Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Beautiful Pacific Northwest
• Horses: 0
Close Contact actually refers to the panel type used on a saddle. The close contact panels are a very slim profile, so they put you in closer contact with the horse's back. Close contact saddles can be difficult to fit, because there just isn't much mass to the flocking to be able to adjust or adapt to the horse's back. Not all jumping saddles are close contact. I've seen dressage saddles that are close contact, etc etc.
In the US, most people who say "Close Contact" saddle are referring to a jumping saddle. This may have come about because jumping saddles have often had the close contact panels - just a guess.
If you're thinking about knee blocks and knee-rolls vs none, then what you're talking about is a "plain-flap" saddle.
Whether you'll be happy with plain flaps or blocks depends on your horse, your riding style, and just plain personal preference. Different people like different things.
I can't stand knee blocks. I started riding in a plain-flap saddle when I was 4, and that's pretty much all I rode in until I was a teenager. My riding school then had all Stubben Siegfrieds with the knee rolls and knee blocks (they were donated - we took what we got and were quite happy about it).
I now ride in a pancake flat Passier with no blocks or rolls. I'm more comfortable without the knee blocks because: (a) that's how I learned to ride. I'm used to being able to really feel the horse. With blocks I lose a lot of the feel and communication with the horse under me. And (b) I like being able to move with the horse and change my position depending on what type of riding I'm doing and how I need to help my horse. Knee blocks lock me into a position that I don't always want to be in. I feel trapped, stuck, and often my leg cramps up too. My daughters are learning to ride in Passiers just like mine (but smaller). I won't let them ride with knee blocks, because it's too easy for them to cheat. The knee blocks put your leg where it should be with less effort. I want them to learn how to keep their leg in the right position and develop the seat and feel to do it without the blocks there to help them. If they learn to ride without blocks, they can also ride with them. If they learn to ride with blocks, they'll lose their leg in a plain-flap.
My sister-in-law loves saddles with blocks and rolls. When she rides in my saddle, she just plain falls off. The hrose doesn't need to be doing anything, she's just always relied so much on those blocks to hold her in place, that she never learned a good seat and leg and falls off a plain-flap saddle.
My husband has a decent seat and leg, but prefers a small knee-block on his saddle, because he just likes to be able to relax and enjoy the ride.
On a very green or known naughty horse, I do like having some blocks there to stop me from flying over the horse's head if he should decide to have a brainless moment. Full-seat breeches and some tacky-spray also are good on those boys.
Last edited by freia; 09-23-2013 at 04:36 PM.