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  1. #1
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    Default Dressage vs. Western....why the pain..? PICS Added #20

    Hi All,
    I have been saddle hunting and finally found one! yay
    It fits my horse! She is obviously more comfortable and moving sooo much better. yay! So here is the issue.

    It is a dressage saddle and was not a cheap one even used and it KILLS my back. Just my back. Feels great in the twist, the thighs. (I'm 5'2 140 lbs) its 17 1/2 inch seat so I don't think it would be to small.

    A western type saddle doesn't hurt my back but my mare strongly objects to western type saddles.

    I see the obvious differences but is a dressage saddle puts you in the "correct" position why would it be killing my back?
    I know this my seem like a stupid question so bare with me...
    If is helps I ride endurance...mostly a few lessons here and there.

    T.I.A
    Last edited by spook1; Jul. 16, 2012 at 01:57 PM. Reason: adding pics.



  2. #2
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    Apr. 17, 2012
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    Because . . . it's not putting you in the correct position for YOU! I have the same problem, and have given up all attempts to ride in dressage saddles, having owned at least 5.

    You can actually do your dressage, including showing (or any other flat work) in any English saddle at all that puts you "body over stirrups." Sit in a bunch w/long stirrups. Just make sure the edges of the twist don't cut into you when you really sit down and deep.

    Everyone's hips and sacrum are tied in differently, and we all have varying degrees of wear and tear and tightness. Don't fight it, because I can tell you one thing absolutely for sure--if a saddle makes you hurt, you will NOT ride in it! Voice of experience. You know that pair of really cute shoes you got on sale that shred your feet? Riiiiight--just like that!

    Truthfully, that straight-backed, long-legged, vertical position just ain't attainable by some of us--and it isn't very practical in the real world anyway, so don't feel bad. If you're doing endurance, investigate endurance saddles--most of them have a great balance, by definition for doing almost anything.

    If you've got the one you've got, however, try it with shortened stirrups and see if that takes the back-crink away; if so, you may need to remove the knee/thigh blocks so you can ride it that way. At the French School at Saumur, they did and do ride all their dressage in ordinary balanced seat (jumping length) anyway!

    Now--what to try: "Flat" saddles, with no kneeroll or block:

    Racinet monoflap "dressage"
    Beval Natural
    Anything treeless
    Barrel racing Western (shorter bars)

    The first 3 of these, be warned, require a very, very independent seat. But if you grew up riding bareback, they'll all feel like Old Home Week. None of these will "force" any of your body parts anywhere, they'll all settle comfortably right where they belong. You could show in the first two--I have.

    As for the Barrel-type saddle, I find one of these works GREAT for dressage training at home, with closer contact and a great vertical leg without that "splinted" feeling. You might want to try one of these on your mare with a Western pad that gives her good spine clearance, because most of them are made with short, wide, round-shaped bars and 7" gullets that nicely fit even the most swaybacked or mutton-withered QH's, Arabs, Morgans, etc. If you have a more "sharkfinned" type like a TB, that's the only type who can wear a "semi-QH" bar. It'll pinch everyone else like crazy. Either way, looking for one of these, E-bay is the happy hunting ground and you don't EVER need to spend more than $500.

    Anyway, some suggestions from one whose attic resembles a strange hybrid of Bevals crossed with Smith Brothers on any given day!
    Last edited by SwampYankee; Jul. 11, 2012 at 07:43 PM. Reason: add.



  3. #3
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    Default

    You may need to set the dressage saddle further back on the horse to get the right seat angle for you. Have a trainer help, but it's a smaller saddle with just one angle for the hips to rest properly, and you may not have it on the right spot to create both optimal horse fit and rider comfort.



  4. #4
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    Oct. 10, 2007
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    Not all dressage esaddles automatically put you in the right place. Mine doesn't and it was very expensive but I love in and I use my muscles to compensate and have to build a strong core. Also if your core isn't as strong yet it can take more concussion on your back. Also western saddles usually have more of a seat. More cantle with a back on the saddle that helps support your back more. Hope this helps
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole



  5. #5
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    Jul. 30, 2010
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by spook1 View Post
    Hi All,
    I have been saddle hunting and finally found one! yay
    It fits my horse! She is obviously more comfortable and moving sooo much better. yay! So here is the issue.

    It is a dressage saddle and was not a cheap one even used and it KILLS my back. Just my back. Feels great in the twist, the thighs. (I'm 5'2 140 lbs) its 17 1/2 inch seat so I don't think it would be to small.

    A western type saddle doesn't hurt my back but my mare strongly objects to western type saddles.

    I see the obvious differences but is a dressage saddle puts you in the "correct" position why would it be killing my back?
    I know this my seem like a stupid question so bare with me...
    If is helps I ride endurance...mostly a few lessons here and there.

    T.I.A
    Because unless you have freakishly long legs that belong on someone 6 feet tall your saddle is an inch too big. I am 5'2" also and my new dressage saddle (that fits) is 16.5. I could have gone 16 inch flat but was told when they get that small saddles are made for junior riders not adults.

    Been there Done that read this thread about the same thing. http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=357262



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2007
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by spook1 View Post
    Hi All,
    I have been saddle hunting and finally found one! yay
    It fits my horse! She is obviously more comfortable and moving sooo much better. yay! So here is the issue.

    It is a dressage saddle and was not a cheap one even used and it KILLS my back. Just my back. Feels great in the twist, the thighs. (I'm 5'2 140 lbs) its 17 1/2 inch seat so I don't think it would be to small.

    A western type saddle doesn't hurt my back but my mare strongly objects to western type saddles.

    I see the obvious differences but is a dressage saddle puts you in the "correct" position why would it be killing my back?
    I know this my seem like a stupid question so bare with me...
    If is helps I ride endurance...mostly a few lessons here and there.

    T.I.A
    Dressage saddles put you in a correct position...FOR DRESSAGE!!!!!

    That may or may not be the correct position for jumping, fox hunting, mounted saber, tent pegging, jousting, trail riding, or any other equine discipline.

    The seat is the basis of all equitation. There are several types of seat. Each one is geared to some set of tasks to be performed astride.

    If you want to ride endurance then your seat should be geared to that discipline. The largest group of people who rode "endurance" historically were the various cavalry units over the ages. I'd recommend you acquire the the Army's last text from the Cavalry School at Ft. Riley (Horsemanship and Horsemastership, Vol. 1 & II. It is available from the Sutler's Store at the U.S. Cavalry Association web site http://www.uscavalry.org/ Click on "Shop." You'll also find some of the original training videos used. The whole package will be about $100; and it will be the best $100 you've ever spent on training materials for horse and rider.

    The dressagistas frequently claim the title of "essence of correct riding" but that claim is often overstated. Don't accept their propaganda.

    Further, lose the idea of "dressage vs. western" or any other "vs" notion. Rather look for the horse and equipment that is best suited to the task/discipline you wish to follow.

    Good luck in your continuing search!

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão



  7. #7
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    Oct. 16, 2008
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    Central Oklahoma
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    Analyze your position. It is very possible you are hollowing your back when riding in your dressage saddle. It happens a lot if you don't have strong enough core, and are suddenly put in a riding position where your legs are more directly under you instead of in front of you as in a chair seat.



  8. #8
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    You should sit in much the same posture in any balanced saddle- it should resemble a "standing" posture, such that if the horse vanished you'd land on your feet standing upright. Western, english, whatever, it's all the same, you just put more bend in the joints if you're jumping vs. not.
    If you're used to cheap western saddles, you may be used to riding incorrectly in a "chair seat": many poorly made western saddles have the stirrups way forward so you sit on your butt and have your legs out in front of you, like sitting in a chair. This is very incorrect for any discipline of riding and is good way to fall off easily. But if you're used to sitting that way, you may have weak core and thigh muscles and may struggle to sit correctly in a properly designed saddle. Which could cause back pain- you don't have the belly muscles to hold your back flat, so it torques.
    However, most likely the problem is: that saddle is WAY too big for you- you're probably pushing your butt backwards into all of that extra space and cranking your back strangely, or sliding around in the extra space torquing your back. Someone your size should be looking at 16" saddles, or possibly even smaller.



  9. #9
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    Default

    Just throwing this out FWIW but...

    (I'm 5'2 140 lbs) its 17 1/2 inch seat so I don't think it would be to small.
    I am taller and weigh more than you and I'm riding in a 17" in this picture. (note, I would look at 17 1/2 if I were to look now - I've had this saddle for 15 years)

    http://s1194.photobucket.com/albums/...ka-canvas4.gif

    Could the saddle be too BIG for you? I rode in a hunt saddle for a long time and thought I had bad knees. My next saddle had a smaller seat and I haven't had knee problems since.
    Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe



  10. #10
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    Apr. 15, 2008
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    Default

    Does the dressage saddle hurt your back when you are doing the same stuff you did in the western saddle? Maybe your horse is just moving up/out more in the dressage saddle and you aren't used to the movement. There is a world of difference between jogging in a western saddle and sitting trot in a dressage saddle.



  11. #11
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    Jun. 4, 2008
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    Hi
    I luv this forum! I learn sooo much here. Thank you!

    The saddle is a Arabian saddle company Solstice. It is geared toward endurance but is also use as a deep seat dressage saddle for Arabians as well. It is a very nice quality saddle. The saddle I have been riding in mostly was a custom western type saddle (Desoto) and not a cheap saddle either.

    My mare is WAY more comfy in this saddle. Huge difference.Even non-horsey dh noticed a difference in her attitude and movement.

    It seems to tip my pelvis forward I guess causing my lower back to dip inward ...if that makes sense. I didn't think the saddle seat would be to small giving what Ive been told. Could it be I just don't have a "correct" body... That is what I've been told .
    Thanks again!



  12. #12
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    Nov. 2, 2006
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    Shorter stirrups may help or you may need a different relative position of the stirrup bars.



  13. #13
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    Honestly, it doesn't matter how 'not cheap' any of your saddles are. If it's too big or too wide for your horse it'll cause your pelvis to tilt awkwardly and give you pain.



  14. #14
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    anything with a "deep seat" throws me forward. I am convinced that I sit best in my 1980s Lane Fox/cutback. No leg rolls or blocks and flat flat flat. Like I could use it to roll pie crusts.

    Right now I am riding in the saddle that fits my horse (previous owner shelled out big bucks to get one that fits her & I got the saddle as part of the deal) but it most def. does not fit ME.

    In the far future I would like to get one that fits both of us. Any flat dressage saddles out there?

    Enough about me...

    Your saddle is def. too big for someone your size.

    Regardless of what style you are riding, an plumb bob dropped from your ear should fall to align to the shoulder, hip and heel. This is true for western, saddle seat, hunt seat, dressage or elephant riding (maybe- I am not sure). If you ever do yoga, pilates, etc, they will say the same thing - it has to do with your center of balance.


    However, you need to be able to move to maintain your seat. A saddle that prevents you from moving is no good. Yes, some saddles have blocks & rolls to assist, but sometimes they may be holding you in the -wrong- spot.

    If you are being pitched forward, you may be overcompensating by trying to brace/arch your back, which would cause it to be stiff & painful. I used to brace when I rode equitation (thinking this was 'correct') & it hurt my back like hell.



  15. #15
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    I think the OP would need to post a pic of herself in the saddle before anyone judges it to be too big. All saddles/seats are different, and, depending on the depth of the seat, the same person might be correct in different size seats. I am only 5'1" and 120 pounds. A 17.5 CC saddle with a flatter seat is way too big for me. Likewise, when saddle shopping, I tried an older Passier dressage saddle with a more open seat and was swimming in it at 17 inches. However, the Spririg I ended up with is marked as an 18 inch, but it doesn't feel like one when I ride in it; the seat is quite deep.

    For me it's all about stirrup bar placement. I haven't found an AP saddle I can ride in (for flatwork) as the stirrup bars are all too forward for me to get my leg underneath me. With my shorter legs, I need the stirrup bar placed well back.

    OP, can you have someone watch you from the ground to evaluate your position and what you're doing with your pelvis/back? I agree with those who have suggested needing to build core strength, if indeed the saddle fit is right for you.



  16. #16
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    Most likely the seat is too deep for you. Try an older model stubben or a 90s or older passier grand gilbert, or one of the roomier custom saddlery saddles, or an Albion slk or style.
    I need a very flat open saddle or else my L5 gets forced into compression
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  17. #17
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    If its tipping you forward, the seat is too deep or the pommel too low, or both. Try something with a less deep seat but that has the same twist. In my experience, the twist is very important to the horse, and can absolutely cause short striding like you say you were seeing in your western saddle.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by spook1 View Post
    It seems to tip my pelvis forward I guess causing my lower back to dip inward ...if that makes sense. I didn't think the saddle seat would be to small giving what Ive been told. Could it be I just don't have a "correct" body... That is what I've been told .
    Thanks again!
    Yeap. You are hollowing your back Like I said, a good dressage saddle will put your legs underneath your body, and if your core isn't strong enough, you will hollow your back. It is much harder to get hollow back if your legs are in front of you.

    The fact that your horse moves better is also indicative that you are not hindering her movement in this saddle, perhapes because you can no longer bang on her back (behind the motion) while sitting chair seat, and perhaps she now can move her shoulders freely, which will also increase the movements under you, and again, if your core is not strong enough, you will try to tighten your back to stabilize yourself, hence, more hollow back.

    Engage your stomache muscle, till your back flattens and your pubic bone rises up a bit, and remember, and remember, and remember to ride like that, all. the. time. This is very important - you do not want to damage your back!



  19. #19
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    Thanks guys.
    I will try and get some pics monday and post for more visual ideas.



  20. #20
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    Default PICS

    http://i667.photobucket.com/albums/v...s1/photo-3.jpg
    http://i667.photobucket.com/albums/v...s1/photo-2.jpg

    Here is some pics of me in the saddle. Think it fits or too small?
    Thank you



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