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View Full Version : Any good saddles without blocks, for tall people?



Tuckertoo
Nov. 15, 2009, 12:31 AM
:sigh: I'm suffering the saddle blues. (Sorry to clog the board with yet another saddle thread).

My history:
I bought my horse four years ago, and at the time was riding in a HDR. It didn't fit my horse and got too small for me so I sold it and bought a Barnsby Milton. After about a year, my horse had changed and didn't fit it anymore, and I was having some problems with it, too, so I sold it, and until I could find another, borrowed my sister's Ainsley Chester for the summer. My horse got injured, and so I started the saddle search the next spring when we had been working after rehab for a couple of months. I ended up buying a County Conquest that at the time I really liked and had the rep out and it fit the horse nicely. I thought I had finally solved the problem.

After riding in the County for about a year and a half, I'm having a lot of troubles. No matter how hard I try to stay with my horse over fences, I just feel like I can't. I've tried really hard to strengthen my lower leg position, I've experimented with different stirrup lengths (in all honesty, I don't have to put them that high for my knee to go over the flap, and then when I get in two point they still look too long), I've tried really focusing on my leg and keeping it steady over the fence, and no matter what I do, it still moves a lot. Getting to the jump with a good rhythm helps, but I still fall back too soon. I cringe at pictures of myself. I'm fairly tall, about 5'8", with long legs, and I think especially a long femur. The only way for me to feel balanced just doing two-point on the flat is for me to shove my legs out way in front of me, but that puts me in a chair seat for sitting in the saddle and makes me fall back when I try to sit up to balance, etc.

I think back to all of my saddles that I've had, and I see pictures of my riding in the HDR, and my position was best then. It's not bad in the Ainsley, and I also remember really liking a saddle (I think it was just a little Collegiate) that a H/J instructor let me ride in for a lesson. The big thing I can think of that was similar between these saddles was that they either had no knee roll at all, or it was very small, like a pencil knee roll. When I started riding in the Barnsby and now my County, my lower leg position went to pot.

So, in short, I guess I'm wondering if there is a good eventing saddle that I could use for both jumping phases (I'm only going Novice for now, but would like to move up), that would suit a tall rider (I'm pretty positive I need forward flaps), that DOESN'T have knee rolls or blocks? It seems like everyone wants blocks these days, but I feel like it almost holds my leg off the horse and I can't get as close a contact. Or even, have any of you other tall folks found success with any saddles, regardless of whether they have blocks? I know I shouldn't blame my problems on the saddle, but I really do feel like I'm fighting it. I really don't want to have to go on the saddle hunt again, but I fear that I will have to. I just have no idea where to start.

eventingismylife
Nov. 15, 2009, 12:50 AM
The Collegiate Convertible Diploma has a option for a lengthened flap. I have it and I am 5'9" and I fit it very nicely, it has a very very small knee roll too. It comes with the option of wool flocking instead of the CAIR panels too. Hope I helped and happy saddle hunting!
I would also look into stubben too, they have a big selection for tall long legged riders.

Saskatoonian
Nov. 15, 2009, 09:27 AM
You could try a Beval Natural. The one I've got is a deep seat (hunter deep, that is) with I think a long forward flap. It may be an 18". Great balance, and nothing to hinder your leg. If you try a stubben, try an 18" - you'll have a little more room. I fought with mine for years. You could also try a Stackhouse, depending on budget. You can get used ones.

jn4jenny
Nov. 15, 2009, 10:10 AM
Tucker we've talked about this at the barn, but just to review...

Your #1 problem is probably the seat size on your saddle. You're riding in a 17" and you probably need a 17.5" or 18" based on your long femur length. You're never going to be with the motion if your whole body is behind it due to the seat size. I wouldn't be surprised if trying a 17.5" or 18" County Conquest would fix all the issues (since the County Conquest, by definition, already has a forward flap). It's not easy finding a 17.5" County Conquest, but I wonder if your local friendly County rep could dig one up for you.

If you prefer minimal blocking that's fine, but most saddlers can take knee blocks off for you without much fuss or expense so there's no reason to discount a saddle just because it has blocking. Colin Kimball-Davis in Massachusetts will do it FREE if you let him keep the blocks. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if you can take them off of most saddles yourself with a seam ripper.

Once you go over about $2300 retail, any of the saddle brands will gladly provide you with a flap as forward as you like. I can't think of a single exception to that rule. So if you want to pony up the big bucks, you won't have a problem finding what you want.

If you're trying to stay under $2000, you'll be largely restricted to saddles that are sold off the rack with a forward flap option (ie no custom work). Some options to consider:

Prestige Eventing and Prestige Nona Garson, both retail over $2000 but a diligent and patient shopper can find them used for less (the complication here will be finding a 17.5" which is the most popular seat size by far)

Courbette Vision, using the eyeball method I don't think this will fit your horse, but you never know until you try. A well-loved XC saddle by many. Retails around $1700

Stubben Siegfried VSSG, that's the very-forward-flap version. 30+ years of eventers can't be wrong about this saddle--I have ridden in a few of them and they're surprisingly comfortable. As it is not the fashionable saddle of the moment, you can pick them up for peanuts. Retails around $1900 I think?

Stubben Roxane S, a true XC/show jumping saddle. Good alternative to the Berney Brothers Dublin Jumper which would probably fit you and your horse, but it's hard as a rock to sit in.

Ovation 4-Star Event Saddle with Long Flap Option, a sleeper hit in the eventing world. Most people have never heard of it, but people who have it really love it. At a retail price of $1100, if it were a close fit for the horse you could pay to have it converted to wool and still be well under $2000. I have never seen it in person so can't comment on whether it would fit Tucker.

Bates Caprilli CC or the Bates Eventer CC with the forward flap (this is what my 6'2" trainer in Michigan rides in, and it would fit your horse fantastically. The Caprilli in particular would be a good choice because if you remove the velcro flexiblocs, it rides VERY close in contact. I used to own that saddle and loved it.) Along the same lines, if you will consider synthetic, the Wintec Pro Jump is basically a synthetic Bates CC with a forward flap. The Bates models have gone out of fashion a bit too, so you can get them as cheap as $800-$1000 on the used market now. It is a bit tricky to find a 17.5" forward flap model on the open market, so if you went this route it would make sense to trade in your Conquest for a Bates saddle at Equus Now to avoid the hassle of searching for a used one....

BdH Special XF - in my experience BdH's ride like the more expensive French and Italian saddles at a fraction of the price. The regular BdH has a pretty ho-hum flap, but the Special XF's flap is set more forward and longer. A potential steal at $1500. I think it's exclusive to Dover Saddlery.

Used versions of Albion Kontrol XC, Albion Ultima Kontact, Schleese XC Saddle, Black Country Tex Eventer, Black Country Vinici Tex Eventer, and Devoucoux Chiberta with a forward flap option. Good luck finding ANY of those in 17.5" forward flap on the used market, but if you can find it buy it

Finally, I hesitate to recommend these last three because in my opinion they are not "true" forward flaps and having seen your leg in person ;) I don't think they'd be quite forward enough...but several of the Philippe Fontaine by Stubben saddles (particularly the Diana and Danielle) have fairly forward flaps, as does the Pessoa Legacy Line. Not as forward as some of the options mentioned above.

Don't despair. You WILL find something, promise. If I were you I'd start with the Bates/Wintec stuff since you can easily get access to a demo at Equus Now and they come with moveable/removable velcro blocking, so you could really explore this blocking issue.

Couture TB
Nov. 15, 2009, 11:27 AM
You may want to look into a monoflap. They tend to have more forward flaps and there is no extra bulk between you and the horse. The blocks that they have help your position if your leg slides quite a bit, but do not restrict you at all. This is one of the monoflaps my taller students prefer
http://s297.photobucket.com/albums/mm205/MattsonTraining/saddle/?action=view&current=jumpsaddle001.jpg&newest=1

badawg
Nov. 15, 2009, 11:33 AM
Well, based on the above response, if you're still riding in a 17" saddle, that's the biggest part of your problem! If you are 5'8" with a long femur, you likely need at least a 17.5 if not a 18". I'm 5'7" with a longish femur and ride in an 18". Seat size in an english saddle has little to do with ass size and everything to do with length of femur! So, start there, and I suspect you will begin having a lot more success!

eventer_mi
Nov. 15, 2009, 05:31 PM
I agree with all of the posters above. Seat size is roughly equivalent to the length of your thigh, NOT the size of your rear. I'm 5'5, but I measure a little over 18" from hip to knee, so I take an 17.5" - 18" jumping saddle. I'm currently riding in a 17" Amerigo monoflap, but the only reason it works for me is because the flap is forward on it. I sat in a Black Country and definitely need the 17.5" or my knee sits on top of the block. What I suspect is happening is that your knee is pushing your seat back into the saddle, so that you're sitting behind the balance point of your saddle, which is causing you to go all cattywhampus over jumps. If you were truly in balance with your saddle, you wouldn't have to fight at all. Just an FYI.

Bogie
Nov. 18, 2009, 12:48 PM
My 2 cents . . . I'm 6' tall with a long femur.

The Schleese Peter Gray probably doesn't have a forward enough flap. I tried it. Nice on the flat; not so nice to jump.

The Stubben VSSG saddle put me in a chair seat.

Ainsley Chester (old ones) - Great saddle and when you find them used their are about $500.

Wintec Pro XC - not the pro jump, this one is a true forward flap saddle. Discontinued model so if you find one, snap it up.

County Extreme - This is what I currently ride in and love it. Also discontinued so they are hard to find.

Jeffries Flyover -- nice saddle but you need to go up an extra inch over what you think you need.

Barnsby Diablo - haven't tried it but it looks like it might work.

juanbadcat
Nov. 18, 2009, 03:06 PM
I'm not sure if I can help, but I'm 5'11", and I just bought a used 19" Ashely & Clarke, made in England, at a local consignment shop. The knee rolls are very minimal. I didn't want anything that was too forward (my husband rides in a Stubben Siegfried VSSG - extra long). I tried an Albion but the flaps on the Ashely & Clarke were actually 1" longer. I'm only doing low level eventing but I love it. It was $950. Good luck in your search.

Ibex
Nov. 18, 2009, 03:13 PM
I'm 5'10" with long legs, and got my hands on an OLDER Bates Caprilli with long flaps. The blocks are held in with velcro.

Works beautifully for me, and the adjustable gullet is great for my growing youngster!

McVillesMom
Nov. 18, 2009, 05:05 PM
I don't have any brilliant suggestions, unfortunately, but I wanted to comment based on Jen's post - I have an 18" Phillipe Fontaine Diane if you would like to try it sometime. I'm about 5'7" with a longish femur and I'm very happy with it.

Bogie
Nov. 18, 2009, 06:30 PM
Just be careful with the bigger saddles. I tried that -- bought a 19" Ideal saddle. It was too long for my horse's back.

Fit me fine though!


I'm not sure if I can help, but I'm 5'11", and I just bought a used 19" Ashely & Clarke, made in England, at a local consignment shop. The knee rolls are very minimal. I didn't want anything that was too forward (my husband rides in a Stubben Siegfried VSSG - extra long). I tried an Albion but the flaps on the Ashely & Clarke were actually 1" longer. I'm only doing low level eventing but I love it. It was $950. Good luck in your search.

juanbadcat
Nov. 18, 2009, 09:14 PM
Hey Bogie - Thanks for the piece of advice, I didn't notice the saddle being too long on him actually, I think I was really excited that it fit both of us - he's a QH with low withers, i.e. a mutton back. My husband said if I find something else I can always sell this one. What size saddle do you ride in?

Bogie
Nov. 18, 2009, 09:43 PM
I ride in an 18" County Extreme which has a forward cut flap or an 18" Wintec Pro XC. When I had an Ainsley, the 17.5" worked fine.

On many horses the 19" might have worked but my TB is fairly close coupled and that saddle just dwarfed him :lol:.


Hey Bogie - Thanks for the piece of advice, I didn't notice the saddle being too long on him actually, I think I was really excited that it fit both of us - he's a QH with low withers, i.e. a mutton back. My husband said if I find something else I can always sell this one. What size saddle do you ride in?

midnightride
Nov. 18, 2009, 09:54 PM
Jeffries FLYOVER!!!! the saddle is amazing, everyone i know that has tried one loves it and it fits us long legged people!! I am 5'10 with a 34 inseam (actual measurement not pants length!) very secure and close contact, nothing bothers you... i use it for all 3 phases since no dressage saddle fits me...:)

equinkel
Nov. 27, 2009, 10:46 PM
I'd like to chime in on this thread because I currently have a 17" bates caprilli on trial. I used it for the first time today and liked it, but compared to my old school plain flap crosby pdn I guess it would seem pretty great. I'm 5'9 with a 19" hip to knee length. According to what everyone is saying on this thread the 17 must be too small? I just assumed b/c I weigh 125 lbs I would be swimming in anything else. I'm not exactly sure what the perfect flap length looks like. I would hate to get the wrong brand new saddle!

CookiePony
Nov. 28, 2009, 11:40 PM
I'd like to chime in on this thread because I currently have a 17" bates caprilli on trial. I used it for the first time today and liked it, but compared to my old school plain flap crosby pdn I guess it would seem pretty great. I'm 5'9 with a 19" hip to knee length. According to what everyone is saying on this thread the 17 must be too small? I just assumed b/c I weigh 125 lbs I would be swimming in anything else. I'm not exactly sure what the perfect flap length looks like. I would hate to get the wrong brand new saddle!

Well... I am shorter than you (5'7") and have a slightly shorter thigh than you do, and a 17.5 Caprilli CC was not forward enough for me.

equinkel
Nov. 30, 2009, 07:38 AM
Well... I am shorter than you (5'7") and have a slightly shorter thigh than you do, and a 17.5 Caprilli CC was not forward enough for me.

So what did you end up getting? I really liked the way the Caprilli feels. I know caprilli has a long and forward option. Which one would be better?

jn4jenny
Nov. 30, 2009, 09:03 AM
So what did you end up getting? I really liked the way the Caprilli feels. I know caprilli has a long and forward option. Which one would be better?

As someone who used to own the Bates CC long flap, forward is probably better for a long thigh. This is my former trainer in Michigan. As I said above, he's 6'2". The saddle is an 18" Bates CC forward flap. The horse is mine, so nobody get in a tizzy about posting the horse without permish. ;)

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w197/jn4jenny/IMG_5582.jpg

Frisky Business
Nov. 30, 2009, 09:05 AM
I'd like to chime in on this thread because I currently have a 17" bates caprilli on trial. I used it for the first time today and liked it, but compared to my old school plain flap crosby pdn I guess it would seem pretty great. I'm 5'9 with a 19" hip to knee length. According to what everyone is saying on this thread the 17 must be too small? I just assumed b/c I weigh 125 lbs I would be swimming in anything else. I'm not exactly sure what the perfect flap length looks like. I would hate to get the wrong brand new saddle!



I just bought a new saddle this summer. I am 5'8 and have very long legs. My saddle however is a 16.5 inch with a long flap option. I would try and find a saddle with long flaps before looking at 18 and 19 inch saddles. I know that the seat size has a lot to do with the flap length, but it has to do with the seat size too! I would be swimming in an 18 inch saddle and so would my horse!

horsecents
Nov. 30, 2009, 12:36 PM
I bought a Used Prestige Eventer this spring from VTO Saddlery. I'm 5'6" with a 32" inseam with a very long thigh and weigh about 140 lbs. VTO shipped both the 17" and 18" models (can't beat the 4.95 flat rate shipping!). Even though my butt fit in the 17", the 18" was way more comfortable and balanced for me. It has velcro thigh and calf blocks which can be moved as your stirrup length changes or removed altogether. My horse is a 17 hand short backed TB and he has no trouble with the seat length. For a standard saddle, I was very much pleased that it fit myself and horse so well. My previous saddle was a 17" CC Luc Childeric with a long flap. As long as the horse I was riding had a big barrel that took up my leg length I was fine, but my new guy is narrow and I couldn't raise my stirrups high enough without my knee going way over the flap.

IFG
Nov. 30, 2009, 02:03 PM
Tall, skinny girl here. 5'11", 130 lbs. You'll get the wrong seat size if you try to fit saddle to your femur. I hated the feel of the forward flap saddles. I bought a Crosby Equilibrium DSL. It's a deep seat equitation saddle. Equitation saddles are made with slightly longer flaps (WOOHOO). I bought a 17.5" but could have gone 17". No blocks on it, but it has a knee roll. I like it. My picky hunter princess friend who rides in a Tad even likes it! Nice balance without uncomfortable blocks and without the seat size being RIDICULOUSLY large (NOT HELPFUL if seat is too big!!!)

I am pretty sure that the Equilibrium was designed by Tad Coffin before he went of on his own and designed the TC.

mellsmom
Nov. 30, 2009, 04:46 PM
I am 5'8" tall, weight about 120 pounds and have a 34" inseam. NOTHING off the rack really fits me. I always look at 17.5 inch saddles and the only thing off the rack that fits is the Albion Original XC. I am ok doing flatwork and jumping in this saddle. What I find MOST to effect my ability to balance in a saddle is length of the sweet spot. Personally, I cannot balance and ride over fences in anything very deep or I feel as thought I am stuck and that my upper body swings like a boneless chicken. :-) The longer flatter throat allows me the freedom to shift my weight much more easily.
You can also try the Ideal Impala 1450. It has blocks, but they worked fine for me. You will most likely want to get a longer flap though.
FYI, the super forward flaps don't work for tall people..... as our knee just hangs off the flap below the curve. We do better with a slightly straighter/ longer flap. I also really like the Collegiates. I had the Alumni which has the straighter flap. Fit me just fine, but I wanted a it a tad bit deeper. I now have the collegiate model before the Diploma with no knee rools. IT's a 16.5 long flap, but I really need a 17.5. It's on loan to a studnet right now.

fooler
Dec. 1, 2009, 12:25 AM
Don't know if this is still an option these days but,
Back in the 1980's several of us from my old barn purchased special made Passier's. We all dealt with the long femur, mine is around 20" but I swim in an 18" saddle. Other folks had the problem of the top of the boot getting caught in the bottom of the saddle flap when riding on the flat.
Our instructor had a German instructor friend who knew the Passier family. We did the measurements & placed our orders through her. Paid 1/2 with the order and the other 1/2 when it was ready for shipment. Was told she was one of several folks offering this service.
Last I heard several of the major national tack companies stopped that as it interfered with their bottom line.
You may want to find a saddle that 'fits you and your horse'. Then work with the tack shop to order a saddle with the proper seat size and 'extra flaps'. In my case I have a 17-17.5 with extra forward & long flaps.
Good luck

tb0725
Dec. 1, 2009, 09:43 AM
Hi there,
I'm new here but I'm an old-fashioned one who like a saddle without blocks too...I rode through prelim in a crosby prix-de-nations 17" with extra-long flap. I don't necessarily agree that you need a bigger seat. I'm 5'9" and have a very long femur and LOVED that saddle. The only thing about them is the seat is super flat and you get no help down a big drop. My other saddle is a used Butet long flap. It has no knee blocks, but has thigh blocks and a thinly padded knee roll which equals super close contact but something to catch you when you aren't *quite* perfect to that big drop :-D

RolyPolyPony
Dec. 1, 2009, 01:46 PM
I just bought a new saddle this summer. I am 5'8 and have very long legs. My saddle however is a 16.5 inch with a long flap option. I would try and find a saddle with long flaps before looking at 18 and 19 inch saddles. I know that the seat size has a lot to do with the flap length, but it has to do with the seat size too! I would be swimming in an 18 inch saddle and so would my horse!

Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. I'm 5'11" and all my height is in my thighs, and I ride in a 16 that fits me perfectly - it has a fwd/long flap.

equinkel
Dec. 5, 2009, 08:46 PM
I think I'm going to try a collegiate diploma long flap. It's suppose to be 1 inch added to the length and 1 inch added to the forwardness of the flap. There are some really good deals on them right now. The seat looks a little deeper then what I'm use to. Do you guys think I should go with the 17 or 17.5? A 17 fits my seat better but I might need that extra 1/2 inch for my leg. Any one else ever used this saddle?

caryledee
Dec. 5, 2009, 09:27 PM
I totally agree with those who say to go with a longer/more forward flap for long legs, and not necessarily a larger seat. When I was younger and quite a bit skinnier, I bought a 17.5 Courbette with the long flap. I slid around in that thing like crazy! I sold it to a girl who was quite a bit heavier and shorter, and she did very well in it.
If you carry a lot of your weight in your seat and thighs, get the larger seat size. If not, I would try a smaller seat size first. The main thing with the flap is that you don't want your knee to hang over the front when you shorten your stirrups. If you can, sit in the saddle in front of a mirror with your legs in position and see what it looks like.

Sebastian
Dec. 8, 2009, 02:08 AM
Hermes Steinkraus. No blocks, excellent balance. (and there are plenty of used ones around.)

Seb :)

mellsmom
Dec. 9, 2009, 02:15 PM
The flaps are usually larger the larger you go.
Basically in many cases the 16.5 and 17 have one size flap and the 17.5 and 18 have a slightly larger/longer one.

Grasshopper
Dec. 9, 2009, 04:26 PM
I would just note that if the County tree fits your horse, you might want to start by looking at the other English-made saddles, e.g. Bates, Albion, Barnsby, etc. My horses fit the County tree well and the Stubbens, Courbettes, and Prestiges all tend to be a bit too curvy through the tree for them. Not true for every saddle, but a good general place to start.

Although I put a plug in for him on every saddle hunt thread, here's another.... I got a monoflap jumping saddle from mattymarlow on Ebay a couple of years ago and adore the thing. I'm 5'9" and loved my ancient Courbette Stylist with long/forward flap (aka pancake saddle) but it didn't really fit my mare and the balance was a bit off for me. The new one has front and rear blocks, but they don't get in the way at all, just there in case (big drop or launch up onto a bank!). I've also foxhunted in it for 3-4 hours at a whack, and been very comfortable without feeling trapped in the thing. The mare also loves it, I got short points and a bit of extra width in the tree so I could stick a sheepskin half pad under it.