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View Full Version : New to this board, New to dressage, and a couple of saddle questions



Pariah Pony
Aug. 28, 2009, 03:12 PM
Hi All,

First I'd like to introduce myself. I've been lurking for a long while (lurking seems to be my thing), but I thought I'd go ahead and make a posting (I actually used to have an old account from ages ago, but I forgot the password and rarely used it anyway..).

Anyway, I'm not new to horses or basic dressage principles, but I'm new to "real dressage" as I like to call it. I'm just now starting my new prospect and I'm not sure where our talents will lead us (hopefully towards eventing), but we will be spending the next few years focusing on dressage. I'm so excited to have this great youngster, and to be looking at my riding and training through this new and wonderful paradigm. This board, as well as other resources I have in my life, are so helpful to this experience.

A little about myself and my horse: My roots are in "old school hunters". I then moved towards combined training (not a full three phase 'event' yet, as I never seem to have the right horse at the right time). You know the rest from there.. while eventing is likely my ultimate goal, I'm falling in love with dressage.
I have a 4yo saddlebred out of traditional lines. He's the most amazing horse I've ever worked with. He's a punk and a half, so loving, so smart, and sooo athletic. (yes, "athletic" is one of those terms that is a double edged sword) I love him, our instructors love him, and anyone who visits the farm loves him! Are there any others out here who ride saddlebreds in non-saddleseat disciplines?

Finally, I did have a question that prompted turning to a forum full of knowledgeable people: Does anyone here know about Albion "Mansion House" dressage saddles? I have one that I love so very much, but it just doesn't fit my weird saddlebred who has a very wide back (I find this so strange). I need to sell it, but I just kind of "happened" upon it when I originally purchased it, not knowing anything other than it fit me and it was as solid as a saddle comes. Since then, I've had nice things said about it in passing, but information regarding this phase of Albion's saddle production is hard to come by. This saddle is in fantastic condition, has recently been reflocked, and has new billets.

I'm nervous about listing it online or taking it to my local cosigner, fearing that I won't have enough info regarding it's worth to price it right (most of the shops around here are wrapped up in hunters, anyway). I once lost a ton of money at a local cosigner's shop for just this reason. Anyway, I'd really like to sell it so that I can get a saddle that fits my boy - we are borrowing a friend's Thornhill Germania Klasse in a 36cm (!!!!!) tree and he loves it.

That leads me to my next question.. The Thornhill is a tad too small in that my knee goes over the flap. I have a 19" hip to knee measurement, and would need a 19" as opposed to the 18" that I'm riding in. I have a few other friends with really long legs who like the Thornhills because they 'work' for their hip to knee measurement. Are there other brands that are characteristically good for longer legged riders? Again, my experience is really with close contact saddles and I could talk for ages about what is best in a close contact seat.. but I'm in new territory with dressage saddles. I am in communication with a saddle fitter, but I'd like to get any info from the masses if possible, as well.

Thanks, and kudos to you if you made it to the end of this novel.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Aug. 28, 2009, 03:15 PM
no help with the saddles, but welcome!

Pariah Pony
Aug. 28, 2009, 03:38 PM
Thanks! I forgot to add that I have a blog. It's very overdue for an update (maybe 10 days? I don't know, I've had tons of training days that haven't been documented). The address is www.pariahpony.wordpress.com - Please keep in mind that we've only been working together for a couple of months. I'm taking things way slower than I'd like, but then again I have all the time in the world. We are finally on a regular lesson schedule though, so onward and upward!

ps: the blog's primary role is show other "non saddlebred industry" people what an ASB is really like. If anyone cares to visit, they can read more about this in the "About Me" section.

merrygoround
Aug. 28, 2009, 04:22 PM
Head for the websites of Heritage Saddlery, Trumbull Mountain, and pelham-saddlery (I think that how their site goes), and see if they have any.

Invite
Aug. 28, 2009, 04:50 PM
Thought I might be able to help, but I am useless regarding the saddles you mentioned.

As an aside, I have a very wide mare. The best saddle for her was the Anky dressage saddle with the changeable gullets. It is much wider then the Wintecs. Roo is in the XW tree and the saddle fits her table back like a dream. It might be worth checking into one.

Welcome aboard the COTH dressage train!!! Don't be afraid to ask questions and join in on threads. We're actually pretty friendly folks :)

kpony
Aug. 28, 2009, 06:32 PM
The wide back/shoulders narrow chest seems to be pretty common. I had a saddle MAKER (builds custom saddles) rebuild the underside of my KN Symphonie for my SB. I am short, and love these saddles, but taller/longer legged people seem to love them also. Not confining and seems to have a natural center rather than placing the legs.

I found a few other dressage riders with SBs who like the older Passiers. My saddler loves them also as the trees are easier to work with. These are also hard and minimal, but don't work as well for my small frame. They seem to put my leg a little forward and seem suited to taller riders.

apachepony1979
Aug. 28, 2009, 07:14 PM
The older County Competitors are good for long legged riders, easy to come by, and usually fairly cheap. I had one for years and loved it, but it didn't really position me right because I'm short. I know a lot of people who ride regularly in close contacts that like them also.

Rembrants and Passiers are also good for people with long legs and some of the Rembrant Integras were made with adjustable trees.

HCF
Aug. 28, 2009, 07:24 PM
I can't answer your saddle questions other to say that my wide but narrowish chest guy is wonderfully comfortable (as am I with the long legs!) in a County Connection.

Welcome to the boards and your boy is adorable!!! :)

silvia
Aug. 28, 2009, 09:12 PM
Hey there and welcome! I just love your boy :)

I meant to sent you an email about a couple of issues you were having, having dealt with them myself. One is the loss of contact, and I deal with this one of two ways depending on the situation: one is that I round him right up up up and work him like that for a lap or two, so he gets a little lactic acid in those muscles, and then I soften and he will seek relief by stretching down; I then support his stretch (at the walk and trot) until he is in a good place and gently nudge him along to keep him active, usually I lightly squeeze the inside rein to tip his head a little and encourage him back down.

Sadlebreds have this fun game where they see just how short they can make you pick up the reins, while they are still off the bit. Don't be sucked in - don't shorten your reins. First thing is teach him to leg yield, and then when you suddenly lose your horse in front, push him on a little (don't shorten your rein) and stretch him from behind, and put him into some leg yield so he must focus (again don't shorten your rein). Initially you will have to moderate his speed, but instead of shortening your rein, just bend him more in the leg yield so he must work harder instead of faster (again keep the rein soft), then push him forward a little and into the bridle.

When he is working well and you lose the contact, then you push him into the bridle. generally they lose the contact when they stop working.

Long and low like you described is ideal for a young Saddlebred on the lunge and under saddle, they must relax and let go of their back and it does take him!

One more tip; teach him long and low at the canter on the lunge, once he is fully established at the trot. This is a very valuable tool for a Saddlebred as it is the hardest long and low of all for them to do, but if he is cantering actively while long and low, it is very beneficial for muscle development :)

Good luck and welcome, again :)

ps: I have had luck with old Stubbens but they can be a hard bum saddle.

Pariah Pony
Aug. 28, 2009, 10:14 PM
Hey there and welcome! I just love your boy :)


Sadlebreds have this fun game where they see just how short they can make you pick up the reins, while they are still off the bit. Don't be sucked in - don't shorten your reins. First thing is teach him to leg yield, and then when you suddenly lose your horse in front, push him on a little (don't shorten your rein) and stretch him from behind, and put him into some leg yield so he must focus (again don't shorten your rein). Initially you will have to moderate his speed, but instead of shortening your rein, just bend him more in the leg yield so he must work harder instead of faster (again keep the rein soft), then push him forward a little and into the bridle.

__________________________________________________ _____________

One more tip; teach him long and low at the canter on the lunge, once he is fully established at the trot. This is a very valuable tool for a Saddlebred as it is the hardest long and low of all for them to do, but if he is cantering actively while long and low, it is very beneficial for muscle development :)



Thanks so much for the ideas! ...and I have discovered the benefit of the leg yield just recently (gah! I didn't update my blog tonight.. so tired!). My last horse was an OTTB and if there is one thing they can teach you, it's to not mess with their face and contact. So, I've been able to let that go but relying on my core strength to slow him just wasn't enough. Making him move laterally was a big relief to my abs. Wish I had thought of that sooner :winkgrin:

As far as the long and low, we just started cantering "for real" on the lunge. Before, it was more of an "ok, so you don't want to slow down? Well how about going faster first then?" type of deal. No, compared to an older and developed horse, he's nothing special.. but I'm so proud to say that he is getting strong enough that a) he isn't rushing ahead of himself as a way of steadying his steps (gosh, I hate when they do that!) and b) his transitions up and down are not akin to an octopus trying to run at speed on land. Yay!

Thank you so much for the help, and I heartily welcome any suggestions! Those who have walked the path before me who feel like saving me the troubles they had, be my guest!

Thank you to all of the others who sent me "welcomes" and saddle suggestions. Someone else mentioned the County saddles were good for longer legged riders. I do agree, Elvis has a misleading build. His chest is widening.. but I think he'll always have wider shoulders and a wider back.

SmartAlex
Aug. 31, 2009, 10:57 AM
The other trick Saddlebred's have is once you have them in a long and low frame, seeking contact, all of a sudden some interesting sight or fresh breeze will make them suddenly revert to a park horse mid stride causing you to real in the reins "or else". I run into this a lot while hacking. Some days I feel all I do is adjust my reins. I think my arms have grown about 8 inches to compensate (holding the reins with my hands much further forward than is acceptable for good form).

Yes, they are wide backed... wide and flat. Some even manage to be wide and slab sided at the same time. Their ribs must be shaped differently.

I just ride as a hobby, and lack the time and personal focus to train with any competitive discipline in mind, so I just dabble in dressage, but I'm very much enjoying your blog from the Sport ASB perspective.