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Dressage Saddle. Does This Exist?

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  • Dressage Saddle. Does This Exist?

    I am once again searching for a dressage saddle for my hard to fit mare. Conventional saddles that are cut with a straight flap and long points will not work for this horse. She has little wither and prominent shoulders. She needs a saddle that will sit over the edge of her shoulder blade and allow the shoulders to move under the front of the saddle. She also has a wide Baroque type back. She's an 11 year old Dutch warm blood and carries her rib cage high. She has a wide flat back so no plump panels. She needs a flat panel that will lay on her back rather than something that is stuffed to where the whole panel does not bear weight. I'd love to hear saddle suggestions. I might also add that I have a long thigh and ride with slightly more bend then some of the riders that ride with a very straight leg. So I need minimal block a shallower seat and I like my stirrup bars set a little further back. Thus such a beast exist?

  • #2
    Maybe Bates? They have adjustable stirrup bars, changeable thigh blocks in different styles, very flat panels, especially if you choose the CAIR panel, and I believe the points are fairly short on the adjustable trees (I think).


    • #3
      Yes that saddle there are saddles like that. I can think of 3 off the top of my head. However why do you want the tree over the shoulders?
      Jacobson's Saddlery, LLC
      Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Fitter


      • #4
        Wow saddles. Do all this and more but, BUT!, I don't know how much coverage they have with fitters in the US and it would depend how confident you were about setting it up yourself. There's a fair second hand market in the UK for sourcing parts on a budget including a couple of quite active Facebook groups.
        WOW saddles have numerous Dressage flap designs to suit everyone's tastes.  Here is a listing of those flaps in 3D.


        • #5
          My new Stubben has short tree points and fits my horse with very prominent shoulders (although he also does have withers). The Stubbens come with 2 different trees now, so I would speak with someone knowledgeable about that (not me!). Good luck. They also have shallower seats and minimal blocks, etc. depending on the style.
          From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.


          • #6
            I have a very similar horse (with the added bonus that it's a pony and built downhill, yay) and have just gone through 6 months' worth of saddle trials, so learn from me! I also ride with a shorter stirrup so anything with a huge knee roll was out because it would turn my whole leg to the outside (this knocked a lot of Albions, my go-to brand, out of the running). The best thing I trialled was a Frank Baines Capriole, the older model with minimal knee block. It has a very flat seat and rides amazingly well with any stirrup length. Baines saddles have softer flocking generally, unless it's been overstuffed aftermarket by some zealous fitter. The Capriole has been discontinued and the exact tree size/seat combo i need isn't popping up on the used market, so what i ended up in was a Niedersuss Olympik. For whatever reason this saddle allowed my stumpy short leg to just "hang" where it needed to be. Niedersuss have really short points, which is how they have the reputation of fitting so many horses.

            If your horse needs a thin panel and is a candidate for foam, there are some brands that may work for you there also. My personal snowflake demands wool so I am not helpful there.

            I too am confused by the statement about the saddle needing to be up over the edge of the shoulder blade. That's not where saddles are designed to sit. Are you setting the saddle far enough back when you tack up? 1-2" behind the point of the shoulder blade.
            "I once heard a client ask our vet if a horse's brain was as small as everyone says they are. Without pause, the vet smiled and answered: 'Maybe, but have you seen their hearts?'" --Alice Peirce


            • #7
              There are quite a few like that. The question becomes - your price range; if you are looking for new, your location to determine if there is a fitter in the area; your rider needs, etc. Many of the custom companies have at least one model with short points, most can do a forward flap (if you need that), most have different types of trees for different body types. So it really comes down to - is there a fitter in your area, is it in your price range, and is it comfortable for you? There are so many baroque type horses, that this saddle does exist with many brand names on it.

              There are off-the-rack saddles too. Poster above mentions 2 that tend to work well on a LOT of different horses. Neidersuiss Olympik or Symphony, and many of the Frank Baines models. Some of the Albions might work (some of the older ones like the Legend/SL have minimal thick blocks too). Newer customs, I know both Schleese and Custom Saddlery make some models that fit those requirements...


              • #8
                I am having the same difficulties fitting my Lipizzans, especially my really wide mutton withered mare who is a hair under 14.2. On top of that, I'm hard to fit too! Many injuries, long femur and need for a narrower feeling twist...Loxley has a saddle with hoop shaped gullet bars that fit her perfectly and didn't move but it crippled me. They might be a place to start, or many of the English made saddles can accommodate a wider lower either and flatter back. Black Country is a good one but there are many others. Custom Saddlery has some wider options now. I really feel your pain, I have probably tried close to 200 saddles for my girl but can't find one that's perfect for us both


                • #9
                  If you are interested in the Wow, try Patricia from Fine Used Saddles. She is wonderful and carries new and demo Wow saddles. She is near Leesburg, VA but I believe she travels to PA.


                  • #10
                    The EQ Saddle does that. It sits on top of the shoulder.

                    You can take a saddle out on trial for the cost of shipping it back and forth from Canada.

                    I know two trainers who use this saddle and had my horse traced for one. It is a very different concept but I like it. One of the trainers I knows has a horse who has a weird shaped back and has been difficult to fit and keep comfortable. She really loves the EQ Saddle.


                    • #11
                      Reactor Panel have short points, can be customized in fitting, have very flat panels. A friend has one for sale (I sold mine years ago when my gelding outgrew it) that has a very wide tree for her TB/Perch mare.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CookieFiend
                        Dresch saddles are amazing in my experience. Can be custom fitted to both horse and rider. My tree was built around the horse then everything else was custom made around me. My mare is pretty wide, I used to have a Custom Saddlery brand saddle that wouldn't fit her even at the widest fitting (channel was too narrow), but the Dresch could be made wide enough in the channel for her plus she has a short back (she has a pony length tree, LOL). Also I am short but my thigh is long, and my leg likes to be more forward, so the saddle was made to fit that. I've had this saddle for over 4 years now and it's lovely. Just another option for the hard to fit horse and rider.
                        This was going to be my suggestion.

                        My guy's build wouldn't let the saddle stay there, but they are intended to go over the shoulders. Especially useful if you're dealing with a short back!
                        If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                        • #13
                          Have you tried a Custom Saddlery saddle? My fitter came to me with over 30 saddle options for me to try when I was buying mine. After narrowing down what I wanted in a saddle, she gave me 8 or 9 options that could work with my horse. I sat in every single one and some worked better for the horse and some worked better for me.

                          I have a very short coupled, short flat backed, mutton withered, downhill, Cleveland bay cross with a HUGE shoulder, and I just purchased a Custom Advantage R with pony panels and the billets off the point to allow more shoulder movement. I also ordered it with the short thigh block instead of the full knee roll. My fitter actually told me that it was the first saddle that she had ever ordered "off the point" and she was really excited to see how it would work for us. I couldn't happier with the fit. He also has a big barrel and forward girth groove so I ride him in a TSF girth which works fantastic for us.

                          I couldn't be happier with my purchase. It fits him unbelievably well and the narrower twist allows me to really sit into the saddle and get my legs around him. It has a nice deep flat spot that allows me to really sit into the saddle and I feel like for the first time in my riding career that my saddle isn't impeding my position but actually helping me to sit quieter.

                          If you are adamant about a saddle that fits over the shoulder, you should be looking at French made saddles, Devocoux, Antares, CWD, Butet, etc... These saddlers are known for making very nice jump saddles and their dressage saddles are designed to sit more forward on the horse and closer to the shoulder. Unfortunately they are foam flocked so there really isn't much that can be done if your horse outgrows it. Most of the ones I have come across tend to have a more forward flap and a shallower seat as well.


                          • #14
                            It sounds like your horse needs a hoop tree.

                            If you can afford to go custom, you'd probably enjoy almost the exact saddle I ended up with - a Black Country ViniciX with a shortened thigh block and forward flap. It is heaven to ride in. Since you mention a shallower seat, they will shave down the cantle if that's your preference (the pommel is already fairly low). If you don't want to go custom, their Equinox model, which is a dressage-based endurance saddle, already has a forward flap with small thigh block. The main difference is the half-panels on the Equinox, which gave me nowhere to put my knee on the smallish horse I originally bought it for. With a larger horse that takes up the leg, this wouldn't have been a problem.


                            • #15
                              My girl is a bit more pear-shaped than barrel-shaped, but very flat backed both laterally and longitudinally, and quite wide. She also starts spooking in the canter if a saddle interferes with her shoulders. Frank Baines Reflex has been our savior. She's 15.2, I'm 5'10", and my other dressage saddle is a Passier Grand Gilbert. The Baines fits her back better, and it allows me to have a bit more freedom in my leg and hip. I would say it does (or at least mine does) require a bit more of an educated seat and core control because it rides minimal, even though it looks deep.
                              Custom and semi-custom washable wool felt saddle pads!


                              • #16
                                I have pretty much exactly as you describe in a used saddle I'm can PM me for details.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by outerbanks77 View Post
                                  If you don't want to go custom, their Equinox model, which is a dressage-based endurance saddle, already has a forward flap with small thigh block. The main difference is the half-panels on the Equinox, which gave me nowhere to put my knee on the smallish horse I originally bought it for. With a larger horse that takes up the leg, this wouldn't have been a problem.
                                  Chiming in here in case it's helpful. I have a Black Country Equinox that I use for a dressage saddle. I bought it used and the serial number is indecipherable so I don't actually know if it has a regular or hoop tree. But my horse, my trainer, and I all LOVE this saddle. My mare has medium but long withers (definitely a regular tree candidate and not a hoop tree), has a wide barrel, and needs a LOT of shoulder freedom. She also has a somewhat shortish back in terms of room for a saddle because I have to place the saddle back surprisingly far to get the tree points behind her shoulder. She goes way better in this saddle than any other dressage saddle we've tried.

                                  I love it, as well. I also have a longer femur and thus have more of bend in my leg than most. The flap is angled a bit forward and the thigh block is quite small so it doesn't get in the way. It also feels super close contact, which is really nice and allows my leg to fall more naturally, as opposed to being forced outward from the width of my horse and the bulk of the saddle. I would highly suggest giving it a try!