First-time DRESSAGE! Questions on Tack! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 01-12-2009, 10:04 PM Thread Starter
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First-time DRESSAGE! Questions on Tack!

So, I've always ridden huntseat. Recently, on a total impulse, I bought a Dressage saddle! I rode in it for the first time yesterday and it's GREAT! So now, a few questions:

-How do I care for black tack to keep it BLACK?

-How should the girth fit? About how far down from the flaps should the buckles hit? I don't have a girth yet and will need to buy the correct size. I scrounged around for a pony hunt girth (it's a 36") and it held the saddle on fine. But those billets have like 10" worth of holes on each side...I could probably use any girth from 20-40 inches!

-Stirrup Length...should they be longer than my hunt stirrups? I normally ride to where they hit my ankle bone when I relax my leg (out of the stirrup).

-Do Dressage saddles tend to fit a little snugger than hunt saddles? I normally ride in a 16 or 16.5" in fairly flat-seated close contacts. The Dressage saddle I bought is a 16.5" and it feels smaller...but maybe it's just the deep seat (higher cantle) so I can't slide around so much.

Thanks for your help! Any Dressage Beginnings tips are welcomed and appreciated! Or any recommendation on a nice (not too pricey) dressage girth (roller buckles & elastic are a must!).

~Gina~
Monte - 15 year old Paint/TB
Auric - 13 year old Arab
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post #2 of 11 Old 01-12-2009, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Equina View Post
So, I've always ridden huntseat. Recently, on a total impulse, I bought a Dressage saddle! I rode in it for the first time yesterday and it's GREAT! So now, a few questions:

-How do I care for black tack to keep it BLACK?

-How should the girth fit? About how far down from the flaps should the buckles hit? I don't have a girth yet and will need to buy the correct size. I scrounged around for a pony hunt girth (it's a 36") and it held the saddle on fine. But those billets have like 10" worth of holes on each side...I could probably use any girth from 20-40 inches!

-Stirrup Length...should they be longer than my hunt stirrups? I normally ride to where they hit my ankle bone when I relax my leg (out of the stirrup).

-Do Dressage saddles tend to fit a little snugger than hunt saddles? I normally ride in a 16 or 16.5" in fairly flat-seated close contacts. The Dressage saddle I bought is a 16.5" and it feels smaller...but maybe it's just the deep seat (higher cantle) so I can't slide around so much.

Thanks for your help! Any Dressage Beginnings tips are welcomed and appreciated! Or any recommendation on a nice (not too pricey) dressage girth (roller buckles & elastic are a must!).

- Keeping back tack black - clean and condition regularly

- The girth should fit comfortably behind the horse's elbows, that is, the buckles should fit above the elbows, out of the way of any movement. That may mean that there is a lot of billet left but that's okay.

- The stirrup length is longer than with hunt seat, but should still be comfortable... the "trend" right now is to basically have the stirrups so long that the rider's legs are almost straight... I don't think that's right either, but they should be longer than a jumping length.

- Because of the seat design, dressage saddles do feel more snug than a close contact saddle, as the seat is deeper.

- Buying books is a great way to start. I would highly recommend "Tug Of War: Classical versus Modern Dressage" to give you a good background on a horse's physiology and why certain methods are good and why some are not.

I hope I answered your questions okay?

Oh, and good luck!


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post #3 of 11 Old 01-12-2009, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Equina View Post
Or any recommendation on a nice (not too pricey) dressage girth (roller buckles & elastic are a must!).
Unlikely you will find any with elastic.
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post #4 of 11 Old 01-12-2009, 10:42 PM
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You can most definitely find good dressage girths with elastic, perhaps not on both ends, though, if that was a specification. And there are inexpensive ones too.
I can name a brand off the top of my head that's cheap and has elastic - Cottage Craft. Their products are of good quality as well.


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post #5 of 11 Old 01-12-2009, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Spyder View Post
Unlikely you will find any with elastic.
Just did a google search and it does seem that they are out there and fairly cheap.

Not my preference though.
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post #6 of 11 Old 01-13-2009, 12:21 AM
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For stirrup length, it should be longer than for hunt seat BUT should not be so long as to make your leg unsteady. In dressage we need a quiet leg. Those riders that have very long stirrups have very strong legs and can keep them in place, us normal people cant, so we need some bend in our knee and support in our stirrups to keep our legs quiet.
Also about the seat, in dressage saddles it is common to feel "squished" into the tack. The best way to combat this is to try and ride as close to the front of the saddle with your seat as possible. This does not mean lean forward, but to actually sit further up in the tack. If your saddle is built decently this will also help your leg become more secure.

I recommend AGAINST buying a girth with elastic. They stretch and do yucky things and in my experience pull my saddle around so it doesn't fit right. I also recommend getting a girth with some shape to it (other than rectangular).
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post #7 of 11 Old 01-13-2009, 01:34 PM
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I personally prefer girths with elastic in them - you're very safe not tightening them too tight, and if a saddle fits well it shouldn't be slipping regardless :)


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post #8 of 11 Old 01-13-2009, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the help guys!

Anebel, I'm glad to hear that "us normal people" will most likely have a little shorter stirrup. I've put mine where they feel comfortable (about 1 hole longer than huntseat on the flat). Maybe over time I'll get a stronger Dressage seat and be able to go another hole longer. And you were definitely right about scootching forward in the saddle for a better fit. But boy, it makes me work harder! My abs will be sore tomorrow!!

Who knew dressage girth styles were so controversial! =) I alway have used girths with elastic for huntseat, and never had a problem with saddle slipping. Plus, I figure the elastic may be more comfortable on my horse when he takes a deep breath. With that said, I just ordered a new girth! It's by Marcel Toulouse, leather, contoured, elastic on both ends, and stainless roller buckles.

JDI, thanks for the info to keep the girth buckles above my horse's elbows. I felt like I was getting too long of a girth (I ordered a 34), but I guess that's what I need for my big boy.

~Gina~
Monte - 15 year old Paint/TB
Auric - 13 year old Arab
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post #9 of 11 Old 01-14-2009, 03:00 AM
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Yeah under my nice layer of tummy fat there's some abs :P Dressage will do that to you. (not the tummy fat, that's from university)
I've tried all these fancy, new-fangled elasticy girths and they're all piled in my basement tack room. The best girth I have found is just a shaped, non elastic, roller buckle girth and it's worked for me on every horse. Everyone has their opinions and preferences though. I do like elastic on one side for hunt saddle girths though.
Good luck and if you ever have some position/equitation or general dressage questions I'd be glad to help!
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post #10 of 11 Old 01-14-2009, 10:56 AM
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This is the girth I use with my dressage saddle. It is shaped and elastic and it hasn't stretched at all. It has always fit on the same holes. I got the girth with the saddle so it has been used for about 5 years now.
Wintec Elastic Dressage Girth: Legacy Tack

As with how you sit in the saddle, you really need to use your seat bones and sit back onto them. So like Anabel said this gives the impression that you are skooching forward but you are really just using your abs to hold your back flat and bum tucked in.

And as for the stirrups length that will come down with time and as your muscles stretch and tone up. I always have to start with shorter stirrups if I haven't ridden in my dressage saddle for a while, usually after warm up I slip them down :)

I love riding in my dressage saddle, it is very comfy and I get great contact with my horses back and sides.
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