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Saddle Recommendations for a Horseless Dressage Rider

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  • Saddle Recommendations for a Horseless Dressage Rider

    Hi All,

    I've been reading COTH forums for a while, but I am newly registered. I am hoping that I'll be able to provide some help to others and that someone might be able to help me with a question I've had for a while. I very much appreciate any help that you might be able to offer.

    I am a horseless rider (for the time being) and I would like to buy an adjustable dressage saddle. I'm looking to buy used so that I can purchase a better quality saddle. My budget is around $1,000 but it's flexible because I'd rather save more and get the right saddle that's worth investing in. I am looking for a deep seat and I prefer one with external knee blocks, but I'm definitely willing to compromise on the knee blocks since I know that would greatly narrow the field of possibilities.

    Here's some background that might be helpful:

    I am riding a privately owned horse on a regular basis and he has a Stubben saddle that fits him well, but it just doesn't fit me well (I think it's cut a little narrow and I'm sore in the seat bones after riding). I'm curvy and I carry my weight in my hips (yay me haha) and so I need an 18" to 19" depending on the saddle. The reason I am looking for an adjustable saddle is that I will not be able to continue riding the same horse for a very long time as his owner will be moving with this wonderful boy in about a year...AND...I'd also like to invest in something that has a greater potential of being a part of my equipment for a while.

    I am no saddle expert and I've looked over the forums but have not found an answer that works in this particular situation, so I'm reaching out in a new thread. My apologies if anyone finds that this might be answered in part somewhere else.

    Many Thanks,
    Lauren
    "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Emerson

  • #2
    So here's the million dollar question: are you willing to look at synthetic saddles, or does it absolutely have to be leather?

    Certainly there are some adjustable leather options available in your budget, but if you're open to good-quality synthetics like the Tekna S-Line Dressage, the Wintec Pro Dressage, or the Thorowgood T-8 Dressage (which actually has leather seat/knee rolls), you'll have a wider selection within your budget.
    Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Re:

      Hi jn4jenny!

      Thanks so much for replying so quickly. I definitely have no aversion to a synthetic saddle. In fact, I've spent many a rides in the Wintec Pro (my trainers saddle) and it appears to weather really well even with heavy use. I was looking at the Isabell as I like the deeper seat, but I haven't had the opportunity to try it in a large enough size and I'm worried that it might not be large enough as they only seem to make them in an 18".

      You also mentioned some other saddles that I will definitely look into. I thought I'd compile some options especially if I'm looking for a used saddle and it might take awhile for the right saddle to come along. But, in case you had something else in mind, I'm keeping an eye on this forum.

      Thanks again!!!
      Lauren
      "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Emerson

      Comment


      • #4
        Jen's given you some very good recommendations on saddles. But now I'm about to step in and be the bad guy. Sorry ...

        While adjustable tree/changeable gullet saddles will give you flexibility as far as accommodating an individual horse's width, that's only one part of the saddle fitting equation. You have to consider tree shape and type, and panel configuration as well. While Thorowgood/Kent & Masters do have "conformation specific" saddles (High Wither, Cob/Broadback and Standard models) that often work well for the target conformation, they won't work for every horse out there. Also, if you buy a conformation specific saddle for this particular horse, and the next horse you ride is the polar opposite, the saddle won't work.

        More on this dismal news at http://saddlefitter.blogspot.com/200...ble-trees.html and http://saddlefitter.blogspot.com/201...e-gullets.html.
        Kitt Hazelton
        Saddle Fitter
        www.pantherrunsaddlery.com
        www.saddlefitter.blogspot.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Since a Stubben fits him well, I'm guessing the horse has a bit more curve to his back. Most people will say that Wintecs fit flatter backs so you might want to try a Tekna dressage saddle. Synthetic but has gullets that can be changed and well under the $1000 price range, so could be a good alternative so you have invested a lot into a saddle that works now but maybe not later for another horse.
          "My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by js View Post
            Since a Stubben fits him well, I'm guessing the horse has a bit more curve to his back. Most people will say that Wintecs fit flatter backs so you might want to try a Tekna dressage saddle. Synthetic but has gullets that can be changed and well under the $1000 price range, so could be a good alternative so you have invested a lot into a saddle that works now but maybe not later for another horse.
            Hey JS,

            Thanks for your reply. I think I've seen the Tekna saddles before. Thanks for the suggestion.

            I'm wondering, do you have any saddles that might be more than my budget when new but would be worthwhile trying to pick up used? I've searched around a bit and I see that there are a lot more saddles being made as adjustable, which is great. But, I just haven't been around enough yet to know whether they're a good buy with regards to quality.

            Thanks again...I can't believe I got responses already

            All The Best,
            Lauren L.
            "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Emerson

            Comment


            • #7
              Because you are horseless, the nice thing about a used saddle is that you can probably sell it back if it doesn't work for the next horse, with a relatively small loss. The synthetics are a good choice and may work for a range of horses, and are sometimes also available used, if you get lucky.

              The synthetic will not last as long as the leather, just so you're aware. But they're still a pretty good deal and a very useful option. If it's comfortable and fits the horse, go for it.

              I would say, don't worry too much about the gullet. As it happens, nearly every horse I've ridden was a medium tree width. Where they varied was the front to back shape, more flat or more curvy. Whether the saddle fits the next horse is just going to be a bit of a gamble. Might get lucky, might not.

              Buy a saddle that works for you and then is good on this horse and think good thoughts on it working for the next one.

              The first dressage saddle I bought I lucked into for $350, because it was brown and an unfashionable brand. It has worked out for two and a half horses, meaning that I found a saddle I liked better for the second horse I used it on after a few years. But I was sure glad to have it when the third horse came along and it fit brilliantly.

              Sit in lots of saddles, haunt every used shop you find, ask people if you can try theirs. Good luck!
              If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by poltroon View Post
                Because you are horseless, the nice thing about a used saddle is that you can probably sell it back if it doesn't work for the next horse, with a relatively small loss. The synthetics are a good choice and may work for a range of horses, and are sometimes also available used, if you get lucky.

                The synthetic will not last as long as the leather, just so you're aware. But they're still a pretty good deal and a very useful option. If it's comfortable and fits the horse, go for it.

                I would say, don't worry too much about the gullet. As it happens, nearly every horse I've ridden was a medium tree width. Where they varied was the front to back shape, more flat or more curvy. Whether the saddle fits the next horse is just going to be a bit of a gamble. Might get lucky, might not.

                Buy a saddle that works for you and then is good on this horse and think good thoughts on it working for the next one.

                The first dressage saddle I bought I lucked into for $350, because it was brown and an unfashionable brand. It has worked out for two and a half horses, meaning that I found a saddle I liked better for the second horse I used it on after a few years. But I was sure glad to have it when the third horse came along and it fit brilliantly.

                Sit in lots of saddles, haunt every used shop you find, ask people if you can try theirs. Good luck!
                Hi Poltroon,

                Thanks for the feedback. That's definitely some good advice. I'm planning on going to the Northeast Equine Affair as my trainer mentioned that there are a lot of vendors there (which also means that I can actually sit in a saddle) and maybe even get a good deal. I just have to have some patience in the meantime. I live in the land of the hunter jumper, so I run into the issue with there are less dressage saddles around. I'm confident I'll find something, eventually

                Thanks again for your help!!
                Lauren L.
                "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Emerson

                Comment


                • #9
                  There are a few at Pelham Saddlery that meet your price and size requirements. http://www.pelham-saddlery.com/tack/dressageadj.html
                  "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I am going to echo what Kitt has to say in that an adjustable gullet saddle only goes so far in fitting. And, as she pointed out, even within adjustable saddles there are specific subsets for different body shapes, TB, cob, etc. Changing the gullet is really a very small aspect of fit.

                    I sort of am in your shoes, my own horse drives now, so I catch ride friend's horses whenever possible and I love riding dressage while most of them are h/j.

                    I went through a bazillion saddles a while back and ended up keeping two "magic" saddles. Trees and panels so nicely designed they happen to fit 85% of horses really quite well. I also have an enormous pad collection so it helps that I can fine tune things.

                    Magic saddles to exist, and to find one would be my advice except, especially as they tend to be older, less fashionable, and therefore cheaper... but you have to sorta know what you're looking for.

                    If you talk to a knowledgeable fitter like Kitt, they might be able to steer you in the right direction.
                    Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Kitt View Post
                      Jen's given you some very good recommendations on saddles. But now I'm about to step in and be the bad guy. Sorry ...

                      While adjustable tree/changeable gullet saddles will give you flexibility as far as accommodating an individual horse's width, that's only one part of the saddle fitting equation. You have to consider tree shape and type, and panel configuration as well. While Thorowgood/Kent & Masters do have "conformation specific" saddles (High Wither, Cob/Broadback and Standard models) that often work well for the target conformation, they won't work for every horse out there. Also, if you buy a conformation specific saddle for this particular horse, and the next horse you ride is the polar opposite, the saddle won't work.

                      More on this dismal news at http://saddlefitter.blogspot.com/200...ble-trees.html and http://saddlefitter.blogspot.com/201...e-gullets.html.
                      Hi Kitt!

                      Thanks for your reply and I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. Strangely, I seem to have missed some email alerting me of new posts.

                      I understand what you're saying and it makes sense to me. I have also read that with a good saddle that padding can often fix or at least make an issue less of an issue. I'm probably going to look for a very good saddle within my price range, one that I have some flexibility with in regards to the width and using pads, and go that direction. Worst case scenario is that I end up with a great saddle that's likely to fit some of the horses down the road even if it doesn't fit this one perfectly.

                      Thanks again!!
                      Lauren
                      "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Emerson

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks for the link Eclectic Horseman I'm taking a look now
                        "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Emerson

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by buck22 View Post
                          I am going to echo what Kitt has to say in that an adjustable gullet saddle only goes so far in fitting. And, as she pointed out, even within adjustable saddles there are specific subsets for different body shapes, TB, cob, etc. Changing the gullet is really a very small aspect of fit.

                          I sort of am in your shoes, my own horse drives now, so I catch ride friend's horses whenever possible and I love riding dressage while most of them are h/j.

                          I went through a bazillion saddles a while back and ended up keeping two "magic" saddles. Trees and panels so nicely designed they happen to fit 85% of horses really quite well. I also have an enormous pad collection so it helps that I can fine tune things.

                          Magic saddles to exist, and to find one would be my advice except, especially as they tend to be older, less fashionable, and therefore cheaper... but you have to sorta know what you're looking for.

                          If you talk to a knowledgeable fitter like Kitt, they might be able to steer you in the right direction.
                          Hi Buck!

                          Thanks for replying. It's always hard to be a horseless rider no matter what the reason I think. I appreciate that you seconded Kitt's suggestion. I replied saying that I think I'm going to look for a really nice saddle that's more likely to fit a larger ranger of horses and then look to adjust/pad as necessary.

                          I really appreciate all of the help; everyone has been so incredibly helpful and I feel much more encouraged about contributing and asking questions here. Sadly, it's not always like that in other forums (my other forum experience is purely non-horse related).

                          All My Best,
                          Lauren
                          "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Emerson

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Kitt View Post
                            Jen's given you some very good recommendations on saddles. But now I'm about to step in and be the bad guy. Sorry ...

                            While adjustable tree/changeable gullet saddles will give you flexibility as far as accommodating an individual horse's width, that's only one part of the saddle fitting equation. You have to consider tree shape and type, and panel configuration as well. While Thorowgood/Kent & Masters do have "conformation specific" saddles (High Wither, Cob/Broadback and Standard models) that often work well for the target conformation, they won't work for every horse out there. Also, if you buy a conformation specific saddle for this particular horse, and the next horse you ride is the polar opposite, the saddle won't work.

                            More on this dismal news at http://saddlefitter.blogspot.com/200...ble-trees.html and http://saddlefitter.blogspot.com/201...e-gullets.html.
                            Oh, Kitt...

                            I'm checking out both of those links as well and if it's ok, I'm not sure how busy you are...though I'm not in a huge rush, could I ask your opinion if I find a strong contender?

                            Thanks either way!
                            Lauren
                            "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Emerson

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by buck22 View Post

                              Magic saddles to exist, and to find one would be my advice except, especially as they tend to be older, less fashionable, and therefore cheaper... but you have to sorta know what you're looking for.
                              Yes, my "magic" dressage saddle is a 1997, brown, Roosli Pilatus, with a medium tree. Not fashionable and it cost only $500 . I do not have a horse either, I half lease and ride what's available between leases. This saddle has fit most everything I've put it on pretty well, but that's because I tend to ride TBs and TB types, who the curvy tree works for. It's pretty minimalist, however, on the blocks front...great for me, as I have a very long femur and big blocks force my leg back into the wrong place and I ride primarily HJ, so the near pencil block and not super deep seat are comfortable for me.

                              I might be wrong, but my gut/experience tells me that a perfect balance of saddle on horse would be more important to achieve with a deep seat and big blocks, as you don't have room to move yourself to a very slightly different center of balance, like you might in a saddle with a longer "working center". Maybe why older saddles tend to be easier to fit on different horses.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Lauren, you certainly can! I'd be more than happy to help out!
                                Kitt Hazelton
                                Saddle Fitter
                                www.pantherrunsaddlery.com
                                www.saddlefitter.blogspot.com

                                Comment

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