I am very happy to say that I am making the switch from equitation/hunters to eventing! It is something I have wanted to do for over a decade and I am finally taking the plunge!
As part of this transition, I am looking for a new saddle. Actually, my mare has grown (she is 4) and my old equitation saddle no longer fits her. So I figured I might as well buy my first eventing-oriented saddle for her.
I have done quite a bit of research, but I worry about eventing saddles having too much padding or that they will keep me from having that close contact feel that a H/J saddle would have. I don't want to feel like I am a foot above my horse!
What saddles out there allow you to maintain the close-contact feel but have forward enough flaps for the galloping and jumping? Plus thigh blocks for added security over ditches and banks? But still allow you to work on your flat work without switching saddles?
As an added necessity, I need the saddle to be extremely comfortable for my mare since we also do a LOT of long-slow-distance work on the trails (I have a lot of endurance friends! )
I have not had much luck with french saddles in the past. I had a Butet custom ordered and found that it just didn't fit anything except the most high-withered horses. I might be willing to give French another shot, but I do worry about that comfort factor for the horse.
Does anyone have any ideas? I am really worried about this ENORMOUS purchase and making the right decision!
Honestly, particularly at the low levels, you can use the same saddle: I show jump in the same saddle I ride XC in. Pick a saddle that fits you and your horse - I would steer away from anything all purpose and get a true jumping saddle, but whether you prefer knee roll, thigh block, etc., is mostly up to you. I prefer a decent knee roll and a lower cantle, but you don't need something huge. I might stay away from the truly flat as a pancake saddles, but those aren't even really in vogue in the HJ world anymore regardless. I know folks who go XC at the upper levels in a Nona Garson, in Antares, in Stackhouses (gorgeous), or in fairly run of the mill, not that expensive Countys or Bates saddles, both of which are completely fine. Figure out what fits you and fits your horse, and go from there (and there are LOTS of great used options as well). Welcome to the dark side!
Second, Got Spots is right. I rode lower level XC for years in my Prix de Nations flat as a pancake saddle and had no problem. Find a jumping saddle that is comfortable for both horse and rider and gives you a balanced feel over fences. Don't limit yourself to those deemed for XC.
Totally agree. In the mid nineties I used to show Prelim in my PDN, so get a saddle that fits your horse and is comfy for you. If you are coming from H/J land you will be comfortable flatting in a jumping saddle, so I wouldn't worry about that. Eventually you probably will want to invest in a dressage saddle, as it does make that phase easier (esp. training level and up) but a good well fitted jump saddle that you are secure in is definitely your #1 priority. Welcome! You won't regret the switch!
Any saddle suitable hunters and jumpers will be fine for the lower levels. In general, any "eventing" saddle will either be an all-purpose (no purpose saddle) which won't be forward enough for a good galloping position, or will be a true X-C saddle with blocks, a very forward flap, and a lowered cantle for drops -prevents bruises on your back Honestly, if you get an X-C saddle, you will want a dressage saddle as well. The balance is just too far forward for good flatwork, and the thigh blocks will be in the way. Imho, you are better off with one close contact/jumping saddle with just front blocks for now, unless you want a dressage saddle as well.
I use Wintecs on my young horses. They're lightweight and well-proportioned for the horse's back. And you can change the gullet thing as they change shape. The Wintec AP is an extremely comfortable saddle for basic dressage and trails/jumping (and quite popular for 25 mile endurance rides) and you can get one cheap on eBay.
The h/j in you is getting the heebie-jeebies, I know. But your 4 year-old isn't done growing and probably won't use the same saddle in a couple of years.
I love the monoflap jump saddles for both xc and stadium. Hardly any leather between you and the horse, blocks for knee and thighs, and I find mine to very comfortable. You can do flat in them, I start all the youngsters in my jump saddles then move on to the dressage saddle later, but you will want a dressage saddle along with a jump saddle.
Well I feel a lot better now, thanks folks!
Yes, I do worry about my little girl growing more. She is 1/2 Hanoverian so I know (and HOPE ) she will grow quite a bit more (she is only 15.3 at the moment...I whisper to her that she is the next Headly Brittania! )
so I was thinking that a saddle with wool flocked panels would be a necessity.
I wish I could still ride her in my good 'ol Ashland, but it is clear that it does not fit her very well. I will have to find something else to replace it.
What CC saddles do you all ride in? What have been your experiences been with different saddle makers?
I just got a County Conquest and love it but itis a bit pricey. Our County rep here in the boonies does good work. A new wool flocked saddle needs a lttle extra attention to maintain the fit. I've got a TB now who's a bit more sensitive so I want to make sure it fits as well as it can.
Welcome to the fun side! I have ridden a lot of younger horses, and do all three phases in a jumping saddle. Some that I have liked are Berney Bros Dublin Jumper, Courbette Pandur FS, Kieffer Norbert Koof, Albion Kontrol, my current Devoucoux Oreka. I definite prefer the relatively close contact feel and think all these saddles generally qualify. You can also go monoflap (though often more expensive)