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Will riding in an AP/jump saddle affect my dressage later?

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  • Will riding in an AP/jump saddle affect my dressage later?

    I recently started riding again after a 2-year break. I met a wonderful trainer who is allowing me to hack her school horses in exchange for some light work. She happens to be a Hunter/Jumper trainer. I adore her and am so grateful for the opportunity..and admittedly, am enjoying doing a bit of jumping (okay, 1' stuff but still. ) My goal when I develop more confidence is to get back to Dressage and take it as far as I can go (I still want to incorporate small jumps and hacking outside as cross-training.) But my question is, will riding hunter/jumper affect my ability to ride dressage later on? My stirrups aren't that much shorter than I would ride with normally, but obviously the saddle does put my leg a bit forward. Even if you guys do think it will make things harder later on, I won't stop riding with her because getting myself over my 'issues' is way more important than some position challenges, but I was wondering if there is anything I can do to keep myself ready to transition to dressage when the time comes. Would doing Pilates help? Any suggestions at all are welcome. Thanks.
    I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo

  • #2
    I do both with all of the horses I train and just switch back and forth between saddles.

    Dressage trainers do not comment on my stirrup length (apparently it is fine?) but apparently I ride a bit short to jump.

    Perhaps this is just to more easily "distinguish" for myself and to more easily ride The Other Way.

    Either way when I jump I do almost no flat work that ride. I get on, ride a few laps to warmup, jump, and am finished in 15 minutes total. They do their flat work during their dressage schools. Again, perhaps that is one way I help myself distinguish between the two rides. I'm either in one mode, or the other.
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    • #3
      It is going to be harder if you ride a few years in one style and then change. Is there anyway you can flat in a dressage saddle? It is much easier when you say do both like an eventer because you have the muscle memory for both. But to do one for years and then change will make it harder to ride more correct for dressage and you will have to retrain yourself. That said you can still work on sitting up in the jumping saddle and not hunter perch in it. That will take a lot of the battle away later if you ride correct in your body. You may have to fight against the saddle a bit so it doesn't tip you forward like most jumping saddles do. Sit up and straight and try to bring your leg back. If you do this in this saddle it will strengthen you core and body nicely for when you transition but the hard part is doing it and not letting the saddle take you naturally forward.
      Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

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      • #4
        Depends on who you ask. If you ask the dressage riders, many of them will say "Yes, it will affect you." If you ask the eventers, they'll usually say "It's easier to execute dressage aids in a dressage saddle, but you're fine in a jump saddle until you get to Second Level, at which point you really need a dressage saddle to execute the movements." I tend to side with the eventers on that one.

        In a perfect world you can move between the two types of saddles, as meupatdoes describes. You can learn a lot by "translating" what you learned in one saddle/position to another saddle/position. But in a less-perfect world, I'd take whatever saddle got me onto a well-schooled horse that let me log some positive miles in the saddle.

        I'd say 95% of what makes it hard to move from a jump saddle to a dressage saddle is conceptual. Having been taught to ride by lower-level H/J trainers, it took me a long time to get over certain conceptual hangups I had about what reins did, what legs did, how to use my seat aids, etc. Once I crossed those conceptual hurdles, I found I could do some pretty decent Training Level dressage in my jump saddle. And it's saved my hide a few times in the hunt field and on cross country courses!
        Last edited by jn4jenny; Nov. 9, 2012, 02:43 PM.
        Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          rabicon: Thanks, I will keep that in mind. My trainer is always on me anyway to sit up more during the canter since I tend to lean forward. We also incorporate some sitting trot into the work. I would agree with the jn4jenny that it seems to make sense that one could ride up to 2nd level, where not much collection is required, in a close contact or AP saddle. It may not be ideal, but for some of us it's the only option.
          I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo

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          • #6
            Absolutely not because you can ride more upright in an AP (flat work) and in light seat (if jumping). Anyone who says it will adversely affect you has not done both jumping and flat work. Likely you will be more secure on more horses. And there is no reason you cannot do collection in an AP.
            I.D.E.A. yoda

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            • #7
              Well I've done both actually. Hunters to jumpers to eventing oh and started with barrel racing. All but eventing put me in a more forward seat so after years of this training and body training that's how I rode. It took a while to retrain myself. Like I said though correct riding in a jumping saddle is ok and can be done but you just fight against the saddle usually and it makes it harder but not impossible
              Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

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              • #8
                Imho it is the posture of the rider always. The rest is an excuse. The reasoning is like the comment in 'International Velvet'.
                I.D.E.A. yoda

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                • #9
                  You can ride any horse in any saddle provided that you understand how balance is achieved in the type of saddle you are riding. The balance point for an AP saddle is not the same as the balance point in a dressage saddle. The AP has a slightly uphill bias, which has the rider's torso slanted slightly forward...as if at any moment you can rise in correct two point. The dressage seat has the rider's torso in a more vertical position. If you maintain the same posture eventually in your dressage saddle as you should be using in the AP, the projection of your weight onto the horse's back will slightly load the horse's front legs, increasing weight on the forehand.

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                  • #10
                    FWIW, there are some top level eventers who only ride in their jump saddles even when competing in Intermediate and Advanced competitions. They don't switch for dressage, just drop their stirrups down.

                    Before I got my dressage saddle, the only saddle that fit my mare was my jump saddle. i prepped for dressage by dropping my stirrups and letting my legs get as long as they could at least once or twice a week for half an hour or so. When I transitioned to a dressage saddle it was very easy and comfortable, and I found that we had really improved during the stirrup=less weeks. Among other benefits, since the jump saddle didn't ... ummmm...."cuddle" me into the correct position, I really had to learn it in my core

                    But then, I'm an eventer, not a real dressage rider.
                    They don't call me frugal for nothing.
                    Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

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                    • #11
                      The main thing when I was teaching my students was knowing your core. You learn where you core is, regardless of your saddle, and you're pretty much set. (this is where your idea of pilates could come in handy!)

                      I come from (most recently) the H/J world, though I started in eventing. I do all my "flat work" now in my jump saddles, though I own a couple dressage saddles (which do come out of the woodworks sometimes!) My horse and I jump big enough fences to where I'd say dressage is needed, as coursing 4'6+ requires some necessary tools that dressage offers (we're not out there doing Piaffe's or anything fancy shmancy, but the basic lateral, extension, collection, bending, etc.) I have a very european background, and a very dressage background. I say my stirrups are much shorter but other than that, the rest is pretty much the same. At times, my tilt is different from that of if I were to be riding in a dressage saddle, but for the most part, I do not ride with that typical hunter forward position.

                      All about the core.

                      Dressage saddles have a lovely place in dressage, though But no, riding in a jump saddle won't ruin ya!

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