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reading all these saddle threads

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  • reading all these saddle threads

    and getting more confused about what is right and what might work for myself and my horses.....as a newbie to this discipline but not new to riding at what point do I "need" a dressage saddle? Can I get by in my trail or cutting saddle in the beginning and will it adversely affect my learning at some point?

  • #2
    You need a dressage saddle when you begin dressage as a discipline that becomes your focus. Can you "do" dressage in a western saddle? Yes, depending on the balance of your western saddle. If you saddle does not put you down on your "pockets," you can probably "do" dressage in it. I tend to feel that I slouch my western saddle, and I know that when I went back to riding a western saddle briefly after having ridden a dressage saddle for many years, I managed some pretty impressive blisters/raw spots on my derriere, just at the point of my seatbones!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by amadee View Post
      and getting more confused about what is right and what might work for myself and my horses.....as a newbie to this discipline but not new to riding at what point do I "need" a dressage saddle? Can I get by in my trail or cutting saddle in the beginning and will it adversely affect my learning at some point?
      Cutting saddle? You mean "western" cutting saddle? Well I guess you could and you might do OK in something like intro and training level but once you start to school over training level, you will find it extremely limited. It is simply not designed for it.

      Now that is to say that you "could" practice in it, or "do" dressage in it. But except for "western dressage" classes, you can Not show in it, not in "regular" recognized dressage show anyway..

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      • #4
        I think that it would be hard to ride beyond a very low level in a western saddle. I think a dressage saddle is pretty necessary. But at the same time, I don't feel a person needs a fancy, expensive saddle, just one that fits adequately. There are a great many used saddles for sale now, and I think a person can find some very nice dressage saddles used for very, very good prices.

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        • #5
          I think NO WAY could you do even close to dressage in ANY western saddle. You just can't get your leg and seat in the right place, or your hands for that matter with the front of the saddle in your way. I have played around with reining and western pleasure quite a bit and had a western saddle before a dressage saddle. Once I sat in a nice dressage saddle, there was no way I could go back to anything else.

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            some clarification

            no intention of showing, would consider myself starting at the very intro level and am curious with all the different styles of dressage saddles out there how does one go about figuring out what is "correct" for them when one doesn't know exactly what "correct" should feel like?

            what is a good starting point in terms of a dressage saddle?

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            • #7
              If it fits your horse, I would start with a Wintec Isabell. My favorite one is the original that came out 10 years ago without the CAIR panels.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by amadee View Post
                no intention of showing, would consider myself starting at the very intro level and am curious with all the different styles of dressage saddles out there how does one go about figuring out what is "correct" for them when one doesn't know exactly what "correct" should feel like?

                what is a good starting point in terms of a dressage saddle?
                honestly, trial and error. Every shop I went to insisted I needed a narrow twist for instance – everybody pushed me towards an isabella actually – they said because I have a round thigh I needed a narrow twist. They also said because of my height, I should be riding a 17".

                Well, trial and error has lead me to discover I prefer closer to an 18, and that I love wide twists. oddly enough. and I find the isabella to be a crotch buster. but I wouldn't have known this had I not experimented.

                "Correct" will feel "right". You will know the instant you feel it. Go to a tack shop, sit in a bunch of saddles, bring some home to try on your horse. Trust your instinct. If they all feel "funny" trust that.

                I went basically from western to dressage, its not that different. You can already ride with a long leg w/o loosing your stirrup, and can sit a trot, you're a bit further along than many beginners. I never realized what a chair seat I was in in my western saddle though.

                Sit in saddles, sit in many many saddles, and trust your body. Dressage is supposed to feel good. It can be quite difficult and physically demanding, but everything should feel good. Horse, human, etc. If you feel jammed or twisted, tipped or forced or crushed, imho something is wrong.

                I see so many friends, people who have been riding for years, riding in saddles that fit neither them nor their horses, and they have no clue because they never sat in anything else. Someone said: 'here, here is a dressage saddle" and they said 'ok'.

                First dressage lesson I ever took was on a saddle that didn't remotely fit the horse. Not remotely. I said 'yikes, no wonder dressage is hard, its impossible to do anything in this saddle' I was in such an unrelenting chair seat. Then, I started sitting in different saddles, etc.

                Its like horses, ride as many as you can.
                Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony View Post
                  I think NO WAY could you do even close to dressage in ANY western saddle. You just can't get your leg and seat in the right place, or your hands for that matter with the front of the saddle in your way. I have played around with reining and western pleasure quite a bit and had a western saddle before a dressage saddle. Once I sat in a nice dressage saddle, there was no way I could go back to anything else.
                  I disagree. I often ride Western between dressage lessons because it forces me to use my seat better than I can in even my wonderful dressage saddle. Western riding uses a ton of leg and seat and while the position is not the same, the principles are. Doing some Western has made me a BETTER dressage rider, not hampered me at all.

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                  • #10
                    Having grown up showing in western EQ, horsemanship, and then moving onto reining... I would say those that say dressage in a western saddle is impossible is not in the right western saddle. For EQ, you have a long leg and shoulder/hip/heel alignment... No chair seat... In the right western saddle, you can get just as deep without being "on your pockets" as a dressage saddle. Yes, it might feel worse, but no worse than getting deep in an old flat/hard seated passier/stubben/keiffer... Heck, at that point, the western saddle might be more comfy!

                    But if your western saddle does put you more with your leg forward, hang it up. Its going to teach you to sit those big trot moments in a chair seat and trying to straighten out that hip/pelvic joint and stretching those muscles are going to be SOOOO hard to do in a dressage saddle after training your body the wrong way.

                    When i first started into dressage, i did the best in a keiffer wein, very minimal in design, and made me find my position on my own. That being said, it was also extremely uncomfortable after i learned they made saddles with more cushion... LOL

                    I dont recommend an Isabell for everyone, i cant ride in it, and i also cant ride in the old wintec Pro. So the best advice is like the others said, go sit in all of them that you possibly can. If you find one you like in the tack store, look on ebay and see if you can find it cheaper.

                    If you find one that may "seem" comfortable but it tips you forward, ie, sitting more on your pubic bone than your seat bones, its not correct. You may need a larger seat size. Seat size has nothing to do with having a big butt or not, well for some it may. But i ride the best in a 17.5-18" seat due to my long thigh, and i'm only 5'3, but all my height is in my thigh. If i squeeze into something smaller, my knee comes over the flap.

                    Just because SOO many saddles these days are made with huge knee rolls doesnt mean you'll feel at home with one that does. I still work best with a more minimal knee roll. I brace against a knee roll for some reason, vs letting my leg stay loose.

                    And then after all that, you've got to make sure the saddle fits the horse, and good luck with that one! Saddle shopping as i'm sure you've read here is a REAL nightmare! Say lots of prayers, cross your fingers, toes, legs, eyes, hop up and down three times backwards, pat your head, toss some salt over your shoulder, and anything else you can think of...

                    If you can find a tack store with staff that knows something, it might be easier, or find a really good fitter. You'll have to pay for that fitter's service, but its so much cheaper in the long run vs trial and error.
                    Your Horse's Home On The Road!
                    www.KaydanFarmsEquineTransport.com

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                    • #11
                      I agree my daughter had a lovely WP saddle that sat you as well as many nice dressage saddles. The only problem I had was getting leg on my extremely round barreled warmblood with the leather fenders. Just seemed to have too much leather under me to ride him.

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