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Do I really NEED a dressage saddle?

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  • Do I really NEED a dressage saddle?

    I have been saddle hunting, but can't seem to find what I want within my budget. I have a collegiate diploma that fits my mare really well, the only problem is that it is meant to be ridden with short stirrups. If I lengthen my stirrups I get into a chair seat. However, because this saddle fits my mare so well, and I put a lot of effort into getting it, I am loath to part with it. So for Training and First, will it be really frowned upon for me to ride in CC saddle? At what level does a dressage saddle and being able to ride with a longer leg become really necessary?
    Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
    The Blog

  • #2
    Who cares about being frowned upon? I'd be much more worried about getting started in dressage in a completely wrong frame and position... There is such a thing as "body memory", so why store bad/wrong habits when we all know how hard they are to unlearn?

    Just my opinion....
    Siegi Belz
    2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
    Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.


    • #3
      It depends. If you're constantly fighting chair seat and you're new to the game, get a dressage saddle. If you can put longer leathers on it and comfortably ride keep your saddle. I think I've seen pictures of you in your saddle before -maybe? And I thought it was too small for you. I could be mistaken about whose pictures I saw.

      He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


      • #4
        It's much harder in a cc saddle/jumping saddle. You won't be frowned upon but your rider scores will reflect your position. IMO you need the dressage saddle to train your muscles to be in the right position. It will be much harder to learn this at 2nd level then learning it at training level.
        Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


        • #5
          Tend to agree with the above. This sport is hard enough to do well without having to fight your equipment. Dressage saddles have their purpose, and so do jumping saddles. They are just purposed differently.

          It is legal to show in a jumper saddle, but it is so much more difficult to be correct and effective if your leg is not properly underneath your seat.


          • Original Poster

            My legs stay under me as long as I have my stirrups at a jumping length. As soon as I lengthen my stirrups I am pulled into a chair seat by the saddle.

            So then I guess I will keep looking. Saddle shop is so frustrating! Especially when I am more than likely going to have buy something online.
            Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
            The Blog


            • #7
              I used to have a Coll Post-Grad when I dabbled in dressage. It worked fine and it was super comfy. But when I came across a Kieffer Aachen II for a great price and began using it, I noticed a difference immediatley.
              I found myself able to move my legs and keep my center of balance easier, (which has helped me to this day and I am back to hunter), I felt so free in the saddle! AND I swear my horse really started to swing since the dressage flaps are straighter which free's up her shoulder and wither.

              I would recommend trying a friend's dressage saddle or taking one on trial to feel the difference.



              • #8
                just get out there & do training - if at the end of your first year or after many lessons with your dressage coach, you feel the need for a more purposed saddle, that will be soon enough to begin saddle hunting: it's also likely that your mare will have changed shape somewhat by then as well

                Chances are your coach will have saddles you can sit in or horses you can ride (at least occasionally) in dressage saddles & then you'll be able to begin to feel your own preferences for a dressage saddle

                Trial and error saddle shopping when you don't know what fits your horse & you don't know what you prefer in a dressage saddle becomes a very frustrating $$$ venture.
                Even if you decide you want to get a dressage saddle sooner rather than later, do it once you've a coach able to help you assess your position & future position in the saddle.


                • #9
                  To develop a seat (which should be done BEFORE any showing is attempted) you need a saddle that puts YOU in the correct balance. Clearly the one you have does not. To recognize the difference you need to take lessons on a school horse, or ride as many horses/saddles you can get your bum on. Many hours on the lunge line are also in order. If your funds run to only one saddle it is possible to find an all purpose that would work.
                  ... _. ._ .._. .._


                  • #10
                    It is not necessary to ride with a straight, long leg, especially if this is not comfortable for you. If you Google "Cadre Noir," you'll see that the masters of the French national school do all their High School riding in nearly the same seat with the same leg that we would think of as American hunt seat and have no trouble at all.

                    There are many of us who cannot, for conformational reasons, achieve the "look" of straight-leggedness currently popular; that is also a very insecure seat if one is riding young horses or outdoors in "wind-under-tail" weather. If your horse is not large, it's also more difficult to use your legs correctly if you have to substantially lift your heel to use your spur.

                    For low-level Eventers especially, it is certainly fine to ride a dressage test in an all-purpose or hunter type saddle and use the same one for the over-fences phases. The most important factors are that the saddle fit both you and your horse comfortably.

                    If, however, you find yourself actively fighting your equipment, that would be a sign it's time to try some new saddles!


                    • #11
                      Will you be frowned upon in your CC saddle? Absolutely not. I used to show in my CC at rated dressage shows. Nobody cared. When you start working on 2nd level movements, however, you will probably find a dressage saddle that fit both of you to be a great asset. So, you get plenty of time to find your perfect dressage saddle, if you want to continue dressage that is.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lady Eboshi View Post
                        that is also a very insecure seat if one is riding young horses or outdoors in "wind-under-tail" weather.
                        You ARE kidding ?
                        ... _. ._ .._. .._


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
                          You ARE kidding ?
                          Not a bit. Most times when one falls off a horse, one falls forward over the shoulder. Almost never off backwards. Practically speaking, your security therefore is a measure of the amount of your leg which is functionally out in front of you--think short stirrups used by steeplechase riders or showjumpers. The less leg you have in front of you, the more top-heavy your torso becomes, the easier it is for your lower leg to slip back resulting in your torso flipping toward the front. This applies of course to those who have a relaxed, easy seat and are not applying a death-grip with their legs, incorrect in any style.

                          BTW--it was a very distinguised Britisher who taught me this pointedly!


                          • #14
                            Lady Eboshi, you are misinterpreting what this British rider was saying.

                            In steeplechase and jumping, you need to get into two points to get out of your horse's way, and to get into two point position, you have to have sufficiently short stirrups. If you don't, the powers from the horse literally pop you out of the saddle, thus destabilizing you. It is not necessarily because short stirrup is more stable. For flat works, since we don't need to go over uneven terrain, we don't need to get into two points position, and thus long legs become more stable because it helps you to bring your center of gravity down toward the horse, instead of hovering above it. The only reason long legs can be less stable is when your legs are so long that you are rendered ineffective. An effective dressage rider is NOT top-heavy. It is just the opposite.


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
                              It depends. If you're constantly fighting chair seat and you're new to the game, get a dressage saddle. If you can put longer leathers on it and comfortably ride keep your saddle. I think I've seen pictures of you in your saddle before -maybe? And I thought it was too small for you. I could be mistaken about whose pictures I saw.

                              I haven't posted pictures of me in the saddle as I don't have any! I do have a video from this summer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftVJUt2yQok&sns=em

                              Please don't critique a lot has changed since I have gotten with a trainer that actually knows what they are doing. I kind of cringe at the videos now, but it show me in the saddle!
                              Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
                              The Blog


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Skyedragon View Post
                                I haven't posted pictures of me in the saddle as I don't have any! I do have a video from this summer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftVJUt2yQok&sns=em

                                Please don't critique a lot has changed since I have gotten with a trainer that actually knows what they are doing. I kind of cringe at the videos now, but it show me in the saddle!
                                I think you and your horse present a very pleasant and harmonious picture; your seat and leg are exemplary as they are and I see no reason to change a thing unless you are uncomfortable or find it difficult to do what you want.

                                (If it ain't broke, why "fix" it?"


                                • #17
                                  No, it's not necessary. And I wouldn't ride longer in that saddle "just" because it's a dressage test. When I used to ride with Max Gahwyler he told me that many people when they first come to dressage ride too long and he would frequently advise people to shorten their stirrups.

                                  Eventually, you will need one and you will find that it puts you in a more balanced position than your cc saddle. With the right saddle you can start to lengthen your leg without being put behind the motion.

                                  I either rode in my jumping saddle or borrowed my trainer's saddle for a long time before I bought one of my own which gave me the time to look for a bargain.
                                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                                  • #18
                                    I rode for about a year in my jumping saddle when I started getting more seriously into dressage. No one said anything, no one judged (at clinics and schooling shows), but...

                                    After getting into a dressage saddle, I wish I would have done it day one. I have always had a nice seat, but it really was so much better to be in the "right" saddle.

                                    Honestly, it will likely take you awhile to find the perfect saddle for you and your horse, so maybe start looking now and keep riding in the other until you get the right one = )


                                    • #19
                                      My mistake, OP. It was definitely not you! Don't worry about my critiquing you -I don't have the chops.

                                      He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


                                      • #20
                                        I'll share my experience...

                                        When I first started with my new horse about four years ago, I had a dressage saddle that I thought was fine. After a few knowledgeable people mentioned that it was okay for my horse, but putting me in a bad position, I saved up and started looking.

                                        The CoTH folks shared some great suggestions, and I ended up ordering a Smith Worthington Danzig.

                                        I LOVE my dressage saddle, and am very happy that I found something that works for me and my horse. However, in the six months or so in between dessage saddles I really didn't see any significant difference riding in my jumping saddle. We were doing training level work at the time.

                                        Where I have seen a big difference is as we've moved up to first level, and started playing with some second level stuff. It's much easier for me to sit in the dressage saddle, and I notice a big difference in lateral work and lengthenings. The dressage saddle makes it much easier for me to be balanced and in the right spot.

                                        My last comment is that riding in the jumping saddle that fit ME was better than riding in the dressage saddle that didn't do me any favors. Riding in a dressage saddle that works for me and the horse is even better.

                                        Good luck!