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Dressage Saddle Woes

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  • Dressage Saddle Woes

    I am very new to dressage. Am a re-rider with a past in hunters. I bought a horse a year ago and was doing hunters (just doing what I knew), just in the flat, but became quite bored and decided to try dressage. So, found a great dressage barn and finally had my first dressage lesson this weekend and, well, I'm in love!

    I used a friend's saddle that is up for sale. It's a Rembrandt, adjustable. Fit my horse well and fit me, too. My instructor said she thought the knee blocks were too small and larger ones would help keep me from leaning forward and bringing my knees up. But, admitted that it may just be me, being from a hunter background. I have found larger knee blocks very uncomfortable for me, and hard to find ones that fit as I'm fairly short. Admittedly, I've sat in a lot of dressage saddles, but this is the first one I've ridden in.

    The Rembrandt was offered to me for $700 and I just saw the exact same one in the tack shop for nearly $1,400. I'm almost tempted to buy it and ride in it and then when I'm ready to graduate to a different saddle (and maybe when the economy is a bit better), sell it for a profit and put that money toward the new saddle.

    I'm going to try my barnmate's saddle tomorrow, it has moderate thigh blocks, but the flaps are longer as she is really long-legged. I want to see what it's like to ride in a saddle with larger thighblocks.

    If I don't purchase the Rembrandt this week, it's going to the big tack sale this weekend (for $1000) and may or may not sell.

    I'm limited in funds and have my huntseat saddle for sale right now.

    Thoughts? Ideas?

  • #2
    That's an excellent price for an adjustible tree Rembrant. If it is in good shape, snatch it. You can always have built up thigh blocks added for less than $100 (well, was $80 last time I had it done, might've gone up a bit)

    BUT--the Rembrant blocks aren't tiny, unless they've been removed... They're pretty substantial. ??
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


    • Original Poster

      There is no thigh block. I looked around and seems that some have a thigh block and some do not.

      Seriously, I can have one added for $100? That would be ideal, especially given my short legs.


      • #4

        Personnally, I don't like big 'blocking' blocks for the knees. The less the best, because I don't like the feel of being constricted as I like to 'move' around and have space to 'work'.
        Rembrant are excellent saddles and I would suggest you try it a little bit more before giving up.
        As for the fact you have short leg, you might actually have trouble finding knee blocks that will be at the right spot for you, especially that for now, you must be quite a bit unbalanced as learning to sit as a dressage rider! Really, try to truly learn to sit still and straight before investing in a saddle that will 'put' you in such position...
        If, sitting in, without moving, the saddle allows you to sit straight and your legs are in the correct position, you should just work on yourself when moving!

        S. Good luck!
        ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

        Originally posted by LauraKY
        I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
        HORSING mobile training app


        • #5
          I don't know about adding blocks, well, huge ones anyhow, as doesn't the outer flap need to be molded around the quite large ones? or you could have exposed ones added perhaps. I'd talk to a saddler first

          the price is good for an adjustable rembrandt, and yes you could possibly turn a profit, though I have yet to see a rembrandt (not that I"m out there looking for them though) that didn't already have sizeable thighblocks, AND recently some rembrandts went unsold on ebay for (if I recall correctly) around $700, but they may not have been the adjustable ones, hence the lower price.

          I have read someplace (perhaps horsetackreview) that the adjustable treed ones might self-adjust unevenly with riding and should be checked frequently, but have also read that people never have a problem and adore them, so it seems to be 50/50. People do like them for comfort & fit and quality of leather.

          I don't know, and hopefully someone more knowledgeable than I will come along and enlighten, but a beginner starting dressage going to huge thigh blocks to "hold" you in position, I don't know if thats quite the right route to go in the beginning... I'm not sure, but I didn't think the large thighblocks were like training wheels for beginning riders, I thought they were more for stability for upper level riders on horses with huge extravagant movement. I don't know for sure. I do know that to me, some of the larger blocked saddles I have feel more 'advanced' than I'm capable of. Especially since the huge blocks affect my rising trot to a huge degree, and I'm still rising 80% of the time. I dunno, just sharing a hunch.

          I'd probably go for the rembrandt, if there were no other real downsides, you like the fit your horse likes it, and your trainer was open to you riding it, with large blocks or not... The price is certainly fair.
          Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


          • #6
            I'd say grab that Rembrandt. I saw one go on ebay for $500, but I missed it. They are certainly lovely looking saddles. I'd say if you liked riding in it, go for it. The thigh block issue will probably rectify itself after you ride more. I for one HATE those huge thigh blocks, but I've also ridden saddle seat most of my life and always preferred the flatter seated flat saddles, haha. I like to be able to move if necessary.

            I think shoving yourself into a thigh block if you really don't like it is probably unnecessary. If you really like the saddle, I'd say go with it. If in a few months things are still looking like maybe you need a larger thigh block, I'd imagine you could easily resell it for the same price. But finding something close that you KNOW fits you and your horse is HUGE! (I've been saddle shopping recently, ICK. I was beginning to wish for awhile someone would just drop a random dressage saddle off on my doorstep so I could forget about it.)

            Hours in the saddle and maybe some time without stirrups will probably help you more in the long run than a big thigh block = ) Again, if you change your mind, the saddle is extremely reasonably priced, so reselling it is probably an option in the future.


            • #7
              ah, how timely: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...E:B:SS:US:1123

              though not adjustable.
              Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


              • #8
                I also come from H/J background and had the same issue with leaning forward. I would not depend on knee blocks to help this. It is just a matter of practice and do get lots of lunge line lessons to really find your seat!

                If the saddle fits you and your horse GRAB it! I am short too and use very small knee blocks. I do not like being forced into a position and have learned over time to lean back! Even though it seems as if you are behind the vertical, you are not! Good luck and welcome to the Wonderful World of Dressage!!!!
                We do not have an overpopulation of dogs, we have an under population of responsible dog owners!!!


                • #9
                  as doesn't the outer flap need to be molded around the quite large ones?
                  NO. A good saddler will add the blocks where and how you need them. I've had teardrop blocks added to a Rembrant (not the Adjustable model) and another saddle... and latest, *~gasp~* on an Ancient, plain moulded flap Passier. Only me, my horse and my saddler know they are there. I like my blocks quite high, and unless they are velcro, most saddles aren't right for my conformation. So, I get what is good everywhere else, and send it off to Sue Schurer. She also gives a great package deal when you're getting a couple things done like tree adjustment and reflocking--which are common with a used saddle purchase.

                  Yes, *some* of the old Wellup trees had issues. The newer ones do not. Would be worth finding out how old it is and if it's been a problem. Classic Saddlery can check them, and I might be mistaken--but I thought could change out the mechanism if it was one of the old faulty ones.

                  Thigh blocks are as personal as seats in saddles. I NEED them on my stallion, due to his shape (or lack thereof) and my build. The bohemian child has his own, built right in. It has as much to do with the horse you're riding as the rider. I can ride in a no-knee rolls Stubben Schulthiess on the right shape horse and feel just fine. On MY guy, I like high blocks, about the size of the Wintec Isabelle ones. I had bigger ones on the Fhoenix that were too big (replaced 'em with wintec blocks), and used to pull them off altogether on some horses.
                  InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                  Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                  • Original Poster

                    I rode in a County today, with large knee blocks, and had the same issue with wanting to lean forward and bring my knees up. The seat was deeper though, so it was tilting my pelvis more than the Rembrandt and I had to really fight it. I have the habit of riding with a hollowed back, so deeper seats tend to work against me in this regard.

                    Tomorrow I am going to ride in the Rembrandt again to see how it feels compared to the County and then on Thursday I'll have an Albion to try. I might go to the tack shop and take a Wintec Pro out on trial to try on Friday and my other barn mate said I could try her Schlesse. The Schlesse and Albion may be too narrow for my horse though, so that could be an issue. We'll see . . .

                    If I don't take the Rembrandt, it is going to the big tack sale in our area on Saturday, so I'm feeling some pressure!


                    • #11
                      good for you for trying other saddles the best you can under the time constraints and not making a snap decision!

                      pp, your post was really interesting about body shape necessitating thighblocks or not... I'm not that experienced, so it was very insightful to read, thank you! And about adding thighblocks too!
                      Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                      • #12
                        <learn to ride properly and don't depend on blocks>

                        thats my very very humble, mostly beginner dressage opinion coming over from the endurance world. But I have heard it several times from the trainers I work with and the people who I am around in the small DQ world. =)

                        I hated everything with blocks, for so many reasons but first and foremost... I can't stand the idea of being *PUT* in a position.

                        I wanted to learn how to ride, not be forced into it, its handy for a feel, but not for learning, to me it just seemed like a big crutch.

                        But as someone said good for looking as much as possible. maybe make a payment toward it to try it? I gave a lady the full 500 for a Bernina and took it for almost two weeks... well it was supposed to be a week but we couldn't get schedules to mesh...

                        anyway I had it it was mine to use and pay for damages and she had the check if she felt I was running away with it!


                        • #13
                          I, too, am new to dressage. I was riding in my instructor's custom Passier, which fit my Arab and me quite well. Alas- it was about the only saddle that we tried that did!! (And she was not about to sell me that Passier for what I could afford to spend ). I searched for months and finally found a Barnsby on ebay that we hoped would work. Long story short, I got it for a very good price, and it fits both me and my horse. I think with just starting out that the saddle fitting you and the horse is very important - and you said that the saddle in question does. If you think it is a price that you can afford, I would go with it.
                          Good luck!
                          stained glass groupie


                          • #14
                            Saddle fitting can be such a personal thing. I am/was a rerider, but back into it for 15 years now. I have lots more riding time now than when I was a kid, so the rerider term is kind of a misnomer. I was mostly western, but the only english I had ridden was hunt seat.

                            I have gravitated through several saddles over the years. First english saddle was a Wintec, then a Senior Event, a Dover, then an Albion, all gp saddles. I had been told that I could not get a dressage saddle to fit my wide arab with his short back.

                            When I got my fjordX, I hated my Albion on him, too much under my leg. He is uber wide, so tried a Duett Largo. Fit him and my arab. It was comfy for me, but for 5 years I fought the leg thing. Also a bit of a roll issue at times. I sold the Duett and went to a Wintec Pro for an interim saddle. It fits all my horses and me. My postition is the best it has ever been in a dressage saddle, and I can even shorten up the stirrups and pop over little jumps without my knee going over the flap.

                            No more roll of the saddle either. The Duett Largo has more of the "hoop" tree, the Wintec an angled tree. All my wide boys have angle to their shoulders, even though they are super wide, so the Wintec actually fits better than the Duett.

                            Also, the Pro doesn't have too deep of a seat and that is much more comfortable for me.

                            So, I have come around full circle back to the Wintec. If I go back to a leather saddle, I will look really closely at the Bates. For now, I adore the Wintec Pro. I do have a couple of good western saddles I ride in, too, but I find the Wintec very comfy for trail riding, too.

                            Buy the one YOU want, not the trainer, friend or whatever. The one your horse likes and the one that moulds your tushy to a T is the one to get.


                            • #15
                              The problem with blocks is they might stop your leg from actually coming up, but they don't stop it from wanting too. You come to rely on them. Much better to go with the small blocks and then do exercises to stretch out those muscles...
                              *Barefoot Eventers Clique*

                              "In the mirror of another being, we see a reflection of ourselves."


                              • #16
                                As an eventer, I might get jumped all over for saying this...but I seem to recall you complaining about having a small budget for saddles because you were trying to buy a dressage AND hunt seat saddle. Personally, I would rather see a lower-level eventer riding in a quality, very well fitted hunt seat saddle for the dressage phase than see them split their budget to get both a hunt seat and dressage saddle. It is not the ideal solution from the position standpoint, but it is often a better solution from the financial standpoint--if the horse's back changes, you are only having to adjust or sell a single saddle rather than two. It is totally possible to ride an excellent Training or First Level test in a hunt seat saddle, and if you're on your FIRST dressage lesson, it may be way too early for you to recognize a dressage saddle that's putting you in a good position versus a bad position. I know that when I first started riding dressage, I felt completely out of whack whether I was doing things right OR wrong!

                                Be warned that if you go with Rembrandt, the brand recognition is going to be poor for resale, and that's how you come to find people like your friend who sell them for peanuts (often they're desperate to just get rid of them). OTOH, even though Rembrandt is a niche brand, the quality for the price is excellent--arguably one of the best price-to-value ratios on the market. It's one of those smaller, less advertised brands made in Walsall, England, sort of like Black Country. If you want to learn more about the brand and chat up whether it will be an ideal match for your horse, call Lynda at Classic Saddlery in Galesburg, MI. Rembrandt is the former brand name for what is now the Classic Saddlery line, and Classic Saddlery is/was both brand's sole US proprietor. Lynda is a straight shooter and has lots of saddle fitting knowledge, and she is GREAT about working with folks on a budget. She is well worth a conversation before you buy a Rembrandt: http://www.classicsaddlery.com/
                                Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Icecapade View Post
                                  <learn to ride properly and don't depend on blocks>
                                  When I purchased my Verhan it fit my horse perfectly, and except for large thigh blocks which I found uncomfortable, it fit me too. The blocks initially will keep your legs in the correct position - after a while you will no longer need them. I noticed the other day that my thighs don't touch the blocks - whereas when I started with that saddle they were up against the back of the blocks and interferred with my posting.

                                  As blocks can be removed I vote for purchasing this saddle as long as it fits you and the horse. Give it some time before you look at removing the blocks - you may find once you get the long dressage leg you no longer need them.
                                  Now in Kentucky