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So... Why Buy an Endurance Saddle?

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  • So... Why Buy an Endurance Saddle?

    I asked this in the eventing forum and it was suggested that I ask here. What is the difference between an endurance saddle and say a good general purpose english saddle or eventing saddle? Why invest in an endurance saddle? Is it easier to sit in? More ...?

    Excuse my ignorance. I can give you the reasons for wearing basketball shoes instead of tennis shoes even if you are playing tennis but I can't speak to saddles.

  • #2
    Typically the endurance saddles are designed to distribute the rider's weight over a broad surface for longer rides. So, they combine the weight distribution of a western saddle (larger weight bearing surface) with a lighter weight design.

    "Endurance" saddles come in a lot of different flavors - some look almost like a western saddle with the horn removed, while others look like a standard english A/P saddle with a bit more padding.

    There are a lot of choices, depending on your riding style and preference, but the one thing they all have in common is the ability to keep the horse comfortable over a long distance. You will see some people ride endurance in an A/P or dressage saddle, but it's more typical to see saddles that are designed specifically for the job.

    You may want to look at it like the difference between a jumping and dressage saddle - you can certaintly ride a dressage test in a jumping saddle, and jump in a dressage saddle, but you (and the horse) will probably be a lot more comfortable in something that's made for the activity.

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    • #3
      I havent the foggiest, but i own one for trail riding
      I got one of the big horn endurance models that are flocked with memory foam, and a memory foam seat. It's got the right balance and twist to now screw up my equitation like the western saddles i sat in, so it came home with me.
      www.destinationconsensusequus.com
      chaque pas est fait ensemble

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      • #4
        usually a bit more squish to the seat, bigger panels underneath to disperse the riders weight, lots of D rings to hang your stuff off of, tough D rings sewn into tree for breastcollar that will be USED going up mountain trails, different rigging options for cinches/girths--centerfire, wider buckles, ability to change girth positions, most have very balanced stirrup positions--dressage placings for correct body alignment and easy posting, many have adjustable stirrup bar settings. If english type, the leathers tend to be a little wider, sometimes synthetic, and of course most endurance riders use EZ Ride padded stirrups--tapaderos and caged stirrups are very popular for safety reasons since a lot of endurance riders ride in tennis shoes so they can get off and run easily. Many endurance saddles are adjustable--either through flexible panels, velcro panels underneath that you can change through shimming, treeless, stuffed to the individual horse shape, changing gullets--and boy, we haven't even got to all the pad options yet! Very specialized sport with lots of individuality
        Windwalker Ridge: Gaited horses, lessons, training, sales
        http://windwalkerridge.cloud11.net

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        • #5
          Weight meant alot to me. At 193 pounds and an arab the 11 pound endurance saddle was great. It has a comfortable seat and nice big stirrups.

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          • #6
            A good saddle effectively distributes weight and provides a secure seat appropriate to use. "Secure" in this context also means both a stable platform to sit on and one reasonably comfortable for the human.

            The "moniker" one puts on a saddle may or may not have anything to do with it's intended use. There's as much "hype" in saddle marketing as there is in selling cars or cosmetics. Maybe more!!!!!

            There clearly are different types of saddles. Historically the differences flowed from type of intended use. Consider that a cowboy roping ladino steers in Texas had a different use from the pony express rider who had a different use from the cavalry trooper who had a different use from the foxhunter who had a different use from the circuit riding preacher. Each needed a secure seat and effective weight distribution. Each rode a different design that met those needs.

            Note that there can be overlap in saddle designs.

            So look first at the function of the saddle, then how the form expresses that function. Then the "nameplate." This approach can save you some real money.

            G.

            P.S. It can save your horse's back, too.
            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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            • #7
              I've found most of the english-style endurance saddles to be similar to a VSD style all purpose saddle; when you spend hours in the saddle, you tend to ride with a longer leg to avoid a lot of ankle/knee problems, so a jumping saddle isn't always ideal. The balance is typical of a dressage saddle, but as others have saddles, the panels might be configured slightly differently to improve weight distribution and there are of course more d-rings. The big difference is those d-rings; not just the number of rings, but that the are really securely on the saddle.

              However, there are many endurance riders who just ride in standard English saddles - I see a ton of the Wintec dressage and AP models out there. The key is a saddle that fits the horse really well, and you are better off with a well-fitting "non-endurance" saddle than a marginally fitting endurance saddle.

              The following saddle makers all make an English style endurance saddle. You may want to check out their websites so you can get an idea of what these saddles look like:
              Black County
              Frank Baines
              Smith Worthington (I have one of these)
              Duett
              Arabian Saddle Company
              Reactor Panel

              I'm sure there are many others - maybe someone else can add to the list?

              Comment


              • #8
                Endurance saddles are designed to be light weight, they distribute the rider's weight over a wider area, and they are usually outfitted with plenty of rings to tie stuff onto, like breastcollar, crupper, and saddle packs. They are designed so that the rider can get up out of the seat easily to two-point and post but yet sit comfortably for periods of time also. Endurance horses are under tack for many hours and many miles - not just a 40 minute workout session in a flat indoor arena. When you're ascending and descending steep elevation, the tree can jam into the horse's loins, or scapula and withers so the correct fit and balance is absolutely crucial.

                I ride in a Bob Marshall treeless and LOVE IT. I never thought I'd love the saddle as much as I do, but it is heavenly - for me and the for the horse.

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                • #9
                  I also find that for distance riding I want a saddle that helps keep me secure even when I'm fatigued. This is why I originally switched to an endurance model, because of a problem in my hip that allows my leg to swing after the first few miles if it doesn't have help. The western-style endurance saddle (Abetta) I first got was great for supporting the weak leg and hip because of the wide fender (I turned the stirrups to prevent knee pain). And the seat is great for hills--takes less effort to stay in it during the surges you get when going uphill. This doesn't mean much in the first few miles, but toward the end of the ride, it is nice to have help from the saddle.

                  Now I ride in a Bob Marshall treeless endurance saddle. Again, it looks a bit western, with swells and a deep cantle (no horn). The stirrups attach low on the skirt, which helps distribute the pressure for those of us who ride heavy in the stirrups.

                  This is another problem with some non-distance saddles: lack of distribution of stirrup pressure. Some of us ride two-point a lot, or at least ride heavy in the stirrups. Some endurance saddles are designed to spread out the pressure from the stirrups, either by splitting the leathers or attaching them low. This is an important consideration for your horse's back comfort when choosing a saddle. It isn't an issue for every rider, but it was for me.

                  I agree with G, in that it is more important to have a saddle that fits your horse well than it is to get a specific model for a specific use. Endurance riders are in the saddle for hours, so any small discomfort becomes magnified, which can lead to swelling and sometimes lameness. I've seen plenty of short-strided horses at the end of an endurance ride who cringe when the vet even runs his hands across the back. That's sad. After fit comes rider comfort. Then you look at each model, test ride, and see what works best for you and will still be comfortable after 5 or so hours of riding uneven trails and hills. Plus, it helps to have numerous sturdy rings to hang your gear. Breastplate and crupper attachments are a real plus, too.
                  "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The use of "extra help" in keeping a saddle in place is sometimes not well considered.

                    A crupper, breast collar, and even a surcingle might be very welcome additions to the tack lineup. "Tack Nazis" generally demand "tack minimalism" by pointing out that a well fitted saddle really needs nothing else. While this may be theoretically true for a horse standing in one spot (or making a few turns around an arena) when several miles are to be covered you want to give the horse as much comfort as possible. On a long ride a horse can drop several pounds and this might (note the conditional) upset the fit equation. Adding the crupper and breast collar may well be a Very Good Thing to provide additional stability over time.

                    A shifting saddle will also upset the horse's equilibrium as well as annoy the rider, requiring the expenditure of energy to maintain balance.

                    I don't like to use more leather and iron than I need to accomplish my goals, but I'll use that which is necessary and convienient.

                    G.
                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                      The use of "extra help" in keeping a saddle in place is sometimes not well considered.

                      A crupper, breast collar, and even a surcingle might be very welcome additions to the tack lineup. "Tack Nazis" generally demand "tack minimalism" by pointing out that a well fitted saddle really needs nothing else. While this may be theoretically true for a horse standing in one spot (or making a few turns around an arena) when several miles are to be covered you want to give the horse as much comfort as possible. On a long ride a horse can drop several pounds and this might (note the conditional) upset the fit equation. Adding the crupper and breast collar may well be a Very Good Thing to provide additional stability over time.

                      A shifting saddle will also upset the horse's equilibrium as well as annoy the rider, requiring the expenditure of energy to maintain balance.

                      I don't like to use more leather and iron than I need to accomplish my goals, but I'll use that which is necessary and convienient.

                      G.
                      good point... =) our standard was breastcollar, saddle/girth, crupper. Thats is for training etc etc.

                      I moved to Southern/Central Jersey where is predominately flat. Breastcollars are a fashion item..

                      I pulled out my cav saddle... and its extra leathers which never come off and they went... what. the. hell. is that.

                      so they call it his thong now. lol they had never seen or heard of it!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Icecapade View Post

                        so they call it his thong now.
                        That is hilarious!!

                        I like to ride with a fairly loose girth so the endurance styled breastcollar really helps with that. Also a wool saddle pad, which is much more non-slip than synthetic materials.

                        Maty - do you use a back girth on you BM?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          No. I ride with a breastplate and crupper on the Arab, adjusted to allow minimal forward or backward slippage. For the OTTB with great withers, no crupper is needed, but a breastplate is handy. So far his pendulous belly has kept the saddle from slipping back, but that won't last long.

                          I don't use the breastplate and crupper during riding lessons. The lady is a bit of a purist. My philosophy is "begin how you mean to continue," so I started the Arab using the breastplate and crupper. With her figure, she needs both.

                          For some reason, those back girths always make me think the horse will buck. I've ridden enough bucks to last a life time. I got a kick out a a couple of ladies last week when going to Fair Hill. Their western saddle with all of the rigging was so heavy it took two of them to swing it onto the horse. My BMSS is soooo much lighter. And biothane tack is practically weightless. Bright, too.
                          "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by matryoshka View Post

                            For some reason, those back girths always make me think the horse will buck. I've ridden enough bucks to last a life time. I got a kick out a a couple of ladies last week when going to Fair Hill. Their western saddle with all of the rigging was so heavy it took two of them to swing it onto the horse. My BMSS is soooo much lighter. And biothane tack is practically weightless. Bright, too.

                            lol the gelding I used to race was orginially ridden in a dude saddle.. .and it was HEAVY... at the time I was a waife... and I never got down to walk... the saddle was way heavier than me it seemed... figured it'd be easier to strip the saddle than get off. poor horse.

                            that changed when we started seriously competing fortunately for the both of us.

                            Those rear cinches are almost constantly in this day and age way to low... there is 0 reason for it to hang with a big gap... its to hold the saddle, like the front girth... maybe not to the same degree but yeah... currantly that trend is a dangerous one.

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