Want to try English - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 12 Old 05-02-2013, 12:00 AM
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 18
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Types of English Saddles

Hi TTristan788,

This blog on the different styles of English saddles may help you to decide which saddle to start out with.

The most important distinctions between the styles of English saddles are the location and therefore the balance of the seat as well as the flap length and shape. English saddles come in several designs, and their intended use ultimately dictates the difference in design. In this article, I am going to discuss the difference between the Dressage, Jumping and All-Purpose saddles.

The sport of dressage requires a deeper seat and a longer leg on the horse than in jumping. Saddles used for dressage are designed to allow the rider to sit upright with their legs close to the horse’s body. The seat is deeper in a dressage saddle than in a jumping saddle. The pommel is higher and the deepest point of the saddle’s seat is more forward to allow for a longer leg position. Dressage saddles have a very straight-cut, long flap, which accommodates the longer leg position of a dressage rider. The stirrups are positioned directly beneath the seat and the knee roll is generally smaller. The stuffing of the panels is often kept to a minimum in a dressage saddle to allow for a closer feel of the horse. It also has a wider seating surface than a jumping saddle. The billets of dressage saddles are very long to allow the girth to be buckled near the horse’s elbow rather than underneath the rider’s leg. This allows the rider to give effective leg aids to the horse.

The jumping saddle, sometimes called a “close contact” saddle, is designed for show jumping, hunt seat equitation, foxhunting and the show jumping and cross-country phases of eventing. It is most different from a dressage saddle in that it has a flatter seat and flaps that angle forward, which allows for a shorter stirrup length. This gives the rider more support and flexibility in their movement and allows the rider to quickly move into the jumping position. The flap also has supportive padded knee rolls that give riders a better grip. The balance of the seat is further back than on the dressage saddle and comparatively flat with the cantle and pommel low so that they do not interfere with the rider’s jumping position.

An all-purpose saddle combines features of both dressage and jumping saddles. Sometimes called an “eventing saddle,” it was developed to allow riders to use one saddle both over fences and on the flat. This type of saddle works best for riders who cross disciplines; riding in pleasure classes, hunting, novice cross-county eventing competitions, show jumping and basic dressage. The all-purpose saddle’s seat is deeper than a jumping saddle but not as deep as a dressage saddle’s seat. The flaps are not angled as forward as a jumping saddle but are shorter than those used in dressage. Due to the deep, secure-feeling seat, this type of saddle is popular for trail and endurance riding. However, the compromising in the design of the saddle means that an advanced rider may find the saddle limits their ability to obtain a correct position at higher levels of competition, either in show jumping or dressage. For this reason, some English riding instructors and coaches do not particularly encourage their riders to use these saddles.
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post #12 of 12 Old 05-03-2013, 01:47 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Good for you for wanting to try something new!! Hopefully you'll love it. I made the switch several years ago and never looked back. I only use western for trail riding now.

Do you have your own horse? If you do then you'll def be wanting some new english tack. There are a few good posts on here that explain the differences between english saddles as well as an English bridle. It takes some time to get used to tacking up (so much faster for English than for western!) and changing the feel for it but in the end there is so much more of a challenge to it. I think that is why I like it--it truly is harder than western.

I think we have all assumed you know how to ride in a western saddle. Forgive me if I'm treating you like you don't know how to ride, but since I'm not really sure, I'm going to just say that if you haven't been riding/taking lessons yet, def start off with western. It is a good place to begin learning to ride before switching (if you want to, and of course you already stated you do!!) to English. But I think you've already done that! :)

Besides the difference in the tack, learning to actually ride English takes alot of time as well as strength and balance. Even the feel is difference. For example, the stirrups are ridden shorter than on a western saddle, and even more so if you are jumping. You feel less secure in and English, not meaning you'll feel like you'll fall off, but western gives you a deeper seat. The position of your butt in the saddle isn't quite the same. Give it some time to adjust, and you'll love it! Oh and also-Don't buy a suede saddle. They are cheaply made and break easily.

As a side note, I ride in an HDR close contact. I am mostly a jumper myself, but I find it perfect for anything I want to do. I don't compete in dressage, but when I want to do it in the arena or if I'm just working on flat work, I'm really comfortable. I highly recommend it. Also if you are buying your own tack, I would suggest going to a tack store and just trying out different saddles to see how you like the feel of them. After you know your saddle size (again different from western. I believe that a 15" western saddle converts to a 17" English saddle) I'd say shop online. There are alot of good websites that let you buy at discounted prices (http://www.chicksaddlery.com/ as well as Four Winds Saddle Tack Store )

Let us know how it goes!!

~He knows when you're happy
~He knows when you're comfortable
~And he always knows when you have carrots.
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