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New to dressage- saddle question

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  • New to dressage- saddle question

    Hello guys! My name is Reagan, and I'm new here

    So until last month, I had never ridden in a dressage saddle (i am a hunter princess and just started lightly eventing my retired large pony this year). My dressage trainer put him in her Bates innova, which has MASSIVE blocks. Well, I talked to my eventing trainer (I brought my horse home from college for the summer, where I met "Dressage Trainer") and eventing trainer said NO GO, no massive blocks.

    So, I found a MW custom saddlery, Victory. First of all, I am a long legged girl, and honestly probably need a long flap, but there is just no way that's going to fit right on a large pony. Second of all, my knee/thigh kind of hits/touches the block under the flap. Is that normal? I've never ridden in a saddle that doesn't have a massive external block. I dont know what is supposed to feel right or wrong. It took me a few rides to get used to the blocks on the INNOVA which forced my leg back. I also ride with my stirrups shorter than they should be so my legs don't hang...I'm 5'7'' but all legs on a pony. special, I know.

    I like the seat part of the Victory much better than the Innova, as I can actually sit back and don't feel as if I'm getting pushed forward (which I have a problem with anyways because I'm a hunter and i'm a leaner )

    Lastly, I thought I was going to have to send the saddle off to change the tree width, however, I think it fits him pretty darned well. We have no saddle fitters in Memphis, which is a bummer, and I dont want to send my saddle off to custom saddlery for $200 for them to not do anything drastic. He has never been a weenie about his back, except my pony saddle was XW and that did bother him, but a wither pad fixed it. (That was years ago..the saddle was a 15.5" if that tells you anything) However, just like the Innova, it sits a little low in the back (he is 18 and has a bit of a sway back). Would a correctional pad work? How else would you fit the problem?

    I'm not looking to spend a lot on a saddle, or do a lot to it. I'm just putzing around in the BN in eventing.

    Sorry for all the questions! I finally found a bit that he really like (KK Ultra) and I thought THAT was difficult. I will take some pictures today when I sit on him.

  • #2
    I am a tall, long legged rider as well, and I love my Stubben Tristan Extra. There are no blocks in my model. You can find them used online for a reasonable price and they last very well with good care. Here is an example:


    Another used option would be to find one of the old Kloster Schonthal, now called Courbette, saddles. They are much the same as the Stubben Tristan, and wear like iron.


    Personally, I agree with your eventing instructor: no blocks or knee rolls. Riding in a saddle like the two above will force you do find your balance and develop an independent seat and aids.


    • #3
      the hard thing in the transition you're doing is what you do with your knees. In dressage you sort of think about pointing your knees down and the angle is much less than in a h/j saddle, BUT you still want your heel underneath your hip.

      and your toes point forward, instead of out in the hunters.

      having some block might help you realize when your legs are too far out in front of you if you happen to 'water ski' or get into a chair seat, when your heels aren't under your hip.

      if you found a saddle with velcro blocks you could add or remove as needed.

      good luck!
      'What's in your trunk?'
      Free tools for Trainers and Riders


      • Original Poster

        I like the saddle I'm trying right now, I just didn't know if it was normal to feel the block while I was riding. It's not a massive block like the Innova, but i want some block to help me out a tiny bit.

        My body is meant to fit on a 17.2 warmblood. I have a short torso and super long legs. Unfotunately, I'm on a 14.3 quarter horse and I can't keep my stirrups as long as would look "classical."

        Give and take- It's so hard to ride off my calves and not my heels! Agh it drives me nuts. Especially since I'm doing this and still showing my hunter at the same time. (The hunter would actually make a fabulous dressage horse, but he excels at basically everything and I still enjoy jumping )

        Sorry I confused you Ticklefight- Eventing trainer doesn't mind some block or knee roll, she just doesn't want me to get one like the Innova which has a massive external block.


        • #5
          This saddle is not in your price range but has a style of blocks that you might find more suitable combined with a minimal knee roll

          This saddle has an adjustable tree & removeable/exchangeable blocks.

          He has never been a weenie about his back,
          However, just like the Innova, it sits a little low in the back (he is 18 and has a bit of a sway back).
          In dressage you want the horse to lift & really use his back - if saddle fit is an issue, it's just not going to happen or he'll end up with a sore back: the fact that the horse is stoic is all the more reason to really make sure that his saddle places even pressure across the weight bearing areas (watch the 9 Step Schleese Saddle Fit videos). You can use a pad with shims but make sure you check fit with & without a rider.

          When you're a bigger rider on a smaller horse, you want as open a saddle as possible, generally older saddles will have more minimal blocks, look at some of the older Stubbens as they do tend to fit a more curved back & should be very affordable (the Tristan is very basic, the Scandica will have blocks & more "cushion"). Do make sure that any saddle does not extend too far back on your pony, especially if he has a shorter back.

          When you transition from H/J start with a shorter stirrup ie it should still feel comfortable, then gradually drop the stirrup down as your leg learns to stretch down.

          There are more forward flap dressage saddles available but tend to be $$$$.

          If you can post pictures of the saddle on the pony & you in the saddle on the pony, that would get more feedback, though your coach should be a good judge
          (OTOH I've met more coaches that are not particularly interested in saddle fit than those that are ....)


          • Original Poster

            i will take some more pictures today. i took them yesterday and eventing trainer said i had the saddle too far back (sent her pics)..but dressage trainer likes the flap to be behind the back of the shoulder blade, sooo not sure what to do about that.

            also in the pics my left leg looks jacked up (felt normal...) and my right leg almost looked too long (also felt normal). so that was fun to look at pics of those...

            he's stoic because hes a quarter horse. but let me tell you...if something is WRONG, he will let you know. especially since ive had him since i was 11 (i'm 21 now), i can spot something wrong from a mile away.


            • Original Poster


              Ps sorry about the open pinky :/


              • Original Poster

                heres a video but i dont know if it will help much


                you cant really tell much until towards the end. good thing its only a minute!