English Saddle for Western Rider?
I don't think I'll ever truly convert to English riding, BUT, I have always wondered, because I do think it would be fun to try an English saddle, what type would be best for my riding style if I ride western now?
I ride sort of balanced on my crotch and seat bones- I don't like saddles that give me a chair seat. I also ride with long stirrups And I ride more from balance without tons of weight in my stirrups. From what I've read, it sounds like a dressage saddle might be what I would be most comfortable in? I have also heard they have a deeper seat than other English saddles?
I just trail ride and wouldn't plan on doing jumps or anything. It would be more just to kick around the trails and have fun in.
And, I have always wondered......do they make English saddles for larger riders? I ride in a 17" western and weight about 200 lbs. But it seems like all the English saddles I have seen listed for sale have been small sizes. I know you add two inches to convert your western seat size to your English seat size....right? So I would need a 19" English....at least, right? Do they even make them that big? :hide:
If you're doing just flat work, then a Dressage saddle would be the way to go. Just make sure you get something quality, even if you won't be showing. A quality saddle will put you in a better position, be more comfortable, and fit your horse better than a cheaper "starter" type that is made in Asia. If you're on a budget, look for a used Wintec Dressage saddle. If you prefer leather, just go with something older. Old Passier and Kieffer Dressage saddles are to die for!
Whoops, just saw your weight/saddle size. I'm in the same boat myself. You will need a 19" seat most likely, and those can be hard to find. Wintec and Kieffer do not make them. Passier did in some models, but again, hard to find. Stubben also made some. I have a Stubben AP in a 19", but I have to work to keep my leg back under me when I'm riding in long stirrups.
If you don't mind paying and your horse is the right shape, Duett makes their Dressage saddles in 19 and I think even 20" (they do tend to run small I have heard). Thornhill has some in 19" and one in a 20" (Vienna II). Courbette has 19" Dressage saddles (their German models) and their Optima AP comes in a 20". It's a well balanced AP.
If you have a loose budget and don't mind a slightly non-traditional saddle, Freeform treeless saddles have Dressage and Dressage-type models and their seats go up to a 19". If I get back in to showing, this is the one I will end up with. Sensation treeless saddles can have a custom seat size for $100-200 more than their list price and they have some very smart looking Dressage saddles. They are also a bit more affordable than the Freeforms.
Your last Treeless option, very "non traditional" looking, but very comfy, would be a Black Forest. I have one of these in a size 3 (18-19") and really like it. Here's a photo of my husband riding in it on my paint mare. He's a big guy, 5'10" and about 250 lbs. Black Forest saddles are much more affordable, and great for trail riding in. Mine is an older model that's been discontinued, but it's most like the Aspen.
Black Forest Treeless Saddles - THIS is riding!
Thanks Luvs2ride! I was afraid it would be hard to find one in a larger size. I guess there aren't as many larger English riders as Western riders. Sigh!
There are, it's just hard to find a reasonably priced used larger saddle. English saddle companies were a bit slower in coming out with bigger saddles, so you see most of them from the late 90s at the oldest. A $2,000 saddle that is just over 10 years old is still going to cost you a pretty penny ;-). Most of the mid-priced English saddle makers didn't come out with bigger sizes until recently, the last 5-7 years. Also, since there aren't as many made, they are in high demand, so the used prices on the larger seat sizes are higher than the "regular" sizes.
You can find used Thornhill and Duett saddles at a slightly more reasonable price, $400-700, if you look around hard. Duett saddles only fit really wide/round horses though.
A lot depends on your price range. If you want to get a feel without committing a lot of money, Wintec makes serviceable saddles that won't break your budget new. Depending on the area, you might be able to find one used, but Arizona is a tough place for finding used English saddles...
You also may not need a 19" saddle. You might, but most English saddles have a larger sweet spot (level area) and a more gentle rise to the rear than most western saddles. I find a 16" western...well, it certainly isn't too large. I've used both 17.5 and 18 inch English, and the 18 inch is roomy without being too big. The 17.5 is a jump saddle and quite flat, so a dressage saddle may differ - I don't own one to compare.
Depending on where you live, one option might be to call someone who trains English riding and shell out $30-40 to go take one lesson. I know Tucson and Phoenix have trainers, although they thin out fast as you get farther away. Also, if you go to a shop that sells English, you can certainly get an idea of what size you'll want, the difference between an AP saddle and a dressage, and MAYBE find a used saddle.
In Tucson, I'd recommend the Saddle Shop (7930 E Speedway Blvd), corner of Pantano and Speedway. They have both new and used saddles...I didn't buy one from them, but I later bought some tack there just to support an Arizona store that carried English gear. I assume Phoenix would have more variety.
Now, off to read the responses! :-P
My husband rides in a 16" western saddle comfortably and he can fit in an 18" English saddle, but prefers a more roomy 18.5".
Also, Dressage saddles often do NOT have a "flat" spot in the middle and are very "dippy." They fit smaller than an AP or CC saddle. I can ride in an 18" CC okay (though it doesn't look pretty, lol), but I am not comfortable in my husband's 18.5" scoopy Stubben AP. I have to really shorten the stirrups so I can post over the pommel and cantering is not fun...
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