I need to begin looking for a new Dressage saddle, but I'm not quite sure where to start.
For background: I've recently gotten back into riding (Eventing) after completing college. I've ridden all of my life (other disciplines), but never had lessons until a year ago. I am now working with a wonderful Dressage instructor, but we've recently come to the conclusion that my current saddle is causing me to constantly be fighting my position as the difficulty of our work increases. I'm having the most trouble lifting/opening my hips/pelvis, sitting the trot, and keeping my shoulders back. Some of this is muscle strength, which I'm working on, but my saddle puts me in a weird slight chair position that also causes me to want to tip my shoulders forward (I'm not sure that makes sense ). I knew that my saddle was starting to be NQR for me several months ago, but I'm really not sure what to upgrade to (that's within my price range).
While at Rolex in April, I sat in pretty much every saddle I could (I think the only booth I didn't get to was Antares). I fell in love with the feel of the CWD (deep seat model) - I felt like it instantly corrected my position overall. Granted, this was sitting on a saddle stand... I have no idea how it would fit my horse, or how it would feel when riding in it. I'd love to try one on my horse, but they don't come cheap - rarely under $4k - and I have not been able to find one near me to take on trial + no reps in the area. Nothing else I sat in compared to this.
Any ideas for something similar to the CWD, but cheaper/more readily available? I've spotted a few L'Apogee saddles recently at decent prices ($2500 & under), but again... I've never ridden in one so I don't know how it would fit me or my horse.
We have a County rep in the area, but I keep my horse at home and it would be fairly expensive (to me) to have her come out. My instructor has two County saddles, one of which she thinks might fit my horse, so we are planning for me to try it sometime soon, but it may be a few weeks before my next lesson.
Luckily, my horse should be easier to fit than me - fairly normal wither, large shoulder, good length of back (typically somewhere between a M & MW I think). TB/WB cross, 16.2h. 6 years old - so fairly close to being done growing/maturing out. Unfortunately I don't have any good recent confo pictures... the last good ones were probably taken at 3 and he has muscled and his outline changed a lot since then with work.
Anyway, if you'd stayed with me until now - suggestions??? TYIA!
Last edited by GutsNGlory; Oct. 24, 2012 at 05:51 PM.
I am not sure that I have ever sat in a Custom Saddlery saddle. I took a look at the website, and don't recall trying anything like that at Rolex (I sat in so many they started to run together, though!) and I don't think I know anyone who owns one.
However, I ended up getting a good deal on a L'Apogee saddle to try. I talked to Kitty Garrity several times through email yesterday and it sounds like this saddle might be the closest to what I've been looking for. (Here's to hoping!)
Just for future reference - do you ride in a Custom Sadddlery saddle? What are the key points for the brand?
It's the only "big and swishy" type dressage saddle I've ever sat in that doesn't feel constricting or tip my pelvis the wrong way. I mentioned it because the saddles you listed as liking are also in the "big and squishy" category.
I don't own one; I ride in a passier grand gilbert, and my training saddle is a passier nicole.
What I've found is that many of the brands you've listed are fantastic french saddles, but their niche is over fences, not dressage. They also tend to be foam flocked, which is not really desirable in a dressage saddle as the horse's musculature changes SO MUCH as they progress in their training in dressage.
I like county saddles, but I've never met one of their reps that is honest or can give an unbiased opinion. That's just my experience. I would never call them to come fit a saddle to my horse. If you stumble across a used county, that wouldn't be so bad.
In Indiana Kent and Masters, and Lovatt and Ricketts seem to be popular, so you can probably find a bunch of them used. I've never sat in them, so I can't really give an opinion on them.
My personal favorite brands of dressage saddles in order of preference are:
Passier ($800-1500 used)
Custom ($2000-3000 used)
Antares ($2500-4000 used)
Albion ($1200-1800 used)
Kieffer ($300-1300 used)
I like old as dirt stubbens too, but the new ones pitch me all wonky.
Good post Petstorejunkie. I agree bout the foam flocking on the french saddles. It is not possible to develop your horse properly and not have their back change. You essentially sticking yourself with a saddle that will eventually not fit your horse as foam "is what it is" and can't be altered to fit as your horse changes.
I have a Kent & Masters (the flatter seat one - they also come in a deeper seat and a couple of different tree configurations) and both my fitter and I love it. It's EASY to work on - the flocking is VERY accessible and while I can't change the gullet (I probably could with some work, but I rely on her to make adjustments) she finds them really nice to work with. I have a wide-load TB (who is uber-sensitive, so if HE likes it, it's a real statement!), but if I sell him I feel confident that this saddle will fit a variety of horses well.
I also like Lovatt & Rickets (and so does my fitter), or Ryder, or really any of those Walsall brands (K&M is also one of them, but has the adjustable tree which is why I chose it).