Dressage Saddle - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 03-24-2011, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Hackettstown, New Jersey
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Question Dressage Saddle

Ok, so I've been riding my friend's horse for seven or more years. Same saddle and bridal the whole time. (on him below)
We have been doing collecting and extending and lite jumping but I want to do more dressage based movements.
He is 20 so I know we wont be advancing (or competing) but I figure in the right gear we can achieve better harmony. He is either in a 17 or 18 inch tree Wide. Bit is a full cheek snaffle with a slow twist.

Can anyone tell me what type of Dressage saddle and bridle to get? :)

So far I switched his bit in the ring to a loose ring hollow mouth snaffle. I think it is a little big in the bar(not sure) but he holds himself really well in side reins when he lunges. How can I tell if I need a size down for the bit?
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File Type: jpg Day Riding 044.jpg (58.2 KB, 99 views)
File Type: jpg Day Riding 045.jpg (48.7 KB, 101 views)
File Type: jpg Ike snaffle.jpg (31.5 KB, 99 views)
eccodecco is offline  
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post #2 of 11 Old 03-24-2011, 03:47 PM
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I agree on bit change - you went with the much milder one, so he may like it better. But whats wrong with the saddle and why you want a different one?

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post #3 of 11 Old 03-24-2011, 04:23 PM
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They say you can open their mouthes and see if the bit looks tight in there, like there isn't enough room, but I don't see how, because once you open the mouth, you are not seeing the situation that matters; the closed mouth size.

I just kind of wing it and tend to prefer a slightly narrower bit. It used to be said that fatter ones were more comfortable but now people think the really fat ones are too big for the mouth/palate area. I think I use a 3/8? Not sure.
The horse in the last photo seems comfortable with the bit you have in. Doesn't have that "I can't swallow with this big thing in my mouth" look.
Cute horse and cute rider!
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post #4 of 11 Old 03-24-2011, 10:53 PM
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Personally I would keep the saddle you have now! It looks to already have a pretty long flap unlike most jumping saddles. It may even be an all purpose saddle? Since you do some small jumping and you don't plan to compete or do any fancy dressage moves, I think this saddle would be just fine! If it fits you and the horse, no reason to change it! It can be a hassle (and expensive) to find a saddle that actually fits the horse. I rode Novice level eventing (and dressage) in a jump saddle for a while because I hadn't found a dressage saddle that fit my horse yet. My friend has shown preliminary eventing and 2nd level dressage in a jump saddle. He prefered it and it fit him and his horse well. You don't NEED a dressage saddle for light dressage work and you can do just as good dressage in a jump saddle. However if you just want a dressage saddle there is nothing wrong with that!! Just pointing out its not that necessary.
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post #5 of 11 Old 03-25-2011, 10:07 AM Thread Starter
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There isn't anything wrong with the saddle, but me and it combined my leg sometimes gets thrown forward so I was just thinking possibly to find one that promotes a better leg.
And as for bridal, I do want to get him one that is uniform and not miss-matched like he has now.
And I will have to get a thinner bit as I found out yesterday, he can't drink with that one in his mouth. (that would be the solution, correct?)

Thanks everyone for your feedback.
I'm going to have people take pictures of me this year for critiquing once we get everything ready :)
eccodecco is offline  
post #6 of 11 Old 03-26-2011, 03:26 AM
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Is the snaffle a single or double jointed?
A single jointed loose ring, should leave 1cm on both sides between the rings and the horses mouth, while at resting position. As you take contact with a single jointed snaffle, the bit shortens in the mouth and the rings therefore come closer to the lips and side of the face. If the bit is too small, it will pinch. Too big, and it will slide across the mouth, not only causing discomfort, but also 'dulling' the rider's aids.

A french snaffle (double jointed), you want the rings to be sitting just next to the horse's lips. When you take up a contact, the double joint action means that the rings will move evenly from the lips. If you have 1cm between the lips and rings, the bit is too big and will be ineffective and uncomfortable.

As for bit thickness, it does sound like yours is too thick. It depends on the horse as to the thickness of the bit, if he has a fleshy mouth or low pallet, he will be uncomfortable in a thick bit, so go for one a little thinner. It's really a case of trial and error.

For a bridle, obviously you want an english style bridle. But otherwise, whatever he is happiest in. A standard cavesson noseband, possibly with a flash attachment depending on his needs, will suffice. There's no 'fancy dressage bridle' that will magically turn him into a dressage horse ;)

The saddle, yes a dressage saddle WILL help your position and effectiveness of your aids. A GP/AP or jumping saddle will only inhibit your ability to apply the subtle and precise aids required in dressage. They place your lower leg forward into a slight chair seat, the seat is quite flat and overall, making you fight to hold your position while you ride.
However remember, there are no 'one type fits all' with saddles in terms of both horse AND rider. No matter how much adjusting a saddler does, some saddles will just not fit some horses. And again, one rider may love riding in a certain saddle, the next may hate it to the point where they become physically sore riding in one. For example, the Isabelle Worth line of dressage saddles, in particular the old models (the new ones are quite nice), are so unsuitable for me, that even after a 10 minute ride in one, I am in so much pain through my hips, knees and lower back, from being literally forced into a position and not able to move, that I have to get off. However I have friends that absolutely love their Isabelle and ride well in them.

You will have to try a few different saddles to find one that suits both you and your horse. Certainly not a case of popping into a saddlery or onto Ebay and buying the cheapest or 'prettiest' saddle as chances are, it won't be the 'right' saddle for you and the horse.
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post #7 of 11 Old 03-26-2011, 11:18 AM
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Your loose ring looks a bit small, width wise. The rigns are awefully close to the sides of his mouth. You want at least 1/4" of space on either side of his mouth between his lips and the hole the rings slides through. Otherwise, his skin can get pinched by the sliding ring. You might need to go to a 5.25" bit, or even 5.5" bit. Most of my horses go in bits bigger than 5" and all are "normal" sized for everything else (14.1-16h, medium horse halters, cob or horse size bridles, etc.).

Personally, I prefer a medium thickness loose ring bit, 14-16 mm. The thicker bits don't have as clear of communication IME. I also prefer double jointed bits as they lay flatter in the mouth and provide clearer signals to the horse. Something like one of these.
Dressage Extensions Product Detail
Dressage Extensions Product Detail
Dressage Extensions Product Detail - Copper bits are nice as they promote salivation, which softens up the mouth.

As for saddle, as long as you're in a good position with your ankle bone lining up with your hip bone, and you can effectively communicate with him with your seat and legs, then keep riding in what you have.
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post #8 of 11 Old 03-26-2011, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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both bits are single jointed.
I think I'll be getting a different bit (thinner is what he is used to) but If I get another loose ring I'll get bit guards to save his pretty lips. (probably try a french link too) :)
I'll have to measure the size of the new one but there is 1/4" on either side (checked that part before I began working with it)

As for saddles, I've never purchased one before, are there any programs to try them with a deposit and exchange if it doesn't fit right?
If not, how hard are they to return/sell if I can't use the one I get?

I was looking into a Wintec Isabelle as it looks simpler than the Pro but I assume I'll have to try both to figure out which works best for us.

Thank you everyone for your help :)
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post #9 of 11 Old 03-26-2011, 06:25 PM
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It depends where you live as to whether you can try saddles. I have two local saddleries here that will allow you to take home a 'demo saddle' as well as having their in store saddle fitter come out to help you. You can usually take them home for 7 days, and return them. They just charge you a fitting and hire fee.
Personally, I wouldn't jump in buy, hoping for the best. Saddles can be very hard to sell. I was selling my own dressage saddle a few years ago as I had upgraded, it took over 12 months to sell. Particularly if the saddle is not of excellent quality, or going for extremely cheap.

As for the Wintec Isabelle's, well their design is more complicated than the Pro - they were designed in conjunction with Iseabelle Worth herself - hence they're a bit pricier! If you want to go for an Isabelle, PLEASE try it out first, they are a love or hate type of saddle. So far 99% of the people I've met that love them, have been raw beginners, or have pretty average position in the saddle and find it hard to apply aids without assistance and a lot of effort. The Isabelle essentially 'locks' the rider into a position. Which is great when you're starting out as you get a feel over having that hip-hip-shoulder alignment, but if you're training a horse at the same time, you actually need to be able to move around a little from the solid 'base' position, which is where the Isabelle makes this difficult.
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post #10 of 11 Old 03-26-2011, 08:51 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Nov 2007
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Adams Horse Supply has great prices on Wintec saddles and I believe they have a trial program. They have a great return/exchange policy as well.
Welcome To AdamsHorseSupplies
I would call and ask about saddle trials. They are very helpful on the phone.
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