Making an english saddle comfortable!

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Making an english saddle comfortable!

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  • How to make your english saddle comfortable
  • Comfortable english dressage saddles

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    05-27-2014, 06:41 PM
Making an english saddle comfortable!

Hi everyone! I've had my Appendix a month now and we are gearing up for our first ride when the season starts in September. I plan on doing a 25 mile ride! We are both new to endurance, he spent his young life as a barrel horse but he really enjoys stretching out on the trail. I ATTEMPTED a "short, 30 mile ride" back in March on a 50 mile horse after I have not been regularly riding for 7 years! I made it half way LOL. Despite this I really feel this sport is something I want to do, and anything you plan on doing should be done well! So anyways...

I am currently riding in a very heavy western saddle. I'm not sure how much it weighs but I'd say an easy 40 pounds. All I can say is its a good thing I like short horses wielding that thing around! I feel secure and comfortable in it, plus it has the capability of toting a lot of stuff around. That being said, it doesn't fit -ideally- on my horse but my plain flap, flat seated old school Crosby does. It's also probably 30 lbs lighter. I'm not a huge person, I weigh 130 (I'd like to lose 15 lbs, I'm a slender shape and for me I'm a little overweight) maybe I'm wrong but I'd think 30 lbs would make a difference on a long distance ride? Plus if (no, WHEN!) I lose my additional weight that'd make an even bigger difference?

I don't see many people riding around in close contact jumping saddles. I know comfort is one reason, but are they not very good for distance due to the smaller weight bearing distance? I'd be interested in converting my english to an endurance saddle just because it is so much lighter, but I do want to be able to move after my rides. I know gel seats or sheepskins help a lot but how about certain kinds of leathers? Can I change the stirrups? Anything else to be done for comfort or security?

Thanks in advance and sorry if I come off as a total "noob" because I am! :)
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    05-27-2014, 10:10 PM
I have done almost all my trail miles in an english-type saddle, so its certainly very possible.

First thing is it has to fit your horse, which sounds like you have taken care of. The type of pad you plan to use makes a difference too, as a thick or thin pad can make a big difference in the fit of a saddle. Some horses don't tolerate synthetic materials well, others have no issue. Same is true for girth materials.

Next thing is the saddle needs to fit you, in terms of seat size, twist, flap length and knee roll location, etc. As you suggested, sheepskin saddle covers and gel seat covers can help, but nothing is going to make a saddle with the wrong twist comfortable over a long distance!

Personally, I ride with english-type leathers (or specifically webbers) and EZ ride stirrups. I toe out very badly and any sort of fender - no matter how well-turned - is murder on my knees pretty fast. Using EZ ride stirrups made a HUGE difference for me in terms of my feet/ankle comfort.. we don't even own normal irons any more.

There are tons of varieties of saddle bags available for english saddles, so you needn't worry about losing the ability to carry things by switching from your western.
Remali, tinyliny and SueC like this.
    05-27-2014, 10:49 PM
Your saddle looks nice! Much more cozy and secure than mine. I actually haven't done a "real" ride in it, but it fits me well enough and fits my horse better than a plethora of other saddles I have tried on him. What kind is yours? I'm not exactly in the market but if someone offered I just may trade my Crosby for something more appropriate.

Here's a photo of it:

As you can see there is not much to it. Would a lengthened leather with an endurance style stirrup function ok? I don't care very much if it looks silly. Is there any padding that can go over the leathers?
    05-28-2014, 10:18 AM
Dream goes in a Free'N'Easy (it's so old its before there were diff model types) and the boys both go in Rubicons (which is from the Arabian Saddle Company, an offshoot of Lovell and Ricketts).

There is no reason you can use endurance stirrups with those leathers. Just make sure you get ones with the smaller stirrup bar (a 1.5" is meant for leathers/webbers versus 2-3" for fenders). They also make sheepskin covers for the leathers (I have them in the saddle pictured, tho its hard to tell because it blends in with the cover).

I had to chuckle at your cozy comment, as my DH says my saddle is like riding on a 2X4 covered in a beachtowel, as the seat is much harder than those of the padded Rubicons (which don't even have sheepskin covers on them)! But I love it. Again, its all about what works for you.

I would suggest looking into D-savers for your saddle, as having additional Ds for hanging things will come in handy. [D-savers, in case you don't know, are basically D-rings on a cord, which go around your stirrup bars.]
    05-28-2014, 11:10 AM
Contact Myna Cryderman for her recommendations. She is on FB. Myna has competed all over the world. Or just google her name and you can learn more about her. She is so knowledgeable on this sport yet quite approachable.
    05-28-2014, 11:53 AM
Super Moderator
I have a friend in the UK that does endurance riding and she's always used an English saddle - either what we call VSD (very slightly dressage) and recently a dressage saddle.
If you want extra comfort use a really good pad that will help distribute the weight - but an English saddle is already considerable lighter - and you could always buy yourself a 'seat saver' to cushion your own backside
    05-28-2014, 12:09 PM
Thanks everyone for the help! Is there a specific kind of pad that is recommended? Right now I have two very basic pads, one is a cushy poly fill and the other a thin square one. I don't see them being very supportive. I DID have a nice gel half pad that I gave to my niece when I didn't think I'd be riding English!
    05-28-2014, 04:37 PM
Super Moderator
I'd Google endurance pads for English saddles - I just tried that and got quite a few options
    05-28-2014, 09:23 PM
It is all about what YOU find comfortable! I don't think I'd be comfortable in a close contact saddle over the long miles, but I love my dressage saddle. I always ride with shorter stirrups in a CC saddle, which is probably why I'd imagine it to be uncomfortable over many miles... I wonder if you could ride with longer stirrups and still stay balanced?

I ride in a dressage saddle with modifications for comfort. I have wintec webbers instead of stirrup leathers to get rid of the buckle under my thigh, and sheepskin sleeves over them (soooo comfy - the fake fleece is no good - you need the real sheepskin), with padded wide endurance stirrups (I have a cheap knock off brand, they are better than irons, but I am upgrading to real EZ ride stirrups soon). I have tried a couple seat savers, but none fit my extra deep seated saddle correctly, I would think they would work well on yours though. Instead, I wear padded bicycle underwear for extra long rides. My horse gets a comfy woolback pad and mohair girth. I really like this set up, except I do wish I could find a sheepskin seat saver that didn't bunch up...
    05-29-2014, 02:17 PM
Thanks for the tips and insight. I really would prefer to ride in something with more security and while I can improve the comfort it is what it is - a plain flap pancake jumping saddle! I'm torn on whether I should try and work with it and do the best I can as it fits my horse nicely (and he has not proven an easy fit) or to sell it and get something more appropriate. Then again while endurance is my main pursuit in the future I wanted to try low level eventing, based on our suitability and if we like it! I won't get another deal like I did on this one, I paid $75 for it with all the fittings and a leather girth. For that reason I want to hang onto it.

Honestly I would rather throw my extra cushy micro suede bareback pad on and use that! Anyone know of anyone that does distance riding bareback?

I know it's a pretty broad question but are there any quality, inexpensive saddles that offer both comfort and support? By inexpensive I mean around $500. I wouldn't be opposed to a dressage, Aussie, cross over, western or treeless. Really anything other than what I have. Id also prefer synthetic as it tends to be cheaper and lightweight, also I live in Florida and it storms every day in the summer time.

I just am just reluctant to play the whole saddle fitting game again. My horse is an Appendix with typical TB withers, a straighter back and the crosby is a medium tree. He's not wide at all but not narrow.

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