View Full Version : Dressage saddle for trail riding?

May. 16, 2008, 11:04 AM
Well I rode my TWH mare last Saturday and she was an absolute love, but I had to ride her in a western saddle that was WAY to big for me..lol..I ride in a 15.5" seat western and that saddle was a 17.5" and was slick seated. Needless to say after a few hours of slipping and sliding backwards, forwards and sideways, my body was sore the next day. Not that I am a horrible rider, but the terrain was very steep hills that dropped down to very long distances of switch backs, etc.

I normally ride in a dressage saddle but this is on SHORT rides or in the arena. I don't own a western saddle anymore (can't lift them on a 17 hand horse anyway!) but do have an Aussie Saddle that I think may fit my new girl.

Has anyone here ridden for long distances/hours in a dressage saddle? My saddle is a Wintect Pro with a seat saver on it so it is secure and comfortable for ME, but how do horses fare? Do they tend to get sore? I have the approrpriate dressage pad, also have a thinline sheepskin pad if needed.

Just wondering as I intend to bring my girl home in a couple of weeks and plan to spend quite a bit of time trail riding her and would hate to find out that these saddles will make a horse sore over time. If I need to buy a new saddle I will, but love riding in my dressage saddle because it fits me and makes me feel secure.

Here's a pic of my mare, she's the sorrel in front.


Here's one that shows the type of terrain behind her (that's my friend riding her in the photo).


May. 16, 2008, 12:29 PM
I used to ride distance in two different dressage saddles--one was a Wintec Isabel and the other was a fabulous Black Country Vinici.

First the good: lovely deep seats, nice soft kneerolls, kept me in a great and comfortable position.

The not so good: I found they weren't as great on mountainous terrain. I had a lot of slipping forward and back even with a breast collar.

If I could have afforded to keep the Vinici I would have. Just wonderful saddles. I know of people who ride in endurance in dressage saddles and really like them. It all depends I suppose on fit, terrain and what you are comfortable with. I think your Wintec w/the Thinline pad would do just fine.

As far as Aussies, they are secure. I just prefer less saddle so to speak, something more comfy and lightweight so the Aussie wouldn't be my choice unless you absolutely needed the security. Go w/the dressage and maybe futz around with the padding a couple of rides if the Thinline doesn't give your horse enough protection.

May. 16, 2008, 07:31 PM
I trail ride in my dressage saddle all the time. I usually do about 2 2 1/2 hrs and its very comfortable. I'd use my western saddle if I could lift it! Ugh!

May. 18, 2008, 11:41 AM
I have a relatively in-expensive Thornhill trailriding saddle (Argentina made I think) that is cut and looks just like a dressage saddle with slightly longer bars on it. The seat came extra padded and is comfy. It seats you like a dressage saddle so you need long stirrups all the time. You end up standing up in the stirrups for faster work. Sometimes I hate that because I'm used to shortening my stirrups 2 holes for faster work and riding in 2 point & more bent knees and these shaped saddles don't accomodate that too well. So it depends on what you want. MOST of my trailriding is walking/hacking so it works well. I feel better that I didn't pay and arm & a leg for it too. GREAT second saddle just for hacking. Combine it with ez rider stirrups and you have a great comfy combo!

May. 18, 2008, 04:33 PM
I compete in a Wintec Isabel, and do so with two different horses. I have a thick fleece on it for me, enduracne stirrups and a cantle bag . I love it. No sore backs. I use a custom made Skito.

May. 18, 2008, 04:49 PM
The only reason I wouldn't like it is for galloping in two point/going up hills. Especially in two point position up the hills. If it were just a more flat walk trot ride I'd be ok.

May. 18, 2008, 05:32 PM
The 4 50s and 1 100 miler I've done this ride season have been in a dressage saddle. It's what fits my horse. I was concerned that I'd have problems with it (I prefer an all purpose or hunt seat type saddle) but I've done fine with it. I do ride shorter than most endurance riders--probably hunt seat on the flat length--regardless of the saddle I use (old habits die hard and that's the length I'm most comfortable with). I also do a lot of strong cantering/hand galloping and haven't had any issues with the dressage saddle.

So if it fits the horse and it fits you, go for it!

Christa P
May. 18, 2008, 06:48 PM
The only reason I wouldn't like it is for galloping in two point/going up hills. Especially in two point position up the hills. If it were just a more flat walk trot ride I'd be ok.

This depends on the style of dressage saddle. The style with thigh blocks and huge knee rolls would be difficult to trail ride in. I have an old Stubben Parzival (early 70's) that has moderate knee rolls and I have no problems getting out of the saddle for 2-point and even jumping smaller (up to 3') jumps with it.

Funny story: A boarder we had could never understand how I could trail rode in a dressage saddle as the type that locked her in place. She rode in mine once and her forst reaction was "Now I understand how you can trail ride in a dressage saddle":lol:. She then went on a search to find one that rode like mine and fit her horse.

Christa P

May. 18, 2008, 08:31 PM
well, since I am in too much pain to ride western for any amount of time, I ride trails (sometimes all day) in english saddles. On a long ride, I'll only take a dressage saddle!! I love my Barefoot London treeless dressage saddle, but I also really liked my old Wintec Isabel dressage saddle.

May. 18, 2008, 08:36 PM
I'm pretty darn far from an endurance rider, but I often trail ride on all sorts of terrain in my dressage saddle. It is custom fitted to my round little mare and stays in place, is comfortable for her and is comfortable for me. My old lady has both a dressage saddle and a jumping saddle; I've trail ridden her in both, but find the jumping saddle (another custom-fitted one) is more comfortable for her.

May. 21, 2008, 05:23 PM
I am going to try her in it and see how things go. I love the security of the fit of my saddle, but have never done long rides in one (longest ride ever was about 3 hours) so was hoping that others found them easy to trail ride in.

My mare doesn't trot, she does a dog walk, running walk and canter (and paces occasionally - boy is that rough, like riding a pogo stick)..so I won't be posting any with her.

My other horses all trot..and I have an all purpose saddle that I used to ride in all the time, it is a Swedish Reitmeister and I know it needs reflocking so haven't used it lately.

Other than that I have a draft all purpose and an aussie saddle, the aussie is brand new (was given to me as the person was getting out of horses) so I may try riding in that. It just looks like that overstrap that comes over the seat will be killer. Maybe they make seat savers for those saddles. I am spoiled to having a sheepskin butt saver..lol..

Thanks everyone, we are giving it a go next week, I go pick her up on my Birthday and can't wait!!

tabula rashah
May. 22, 2008, 01:05 PM
My main trail riding saddle is an Ortho-Flex UK Dressage. This weekend I put 14 miles of rough, rough mountain riding on it- and I still love it.

May. 29, 2008, 11:23 AM
I ride my TW in a Pessoa Anky on trails and absolutely LOVE that saddle! It's the most comfortable saddle I've ever tried. I doubt you would need a seat-saver with an Anky, it's well-cushioned as-is. There's no slipping and sliding around in a dressage saddle. I find it much more comfortable than any western saddle, but that's JMHO. :D

Even on longer rides, the dressage saddle has worked out very well for me and my horse. Though I think the thinline sheepskin saddle pad is a good idea if you have it.

YMMV. ;)

Jun. 5, 2008, 10:54 AM
Just a quick update,

I got my horse home and tried the Aussie saddle on her, it sort of fit but had to have the 5 star pad underneath and frankly, my butt hurt in that saddle. Rode her in it for about 45 minutes in the arena since it was our first ride together in her new home and that saddle felt like I was riding a washboard..ugh..just so not comfortable for me or her.

So Wed. I threw the dressage saddle on and it was like riding on a cloud..she moved out very well and though we are keeping things to a nice dog walk to help her develop her gait more consistently, she moved freer through the shoulder and seems to be less tired after our hour of flatwork. We also did lots of bending and flexing as she has not had much circle work done with her and tends to be stiff and unbending on the largest of circles (the entire width of my dressage arena). So we did some spirals and serpentines at the walk and next week I will introduce a few ground poles to get her used to stretching down at the walk instead of high head/hollow back which she reverts to when nervous or tense.

think I will stick with the dressage saddle for now and see how things go.

BTW - I took her to a smallish (216 entries for the day, fun show).. my friend who shows her own walkers, rode her for me (no pay, it was for the experience only) and here is a pic of her in western tack..she was great though there were ten in her class and she had not been to "town" before. I was very pleased that she didn't spook, bolt or runaway or do anything stupid. She did get nervous riding in that large crowd and did revert to pacing a few times as she would raise her head and hollow out, but overall it was a very successful first show for her. I would have ridden her but I know nothing about walking horse shows and felt that she should be ridden by someone who knows what to do to at least give her a chance. oh and we showed her barefoot - lol..only walker there that didn't have shoes on that wasn't a weanling or yearling.

She's the big sorrell mare in the front of the pack.


Jun. 5, 2008, 04:16 PM
I ride my Arabian mare in a Corbette Luxor, simply because I LOVE Dressage saddles, I have been doing Dressage for over 10 years, and that is the saddle I am most comfortable in. I found that out of all my saddles, the Corbette Luxor fit her the best. I put a sheepskin over it, but a saddle pack on the back, a water bottle holder on the front, and we were good to go! When I trail ride my Swedish WB mare, I ride her in my Cliff Barnsby Anky Van Grunsven Saddle, and love it. Western saddles drive me insane, so, yes, Dressage saddles are wonderful to ride long distance in :D