. I found lots of dressage saddles on eBay and other tack sites, and while many of the used dressage saddles were very expensive, there were some more inexpensive options. I was a bit lost though, because there were so many brands of dressage saddles, and I wasn't really familiar with most of them. I knew that the tack company Miller's had a line of saddles called Collegiate that were similar to the Crosby saddles but were less expensive. With a little research I found a few Collegiate dressage saddles that I liked the look of. Yeah, I was going on looks alone at that point, having never actually ridden in a dressage saddle.
I came across an online classified ad for a black 17 inch Collegiate Classic dressage saddle, leather girth and shipping included for $175. A 17 inch seat is a little big for me, but I thought it wouldn't really make that much difference. Better too big than too small, right? The gal selling the saddle and I emailed each other some info, made the deal, and I sent her a money order. A week later my second saddle arrived on my doorstep.
There are many reasons why I loved this saddle. If you look back at my Crosby, you'll see that it doesn't have any knee rolls. For non-horsey people, check out this pic from Wikipedia, which has a labeled arrow pointing to the knee roll.
Anyhow, my new-to-me Collegiate dressage saddle had very small knee rolls under the flaps, so it felt a lot like my Crosby. I loved this because having less knee roll gave me a much better feel of my horse. See, the knee rolls are big blocks of leather or padding designed to help the rider keep their seat on a big moving horse, or while jumping, or whenever you need more support to stay in the saddle. I didn't really need knee rolls to ride Kaswyn, so they would just get in my way and interfere with my feel. I thought my saddle was great.
Turns out that I was the only one who liked it.
To be continued...