05-30-2012, 10:35 AM
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When jumping cross country, the best thing to do is make sure that your saddle is balanced correctly so that two point comes easy, and you can easily change your hip angles for different terrain as types of jump. Another big factor that many saddles seem to lack is the ability to get the stirrup short enough without the rider's leg going in front of the saddle flap, since you ride with your stirrups much shorter for jumping than dressage, and I even do mine a little bit shorter for XC than stadium. My XC length (when using the same saddle) is 4 holes shorter than dressage, stadium is 3 holes shorter usually. Granted, I only ride BN/N, so you may find yourself needing something more extreme as you go up the levels.
For just starting out though, find a nice balanced saddle that fits your horse and you. The more you do, the more you'll find your personal preference for the type of saddle!
My first saddle I got for jumping was a Wintec AP, this saddle, for my build, was very detrimental to my riding because I could not shorten my stirrups up enough without my knee either going in front of the flap, or the knee roll pushing my leg behind the saddle.
My first XC saddle I had success in was a Crosby Sofride AP, be a bit leery of "all purpose" because many do not have a great balance for a lot of jumping, but this saddle was actually being sold on a foxhunting rider's blog and she spoke of how great it was out on XC and over large jumps. I rode in it for years, but ended up selling it when my mare built more topline and it no longer fit.
I had a Circuit Elite XC for a while that I LOVED and regret selling, they are discontinued, but there are still some floating around at Dover if you want to try one.
The saddle I jump in now is actually a very flat Beval Natural (the flat seat, not deep!), it has small knee rolls and no calf blocks, but I love it for galloping and jumping because the balance point is so correct that I never really have to think about my balance or my leg. No matter the size of the fence, I can always feel the "sweet spot" in my saddle where I am balanced at every phase of the jump. This is what you want :) Unfortunately, it's different for everyone! So trying them is the best way to go about it.
A friend of mine gave me the advice a long time ago too (which I did follow with the Crosby sofride!) was when you are new to riding XC to ride in a saddle with a deep seat and big knee rolls. She takes yearly trips to both Ireland and England to go foxhunting and I'm talking the real deal, 5' fences and everything, she is a much braver soul than I! At any rate, she says all the guest saddles for the hunts are very deep seats with big knee rolls, and sometimes big calf blocks as well. Her own personal saddle is an Ainsley Lucinda Green (which are VERY hard to find, but she swears by them).
Clear as mud, huh?
Good luck, and let us know what you end up with and how you like it.