So I've never owned a dressage saddle and figured this would be the best place to ask for advice. I have done a lot of searching here and haven't really found the best answer yet. Here's my problem - I have never really ridden dressage until recently and am doing eventing. My horse and I are doing pretty much solid training level stuff. She is a 6 y/o QH mare. The AP saddle we use now is approx 31-32 cm wide and is a 17".
What I am looking for - a decent priced saddle(pref around $1k) new or used, 17.5" seat, a tree that would fit 31-32cm(regular? medium?), I am about 5'5" and have shorter legs. She's a very appendix type QH but has normal, not narrow withers, is 15.1hh.
I really have no idea what I am doing and have asked a lot of people and have honestly really gotten nowhere. I just don't know where to start, and am really looking for some advice to point me in the right direction on where to start. I am going to ask people at the barn who have dressage saddles if i can try them out here soon to see if that gives me any pointers. Thanks for the help in advance
Last edited by SilvyFilly; May. 9, 2011 at 08:45 PM.
Some thoughts: Yes, borrow and try as many as you can...
Second, read whatever you can find online re fitting dressage saddles.
Third, find a local saddle fitter to come look at your horse and perhaps explain why one or more of the borrowed saddles does or doesn't fit. If you have a decent size tack shop in the area, they may have a saddle fitter and also some used saddles.
Last, understand that if the horse is 6 and you continue to focus on dressage training, it will likely change its muscles enough that today's saddle may not fit in a year. (And it matters more as the training advances...)
At your price range, I would almost certainly opt for a good brand used saddle rather than a new one.
I am relatively new to dressage too. A friend of mine owns a small tack store. She let's me try all her new and used saddles to see what I like. She sat me in a Tekna dressage saddle and I loved it. It is a synthetic saddle (I am not normally a synthetic fan) but it looks and rides like leather. I ordered one and am picking it up tomorrow. They cost around $600. They are great for the eventer. They don't put you into a bad position like many cheaper saddles tend to. They're well balanced and comfortable.
So I took a County warmblood dressage saddle out on trial with my local(2 hours away) tack shop, sale price is $900 and it's a great looking saddle. I sat in a bunch of them there and it was so comfy I had to try it out. Fits the horse perfectly. Rode in it today, and it rode really nicely. Only problem is I feel kinda weird- but I haven't rode a lot in a dressage saddles. Just looking for some confirmation from others that this feeling will go away with regular use or is it the wrong saddle? Otherwise had a really great ride, horse didn't seem to be bothered by it at all, and the saddle being a 1/2" bigger 17.5 really helped I think. Any comments? Really looking for some input..
I can't explain it... it felt weird in probably a good way. Like I was actually using the muscles I keep getting told I need to use but never do, maybe that's a large part of it. I think my biggest problem was that i would try to lean forward too much, and kept having to remind myself to sit back more, now that I actually could, and I think my stirrups were a hole too long.
I too find that my dressage saddle feels a bit weird after riding in my jump saddle. I grew up as a hunter rider and only in the last two years have been riding dressage (for eventing). It took me a good while to get used to the feel of the dressage saddle when I first purchased it but now I adjust much more easily to switching between the two.
A dressage saddle will definitely put you in a different position than a jumping saddle, some more than others. When I go from a dressage saddle to a jump saddle, I often feel like I'm kind of floating around and I can't find the right spot for my seat as easily. (This is also why dressage saddles are much harder to fit... they're a lot more rider- and horse-specific). This is definitely something to consider while you're trying the saddle. Some people find that they prefer a less "restrictive" dressage saddle, and there are certainly plenty of those out there.
I also just purchased my first dressage saddle and am finding that it is a bit of an adjustment to ride. For me it's just the training of my muscles and ligaments to allow my legs to be in the correct position. I have been riding in an A/P, which puts me somewhat in a chair-seat, for so long that I think it's going to take my body a while to get re-train the muscles into the correct place. I think I am also going to have to gradually drop the stirrup length over time as my legs get used to the new position. It won't happen overnight (at least it won't for me).
If you come from a hunter/eventer background, then you may have an easier time riding in a close contact style dressage saddle. Look at a Stubben Tristan or something similar. These saddles have a dressage shape without all the padding and blocks that hold you in a certain position.