Unfortunately, I have to part with my new-to-me Albion Original Comfort.
I LOVE this saddle. Short flap, wide twist, puts me in the right position.
I have come across a Jaguar with a short flap, and based on the reviews, it will fit my horse GREAT.
The Albion has gussets, which don't work for my mare as they are so big they sit on her kidneys. The saddle is also a wide with super wide panels. I planned on having the saddle narrowed by an authorized shop, but at this point the saddle will need too much customizing to make it work.
The Jaguar is an 18.5 seat, like the Albion, 15" flaps (Albion has 14.5 I believe). It is listed as a wide, but measures narrower than the Albion. Also is not gussetted.
From the description, I believe it will fit my horse (who is not flat backed and has slight hollows behind the withers).
From my reading, Jaguars have a narrow twist. I have always preferred wider, but I have never sat in a Jaguar.
Thoughts on these? I can do a 7 day trial on the Jag before commiting, but I will need to sell the Albion.
The seat balance on the Jaguar is TOTALLY different from Albion - I hate the forward balanced seats, so I have no positive feedback, sorry. Some people love them - but I think you need to try it yourself to decide if it will work.
I love my Albion, regularly ride in a variety of other saddles - Niedersuss, some synthetics, Passier, Excelle.
On one saddle fitting adventure, I tried about 6 saddles on my young growing horse - he LOVED the Jaguar, I was afraid to breathe in it. Tried it again - same result, I did not like it at all.
A tall rider with a long thigh bone LOVED the Jaguar saddle, as did her horse.
They are well made saddles. Try one if you get a chance.
Horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.
The Jaguars, as others have mentioned, fit on the forward-balance principle, which wants the rider's weight as close to the horse's center of balance as possible. The UK/SMS school of thought, otoh, wants the rider's weight spread over as large a bearing surface as possible w/o interfering w/the shoulders or going past T18. The forward-balance saddles are often a good solution for really short-backed horses, though mostly any UK-made saddle can be had w/a sloped back cantle and shorter, more upswept rear panel, which accomplishes almost the same thing, but often offers a bit more bearing surface.
As far as the rider's end of the deal, many of the forward-balance saddles are deeper seated, without the flat spot in the seat that some of the UK saddles offer.
Reviving a thread because I have a Jaguar question I hope you guys can answer.
What does a "forward balance ride" mean? That means your pubic bone will be way low when you sit in the saddle's sweet spot? So you'd better be able to lengthen the front of your body?
The slope up to the pommel is gentle? And the saddle isn't a bucket?
Kitt gave a good answer, but to build on her answer, being a forward-balance saddle or not has basically nothing to do with the seat depth or the slope to the pommel. It simply means that the seat's balance point for the rider is placed in front of the saddle's true middle point.
You can build a forward-balanced saddle with a deep seat, a shallow seat, etc. Don't buy it? Google the Amerigo Pinerolo Alto versus the Amerigo Deep Dressage.
Yes, to some degree, most forward-balanced saddles do have a pretty steep rise to the pommel--because duh, if the rider is parked closer to the front of the saddle, the pommel can gets kinda smushed up there. But have I seen forward-balanced saddles without a steep rise to the pommel? Yes. Typically, such saddles are very shallow-seated saddles overall. The alternative would be kind of clownish: some huge, high cantle pushing you forward into a non-existent, nothing-to-stop-you-from-just-tipping-forward-onto-your-horse's-neck pommel. I admit that I've actually seen that circus show on certain crappy low-end knockoffs of high-end, forward-balanced saddles (::cough:: certain Toulouses ::cough:.
That said, I would hate for folks to read Kitt's description and get the misimpression that forward-balanced saddles tend to make horses uncomfortable. Frankly, these forward-balanced saddles are super common--a lot of people who own them don't even realize that's what they bought--and thousands of horses can't be wrong. They are also not the exclusive provenance of the French, Italians, and Swiss; some British, German, etc. saddles are also forward-balanced. But Kitt's right that forward-balanced saddles, at least the intelligently designed ones, tend to distribute weigh and shock through different means than a British saddle with a wide and deep panel. The exact mechanics are beyond the scope of this post since it's done differently by different brands, etc.
But a big bogey that a lot of saddle shoppers don't think about is that a forward-balanced saddle necessarily puts you closer to the front of the saddle (as described above), which in turn means your entire leg is situated further forward on the flap. So you get people who try forward-balanced saddles in a smaller/their usual seat size, and they're all like "Oh my leg must be really long and I must need a forward flap!" Uh no dudes, it's just that this particular type of saddle parks you closer to the pommel and you probably need to go up a seat size partly to accommodate that leg. And obviously, since you're parked further forward on the seat, the net effect is that there's often more cantle hanging out behind you, which can be exacerbated in visual effect when you go up a seat size. So H/J riders and others who are obsessed with aesthetics are often surprised, or even disturbed, by how much cantle may be hanging out behind your butt in a properly fitted forward-balanced saddle. I had to trick one client into sitting in a 17.5" Amerigo instead of a 17"; she fought and fought me on it, but sure enough, I tricked her into sitting in a 17.5" and the angels started to sing. She also had five fingers' clearance behind her (it's not that dramatic for everyone; I've only got four fingers' clearance behind my Amerigo, and I've fit zaftig riders who end up with just three fingers' clearance in an Amerigo. But five-fingers-behind-her girl had a tiny, bony little butt). She agreed that after feeling how the saddle rode, she could care less about how much or how little cantle was hanging out behind her.
(A brief rant: all those threads in the H/J forum complaining about how CWDs are crotch destroyers whose flaps don't fit the rider right, but surely they are riding in the right seat size because they have 3 fingers' clearance behind their butts? Yeah. Classic signs of riding in a forward-balanced saddle but not realizing it and not having your saddle fitter explain it to you. I'm not saying that everyone will be comfy in a CWD/Amerigo/etc. if they just size up a seat because some people's bodies are better suited to a truly middling balanced point a la Crosby or even a backseat balance point a la the Black Country Quantum and County Stabilizer...but nonetheless, sizing up in a forward-balanced saddle is often a good idea. I've stopped responding to such threads over on H/J because frankly, a lot of the would rather achieve "the look" than listen to this structural argument, and it's become a waste of my breath. Sad but true.)
Last edited by jn4jenny; Mar. 19, 2014 at 12:04 PM.
My 4 year old has a "young horse saddle" which means both more open seat and the forward balance mentioned - the thought being with the balance young horses have and their lack of overall strength weight off the loin area is a very good thing. In our case, we had 7 saddles from 4 brands to try on after the saddle fitter did a preliminary check her previous visit to get an idea of shape and size for us, and it was the ones which fit us both very comfortably. It makes me ride with a straighter leg than normal, but she's a narrow young horse so it's actually comfortable anyway.
As for Jaguars - I find them unrideably uncomfortable - they dig into my thighs terribly. Maybe they have a narrow twist so it's the sides of the tree that get me, but it sure felt like a wide twist to me. Just awful.
My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.
Originally Posted by katarine
If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed
Revitalizing this thread. Question for Jn4jenny. I am currently trying an Amerigo Cortina. My young horse loves the forward balance. It is a 17 1/2. I'm 5'8" and 135 lbs with a long thigh. I have to ride really long in order to fit my thigh to thd flap. I have adapted but couldn't ride shorter it I wanted to on those days that I am a little tight. Do you think an 18 would be too big or be more comfortable? Any other insight is much appreciated. You seem very knowledgable on the forward balance saddles. Riding in an Amerigo has made an enormous difference in my horse. She has never been able to canter under saddle without a struggle. With the Amerigo, her back is free to undulate and she is balanced in both the canter a downward transitions. Always a struggle in the past.
Not jenny, but FWIW, I'd guess that going up a half-inch might make a difference. The Amerigos ride a little small IMO, and someone of your height might do better with that extra bit of room. It's also possible that the flap set may be at issue here; I *think* you can order one with a more forward flap, but check with Ann Forrest at Equestrian Imports - she sells Amerigo, and could tell you for sure.
Thanks Kitt. I just feel like my butt is stuffed up against the rise of the cantle. Do you think that the extra 1/2" would dump me towards the back of the saddle and the panels would be much longer? Also, I would wonder if a more forward flap would interfere with my horse's shoulders. She has large shoulders and a short back.
Well call me a doof, but I don't see the balance point moved far ahead in the Dominus so much as the whole thing being more of a steep bucket.
I think of Frank Baines saddles as being a nice, neutral British-made kind of saddle. (And I think they are well-made for the price, deserving of more renown that they get. Do you agree?) So what I see there is a longer "working center". Some call this an more "open" seat. But in geometric terms, I'm not sure the deepest part of the seat is farther back behind the stirrup bars and the pommel than it is in the Dominus. What am I missing?
Oh, and both saddles have been set level in the picture, right? Sometimes, I think saddles are put on stands that have them tipped forward or back and that screws up the whole Geometry Estimation thing for me.
I always assume the front edge of the flap will be vertical when the saddle is on the horse… and knowing that tells you the orientation of the saddle (tipped forward or back in a picture). But that's not so! Some saddles are designed to have a bit of an angle forward to the flap when on the horse and level. Well, boy-howdie that screws up the whole Geometry Estimation thing again.
Forward-balance saddles also have a smaller weight-bearing surface than a "standard" balance saddle; the latter focuses on spreading the rider's weight over as large a bearing surface as possible w/o interfering with the shoulders or going past T18, while the forward-balance saddles want the rider's weight as close to the horse's center of gravity/withers as possible. Both fits can work - depends on the individual horse and rider.