View Full Version : forward balance dressage saddles?

Jun. 29, 2011, 03:14 PM
*sorry, post is long*

Can someone please explain what a forward balance dressage saddle is? Are these saddles designed for a womans physique?

I'm asking because I'm wondering if my current saddle is contributing to me having to fight to keep my leg underneath myself. I know my lack of fitness is a huge contributor, and I'm working on it, but I would like to have a saddle I'm not fighting against.

Some background info:
I'm 27 years old, a slender build of 5'9 and 134 lbs, with an inseam of 31-32 inches. My thigh doesn't seem especially long, but I can measure it if someone tells me where to measure from.

I'm currently riding in an approx. 25 year old 17.5" stubben tristan. When I first bought it seemed to fit me ok, but now it seems small and I have to constantly fight to keep my lower leg from slipping forward.

The tristan fits my mare ok. It's balanced level etc. I'm going to be having a saddle fitter out soon to have a saddle fitted to my mares back, BUT do I really want to pay for a fitting on a saddle I'm not in love with? Not really. I would rather find THE saddle for me and my mare and have that fitted to my mare. However, as a grad student, budget is a consideration.

The saddles I've been considering are:

- Nicole grand gilbert (does this one tend to put riders in a chair seat? I rode in one years ago when I was 14 and didn't seem to have an issue)
-Prestige Andreas Palladio
-Schleese JES Elite

I would describe my mare's back as being a medium width, medium wither, some hollows behind the shouders near the wither. And *maybe" slight roach back, but I'm thinking she may be having sacro illiac issues, which may be contributing to the slight roachiness of her back. A chiropractor, who is also a DVM is scheduled to come out and start working on her.

I can post pictures of my mares back, and of me in the stubben tristan if necessary.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! I've spent hours searching through old threads, but still have questions.

Jun. 29, 2011, 03:50 PM
I just sent you a pm.

But fitness could definitely be part of it. I was just sick and basically not mobile for about 8 weeks, so rode once in that time (for 15 minutes and realized I was going to fall off if I kept going). I'm finding my legs want to be more forward. It comes both from my seat/weight, and also from my hip joints. The core strength keeps my balance correct, and riding and stretching helps the psoas and other muscles/tendons around the hips regain their flexibility.

The question is, does your saddle *allow* you to ride properly? If so, it's likely fitness - especially on a saddle so non-constricting. Now, do you want a saddle which more closely guides you toward sitting correctly? That's a possibility, too, and nothing wrong with it if that's the case. But what does your overall balance feel like if you just let your legs hang with no stirrups? I like a saddle where my thighs are in the correct place when my legs hang - which means my feet will be too far forward, generally, as stirrups will cause me to bend my knee without moving my thighs and get my feet under me. On that note, are your stirrups the correct length? It's possible you need them shorter if you are less fit. It's amazing how much adjusting stirrup length can help many of us.

Good luck with your mare and the possible SI issues. If there are some, you'll be amazed how much a chiro can (hopefully in this case) help, and I'm glad to see you're using a DVM!

Jun. 29, 2011, 04:01 PM
Sometimes the location of the stirrup bars fights you. I tried several saddles recently. Some of them fit me and the horse just fine, but it was a struggle to keep my legs under me.

My trainer said I should be able to just stand up without much trouble. If so, stirrup bars are in the right spot. If I have to tip forward to keep my balance, stirrups are too far forward.

I ended up buying a Ryder Zara. It has adjustable bars. I love that saddle.

not again
Jun. 29, 2011, 06:20 PM
Maybe your leg is going where it belongs.... check out Catharine Haddad Staller's blog.

Behind the 8 Ball
Jun. 29, 2011, 11:38 PM
Maybe your leg is going where it belongs.... check out Catharine Haddad Staller's blog.

this. i have a steubben ( like 20 plus years old, re-flocked every 3 -4 years ) and a 25 year old Passier PSL that allow me to sit like Mrs. Staller taught me long ago and I can sit any trot, apply seat bones as needed and feel secure.

Try having your saddle re-flocked if you feel like you are sitting back too far, it could be compressed, the wool ones get that way over time. Sitting back and not where you are balanced will make you brace your legs forward and feel tense.

Jun. 30, 2011, 02:22 AM
5'9 and 134 lbs, with an inseam of 31-32 inches.
I'm currently riding in an approx. 25 year old 17" stubben tristan.

Try an 18in saddle (or a 17 1/2 that rides bigger), then report back :)

Jun. 30, 2011, 07:42 AM
I'm 5'9", 137 lbs, 32-33 inch inseam, so very close to your size. I'm in decent shape, but I'm 49, so I'll never be as strong as a semi-fit 27 year old ;). I've had good luck with older ('90s vintage) Rooslis. I rode in several (17"-17.5") and all made it fairly easy to find my position without fighting the tack. The "normal" tree 17.5" that I found on ebay (cheap) fits that TB I ride quite well, he's built like a typical TB.

Jun. 30, 2011, 02:07 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone!

I was looking at some photos of me riding in the stubben tristan and it doesn't appear like I have a hole lot of space to work with. It's a 17.5 inch, but I may need a larger seat size. If anyone is interested I can post some pics.

Does anyone have any experience with those saddles I mentioned ( the Nicole grand gilbert, schleese jes elite, or the prestige andreas palladio)?

I'm quite interested in the Nicole grand gilbert because there are so many of them on the market right now, and they fit a wide variety of horses, but I'm concerned they may have a too far forward stirrup bar. Any suggestions? Experience?