I don't event (oly done the random show for fun) so my input is going to be vague. I know a close contact saddle is a more open seat to allow for freedom during arena jumpig. Eventing saddles are more build for the cross country phase as well as the "inclosed" jumping. I find the flaps to be more forward than your typical close contact and they allow for shorter length of stirrups. Different makes will offer various padding options as well.