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View Full Version : Why is there so much saddle to dressage saddles?



SEPowell
Jan. 6, 2010, 12:42 PM
Why is there so much saddle in front of you and so much behind you? No to mention those thigh blocks :eek: I need something for flat work but dressage saddles terrify me, how do you bail out if you need to?

deltawave
Jan. 6, 2010, 12:57 PM
Good question! My jumping saddle probably weighs 1/3 of what my dressage saddle weighs. :)

As to bailing out, however, I don't think I've ever, ever fallen off a horse when riding in a dressage saddle. Or western, for that matter. So maybe all that "bulk" is meant to keep us where we belong! ;)

SillyHorse
Jan. 6, 2010, 01:02 PM
When you're jumping, you need to be able to get up and out of the saddle, preferably with your bum behind you, so the saddle has to allow you to do that. As a result, jumping saddles have shallower rises to the cantles and pommels.

A dressage saddle that fits you properly should give you a pretty good range of motion. But normally, there's no need to clear the pommel or cantle, and you want to sit more deeply in dressage, so the dressage saddle seat is deeper than the jumping saddle.

But trust me, it's possible to bail (and to be, um, "bailed" :uhoh: :lol: ) out of a dressage saddle.

Saskatoonian
Jan. 6, 2010, 01:03 PM
I think DW's got it right when she says that the bulk is to keep you there, but my D instructor once really NEEDED to bail and almost couldn't do it - high cantle and huge blocks. Yikes! The D people tell me they're necessary for riding extravagent movers - what do I know? I have a TB. ;)

There are more minimalist D saddles out there, but you have to hunt a bit.

rizzodm
Jan. 6, 2010, 01:05 PM
When you're jumping, you need to be able to get up and out of the saddle, preferably with your bum behind you, so the saddle has to allow you to do that. As a result, jumping saddles have shallower rises to the cantles and pommels.

A dressage saddle that fits you properly should give you a pretty good range of motion. But normally, there's no need to clear the pommel or cantle, and you want to sit more deeply in dressage, so the dressage saddle seat is deeper than the jumping saddle.

But trust me, it's possible to bail (and to be, um, "bailed" :uhoh: :lol: ) out of a dressage saddle.

LOL, I fell quite easily out of mine. Some have deeper seats than others. I have ridden in both and prefer a seat that isn't so deep (Kieffer Wien).

Dawn

citydog
Jan. 6, 2010, 01:06 PM
I go for minimalist dressage saddles (they *do* exist!). I hate being "locked" in to position. The ginormous blocks and super-deep seats are an unfortunate fashion.

mjrtango93
Jan. 6, 2010, 01:23 PM
There are saddles that are not so deep and bulky. I am helping my friend sell her old model Tony Slater now that has a pencil roll, no thigh block, and the same depth seat as a deep seated jump saddle. If that is what you are looking for perhaps consider that as a brand, the older ones are built a bit better, and you can get them really reasonably priced. I had a saddle that was deep seated but only a pencil roll that was a Crosby Prix St. George. Great saddle, but had to sell when my uber sensitive horse decided he would rather not feel me quite that much on the flat. Don't think they still make them, but I run across used ones from time to time.

Carolinadreamin'
Jan. 6, 2010, 01:27 PM
I have an older model Collegiate (1996) that has minimal blocks and a flat seat (no high cantle or pommel).

mjrtango93
Jan. 6, 2010, 01:36 PM
I have an older model Collegiate (1996) that has minimal blocks and a flat seat (no high cantle or pommel).

You probably have the Collegiate Classic. That is what I learned to flat in originally, very similar to the Tony Slater in cut.

Equibrit
Jan. 6, 2010, 01:45 PM
I don't find that true of all dressage saddles.

SEPowell
Jan. 6, 2010, 02:11 PM
I think DW's got it right when she says that the bulk is to keep you there, but my D instructor once really NEEDED to bail and almost couldn't do it - high cantle and huge blocks. Yikes! The D people tell me they're necessary for riding extravagent movers - what do I know? I have a TB. ;)
Yeah, If only those tbs could cover some ground.:lol:

I bought an older Passier Baum to use for flat work. It's a lovely saddle and fits tbs backs but the twist is wider than my narrow hips can tolerate so I finally gave up on it and started doing flatwork in a full tree steeplechase saddle. Now all of us have sore backs. :(

It's good to know there are some flatter ones out there. Thanks for the info

bigbaytb
Jan. 6, 2010, 02:20 PM
my dressage instructor hates those big blocks. She feels it puts you in an unnatural position and that its up to the rider, not the saddle for the correct position. that you look more "on top" and not "with" the horse with the over stuffed. that a nice balanced saddle is all one needs. or sometimes when training, ya just need to move differently to make a point. I used my trainers older passier grand gilbert for years.

Because of that background, I like the flatter saddles too, so i was thrilled when I was able to get a tad coffin dressage saddle about 10 years ago. My first saddle made just for me:). very comfy and fits most horses without help. when tad made the saddle, he noted my long femur and made the flap about an inch or so forward from a regular dressage saddle. he said that it would help me for when i rode a smaller barrelled. I could shorten my stirrups and get my calf on the horse. that was huge! I never thougth of doing that for smaller horses and would end up with my feet dangling way below the belly, so now i can adjust and look alittle more appropriate and they wont get spurs in the belly (LOL). I also have to be more judicious with my seat and my breath because my horses can really feel it through the saddle too.

I always get a laugh from people who are used to the big bucket saddles then try to use mine. While my saddle is butter soft but not over stuffed..they complain and complain.."it's too hard", my seatbones are digging in", I cannot keep my leg in place"... I'm not a grad prix rider, but it's my own personal giggle when DQ's can't ride in my saddle. I can say that every professional and clinician that has hopped up on my horses during a clinic to demonstrate or see how my horse rides (usually to see what i'm doing wrong), they always comment how much they like my saddle....but that's just my personal opinion.

cuz of that , I also love jumping saddles that do not have alot to them and when I discovered a monoflap..ya cannot get me out of them!!

Blugal
Jan. 6, 2010, 02:25 PM
I prefer a saddle without bulk, too. I like to ride in older Passiers with a narrow twist and small seat (17"). No blocks.

yellowbritches
Jan. 6, 2010, 02:32 PM
I do not like those big, bulky, blocky dressage saddles AT ALL (has anyone seen the new Bates?!? yowza. I sat in it just for the hell of it :eek:). But minimalist saddles to exist, but can be hard to find if you are shopping right off the rack (so, not ordering something made to your preferences) or if you shopping consignment. I lucked out when I found a Neidersuess of all things that was exactly how I like my dressage saddles (not too deep, a little knee roll, but not a ton) AND it had a short flap for my short legs. But I found it after probably 2 years of shopping around (And I actually snubbed my nose at it twice since it was a Neidersuess). So, they do exist, you just either need to be prepared, usually, to order what you want, or spend the time slogging through consignment.

evntr06
Jan. 6, 2010, 02:38 PM
I recently bought a Stubben Roxanne D dressage saddle, and it is somewhat minimalist. I was not trying to avoid big and bulky dressage saddles, except none of them put me in a comfortable or correct position (except for a $7000 Hermes, which I could sleep in). Roxanne has a medium-deep seat, and very small knee rolls. I don't feel locked in, and seem to find a comfortable, balanced position.

sadlmakr
Jan. 6, 2010, 03:00 PM
Why is there so much saddle in front of you and so much behind you? No to mention those thigh blocks :eek: I need something for flat work but dressage saddles terrify me, how do you bail out if you need to?

The main reason for the way the Dressage are made is for support of the rider.
Especially for beginners this helps them learn the proper seat position. After learning and establishing proper position then they could move to a less substantial saddle. I like the seat on some of the Dressage saddles that are supportive but not too deep in the seat. It really is a matter of choice and also of progress in learning the seat.
Some of the Dressage saddles are a bit extreme. I do not like the huge kneeblocks and thigh blocks. It feels like I am trapped in them.
But that is just my personal opinion.
Bail out? I don't know. I try not to ever have to do that. I don;t think there is an equestrian parachute out there.
Just kidding.
I try not to ride any horses that cut up on me now days. I am too old to bounce off the ground now.

Regards, sadlmakr

Neets
Jan. 6, 2010, 06:27 PM
I really can't stand dressage saddles with the gigantic knee rolls. I feel like if you can't hold your position without the saddle, you're probably doing something wrong. I've ridden in one once before and it was an awful experience. I actually hit the pommel when I posted! I'm sorry, but a saddle that's too deep-seated to allow you to post? That's just crazy.

I ride in a Wintec 500 right now, but if I ever do get a nice, leather dressage saddle, it won't be on of those!

asterix
Jan. 6, 2010, 07:01 PM
Neets, my dq friend would say "post? who posts in a dressage saddle?" (I know, I know, but that is seriously what'd she'd say).

My last saddle shopping go round my saddle fitter brought out a steffen peters something-or-other (is there a brand called Custom, that isn't? cause that's what I remember). This thing looked like a Toyota. Seriously, it was ridiculously huge. Why does anyone need this saddle?
Luckily I had no interest in it as the twist was WIIIIDE and I am apparently...not. Good thing I didn't like it as I would be honestly embarrassed to ride in public in it.

Wait, I found it. The pic does NOT do it justice. The Toyota (http://www.mysaddle.com/MYSADD~3/Steffen.html)

I ended up with a slightly middle-aged Albion (not the newer bigger ones) and I have to say that I really like it, but I still sometimes would prefer less saddle.

citydog
Jan. 6, 2010, 07:09 PM
Especially for beginners this helps them learn the proper seat position.

In my experience it just helps them become dependent on the saddle to hold them in position.

SEPowell
Jan. 6, 2010, 07:30 PM
One more question, why such long flaps? Why can't I have 13 inch flaps for everything?

frugalannie
Jan. 6, 2010, 07:39 PM
Cuz of those of us with long legs.;)

Actually, I was going to suggest that you contact a used dressage saddle broker, if there's one in your area. When I needed to do something different from my extant dressage saddle (turned out it was constructed off center!!!) I called Valerie Hobson at Hobson's Choice Saddles. (Don't even know if they still exist.) She asked me about my horse's and my general side, and for a reasonable fee came to my barn with a carload of different saddles for me to try.

All my barn mates lined up at the side of the ring to opine on the trial saddles. I was lucky that we all agreed that the Roosli I tried put me in the best position and was the most comfy for me and my horse.

Something to consider to get THE right saddle for YOU.

LittleblackMorgan
Jan. 6, 2010, 10:26 PM
One more question, why such long flaps? Why can't I have 13 inch flaps for everything?

I dont know but if you do find one, can you let me know? I get literally 2" of leg on the horse when I ride in D saddle...I have to work REALLY hard to get his butt in gear...:rolleyes:

SEPowell
Jan. 6, 2010, 10:30 PM
Cuz of those of us with long legs.;)

Actually, I was going to suggest that you contact a used dressage saddle broker, if there's one in your area. When I needed to do something different from my extant dressage saddle (turned out it was constructed off center!!!) I called Valerie Hobson at Hobson's Choice Saddles. (Don't even know if they still exist.) She asked me about my horse's and my general side, and for a reasonable fee came to my barn with a carload of different saddles for me to try.

All my barn mates lined up at the side of the ring to opine on the trial saddles. I was lucky that we all agreed that the Roosli I tried put me in the best position and was the most comfy for me and my horse.

Something to consider to get THE right saddle for YOU.

This is embarassing, but I'm not even sure I'd recognize a saddle that put me in the best position, but at least I know I want a narrow twist and as little saddle as I can find.

LookinSouth
Jan. 6, 2010, 10:40 PM
For the rider who loves the narrow twist, nice leather and close contact feel of a jump saddle with just enough of a deep seat and thigh support Dressage saddle. I have one on trial right now and I LOVE it.

http://www.berneybrossaddles.com/kildare_dressage.html

wsmoak
Jan. 6, 2010, 10:54 PM
I dislike deep seats and found the Albion SL flatter than most, with a narrow twist.

I would still like to deflate the ginormous knee rolls though!

Tif_Ann
Jan. 6, 2010, 11:12 PM
The older saddles are probably better if you are looking for a non sofa dressage saddle. I'm selling an older Stubben Tristan (seat is a 19" and way too big for my short short legs) but I LOVE the saddle, feels like I'm bareback on him and I can't believe the communication I have with him. I hope to get another when I replace this one.

As for the deep seat/posting/pommel thing ... well even with a deep seat, if you are hitting the pommel you are posting too big and too forward. A dressage post is a bit more "up and down" instead of going way forward. It should also just be a roll on the thigh, and you don't need to come out of the saddle much.

The long flaps ... well, your stirrups are longer, which means your knees are lower down, which means the knee rolls need to be lower, which means the flaps need to be longer. And I think some is probably looks - because a dressage leg is so much longer the flap just looks better being behind your leg. But that part is just a guess on my part LOL ...

jn4jenny
Jan. 7, 2010, 07:55 AM
For those who are off-the-rack shoppers, don't forget your options to modify the saddle. A saddler can easily, and cheaply, take off the big honkin' knee blocks; Colin Kimball-Davis in New England will do it for free if you let him keep the knee blocks. Heck you could probably do it yourself with some judicious seam ripping. Most saddlers will also shorten a flap by 1-2".

purplnurpl
Jan. 7, 2010, 08:14 AM
I go for minimalist dressage saddles (they *do* exist!). I hate being "locked" in to position. The ginormous blocks and super-deep seats are an unfortunate fashion.

thumbs up.

there are flat or bulky dressage saddles just as there are flat or bulky jumping saddles.
it's all in the brand. : )

ACMEeventing
Jan. 7, 2010, 08:41 AM
I like my dressage saddles with a seat-belt and cup-holders:lol:

frugalannie
Jan. 7, 2010, 08:51 AM
This is embarassing, but I'm not even sure I'd recognize a saddle that put me in the best position, but at least I know I want a narrow twist and as little saddle as I can find.


If you sit in a few different saddles within an hour or so, you'll find that your position will feel more natural and straighter (not slumped or exaggerated or skewed to one side or the other) and your leg will have a nice natural drape in one or more saddle. Be sure to try the saddle in all three gaits in both directions, even if just for one circle. My barn mates were really helpful in commenting on my overall position becasue I was so used to riding crooked that straight felt wrong.

Of course, the saddle that feels right will be the most expensive one of the bunch.:lol:

Fred
Jan. 7, 2010, 09:03 AM
I prefer a saddle without bulk, too. I like to ride in older Passiers with a narrow twist and small seat (17"). No blocks.

That's what I have, an old Passier (maybe 20 yrs old), no blocks, small seat,quite flat.
I find it very comfortable.

Of course I have TBs too. ;)

CookiePony
Jan. 7, 2010, 09:08 AM
Can't believe no one has suggested a Passier GG (used to be called Nicole). I have one and adore it. Moderate seat and blocking.

LookinSouth
Jan. 7, 2010, 10:57 AM
Of course, the saddle that feels right willbe the most expensive one of the bunch.:lol:


That's what I predicted would happen but turns out I was wrong. I sat in at least 20 different used Dressage saddles last week ranging from a 500.00 Dover Circuit to 3-4k Hermes, Stackhouse, Jaguar and Devoucoux. Shockingly the Berney Bros. Kildaire dressage at around 900 fit me the best and was most comfortable for me out of all of them.

ace**
Jan. 7, 2010, 10:59 AM
Can't believe no one has suggested a Passier GG (used to be called Nicole). I have one and adore it. Moderate seat and blocking.

I also love the Passier GG/Nicole model, although according to the Passier website the model is now called the GG Extra, and it looks like they have made the seat deeper and the thigh blocks bigger :(

However, for all those out there like me who love the older Passiers, Passier does still manufacture a couple of models where the extra deep seat and thigh blocks are optional. If you want to buy new look for the Passier Antares and Passier PSL.

quietann
Jan. 7, 2010, 11:04 AM
One more question, why such long flaps? Why can't I have 13 inch flaps for everything?

/snark on

Because the saddlemaking world assumes that everyone who rides dressage is slender, at least 5'6", and has very long legs. And they don't want people to see a fat, 5', short-legged rider using their saddles well, just like clothing designers don't want anyone bigger than a size 10 or 12 wearing their clothing.

One would *think* they'd get a clue, but it's very hard to find something for a shorter, stockier rider without going into custom-saddle land. I have an Albion Style which I love, except for the flaps being too long. My slim, petite friends often use a youth saddle for dressage. One of them does all her jumping in a Stubben Rex.

wildlifer
Jan. 7, 2010, 11:31 AM
I hear you, I don't like them either. I don't like feeling locked in and I don't like the saddle to be a crutch propping me up. That's why I chose the Wintec Pro as it is a nice open saddle where I can move around when I need to, but still stay balanced.

whicker
Jan. 10, 2010, 12:56 PM
I also want a dressage saddle that gives me the option to move. I added to the wish list that I want to be able to go out on trails and hills first, then school dressage, then hit the hills again in cooling out.

I rode upper level eventing before I broke my back from being hit by a deer, while doing a conditioning gallop.

I hope that the adjustments that I have been working on may be useful for you. I use the Le Goff training as my basic style, and then over the years have worked on dressage and foxhunting. I like the Cadre Noir style of dressage, since I still ride sensitive forward horses with Tb in them.

I am now shorter from the spinal damage and ride with bend in my leg and ankle. I want to be able to ride for 5 hours comfortably. I do post and use a light seat or 2 point, or hand gallop as needed for the occasion. I want to be able to do a forward roll if I have to leave the horse unexpectedly. Landing on one seat bone doesn't save the back, I discovered.

I am posting over on the disabled/rehabbing/para riders forum, in the para saddles thread, if you would like to follow the versions of the prototype. The next version is in the mail, so I will have more news to share.

From the thread:

I am working on a prototype custom saddle. Black Country is willing to work with Patty Merli, saddle fitter. I have many spinal issues, so they are creating a double seat so the shock is dampened and I can have a twist that doesn't set off the nerves in my upper inner thighs. My mares are wider than I can manage, so I need just enough height that I can keep my legs more under me. They are willing to start with the Celeste, since that tree suits the mares and it is more comfortable for me.

They will adjust the padding (No blocks) to give me a close contact feel in my legs and the sensitivity and light touch will work. I have to have bend in my legs, so I ride with about a 45 degree angle. The saddle will "appear" to be a dressage straight flap for showing, but it will actually have enough forwardness that I can shorten stirrups and gallop. I will have extended stirrup bars, which means the balance will be fine tuned to the need, and I can have another rider sit in it, when I need help.


The flaps are short to fit my length of leg. I want lots of contact with the horse not the layers of saddle and pad. I use the long billets because it is more ergonomic for me, not to flex my back backwards. I added extra secure dees for small tree pruners for the trails in addition to the regular breastplate ones.

I like the shrumph leather because I need to be able to move some in the seat. If the seat were too locked in, I would have my vertebrae shift and pinch my spinal cord. It is similar to the analogy of the football player whose cleated shoes keep the foot planted, but the propulsion sends the body forward and the knee and ligaments go.

It seems like such a simple thing to buy a saddle. Until it isn't. I have been honing the saddle quest for many years now; four since the last time I broke my back, when I got hit by a deer, while galloping my big DWB.

I hope that what I learn and create will help the rest of us. I will post when the latest iteration arrives over the holidays. Keep your fingers crossed and wish on a star for me..

Sunsets
Jan. 10, 2010, 02:05 PM
Speaking of Black Country...

I ride in my trainer's saddle, a Black Country Vinici, and I think it's a very nicely padded, but not too padded, dressage saddle. It's a monoflap, so even though the flaps are dressage length there's not a lot of bulk under your leg. It has mildly padded knee rolls, but it doesn't lock you into place.

fordtraktor
Jan. 10, 2010, 03:19 PM
For those who are off-the-rack shoppers, don't forget your options to modify the saddle. A saddler can easily, and cheaply, take off the big honkin' knee blocks; Colin Kimball-Davis in New England will do it for free if you let him keep the knee blocks. Heck you could probably do it yourself with some judicious seam ripping. Most saddlers will also shorten a flap by 1-2".

Ditto this. I cut the knee blocks out of one of my saddles. I just took the seam ripper I use for braiding and went to town on the stitches. Five minutes later I had a saddle that I liked a whole lot better.

BeverlyAStrauss
Jan. 10, 2010, 08:02 PM
Now that there are a lot of sport ponies doing dressage, do they make pony dressage saddles? I cant imagine those guys carting around those huge bulky WB saddles, and the riders are all smaller for the most part......I would think most horsie size dressage saddles would cover sport ponies back to their hips and the long flaps would make it impossible to get any leg on......

jn4jenny
Jan. 11, 2010, 06:18 AM
Now that there are a lot of sport ponies doing dressage, do they make pony dressage saddles? I cant imagine those guys carting around those huge bulky WB saddles, and the riders are all smaller for the most part......I would think most horsie size dressage saddles would cover sport ponies back to their hips and the long flaps would make it impossible to get any leg on......

Yep. Although you will notice that some of them are scaled-down versions of the bulky saddles and some are the more streamlined designs of old. http://www.justforponies.com/dressageforponies.aspx

whicker
Jan. 11, 2010, 11:37 AM
Yes, there are pony size dressage saddles. I have been working on that short backed issue, too.

My Trak mare is very short backed. I have only about 12"-13" of space from behind the shoulder to the 18th rib. She looks more like a crabbet arabian than a tb type. She needs a hoop type tree rather than an "A" shape across the withers.

Black Country has done an excellent job of tree fitting her. I need a 17 1/2" saddle, so there is an art in matching us. Normally, an 18" would be what would be chosen for me.

By the way, the Black Country is not as expensive as a Stackhouse, Laurische, or some of the other hot saddles. I have already tried a number of custom saddles, which are now decorating my tack room. :winkgrin:

scubed
Jan. 11, 2010, 11:43 AM
The Devoucoux Milady is fairly minimalist, though soft leather and moderate block. It is monflap, narrower twist and the lightest dressage saddle I have ever picked up. I think the older ones had less block:
http://phillipdutton-devoucoux.com/product_info.php?cPath=25&products_id=61

deltawave
Jan. 11, 2010, 03:54 PM
With everyone making such a long list of saddles that DON'T have all the extras, I just thought I'd chime in to say that I love my big old thigh blocks, deep seat, and sticky leather! :D

In fact, I just bought a new dressage saddle . . . same as my old one, just a narrow tree. It seems my big, chunky, half-draft horse--all 1200 pounds of her, has decided that at the age of TEN she's going to shoot up some serious withers and wear a narrow-tree saddle. :rolleyes:

Big and bulky, yep, that's how I like my dressage saddles. :D

Long Shadow Farm
Jan. 11, 2010, 04:53 PM
I have to vote also for the Berney Bros dressage saddle. I loff mine to pieces. It's just like my jump saddle but puts me in more of a dressage position.....plus the leather is so nice can you say butt chocolate? LOL.

Bobbi