Can you recommend an English hunt seat saddle for good equitation position

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Can you recommend an English hunt seat saddle for good equitation position

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  • Whats the best hunt seat english saddle
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    01-27-2014, 12:15 PM
Can you recommend an English hunt seat saddle for good equitation position

I have decided to finally attack my last great vice, that horrible habit I've had all my life - the ugly fugly chair-seat. This dog WILL learn new tricks.

Love love love the old pancake saddles. My old flat, plain-flap Passier lets me feel the hrose's every movement (and thought, it seems), and I've also always ridden in the old plain-flap hunt-seat saddles. It's my comfort-zone. However, this has allowed me to not only develop the chair seat, but keep it, since that plain flap lets my leg just shoot out there when it gets a mind of its own. I have great equitation when I'm on the trails and doing a half-seat or 2-point - no problem. But when I'm working on the flats and getting instruction, all my faults show up.

So I'm looking for a hunt-seat (forward) saddle to use for a while for schooling and training that will help support my leg in the correct position until I can build the muscle-memory to keep it there when I go back to my pancake.

Can anyone recommend something? It still has to be a quality saddle, since I won't put garbage on a horse. So I'm looking for something older and well-used so I can afford it. I've been thinking of some of the Stubbens - they've always put me in a good position, but they're so hard to fit to horses. Don't say Wintec, I despise them (saddle are personal - I just don't like their feel). Crosby's have always let me get away with my chair-seat too easily as well.

Note that I'm not looking for something to force me into the correct position to hide my faults. I just need help/support to put things in the right place while my mind and body get reprogrammed.
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    02-01-2014, 10:43 PM
Marcel Toulouse
Posted via Mobile Device
freia likes this.
    02-02-2014, 09:20 AM
I think most riders who fall into a chair seat and struggle to get rid of it are in a saddle that doesn't fit somehow. It is either off balance due to poor fit on the horse or the stirrup bar placement is wrong for the rider. It may not be your fault at all, but the saddle's fault, and knee rolls and blocks make no difference in your equitation except to force your leg into the right place at the expense of possibly causing you pain or covering up a saddle fit issue. Knee rolls and blocks can be great for added comfort and stability, but you should be able to find that perfect equitation in a well-fitted flat saddle too! And I believe flat saddles are better for teaching a rider to have an independent seat and stabilize and strengthen their own leg. I think flat saddles make better riders, and expose poor saddle fit! I wish knee rolls and blocks weren't so much of an "in" thing right now!

Unfortunately, because saddle fit is so individual to BOTH horse and rider, there is no one brand that is best for every horse and rider pair, as every horse and rider are different and have different needs.

I suggest you do a little research on saddle fit, and do a self-evaluation on your own saddle. I think you'll find that your current saddle just doesn't fit.

A good way to figure out if your chair seat is a problem on your end or because of your saddle, try riding with our feet out of the stirrups for a few laps at the walk and trot. Settle into a position that's comfortable for you, and then look down at your stirrup without moving your leg. Is your stirrup hanging by your foot or is it hanging in front of your foot? If it hangs in front of your foot, the saddle is the problem, not you.

Here is a good resource for evaluating saddle fit:
Saddle Fitting - 9 Step Guideline for Optimal Fit

If you find that your saddle doesn't fit (which I think you will), then it's time to go shopping! If you have a high budget you should go the custom route and try out some saddles like Schleese, Delgrange, and County. Decide which brand feels best for YOU and then call your nearest representative to have a saddle custom fit for you and your horse.

If you're on a limited budget (like most of us) do as much research on saddle fit as you can. Take a wither tracing: Wither Tracings - How to Make a Wither Tracing for Saddle Fitting and then go to as many local tack shops as you can to try saddles in the store. Only consider saddles that fit your wither tracing and your budget (though it is fun and educational to sit in other saddles). Sit in them in the store and see what you think. You should have about a hand's width of seat in front and behind you. The seat should not be so narrow that you're sitting on seams but it should not feel too wide either. Your knee should be able to rest in the correct place on the flap etc. Keep in mind that the dummy horse in the store is not the same size and shape as your horse so the balance of the saddle will not be the same on the dummy as it will be on your horse, so take any saddles you think might work home on trial and evaluate the fit based on the 9 point videos and ride in them. If the saddle is well balanced and your leg wants to fall naturally into a good position, with and without the stirrup, the saddle just might work. Then you need to hire a saddle fitter to evaluate the fit of the saddle before you make the purchase. The saddle fitter can also help you decide between more than one saddle if you are having trouble making a decision.

I recently went through this process with both of my horses. I ended up with a used Collegiate Dignitary for my Shire cross mare. It wasn't my favorite in the store, because it was too wide for the dummy and was tipped too far forward, but it fit my wither tracing and my budget so I took it home to try. It was perfectly balanced on my own horse, super comfortable and put me in just the right position. A saddle fitter gave the stamp of approval and now me and my horse are both much more comfortable. I had trouble with a chair seat in my old saddle because it was too narrow for the horse and was sitting off balance. Now I have no trouble riding with my leg in the correct position!

My husband ended up with a used Stubben Siegfried for he and his appaloosa gelding. Their riding progressed in leaps and bounds after finding a saddle that didn't pinch his horse's withers!

So, in my experience, the key to good equitation starts with the right FIT of saddle, not any specific brand!
horselovinguy likes this.
    02-02-2014, 10:51 PM
Your info is great, but i'm very well aware of how to fit a saddle to both horse and rider. I've been doing it for years. My leg position is a bad habit ingrained over many decades. I simply need to break the habit. I have pictures of me in my fave pancake saddle in gorgeous equitation, then at a gait change or half-halt, my leg just shoots forward. Riding in a saddle with blocks is making me do a double-take when I try to shove my leg forward so that I keep it back. I've been able to get way with it for too long, and we're just working on breaking it.
    02-02-2014, 10:54 PM
Originally Posted by howrsegirl123    
Marcel Toulouse
Posted via Mobile Device
Which model do you have, and what kind of riding do you do in it? What do you like and not like about it?
    02-03-2014, 06:08 AM
If your leg tends to shoot forward during transitions it may still be a slight fit issue. Like I said, a balance or sitrrup bar placement issue may not be obvious until you try to use your stirrups. I still recommend you take a moment to re-evaluate your saddle fit. A saddle that may have fit when you bought it may not necessarily fit now, and a professional will certainly have a better eye for it than the average rider, which is why I recommend involving a professional fitter as you look for a new saddle. Fit is much more important than just having blocks and you should go into this with your eyes open. As I said before. One brand of saddle that works well for one horse and rider pair, will not necessarily work best for you and your horse. The brand of saddle that works best for me and my horse is Collegiate. I have an unusually-sized horse that is tough to fit and the collegiate wide just happens to fit my horse. The stirrup bar placement, flap length and position and cut of seat is a good fit for me as well and I have no trouble riding with correct equitation in this saddle, but I doubt this particular saddle would work as well for you and your horse as it does for me and mine.

Have you looked into identifying the difference between a male and female saddle? Some women that ride in a male saddle, regardless of the fit on the horse, will be forced into a chair seat due to the overall design of the saddle.

It also could be due to you bracing on your stirrups if you truly think your saddle fits. Some riders push their heels down instead of pointing their toes up and brace their feet forward in the saddle during transitions, particularly during downward transitions. A saddle with blocks will not totally fix this issue as they can stabilize the upper leg but your lower leg is still free to move. The best way to fix leg and seat instability is always stirrupless riding, lots and lots of stirrupless riding at all gaits and through all transitions.
    02-03-2014, 10:21 AM
Super Moderator
I love my Ideal saddle, they are made in Walsall UK but have stockists in the US and can be custom fitted
freia likes this.
    02-03-2014, 02:17 PM
Originally Posted by kiltsrhott    

It also could be due to you bracing on your stirrups if you truly think your saddle fits. Some riders push their heels down instead of pointing their toes up and brace their feet forward in the saddle during transitions, particularly during downward transitions.
Yes, that's exactly what I do. For some reason, I don't do it at all without stirrups. I've been riding without stirrups a lot, and had people watch me and I do fine then - with and without saddle. But give me back my stirrups, and woosh - kiss my leg goodbye at the downward transitions. I don't do it going to a halt.

Here's a couple pics. The "outside" ones shows my normal leg position. This is what feels natural, relaxed to me. On these we did have a fit issue. First time riding this horse and using the best thing we found at the time. Saddle is pommel-high.
On the "arena" picture I'm "on the brakes" coming into a trot from a canter. This is the same saddle model, but a wider tree that sits correctly balanced on the horse.
I do this with any saddle on any horse. I know the saddle fit and balance and position will affect leg position, but in my case, my root problem is my riding, not the saddle. I wish I could blame it on saddle - that would be much easier to fix.
Maybe I'll just tie my stirrup to the back of the girth
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    02-03-2014, 02:47 PM
And if it's me and not the saddle, why am I looking for a saddle to help me fix the problem? Because now that I'm really focusing on fixing this and thinking about it, that little bit of resistance I feel from a knee block every time I try to shoot my leg forward is enough to tell my brain to pull that leg right back in. It's like having someone pinch me every time I try to do the wrong thing, and it's helping.
    02-03-2014, 03:06 PM
Hm. I see what you mean. The saddle in the first photo is definitely not right. You look better in the second picture but I do see a little bit of an off-balance. The cantle on that saddle is awfully low. It will be lower because of the flat seat, but it looks a hair lower than it should be. I also think the saddle is a bit too small for you. You have a long leg and your knee falls slightly below the curve of the flap. I also think you should have a little more room in the seat.

I definitely think a new saddle is the right choice for you. I'm not arguing that at all, but I think you will best aid your learning if you involve a professional to make sure you are as comfortable as possible and that your saddle is doing all it can to help you find the right position. From there you can work through your own bad habits. I think you will find it much easier to learn with a new, well-fitted saddle.

The only thing I'm advising against is restricting yourself to one brand as you shop, and assuming knee rolls and thigh blocks are the magic equitation fix. There is a lot more to it than that and I hope you take all the elements of good saddle fit into consideration as you move forward. Good luck in your saddle search!

By the way, your horse is absolutely stunning!
freia likes this.

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