Dressage Saddle Help - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 03-18-2017, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Dressage Saddle Help

I have struggled with the dreaded chair seat pretty much my whole life which I have just chalked up to lack of talent and needing to try harder. I am in great shape (weight lift regularly, run marathons) and have no health issues (knees and back good to go). I also have ridden with instructors pretty much my whole life no matter how poor I am because I know how important feedback is - how many riders are lucky enough to say that! Recently, I was able to take a lesson with a really fantastic instructor who told me my particular dressage saddle commenly puts riders in a chair seat, and that this is particulary bad for me as my hot horse needs constant leg for support. I got my saddle when I was 12 and 16 years later I still love it! (Also still riding the same horse who is now 20 and still crazy ?). I had never thought my saddle could be a significant cause of my posisitioning woes all these years. Obviously saddle fit is very important but this is a well made stubben that I bought off my first trainer who had impeccable position and never a chair seat. Anyway, I threw in the towel and bought a saddle through Dovers used saddle program (which I can return). It's a warendorf classic and I was impressed with the quality. There aren't a lot of reviews of the Dover saddles I could find and most were negative - but let's be honest, us dressage folks can be snobs and sometimes you have to settle with the best you can afford! This thing looks new and seems very well made at first glance. It's soft and sturdy - I really like it. It seems to fit my horse much better than the stubben over the withers. I only had ten minutes to try it today before my jumping lesson but when I got on I felt super stable. Oddly my stirrups felt short. Like my legs were very snugged in and I could lower the stirrups and still feel in control. I hate the look of the knee blocks but I hardly noticed except a few times I bounced into them and they sort of nudged me back into position (I feel in my other saddle I would just slip up the knee rolls when I lost my leg). My horse seems really happy in it (but it was also hot and he was having a rare moment of laziness)

So I THINK I really like this saddle. Will ride in it more this week. Was hoping for input on how it fits my horse (seems may be balanced back a bit which won't help my chair). Also a few terrible stills from a video I took. I'm still seeing the chair but potential to correct with longer stirrups and improved from my normal position already.
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post #2 of 13 Old 03-18-2017, 09:07 PM
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I'm not a fan of the position this saddle puts you in. I also think the blocks are wrong for your long femur. It sits you really back on your pockets.

I can't tell saddle fit without feeling it and seeing how it moves on his back but if you're looking to fix your chair seat, I'm not a fan of this saddle. Saddle fit can be a big factor in position. They say a good rider can ride in anything, I actually find that isn't true. I've known quite a few great riders who just cant ride in certain saddles, I have certain saddles that cause me incredible pain that are great for other people. It depends on your conformation. I have a long leg and femur and my perfect saddle is the trilogy verago but depending on how the saddle is flocked and sits on the horses back effects how well I like the saddle or not. When it's properly fitted fantastic, when it's not it tips me forward onto my crotch. Different saddles can feel different on different horses. Saddle fit is an art and science.

Are you open to something used? Or talking to a saddle fitter who might be able to help you find something that works within your budget and will also fit you and your horse?
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post #3 of 13 Old 03-18-2017, 10:21 PM
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The only thing I can think is maybe your stirrups are a little short for dressage? Your leg has more of an angle than I am used to seeing on a dressage rider.

Does the dog do dressage too? He's too cute!
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post #4 of 13 Old 03-19-2017, 12:43 AM
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my first thought is that the saddle needs to be tapped back an inch or so. it is too close to the shoulder blade. and yes, it is too pomel high, which might be changed by moving it back. I cannot see how well the tree fits or doesn't from those photos.

I am not sure if the thigh block is putting you in any undesireable position, or that you are just leaning further back than you need to be. so many of the dressage teachers of the German school teach a position that looks a bit like waterskiing from the seat up.
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post #5 of 13 Old 03-20-2017, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all!

Moved the saddle back and lengthend stirrups as suggested. I got one decent still out of a short video before my phone died yesterday. Thoughts? On saddle fit only, my posture is aweful, I have a terrible hunching over problem. I do feel that in this saddle were I to get my heels down and my chest up my legs would be correct.

Typically I am haunched over with my legs also thrust in front so I do think possible improvement? This photo has given me a lot of motivation to work on my upper body!
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post #6 of 13 Old 03-20-2017, 05:25 PM
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saddle still has an uphill tilt to it. your butt is against the cantle, rather than down in the seat portion . I don't know if moving the saddle further back would help. or, it's just too wide in front.

do you normally ride with your heel up like that? it looks like you are gripping up with your knees
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post #7 of 13 Old 03-20-2017, 07:54 PM
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What size seat is this saddle? Just at a glance my thought was it might be a bit small for you.
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post #8 of 13 Old 03-20-2017, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Woodhaven View Post
What size seat is this saddle? Just at a glance my thought was it might be a bit small for you.

I thought that , too, but if you look where her knee hits on the curve of the flap, it is about right. just the seat is either too small, or the upward tilt of it pushes her back against the cantle.
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post #9 of 13 Old 03-21-2017, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all!

the saddle is a 17 inch, and I think you may be right that 17.5 would be better. Tiny, I often have my heels up like that, I do not believe it is pinching with my knees but rather my awkward attempt to get my legs on. I do not have this problem when jumping or doing flat work in my close contact saddle. In fact I am regularly complimented on my low heels and good posture when riding in my hunter jumper gear.

Yesterday I rode in the Warendorf and really focused on heels down, chest up. my friend was there and was amazed at how much better my leg was and my horse was wonderful.

Today I had a dressage lesson and my trainer really liked the balance of the Warendorf saddle but thought the tree was too wide for my horse. She thought my position much, much improved (yay, at least on track there!). Halfway through the lesson (after cantering as usual) my horse started to get worked up and tightened his neck and shortened his stride. My trainer thought that before he lost it we should try her medium tree saddle on for fun. It definitely fit better in the tree but was tilted backward (much more than the Warendorf). None the less I climbed on as my hot horse started to prance to spin in circles, ready for the rodeo. We took off and after three strides...magic. Like hands down different horse. I put my legs on, he turned his ears to me, his stride lengthened by like a foot, he became rhythmic and began to stretch through his neck. I literally have never experienced that with this horse. He was like a sports car on the bit and smoothly going wherever I placed him. I asked my trainer about my leg (concerned about the balance in the saddle) and she said it was perfect (was not even trying).

Anyway, the saddle I rode in was a PDS Monoflap. I think the monoflap may have been the difference. I am not sure but I have never experienced a transformation in a horse to that extent, ever (I have rode consistently with different trainers and in different disciplines my whole life). I am now desperately trying to find a used monoflap saddle for a low price on ebay so if anyone would like to donate or sell me one that would be fantastic ;)

Wanted to share for others with saddle trouble - a saddle can make a bigger difference than I ever imagined.
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post #10 of 13 Old 03-22-2017, 12:13 AM
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I'm not sure it's the monoflap that did it but perhaps her saddle is very well fitted to his back so he was able to use his back. I can also say I've experienced night and day differences in horses between riding in a foam saddle vs a wool flocked saddle. Or an appropriately fitted saddle vs an incorrectly fitted one. But you're right, the right saddle can make all the difference in the world. The way a saddle "feels" to the rider is also affected by if the saddle is in balance or not on the horse's back. If it's overflocked behind or too wide, it'll likely sit you on your crotch. If it's too narrow or.over stuffed in front most horses feel very restricted over their backs and through their shoulders. Or if the saddle rocks side to side or front to back will definitely affect rider balance and the horse's ability to use themselves well imagine. Saddle balance matters and if your trainer's saddle fits him better and you rode in it better, that makes sense. Good luck! Keep us posted on your saddle journey.

17 1/2 - 18 makes sense if you have a long femur. In a deeper seat, most people will fit half a size bigger in the seat. You look like you have a long femur/leg.
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