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Dressage saddle advice needed — my Morgan & I are a tough fit *sigh*

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  • Original Poster

    #21
    Pocket Pony, thank you for mentioning that just in case.

    I'm guessing our leg/pelvis geometries are different. As a general rule, I love having the stirrup bars placed closer to my balance point rather than farther away. When I read "stirrup bar set back," I'm excited because it might work for me and help me avoid chair seat.

    In my trainer's 2014 monoflap, my legs hang really well without aching. My hip aches from my 2006 double flap are likely caused by the VERY wide knee placement. I doubt the problem is solely monoflap vs. double flap, though, because there were other structural changes in the models over those years. And someone with looser hip flexors might not notice any issues at all from my saddle.

    Thank goodness there are many different types of saddles out there to fit all of us. I only wish it were much easier to figure out which saddles fit which shapes, both human and horse!

    Comment


    • #22
      And if any of you fellow shorties find off the shelf "tall" boots that are short, let me know! I am okay finding a saddle, I think because much of my height is in my thighs (Though not much of my leg reaches below the flap!) but my lower leg is less than 15" floor to back of knee. Tough to find boots that work even with heel lifts.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #23
        MsM, I bought a pair of Ariat Heritage Contours on clearance, 9 short-slim, and although they're still a wee bit too tall/tight (I can't fully zip the last inch yet, but they're not broken in), I think they'll end up being great. IIRC, I measured 14.5 or 15 from the floor, barefoot. I think the chart Ariat gave is the boot height INCLUDING the height of the boot heel, so the measurements aren't as crazy tall as they seem. They're not the most expensive boots in the world, but I'm not doing A shows and my trainer thought they looked great, so yay.

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        • #24
          Originally posted by Pocket Pony View Post
          As someone who grew up doing h/j and switched to dressage and who also had hip pain issues, I'd also point out that stirrup bar placement also has a lot to do with it. Many dressage saddlers seem to place the stirrup bar far back in a way to have the leg hang straighter. That does not work with my anatomy. So just something to keep in the back of your mind. When I read "stirrup bar set back" then I think that is probably a saddle I won't like.
          Do you find you stick your butt out H/J style? My hips are on the tight side but I love dressage because it doesn't make me sore. It makes more sense from a biomechanic standpoint. You're essentially standing, which allows you to bring the tilt of your pelvic bones to a neutral angle and activate your glutes. Basically the same as proper posture for weight lifting. Despite the obvious positional differences, jockies also use a standing position. I realized that the people I know who complain of knee pain from riding are all Hunter eq types.

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          • #25
            OP I just sat in a Trilogy that we were trying to compare to the Advantage in terms of balance for my horse. It was too big for me but the balance was more forward and the twist narrower than the Custom. My horse had a lovely walk in it (which is the one thing he really struggles with in the Custom), but didn’t like trotting since this particular demo saddle had too much bulk in the front panel for him and was restricting his shoulder.. Although it was too big and I felt like I was swimming a bit in the seat, I thought it was pretty comfortable as far as balance and twist goes. So definitely give the Trilogy saddles a try. I don’t recall which model this was. Another good feature is the billets hung more forward so that was a better fit than the Custom for my horse.

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            • #26
              Originally posted by Wanderosa View Post

              Do you find you stick your butt out H/J style? My hips are on the tight side but I love dressage because it doesn't make me sore. It makes more sense from a biomechanic standpoint. You're essentially standing, which allows you to bring the tilt of your pelvic bones to a neutral angle and activate your glutes. Basically the same as proper posture for weight lifting. Despite the obvious positional differences, jockies also use a standing position. I realized that the people I know who complain of knee pain from riding are all Hunter eq types.
              Nope, I've never been a butt-sticker-outer, even when riding hunters.
              "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

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              • #27
                CanteringOn
                The more I ride in my Trilogy, the MORE I like it! It's awesome! It sets my leg in the right position naturally, and the rest of my body just follows suit! My instructor today mentioned how much she noticed my position and therefore my riding has improved since I got this saddle, and it's just so darned comfortable. The twist is all padded and squishy, so it's like riding a pillow.
                It fits my mare really well too and it hasn't even been adjusted by a fitter yet!
                I really think it might be worth your while to track one of these saddles down

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                • Original Poster

                  #28
                  IPEsq and fanfayre, thanks so much for mentioning your Trilogy experiences! Very good to know.

                  I spotted a 17" Debbie McDonald on eBay, but the seller didn't think it was the Debbie McDonald Special. I'm especially interested in the Special because it's made for shortie riders, and that is most definitely me. Does anyone know if the Special has a stamp that identifies it as a Special, or would it just be stamped Debbie McDonald?

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                  • #29
                    Gee, sorry, I don't know.
                    I know mine has an SF for short flap stamped beside the style- Amadeo Elite. I somehow think,since Trilogy has a page dedicated to the DM Special, that it would be stamped as such. For eg, it would be stamped: Debbie McDonald Special Elite (because it comes in the grippy, elite leather) SF if it's the short flap (again, I would think so)
                    Could you have the seller tell you the serial # and you could contact Trilogy asking exactly what that saddle is?
                    ETA: I see one on ebay right now. Don't know if it's the one you are looking at. It's not marked as "Special" BUT it is marked SF, and one of the pictures shows the serial # Very Clearly.
                    It's also on the Facebook page Dressage Saddles for Sale and Wanted with very clear photos and looks to be in Great Shape, even if it's not the Special
                    Last edited by fanfayre; Jan. 31, 2019, 12:37 PM.

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                    • #30
                      I did not find the Steffan Adv to have a narrow twist. The Icon Star did but I felt about 4-6 inches above the horse's back. The Adv R fits me best and I need a narrow twist. And it seems to be the closest contact. NOT the Adv monoflap or Adv. Only the Adv R. The Everest is weird too. I am very picky and my hips are very sensitive.

                      YMMV.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        I have the saddle you're looking for and I'm not giving it up Sorry. Have you looked at an Adam Ellis Dressage, especially since your jump saddle is Adam Ellis? I say this because I'm a 5'1 rider on a very similarly shaped breed/horse, a Welsh Cob, and he was IMPOSSIBLE to fit for a Dressage saddle. If it fit in the gullet, it rocked in the back, and if it fit in the back, it was too tight in the gullet. Combine that with my need for a short flap and small seat and I was convinced we'd never find anything used.

                        But after trying 10 different saddles from 7 different brands, a used 16" W Adam Ellis fit like it was made for both of us. Two different Adam Ellis's fit him perfectly actually, I tried my barnmate's on him too and hers fits him as well as mine. The tree shape back to front is just right for him, whereas a lot of Dressage saddle brands tend to be too curvy back to front for him. It was only $1500 used and Ann at Equestrian Imports helped me find it.

                        Good luck - I know so well how frustrating this combination of traits makes saddle searching!
                        www.cobjockey.com - Eventing the Welsh Cob

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #32
                          CobJockey, is your saddle an Adam Ellis Avanti? It looks like one of those in 17" might have turned up a few hours from me.

                          My Adam Ellis Chloe has MAJOR knee rolls. I don't get hip pain from it at all, but I think that's because when I'm in that saddle, I'm jumping and ride with a shorter stirrup, so my hip joints aren't being stretched the way they are with a longer stirrup. I'm wondering if your AE dressage saddle keeps your knees spread, because that seems to be the cause of my dressage hip pain — my double-flap Steffen's (also with major knee rollage) gives me hip pain, whereas my trainer's Steffen's monoflap doesn't.

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Yes that is the Avanti. It works well for broad and straight backed horses.

                            The Adv and the Avanti are completely different saddles for both riders and horses. I sell both of them. The Adv is more of a curvy shape for the horse and narrow for the rider. The Avanti does have big blocks, however I find that they are a great shape for riders. Since they are angled, it allows the knees to nestle into them without forcing them too far back.
                            Jacobson's Saddlery, LLC
                            www.thesaddlefits.com
                            Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Fitter

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Hi there! I PM’ed you about a Debbie Special for sale.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by sheltona01 View Post
                                . The Avanti does have big blocks, however I find that they are a great shape for riders. Since they are angled, it allows the knees to nestle into them without forcing them too far back.
                                CanteringOn, what she said ^. If it's the right size/shape for you and your knees hit the blocks in the right place, it won't force them back or out. My knees rest behind the blocks.

                                www.cobjockey.com - Eventing the Welsh Cob

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #36
                                  Thanks so much for all the thoughts and advice, everyone!

                                  Just to be VERY sure that my current double-flap older Steffen's Advantage wasn't going to work after 4-6 weeks off of it, I tacked up with minimal padding (no Mattes pad, no Acavallo seat saver on top) and literally within 60 seconds of simply walking my hips were aching. If only I had realized last summer when I bought it that this wasn't dressage pain but saddle pain! Well, we don't know what we don't know. *sigh*

                                  I've kept my eye out for other saddles while riding in my trainer's 2014 monoflap Steffen (so light! so nice for my hips! so frickin' hard to find in the wild!) and I have several under consideration. I live in the boonies of the boonies, but hope to start trialing potential replacements shortly. They include the Adam Ellis Avanti (two have popped up a few hours from me, weirdly), a Trilogy Debbie McDonald that's either a Special or a short flap (though unfortunately there are no Trilogy reps in my state and it might be a little wide for my guy), a "custom" Custom monoflap, and a Steffen's single flap. I'd still love to try a Black Country Equinox but used ones in 17" seem a bit scarce.

                                  I've realized that a lightweight saddle is a Very Good Thing, as I'm almost at the half-century mark and hands and joints will likely get more fragile from here on out. sheltona01, since you sell both the Advantage and the Avanti, is either one appreciably lighter than the other?

                                  I liked the idea and the price of the Stübben 1897, but it doesn't seem to come in a short flap, dang it.

                                  Has anyone here tried a Smith-Worthington? I love the idea of the extended stirrup bars and the adjustable trees as my horse changes shape.

                                  I might need a good Colorado saddle fitter to help me narrow down choices, so I'll probably be starting a thread for that.

                                  Y'know, when I started all this, saddle fitting was so simple, if only because we knew so much less about what it took to make a proper fit and there weren't as many choices. JumasMom reminded me about lollipop pads...I still own a couple for my old Blue Ribbon Avanti. I'm glad we have more choices and can make our horses more comfortable these days, but wow, what a trauma the saddle search can be!

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Re : the Debbie McDonald- if it's just a bit too wide, you could pad it up a bit to get it to fit.(at least until a fitter arrives to flock it to fit) Better a bit too wide than too narrow- that's for sure!
                                    Hey, IPEsq is in Colorado!! Maybe the 2 of you could get together (meet 1/2 way?) and share fitters. (i know Colorado is a big state- kind of like someone telling me to meet up with someone in Fort St. John 1/2 way- it's still 14-16 hours EACH to meet in the middle), but maybe something could be worked out, or someone from one of the neighbouring states?

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      I really do not notice a weight different, but I do not think I would unless it was a big difference in one of the saddles. I carry a lot of saddles and I am just use to them.
                                      Jacobson's Saddlery, LLC
                                      www.thesaddlefits.com
                                      Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Fitter

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        I used to ride in Steffan Advantage on my previous horse and also found it was just not for my body. It fit the horse perfectly but I was constantly struggling with my leg position. Like you, I rode in a trainer's saddle and realized what was going on. Not sure if you are still considering Custom but I have a Everest for sale, set to medium but can be adjusted by saddle fitter. The seat is marked 18 but fits like a 17.5. It is a monoflap, with reg flap length, short thigh block. If interested, I can pm more details, pics, price, etc. It is in perfect condition, built in 2012

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          OP, I PM'd you about Colorado fitters. Happy Horse Tack I mentioned has access to Custom and can often get you a used one if you want to try sticking with Custom.

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