In the 1980's, while living in the Los Angeles area and first learning about dressage, I was like many less experienced riders who purchased saddles pretty much based solely on how they felt when we sat in them in the tack store. Brands selected had more to do with who else was using that brand than what the saddle offered. And so, I went through the same brands as many others in my area. County Competitor. Crosby. Passier. Albion.
It was all about equestrian fashion in the dressage world.
Later, after I moved to England, I gained a great appreciation for the art of saddle fitting after having encountered problems with a poorly fitting saddle on a young horse. And accordingly, I now ensure that all of my horses' saddles fit well and comfortably. Their comfort is key to successful & happy work.
Today, I ride primarily in Wintecs. I like being able to change the tree width instead of buying a new saddle as my horse grows & develops. And the price makes it much less painful to purchase a saddle for each horse, a saddle which will be custom fitted for each individual. I also like not worrying so much about riding in the rain.
But, I still have my saddles custom fitted and checked regularly. This is important. Tomorrow, even though the last fitting was only mere months ago, our fat unfit competition horses will be seen again by top saddler Anthony Cooper for checks of their saddles. And then we'll do it again, later in the show season as they become more fit.
I've learned the hard way that a little investment in saddle fitting is a helluva lot cheaper than the costs of having to deal with sore backs caused by ill-fitting saddles. So, I view tomorrow as a money saving investment.