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saddle suggestions needed

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  • saddle suggestions needed

    Hi everybody,

    I need some dressage saddle suggestions. We are just delving into dressage lessons (about 3 months in) and plan to use it mostly as cross training for our hunter work, but I would also like to compete in some low level/schooling dressage shows. Maybe we'll eventually pursue dressage further, but right now, I don't know much except that practicing dressage in a dressage saddle is MUCH more natural and easy than in a hunt saddle. So, being that we're not super committed, I want to find something reasonable (preferably used and less than $1,000)

    My horse is a wide/broad backed Saddlebred, who needs a wide gullet and wide/broad panels (that distribute the weight over more of the back- left to right), especially under the cantle.

    I am tall (5'10") with long legs and really want something with decent sized thigh blocks that go all the way down the front of the flap and hold the leg straight/back.

    We currently have a 34cm 19" Thornhill Berlin all purpose which fits us really well, but I can't balance my legs with long stirrups in it very well.

    We test rode a Thornhill Germania Klasse 18" and I really liked it and how it fit me. I wish it had a slightly wider twist, but I would sacrifice that if everything else were right. The deal breaker on that one was that the panels under the cantle are quite narrow.

    Does anybody have any suggestions/saddle ideas? Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    I would recommend a Prestige, if you can find one for your price range. Slightly wider twist, nicely sized thigh blocks (I'm 5'11'', and the 18'' fits me really well), and they often come in larger tree sizes


    • #3
      Duett has some options for the well sprung ribcage and in your pricerange.
      I prefer a very narrow twist, so I won't be able to offer suggestions based on comfort.
      well... I hate wintec's twist, maybe try them
      chaque pas est fait ensemble


      • Original Poster

        thanks guys, I will look into it. I did a brief search and can't find anything made by Prestige under $1000, even used. I realize they are really nice saddles, but I can't swing that for a "trying it out" saddle.

        The Duett ones look like they would be worth a try. For some reason the saddle fitter I worked with to find my AP really didn't like Duett saddles, not sure why, I think they look like they'd fit my horse. . . I can't find any in this area, for whatever reason, but I'll keep my eyes open.

        I also have looked a little bit at L&R, those are pretty nice saddles and I think they'd fit, they have one at a tack shop by me that I could take out on trial. Might have to do that!


        • Original Poster

          I test rode a barnmate's Duett Fidelio, which was very nice, a good quality saddle for the price, but I feel that it wasn't properly balanced for me, and the twist was a little too wide for my liking.

          I also test rode a L&R Ellipse, which was also a very very nice saddle, but the stirrup bars feel too far forward for me.

          I think the biggest problem I am having with the saddles I've tried is the balance of the seat and position of the stirrup bar- most of them feel too far forward, which makes me unbalanced, I can't keep my legs back under me, they want to inch forward and push me into a chair seat. Anybody know any saddles that have stirrup bars set further back or are really good for helping a rider keep the legs back/under the seat?


          • #6
            The Fidelio runs small. You may need a different seat size.

            Other wide brands to look for used are Prestige, Black Country, Frank Baines, Albions. Or treeless. Depending on width maybe a wide KN or Spirig.

            A 34cm is only medium wide at most. I have some who wear 40s for instance. I think a Niedersuss Symphony or other model is possible for you. I use one on some Lipizzans and it's a nice saddle. They are readily available and not too expensive.
            Touchstone Acres Lipizzans, Standing N. Samira VI (Gray), N. XXIX-18(Black), more in 2014


            • #7
              With your long legs a County Eventer might work also. They are often available used around $1000.

              They dont have huge thigh blocks but IMHO you are better off not relying on your saddle to put your legs in the correct position.

              Many people switching from forward seat to dressage ride with their stirrup leathers way to long.
              I wasn't always a Smurf
              Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
              "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
              The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


              • Original Poster

                thanks for the suggestions.

                That county eventer is a forward seat saddle, no? I already have an all purpose/forward seat that works well, but just looking something designed for dressage riding with a longer/straighter leg. I'm not trying to lengthen them to the point that there is no bend in my knee, just get out of the hunter leg position. I generally feel more comfortable in shorter stirrups, especially in a forward seat saddle, so even lengthening the stirrups a few notches takes getting used to, but I need a saddle that isn't going to make it harder yet.

                I found out that the Thonrhill Germania saddle I tried is an older model which is no longer made, not a Klasse, so I want to try out a Klasse, as I think that could be a good match for me. The tack shop near my house has a 19" I could take out, but I suspect it'll probably be too big for me (though, my Thornhill Berlin AP saddle that fits us great is a 19").

                As far as seat sizes, do they usually run pretty comparable to CC/AP saddles?


                • #9
                  you would have loved the hulsebos I once had, I sold not too far away from $1k, so do keep your eyes open for deals, they do pop up from time to time. Mine had the stirrup bars set very well back.

                  In the meanwhile, if your wide horse is more A shaped than U shaped, I'd suggest investigating a Rembrandt. There are several models and they are often found under $1000. I would suggest a fixed tree over the adjustable as I think (iirc) the W fixed tree is wider than the adjustable one widens to. I have seen Rembrandts with adjustable stirrup bars too, you can pick a setting that works for you.

                  Also look at Michael Stokes/Centaur, they're really underpriced right now and might fit all of your requirements, there are usually a few on ebay though this one might not be your size: http://cgi.ebay.com/Michael-Stokes-D...item3a6422b1c8 If you found something really inexpensive your budget might allow for having adjustable stirrup bars installed. I *believe* (I may be wrong) that Michael Stokes is still working and servicing his saddles and could do something like this. http://www.centaursaddlery.com/dressage_saddles.shtml His saddles are really very very nice.
                  Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                  • #10
                    A number of the Schleese and Albion models would fit your criteria. You might find an older one used in your price range.


                    • #11
                      try a thornhill or a fairfax....you might also look into an m. toulouse....good luck...
                      Mai Tai aka Tyler RIP March 1994-December 2011
                      Grief is the price we pay for love- Gretchen Jackson
                      "And here she comes. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's ZENYATTA!"


                      • Original Poster

                        The tack store by my house does have a number of Albions, but I think they're all regular trees. . .but I'll take a look. I know they also have a Schleese, but I think it's about twice my price range.

                        The saddles I've tried thus far are:
                        - Thornhill Danube (decent, but not balanced correctly for me- stirrup bars too far forward?)
                        - Thornhill Germania (older style, panels narrow, but I loved it)
                        - Thornhill Zurich (too narrow in stirrup bar/twist area for my horse)
                        - L&R Ellipse (stirrup bars too far forward)
                        - Duett Fidelio (I suspect not the best balance, but didn't ride in it long enough to really tell for sure).

                        I'll keep my eyes open for those other options, thanks everyone!


                        • #13
                          take a look at the fairfax or kent and masters.....very popular in england....
                          Mai Tai aka Tyler RIP March 1994-December 2011
                          Grief is the price we pay for love- Gretchen Jackson
                          "And here she comes. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's ZENYATTA!"


                          • #14

                            I think you'll find that riding dressage is actually easier when your stirrups are at the proper length -which includes a bend in your knee (I actually can think of only perhaps Ulla S who rides with very little bend in her knee). The drag is that you have to find a cheap saddle that fits both your horse and you. Not particularly easy.

                            Most saddles with long thigh rolls sell for more than 1K, and I honestly don't think you'll need them. You need a saddle that has a twist you like, and importantly, had a seat depth and seat position to stirrup bar ratio that you like for your body. Some saddles put my leg under me (i.e. Wintec/bates, Albion, etc.) some put my leg in front of me (i.e. custom saddlery/black county) but this is becuase of *my build*.

                            Unfortunately, the best way to determine what will work for you is to sit in a bunch of saddles (you can go to your local tack shop for this and some will let you bring your horse) and to ask alot of people. The big horse shows also have many saddle reps who can let you sit on many models and see what works for your body. You can either buy used or ask people about similar "type" saddles that are cheaper.

                            Unfortunately, saddle shopping is a huge drag in my opinion. Good luck!
                            Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Samigator View Post
                              thanks for the suggestions.

                              That county eventer is a forward seat saddle, no? ?
                              Not really

                              It is more forward than a something like a Perfection but NOTHING like a true forward seat jumping saddle like a Prix de Nations.

                              I have ridden in one at dressage clinics with no trouble. It's one of County's oldest designs. The older saddles have a narrower gullet if that is important
                              I wasn't always a Smurf
                              Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                              "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                              The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.