Most riders when conducting a jumping exercise will shorten the stirrup leathers at least one maybe two or more notches. This has the effect of bending the rider's knee so the skirt of the saddle needs to be broader - as per the photo.
The bent knee allows the rider to more easily lift off the saddle during the jump.
The jumping saddle also usually has deep knee rolls into which to 'lock' the knee in position, especially for when the horse lands.
On a dressage saddle, the leg is allowed to hang down longer and thereby straighter so the cut of the saddle is straight down with only minimal knee rolls. An experienced English rider should be able to post to the trot without using the stirrups irons but this takes practice.
All English saddles should first fit the shape of the horse's back, but then it should suit and feel comfortable to the rider. For example of the six English cut saddles in our tack room, only two fit my own horse - each of the five horses has its own saddle which is regularly checked by a saddler to make sure it still fits the horse's back, which gradually changes in shape according to fitness level.
Any good English saddler makes numerous patterns of saddle - each designed for a specific purpose - the GP is in effect a compromise design allowing a rider to jump and do basic dressage.
It is extremely important that the saddle matches the shape of the horse's back. A thick numbnah helps the saddle to better fit but English saddles are designed to be used without a blanket or saddle cloth. These came into use largely to keep the saddle clean rather than to compensate for an ill fitting saddle.
Because of its small footprint on the back, an ill fitting saddle will inflict pain on the horse and cause it to disobey.
Last edited by xxBarry Godden; 01-28-2011 at 04:06 PM.