Buying a Saddle


Hi guys! Im looking to buy a dressage saddle and im not sure on what make or type to buy..does any1 have any recommendations? Im not necessarily worried about the price, but more on the comfort and functionality of the saddle in helping with my riding.


When it comes to saddles, there is so much one can say, however, I am going to try and steer you in a good direction and let the experts take over from there!
There are two types of fit to consider when deciding on a saddle – firstly, it should fit your horse correctly and secondly but also important, it should fit you!
No horse will ever work properly in an ill-fitting saddle. All saddles are not made equally and in fact, sometimes the cheaper saddle will fit a horse much better than the very expensive ones. It all depends on the shape of your horse and how he moves. Also to be taken into account is the numnah you decide to use (less is definitely more!) as well as the placement of the saddle on your horse’s back. These all have an influence on the way the saddle fits your horse. To fit a saddle to a horse is a specialized business, and since you are aiming to do the best thing for you and your horse, I would suggest that you have a speciallised saddle fitter come out and assist you in choosing a saddle. Not only do they have excellent knowledge on the fit of the saddle, they also usually have an excellent amount of resources and even test saddles that can be tried and fitted.
Also important, is the saddle fitter will have you sit in the new saddle on your horse and will make sure that it fits you well. Most saddles have different widths, different depths of seat and will have different influences on your seat. Have your instructor with when you ride in the test saddle so that he or she can see what happens to your seat.
Be careful that you are not too deceived by thick, 'position setting rolls' on a dressage saddle – it will surely put you in a position, however, you should be able to maintain a correct position without it. Thick rolls also tend to fix the leg in a way that CAN make subtle aids and seat aids tricky. There is no saddle on the market, sadly, that will make anyone a better rider! There are saddles out there that will badly influence position and those are the ones that you should avoid – however only by sitting on one on your horse will you know! People are built differently – a saddle that pushes your lower leg forward and pushes your seat back into the cantle might not do the same for somebody built differently on a different horse!
My advice thus, is to get in touch with a good saddle fitter – if you are in Gauteng, try Western Shoppe or Rider’s. They have mobile tack shops that will come out to your premises with a wide range of new saddles and saddle fitters if you ask. IN KZN, try The Stable Cat (031 765 2511) and in the Cape Area try Horse and Hound(021 852 3850) and ask if they can recommend a good fitter.

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