Researching Dressage Saddles - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 09-20-2009, 09:29 AM Thread Starter
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Researching Dressage Saddles

I have been recently researching classical dressage riding and training, and my horse and I have been making good progress already. I am debating whether it would be worth it for me to purchase a dressage saddle.

My research suggests that a dressage saddle makes it much easier for the rider to adopt a classical seat. I am currently riding in a 16 inch AP saddle, and I find that it sometimes "fights" me into more of a jumping posture than is helpful (although that might be somewhat unfair to pin even a part of my bad habit on my tack..).

I will likely never compete. I live in a very rural area, and the only opportunity to compete in dressage comes once a year and entails nearly a 2 hour drive to the show grounds. I'm not that enthusiastic of a competitior. I would enjoy the experience, I think, but for me the ultimate goal is not neccessarily competition.

Cost is an issue for me. I want to do this right and buy a good quality saddle if I buy one at all, and this definitely means waiting and saving for several months to afford even a used good name, quality saddle. I like the look and feel of leather, but I'm not opposed to synthetic tack (especially as I'm not competing). Hence, I'll be looking for a pre-loved leather or perhaps a new synthetic. I'm happy with the quality of the Wintec saddles I've seen, but I've never gotten a good look at one of their dressage models. Wintec is a bigger name, and I wouldn't worry so much about the quality of construction. A custom fitting is really not an option for me, again due to cost and the lack of such professionals in my area (again a pro for the Wintec: I would have a little bit of adjustment). I have seen "starter sets," but the sheer amount of stuff for $250-$350 scares me: You get what you pay for.

I do have some experience in buying and fitting saddles, and I know the general earmarks of fit problems.

I have all winter to continue my research, and to decide whether a dressage saddle would even be something that would be helpful to me. While it is certainly something that I could survive without, I see myself continuing to study and practice classical equitation in the future. I also trail ride, and I know that some English style trail riders prefer the deeper seat of the dressage saddle to the flatter AP's or Close Contacts.

So, my questions to you all: What do you think? Is the potential purchase worth it, in your opinion? And, are there major differences between fitting a dressage saddle and an AP? Are sizes similar, like gullet and seat measurements? Is a "real" dressage girth neccessary, or will one of my plain English girths be okay, at least to start out?

Thanks for reading!

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #2 of 11 Old 09-20-2009, 11:49 AM
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i would go for the dressage saddle, definitly. i first rode in an all perpose then got to sit in a good dressage saddle. i could feel the horse more easily and it pretty much almost puts you in the right position. i think it would be worth spending the money on. :)

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post #3 of 11 Old 09-20-2009, 11:56 AM
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I can easily do Novice level dressage (in eventing) with my close contact saddle (it's a Courbette Vision). I don't think it's necessary but whatever you feel comfortable in.

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post #4 of 11 Old 09-21-2009, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the replies, guys! I think I'm leaning in the direction of getting a dressage saddle, at least if I can find the right saddle at the right price.

Any other opinions?

Thanks again!

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #5 of 11 Old 09-21-2009, 04:01 PM
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i have a wintec dressage saddle for my youngster because he has, and still is going to change in shape as he continues to grow and i like the idea of the easy-change gullet system . . . i would definately go for it, as well as helping your seat, dressage saddles allow the horses shoulder to move more freely

also, about the girth, as far as i know you do have to have a "proper" dressage girth, as the girth straps are longer and the holes don't go as far up as GP / jumping saddles
the wintec / dever dressage girths aren't very expensive though

hope that helps
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post #6 of 11 Old 09-21-2009, 04:22 PM Thread Starter
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That is really helpful, hollybee. Thanks a million!

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #7 of 11 Old 09-21-2009, 06:51 PM
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Absolutely love my Wintec Isabel

I am primarily a trail rider and I just love this saddle. I've had it for 10 years and would buy another one. It sets my leg correctly, sits me close to my horse, feels secure and my horse loves it. He's hard to fit and this saddle fits him great. I highly recommend it. It's $1,000 but worth every penny. You may find a used one on Ebay.
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post #8 of 11 Old 09-22-2009, 05:36 PM
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Thanks for this post ScoutRider!

I am finally looking for a saddle for my horse. So all the stuff in this post about Dressage saddles has been helpful to me.

ScoutRider have you tested any saddles out yet? Just curous. I think I might ask a fellow boarder if I can try her two dressage saddles. One is a Wintec and the other one she has is an Albion. The Albion is for sale.

Let me know if you do try any. Hearing about your experience may help me to decide as well.

I am like you. While I like leather, I am so not opposed to synthetic. The last saddle I owned was years and years ago and it was a Wintec. I did love that saddle.

Thanks for the great post!
Half Pass
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post #9 of 11 Old 09-23-2009, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the wonderful advice! I think I'm getting on to the window shopping stage, lol.

I haven't tested any saddles yet. I'm away at college right now, but my plans between now and spring definitely include lots of tack store visits. I'll be sure to post what I find out about the saddles I test.

Thanks again everyone for all the help!

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #10 of 11 Old 09-23-2009, 11:22 PM
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I would definately be looking into investing in a dressage saddle. It is possible to ride to novice in a GP/AP, but you struggle to get into a good dressage position, as they are just not designed to have your legs hanging down in a straighter position than in jumping. You will find with a dressage saddle that you're position will be much easier to maintain, and it offers far more support in a dressage position than an AP/GP does.

Don't go out and buy one that is cheap and looks nice and fits though. YOU need to feel comfortable in it. Not every saddle will fit every rider. I personally hate Isabells and new Anky's with a passion, Isabells put me in some kind of weird forced/stuck position, while Anky's just don't suit my body shape and I struggle to relax in them.
I adore old style County's and Otto Schuemakers.
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