View Full Version : do you use your dressage saddle out on trail, or?

Mar. 4, 2010, 02:35 PM
Having to find saddles for both my mounts... I have heard of people using their dressage saddles out on the trail, sometimes with a seat saver. Do you guys use the same saddle that you use in the arena out on the trail or do you use something else, and if so what do you like and why? I have been mostly an arena 'hostage' but plan to do some trail riding this summer for sure.

Mar. 4, 2010, 02:43 PM
I do most of my trail riding in my dressage saddle- I've never used a seat saver. My saddle is quite comfy, so it's never been an issue for me.

Mar. 4, 2010, 02:51 PM
Dressage saddles tend to have a nice, deep seat that is plenty secure for trail riding. I used to have a western/english hybrid type trail saddle, but often ended up using my dressage saddle anyway. No seat saver, although I do like the sheepskin ones - comfy!

You know what's nice though, having a little saddle pack to bring along drinks, snacks, your cell phone for emergencies, etc. I like the EasyCare ones that attach securely and don't bounce like regular saddle bags, and they have insulated drink holders which are a big +++ here in Arizona! :) I have the pommel and cantle ones, and I tend to prefer the cantle one.

Mar. 4, 2010, 03:06 PM
Thanks so far, guys, that is helpful. An additional question is about jumping little obstacles out on the trail in your dressage saddle. Believe it or not I have not really done any jumping yet, I have had a heck of a time being a green rider who made the classic blunder of buying a green (2 year old!) horse, so it has been a long arduous process for us to just master our 3 gaits in our beginning dressage lessons. We are starting to really progress though. I am just wondering how a dressage saddle is for taking little jumps on a trail, such as a log or whatever? Sorry if that is a dumb question, it just seems such a different design from the one favored in jumping and all purpose saddles. Can you guys jump in your dressage saddles?

Mar. 4, 2010, 03:13 PM
Certainly you can jump in your dressage saddle. You may want to shorten your irons a hole or two though.
Interesting to note that there are a number of mounted police units that ride in dressage saddles. They may add extra D's for their gear but it works as well as a purpose built saddle and can end up cheaper.

Mar. 4, 2010, 03:42 PM
My trainer encourages me to take my mare out on the trail, and reminds me to shorten the stirrups on my dressage saddle a hole or two.

Mar. 4, 2010, 03:58 PM
…Believe it or not I have not really done any jumping yet, I have had a heck of a time being a green rider who made the classic blunder of buying a green (2 year old!) horse, so it has been a long arduous process for us to just master our 3 gaits in our beginning dressage lessons. We are starting to really progress though. I am just wondering how a dressage saddle is for taking little jumps on a trail, such as a log or whatever…

You can do it no problem, just shorten your stirrups a hole or two. HOWEVER, I would really recommend taking your first jumps with your green horse/rider combination with an instructor to help you get the feel for it, and also in an arena with jumps with cups/poles so it won't be a huge deal if you guys don't get it right away. Oh yes, and wear a helmet :)

Mar. 4, 2010, 04:02 PM
I mostly trail ride in my dressage saddle unless I know there are going to be jumps over 12" in which case I use my jumping saddle. The tree shape and position of a dressage saddle is not great for a horse's back when jumping and won't put you in a very good position for it either. But a little 12" log, you'll be fine, just stay off his back and keep your reins loopy.

Mar. 4, 2010, 04:05 PM
With my last horse I always rode in my dressage saddle on trail- even went to a real Trail Trial with a friend one time- needless to say we were the only ones in breeches, tall boots, and english saddles. Had a blast though!

My current horse I prefer to ride western because she is an all-around horse, but I will take a spin out on trail in my dressage or close contact saddle if that's what I'm in the mood for.

Mar. 4, 2010, 04:11 PM
I love my dressage saddle and by far is the comfy saddle I have but I don't trail ride in it. It just cost way to much for me to scratch it up on the trail. I have a C/C jumping saddle that I trail ride in that was not as expensive and I have a western saddle but it doesn't fit the horse I'm riding now.

Mar. 4, 2010, 04:12 PM
It's totally do-able, but I find that I prefer my all-purpose saddle when I'm going out for a hack. When the footing's bad, or the terrain's steep, or there are obstacles to hop over, I just find it easier to get up off my horse's back and out of the way.

Mar. 4, 2010, 04:25 PM
Yep. I did a hunter pace in my Wintec dressage saddle. Opted out of the jumps, except for a little log here and there, and it was fine.

Recently I went out on a pretty gnarly trail ride on a borrowed gaited mare (what fun!) and it occurred to be that the Western saddle I was sitting in was pretty similar, seat wise, to a dressage saddle. Except that you have a horn to grab, but a mane works just as well!

And finally, in regards to jumping in a dressage saddle - ever see a Prix Caprilli? That's a dressage test with low jumps. Looks like a ton of fun.

Mar. 4, 2010, 05:01 PM
Yes - in fact, I find it easier to use the same saddle for ring work and trail riding. I used to have separate Tucker Equitation Endurance saddle for trail riding. It fit me completely different that my "everyday" saddle used for ring work. I used to get SOOOO sore after trail rides since my body didn't have the muscle memory for the Tucker. My body is much happier sticking to one saddle all the time regardless of where I'm riding.

Mar. 4, 2010, 05:17 PM
Hmmm, I asked my instructor about dressage saddle for trail and light jumping, she said OK for trail but not so OK for jumping, she is going to show me why tomorrow, but she said an occasional log or obstacle on the trail would be OK.

In one way I could see the wisdom of having a seperate trail saddle just so you don't scrape up your expensive Passier or whatever on the trail...

Vesper Sparrow
Mar. 4, 2010, 05:38 PM
I've used my well-worn Wintec 500 dressage saddle for trail, foxhunting and a little low jumping. It is very comfy but, particularly with the slickness of the plastic, not ideal, particularly for foxhunting. And when I tried out some small jumps in a Steubben Siegfried, I realized just how much easier jumping was in an AP.

Mar. 4, 2010, 06:13 PM
Riding here in my stubben dressage saddle for a prix caprilli with 2' verticals. Not a problem and they do it for dressage test. I wouldn't rec. jumping 4' in one but to pop over something is nothing.




Mar. 4, 2010, 06:25 PM
oh goodness yes, I wish i'd known about dressage saddles 10 years ago when I was riding western or bareback. They're lovely on the trail.

And in my minimal or no block flatter saddles, I'll certainly pop over logs, ditches, etc. its no different than jumping in a western saddle (except you don't get your sternum impaled or bra hooked over the horn! now I could tell you a very embarrassing story there...).

only thing that is lacking in a dressage saddle is lack of handiness, ie d's for rigging up pouches, etc. There are fleece lined english pommel bags that work quite well for a water and some carrots, etc. (don't put your cell phone in your bag!! no fun watching your phone go galloping off into the distance! lol). The make english pads that have saddle bags built in, but I don't think thats wise, its easy to unbalance and flap relentlessly when trucking along.

but yes, I love hacking around in a dressage saddle.

Mar. 4, 2010, 07:50 PM
I always used to jump a few fences with my Trakehner to get him moving forward, even in my dressage saddle.

That said, I usually hack in an A/P because it gives me more flexibility. In my dressage saddle, it's uncomfortable to ride short enough to jump.

As others have mentioned, if you are just starting to jump, probably best to do it with a trainer and to use a saddle that helps, rather than hurts your position.

Mar. 4, 2010, 08:26 PM
Do I ride in my dressage saddle on the trail? Not if I don't have to!

The deep seated, big thigh block saddles would be hard to do any serious trail riding in no matter how comfortable in the ring. A flatter one would be better. I fox hunt in my jump saddle even if I'm just hilltopping because we go like mad dogs. You don't know what forward means until you've tried to keep up with the hounds!

Mar. 4, 2010, 08:32 PM
Absolutely, all the time. In fact, that's how I broke my new saddle in, doing short trail rides.

I went from a Country Drespri (really an all purpose type saddle) to Wintec 500, to a Duett Fidelio. Twist on the Wintec and the Duett were definitely different from each other and totally different from the County I'd used for 15 years. Trail riding is what helped me adjust the best and quickest. The occasional small log, creek etc is no problem. The Duett is a deep seated saddle however, so I wouldn't want to be jumping a lot or anything big with it, but it's OK for normal trail stuf.

Plus, I like to work on different things on trail too...if I have a nice area where I can canter, I'll work a little collected to medium, or do some trot half pass, shoulder in etc in different places. I find that trail riding in my dressage saddle helps me with my position too.

Mar. 4, 2010, 09:00 PM
only thing that is lacking in a dressage saddle is lack of handiness, ie d's for rigging up pouches, etc.

Sounds like you need one of these...


Sandy M
Mar. 4, 2010, 11:33 PM
I have trail ridden in my dressage saddle, but I prefer my Steubben AP Imperator for trail riding (love that padding between the layers), and the moderate forward seat I, personally, find more comfortable, especially if I'm going to get in a half-seat and do some canter/gallop.

I did trail ride more in my Ortho-flex dressage, but that saddle was more like a cross between a dressage saddle and an Aussie stock saddle.

Mar. 4, 2010, 11:40 PM
On longer rides (several hours over rough terrain) I'll usually throw on my western saddle because it is easier to secure saddle bags to and it's just a bit more secure and practical, but for shorter rides I use my dressage. It isn't the deepest seat, but it is very secure and comfortable for me and certainly works for "light" trail riding. It is also the saddle I use for beach rides/gallops.

Mar. 4, 2010, 11:50 PM
I love my over the cantle saddlebag- it has a wraparound design with an insulated water bottle holder on each side, a long zip pokect to hold my spare lead, halter, folding saw, etc and straps to hold my raincoat. The best part is it fits over the cantle of my Passier dressage saddle or my Textan barrel saddle, so I can change from one saddle to another for a trail ride depending on my mood and wardrobe, just by undoing the girth attachment.

Mar. 5, 2010, 05:01 AM
I trail ride in either a dressage saddle or an all-purpose, depending on how much half-seat I plan on doing and how rough the terrain is, but I don't think it's necessary to have a separate saddle for arena and trail.

CatOnLap, your cantle bag sounds perfect--can you post a link or let us know who makes it? Do you need D's on the cantle to attach it?

Mar. 5, 2010, 08:23 AM
With my last horse I always rode in my dressage saddle on trail- even went to a real Trail Trial with a friend one time- needless to say we were the only ones in breeches, tall boots, and english saddles. Had a blast though!

I know that "outcast" feeling. I was 2nd place in a trail trial in a dressage saddle. Could have been first, but one of the obstacles involved dragging a tire tied to a rope and I didn't have a horn to dally around so didn't go faster than a trot and was pushed into second because I was several seconds slower.

Cielo Azure
Mar. 5, 2010, 10:08 AM
I have a Bates Innova with the larger blocks and I use it on the trail all the time. I LOVE IT!

The mare I ride is very big and spooky, the blocks hold me into the seat when she has a meltdown moment and I feel more secure in dealing with her.

I rode over 15 miles over rough up and down terrain in it last fall, I didn't even feel the slightest bit sore after four hours in the saddle.

She didn't get sore either.

Mar. 5, 2010, 11:06 AM
I used to trail ride in my dressage saddle all the time, but the trails at my new barn include some really steep hills and I find it uncomfortable to ride them in the deep seat. I use my good old Stubben Siegfried these days instead.

Mar. 5, 2010, 11:27 AM
I had a failry flat dresssage saddle not very deep seat so decided to purchase an Australian saddle. I found a great deal on a very nicely made one that works great!!

Mar. 5, 2010, 11:40 AM
I hack out in dressage or GP saddle depending on the type of hack - stroll down lanes or faster rougher terrain type hack. Also depends on horse, someone i'm working on our flatwork on that's nice and sane to hack and isn't spooky i'll throw on dressage and often leg-yield, vary the pace collect extend etc etc along the trail on and then its basically its just arena work on the trail so i'll definately pic my dressge saddle.

But a youngster that's likely to pogo-stick along the road it'll definately be my GP with shorter stirrups and a grab strap!:D

Mar. 5, 2010, 11:43 AM
Get a used all purpose saddle - your horse will thank you.

Mar. 5, 2010, 11:43 AM
I ditto what most have said about how nice it is to trail ride in a dressage saddle. Additionally, whatever saddle fits your horse the best is a good one to trail ride in, and I like the lightness of a dressage saddle for the horse on a long ride.

I will say that I get a lot of weird looks from the other trail riders when I join them in my breeches, half-chaps and dressage saddle! You can see them thinking "OK, whatever." One guy asked me if I was going ballet dancing after the ride. Cowboys. Hmph.

Mar. 5, 2010, 12:38 PM

I did look and couldn't find an exact twin to mine but this one is pretty close. It has a half moon pocket that fits over the cantle on my Passier, and behind the cantle on my barrel saddle. There are straps with velcro coming out of the bottom of the bottle holders on each side and they slip under the cinch latigos on my barrel saddle or under the billets on my dressage. Takes about 2 seconds to undo them and switch. No dee's necessary.

Dressage Art
Mar. 5, 2010, 03:00 PM
I showed my mare at 4th level in the same saddle that I took her to the 3 day weekend trail rides gateways with my friends:

This is our dressed up for trail dressage saddle on the beach trail ride:
This is going towards that beach breathtaking view:

I prefer not to tie much to the saddle, b/c it bounces around and irritates my mare. Everything needs to be attached solid. I have a saddle pad with pockets and tie rings. My rain jacket and horse water foldable bucket fits there. I also have an English saddle bag that attaches to the back of the saddle and doesn't shift around when you ride. Lunch, rope halter, bug spray and other necessities fit there. I have a water bottle pouch in the front of the saddle and also a belt pouch for me with my keys, camera, chopstick, etc... That is for all day trail rides 8+ hours long.

This is the same saddle dressed up for the dressage show ring :) http://www.dressageart.com/Zena/zena_2008_cc7

The saddle doesn't matter; it's the FIT that matters. Try to get a good saddle fitter yearly to look at your saddle and make sure that it fits good. Re-fitting runs from $150-$300 but it's worth it, just like a good pair of good fitting shoes.

Mar. 5, 2010, 03:30 PM
You can't go without your chopstick.

Mar. 7, 2010, 07:11 PM
I was using my dressage saddle on the trail a lot until I had to go down a long, step hill. I felt like I was going to slide down over my horses neck! I have thigh blocks but it just wasn't the same as my AP Stubben. Since then I ride with a breast plate and the AP on the trail.

Mar. 8, 2010, 12:00 PM
Hiya, I'm the OP who posed the question. Can you guys recommend a used AP (brand/model) that is esp. comfy on the trail, then? I have a used Wintech AP that I am selling because it pinches my mare's shoulder. I'd rather have a real, AKA quality leather saddle, sounds like the Stubben is a pretty popular trail saddle on this thread and you can get a used one a lot cheaper than what my used Passier just cost. I am starting to like the idea of having say a used AP saddle for being a bit more agile out on the trail, for the steep hills and little jumps, plus I like the idea of keeping my Passier out of harm's way. I'm going to need a wide tree most likely, to fit my mare and the new andy gelding on the way. I have actually been riding in a Stubben close contact as a loaner, in my lessons, and while the thing is half dead (worn and ripped) and too small for me, I do feel it helps give me a good/agile position. Otherwise I will go back over the thread now to see what APs you have all said are very comfy. My instructor was saying that while I could of course use my Passier, it might be a good idea to get a jumping saddle for the trail. Hmmmmmm....

What is your sense of the difference between using a AP as opposed to a jumping saddle on the trail? Sorry, remember I have been an arena hostage forever and never really gotten out on the trail yet, partly because I have been a novice learning on a very young arab that I was so brilliant to buy as an unstarted 2 year old. Instead of the old bomb-proof geriatric horse that I should have gotten:). (But I wuf her...) We are both older now so there is no more excuse :).

Is a close contact the same thing as a jumping saddle???

Christa P
Mar. 8, 2010, 03:28 PM
I have no problem trail riding and jumping in my dressage saddle, but I have ridden in others that would have been very uncomfortable. We had a boarder many years ago that could not figure how I trail rode in a dressage saddle and I didn't know it was an issue until we switched horses one day. I have an old Stubben that gives the rider a lot of freedom, hers was the type that locked you in position.

As for carrying things, I bought a western horn bag and added a couple of straps (dollar store dog collars) to attach it to my billets. I can switch saddles and use the same bag easily. Here are some pictures:



Sandy M
Mar. 8, 2010, 04:09 PM
Re what's comfortable: The Imperator (and all Steubben APs) come in "more suitable for jumping" and "more suitable for dressage" versions, though both models are forward seat. The Imperator is the black and tan one (as opposed to the Siegfried and other models) and has a layer of foam under the seat AND in the panels. It's VERY comfortable.

Mar. 8, 2010, 05:03 PM
LOL, I used to event in my Passier dressage sadle. You were dead meat if you got even a little bit forward on my old pony.

I would love to find a wide County eventer to ride on trails but since there aren't many trails around here I guess it doesn't matter anyway

Mar. 9, 2010, 02:09 PM
I have an AP Stubben Genesis that has a more dressage type flap. I thought I wanted a jumping saddle or an AP with more of a forward flap but when I tried them out it didn't work so well.

I tend to ride with a longer leg so there was miles of leather in front of my knee. I can two point comfortably and jump the logs out on the trail but if I get the leathers too short my ankle starts hurting really bad. The straighter flap and a half deep seat gives me room and security. Even with a the dressage type flap I have no problems going with a shorter stirrup, my knee does not hang out over the front knee roll (which it would do if I shortened my stirrups in my dressage saddle). I also got extra D's added so I have room for the water bottle and wire cutters.

So to answer the question...it depends on how you like to ride, your body type and how the saddle fits you and your horse. You have tons of options.

Mar. 9, 2010, 02:24 PM
I ride out on the trails in my dressage saddle and find it a great place to practice/test all the excercises that I had worked on in the arena with a practical purpose, ie; leg yield back and forth on the trail, counter canter the bends on the trail, lenghten and shorten the stride in trot and canter,ect. Lots of fun for both you and your horse. I sometime find my horse a little sharper out there or maybe somehow the pressure is off and the relaxed atmosphere "allows" it to happen better.:winkgrin: