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Trail riding & Conditioning: Jump or Dressage saddle?

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  • Trail riding & Conditioning: Jump or Dressage saddle?

    I've always leaned toward my jump saddle versus my dressage saddle for trail riding and general conditioning like hills etc..
    However , after a long winter I finally got back in my dressage saddle last week so I could do some dressage work then head out for trot sets in the fields and I was shocked to discover how comfy it was to ride in for conditioning! I felt stupid for not ever using it for trail rides or trot sets in the past!

    So it just got me wondering....

    What saddle do YOU go to for conditioning rides or trail riding ?

  • #2
    Unless I'm going for a little "you worked your ass off doing dressage so here's a little hack as a reward" hack, I trail ride and do conditioning stuff in my jumping saddle. Partly because it is just more comfortable to me, partly because our surrounding countryside is VERY hilly (and in some places VERY VERY steep and trappy), so I feel I can go with my horses more if my stirrups are shorter and I'm not trapped in my dressage saddle. And, especially for conditioning work like trot sets, I feel it is more beneficial for ME to crank my stirrups up and work on my gallop/jump/two point muscles (I will often do some amount of trot sets in a two point for this very reason). If I'm feeling very masochistic (and I'm pretty sure the critter I'm sitting on isn't going to drop out from under me for no apparent reason), I'll REALLY crank them (to or past steeplechase length) and get a real good work out.

    You also never know when you'll want to pop over a log or coop (we have lots of those, too).

    So, all in all, I think a jump saddle is a FAR more versatile saddle and far better suited for getting out and about.


    • #3
      PS- my jump saddle is lighter than my dressage saddle, so if we're going to be out for a long time, especially if we're working hard, I think it is a little more fair to put my light little monoflap on rather than my big heavy practically a roping saddle on.


      • #4
        I have always been taught to do my hacking and conditioning in my jump saddle (unless its a little walk around the fields after a flat school), for a couple reasons. Its easier on their backs than if you have all your weight in your seat, you can get out of the saddle for cantering, the angles in your leg make it much more secure should a gaggle of turkeys appear out of the bush, its more conducive to hillwork letting you move around in the tack as required, and rising trot for long periods in a dressage saddle is much more exhausting without the leg angles for absorbing shock. Plus, you condition yourself as well, as holding yourself in galloping position for xc is hard work, and you have to practice somehow. I shorten my stirrups an extra hole for galloping so I feel the burn, its like a hard squat workout.


        • #5
          I use my jumping saddle, since interval work/trot sets are a chance for ME to get some fitness, too--I do most of the trot and all of the canter in two-point. This is do-able in a dressage saddle, but not as good of a workout.

          Interval work is not an opportunity for a rider to be "comfy". It's hard work and fitness-building for both horse and rider. Trail riding? Sure, I'd use whichever one. But I have no access to trails, alas.
          Click here before you buy.


          • #6
            I use my dressage saddle for trail riding, which we do lots of, for many many miles at all gaits.

            For intervals, which we have only recently started, I generally use my jump saddle so I can get off my horse's back more easily.
            Life doesn't have perfect footing.

            Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
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            • #7
              I use my jump saddle...

              As many others have said. I'm constantly getting out of the saddle and practicing engaging my core/strengthening in 2 point or "gallop position" when I go up hills (even just walking), and of course when trotting, cantering or galloping out on the trail...it's MUCH easier in the jumping saddle.

              I, too, tend to get off their backs more when doing long rides and going at speed. So a dressage saddle wouldn't really work for that (and it IS heavier)

              Someone else mentioned it, but oddly, I feel more secure for spooks or bucks or anything unexpected... in a shorter stirrup/jump position.....than when legs are just hanging straight down and your just heavy/sitting-on-your-arse, like in a dressage position.
              Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
              **Morgans Do It All**


              • #8
                I use my jumping saddle! As others have said, you never know when you might feel like going for a little run or pop over a jump
                "My ideal horse is the horse that I fall in love with again every morning when I see his face hanging over the stable door, looking for breakfast. " - Jim Wofford


                • #9
                  Typically my AP saddle, but we often go on a short hack after dressage work. Either are comfortable to me.


                  • #10
                    Dressage saddle. My pony just did a 25 mile LD last weekend. That's a week after Feather Creek. The kid used her dressage saddle, like she usually does on trials. The pony scored all A's on her back, so her dressage saddle didn't appear to make her rider heavier on her back.
                    Aelfleah Farm, Scurry, Texas
                    BLUE STAR Arabians and
                    Arabian-influenced Sportponies


                    • #11
                      I mostly ride in my dressage saddle. Most of the hacks I go on are after a dressage school... we tend to walk for 10 mins before and 15 mins afterward...

                      I don't do interval training at this point... but if I have a day where I know I'm just going to walk and hack around I'll use my jump saddle.
                      Yes, I ride a pony. No, he would not be ideal for your child. No, he is not a re-sale project...


                      • #12
                        So, here's a question for discussion:

                        Why, when two thirds of our competitions are jumping phases, would you choose to spend more time in a dressage saddle rather than a jumping saddle?


                        • #13
                          For long (or short for that matter) trail rides where I'm planning on mostly walking, with maybe a trot, canter or small jump thrown in if needed, I usually go with my dressage saddle. Any time I am planning on doing more than walk for the majority of the trail, I use my jumping saddle... and definitely for trot and canter sets, both for the comfort of the horse and to build my own strength.

                          If my conditioning program requires, say, a 15 min trot before a flat school, I'll do it in my dressage saddle, but that's the only time.


                          • #14
                            I'll admit it, I do most trail riding/conditioning in my dressage saddle. It is more comfortable than my jump saddle. However, I'm in the land of flat and there are no jumps on the trails where I ride, and I have been known to jump in my dressage saddle (only under 2'6" or so). I'll sometimes shorten my stirrups up and go for a nice little gallop. We aren't actively competing anymore so fitness is more so for the horsey than me. I know that I need to be fit, but I run 20+ miles a week and lift weights and when I do put my jump saddle on, I spend some time in 2-point and doing work without stirrups. If I liked my jump saddle more, I'd probably ride in that, it does make more sense (but, my very particular horse likes my jump saddle and I don't have money to make both of us happy!).


                            • #15
                              I use my dressage saddle on trails. I find if I am on a young horse I can stick to the saddle a little better since the seat is deeper. I feel on a jumping saddle I do not have much hold if something where to spoke my horse on the trail.
                              "Ask often, demand little, reward generously"
                              " Every horse has a chocolate side"


                              • #16
                                Jump saddle! You never know if you want/need to gallop or jump.
                                "Red on the right, white on the left, insanity in the middle."


                                • #17
                                  I agree with yb...definitely jump saddle. I am more secure, we always have at least a little gallop unless the ground is horrible, etc etc. Sets, definitely jump saddle. I have great big horses and lots of hills; I can't imagine trying to rebalance them rolling downhill at speed using the toolset (or the stirrup length) of the dressage ring.

                                  Plus I do think that one of the most important skills we lower level folks should practice is being out and about; I want as much of my non-walking hack time to be feeding my xc skills as possible. I have no delusions that I will ever be as secure and as natural across country as I'd like to be...

                                  I often do a walk hack after a dressage school -- did today -- of course in my dressage saddle. But the most I'd do is trot sedately. My horses know that they are allowed (encouraged!) to be enthusiastic when cantering out, and I'm a much better partner for that in my jump saddle (I realize not everyone is of the "sure, you can kick it into high gear" school, but my horses are of the lazy, not fire breathing, variety).
                                  The big man -- my lost prince

                                  The little brother, now my main man


                                  • #18
                                    Depends if I am doing mostly trail riding (i.e. lots of walk/sitting) or hill sprints/gallops. Also depends on which saddle fits the horse best. I had one that had shark withers so he got a very expensive custom dressage saddle, so when I wasn't jumping I was riding him in that saddle.

                                    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng


                                    • #19
                                      Dressage saddle. I rarely ride in my jump saddle, unless we are doing hillwork or gridwork. I will often pop over small fences and get up in 2 point in my dressage saddle (though to be fair, it has smaller blocks and a MUCH flatter seat than my jump saddle)


                                      • #20
                                        I find myself wondering, along with yellowbritches, why so much time in the dressage saddle for eventers?

                                        Don't get me wrong, I love my dressage saddle, and have become enough of a DQ (in preferences, NOT skills!) to really dislike trying to do flatwork in anything else...

                                        but the parts of our sport that really demand good instincts and a high comfort level are jumping -- I would think that during the season, when you are doing a lot of hacking out and conditioning every week, you'd end up in the jump saddle a fair amount just as a matter of course...

                                        Obviously, if one saddle is much more comfy for you or horse, that changes things, but....
                                        The big man -- my lost prince

                                        The little brother, now my main man