"Baroque" saddle- please evaluate this cross between endurance and dressage, with a twist

I’ve been seriously reevaluating the direction I want to take with my horsemanship, and have decided to focus on classical dressage, and trail/endurance (yes, both; I think they will complement each other very well). I plan on taking 3 (classical) dressage lessons per week, one of them stirrup-less, and riding out on trails with or without a saddle a couple more times per week.

My questions is specifically about saddles that will work for both centered arena work, and long trail rides. I have decided not to look at western saddles anymore for several reasons: I have had and heard of too many close calls to ride in a saddle with a horn anymore when I am not roping anything, and I am really angling my riding more towards closer contact, balance, and connection. SO I’m looking for a saddle that combines the centered seat of dressage (not all dressage saddles have this; I’m angling for one with a relatively flat seat that allows room for leaning up or downhill on trails), with designs that help the horse out a little more with the added challenges of riding varied terrain.

I stumbled upon THIS: https://www.actionridertack.com/DP-Saddlery-El-Campo-Baroque-Saddles-p/1212.htm


I trail ride in my dressage saddle and I love it. It has a rather deep seat, which I love and I’ve not had it get in my way at all.

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Hi OP,

I’ve got no experience with the saddle you are thinking about unfortunately. However, I have a Western saddle from Specialized Saddles and really like that brand. Maybe you might want to get in contact with them and tell them exactly what you are looking for. I found them to be very helpful when I was struggling with finding a saddle. The sales person actually suggested a cheaper saddle than the one I had called to inquire about and both my horse and I love it! Even my new trainer really enjoys riding in it and agrees that my horse travels beautifully in it. Here is the link for more information: http://specializedsaddles.com/store/

I’m not sure if they will make a dressage saddle but they may have a saddle that works for both endurance and balanced arena work. I know that my saddle works pretty well for both my lessons (just basic balance work) and the trail.

Do you have a trainer/instructor that can help evaluate saddles with you? Could you maybe buy two used saddles - one for dressage ring work and one for your trail/endurance days?

Best of luck, OP!

The type of saddle in the OP is fairly common in the Iberian/Baroque breeds. It’s also reminiscent of the American “Buena Vista” saddle. Go to a site that specializes in tack for Andy’s or Lusitanos and you’ll find multiple types of “selas” (saddles).

I would guess you can ride “dressage” in most any saddle but riding Dressage will mean a saddle appropriate to the discipline. Some will work as trail saddles but I’ve sat a few that were “blister rigs” for me and that won’t do! :slight_smile:

Makers like Stubben and Smith-Worthington have “multi-purpose” saddles that can work for both the ring and trail. They are, however, compromises and are not optimized for either. If the ring work is serious then it’s likely you’ll need two saddles.

Best of luck as you search!


I’ve taken turns having a saddle for dressage and a separate saddle for trail riding. I’ve had treeless for the trails, which is great on my bum and back, but horrible for my hips and it isn’t comfortable for anything but walking (for me - I know others love them). I’ve had western for the trails - Crestridge, JJ Maxwell, Circle Y, and Specialized - and my favorite of those was the Specialized. I sold the specialized because my horse outgrew it.

I’ve also added a sheepskin cover to my dressage saddle and that helps with my bony butt bones on the trail so that it isn’t so uncomfortable on longer rides. Right now I’m riding only in my jumping saddle because it is the only one comfortable for my hip pain issue right now.

I think if you like to do lots of trotting and cantering on the trails, it is imperative that you have a saddle that fits you well. With all my western & treeless trail saddles, they were fine when I was walking, but when I wanted to more, they all put me out of whack because of how wide they were or the placement of the stirrups/fenders. If you do a lot of trotting and cantering a la endurance riders (meaning getting your butt out of the saddle and giving your bum a break), then a dressage saddle will be just fine and you don’t need anything fancy. I would suggest getting a sheepskin cover to protect the saddle from branches and whatnot, though.

I’ve never seen anyone with a baroque saddle, although they do look comfortable. I don’t know what the benefit would be to the rider with that saddle versus a regular dressage saddle. What is most important is how it is balanced for you and if it fits the horse. Just because it has “baroque” attached to it doesn’t mean it is mo’ betta for any reason.

I wonder what you mean by this: “designs that help the horse out a little more with the added challenges of riding varied terrain” - how is a baroque design different to help the horse where a regular dressage saddle wouldn’t be?

While it does seem to be the fashion these days to have a dressage saddle with a deep seat and big blocks, there are flatter-seat saddles to be found. Mine is a Frank Baines Capriole and it has a flatter seat and I had it made so the thigh blocks were velcroed on and could be removed.

Good luck in your search.

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Thanks for the responses, everyone.

I’m definitely not looking for a western saddle, while I’ve loved riding in those over the years, I find the horn simply too dangerous, and the size of it an impediment to a better connection. That’s just my opinion.

I think one of the things that attracts me to this saddle is that its gullet is adjustable. This is something I’ve really been wanting, as I’ve become more educated about how horse’s backs really can change shape in the span of a spring season or even, depending on the conditions, in as little an hour.

Another thing that intrigues me is that while this design looks like it encourages the relaxed, long leg for dressage and has a pretty flat seat (doesn’t force you into a certain position like a lot of today’s dressage saddles). It has flocks to help encourage a steady leg but they aren’t such bulbous restraints like you see on some Wolfgangs and Stubbens, for example.

It looks, overall, like a saddle that encourages a centered seat, long legs, and has some supports for security but not so much that they would impede you shifting your leg forward or farther back based on the slope of the hill, or that would affect the way you came off in an accident (another reason the ‘security’ of many westerns and OTT dressage saddles aren’t what I’m looking for).

It’s supposedly comfortable for the rider’s seat, but also has a slightly larger footprint than most dressage saddles, and it sounds like the tree is a hybrid between traditional fiberglass and ‘treeless’ designs, with the intention of alleviating some of the pressure on the spine immediately below the seatbones on long rides, which is one of my misgivings about getting a normal dressage saddle.

I like that it has a leather tether behind the seat.

A concern:

  1. It obviously isn’t a monoflap; it looks like the stirrup leather attaches between the flaps, which seems odd. Thoughts?

Thanks for everyone’s thoughts!

I don’t think you can tell how well it will work for you personally until you try it out, in the arena and on a long trail ride! I have a 2001 model Passier dressage saddle that has low knee rolls and a low.seat, and it is very comfortable for trail riding and for arena. I also have a lighter weight older County jump saddle which would be my preference if I was planning on lots of trot sets on the trail, it lets you get out of the tack more, but it has a narrower twist and a harder seat that you start to feel after an hour hacking at a walk. My point being I guess that a good dressage saddle can be an excellent trail saddle. Also I like that my trail rides in either saddle reinforce my correct seat and position. On the other hand neither have much of a pommel and I do understand the security of the Western saddle especially up and down hills and for bronc moments, as really there is nothing keeping you on in any English saddle :slight_smile:

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Haha, so true about never knowing until you try it. We’ll have to see, as I won’t be in a position to transition fully over to dressage and endurance for another couple years.

Do you find your horse does well in the Passier on long (4+) hour rides? What kind of a back does (s)he have, if I may ask?

Stubben Scout or Seigfred with straight flaps also look at Prestige Lesure time saddles, many choices.

I’ve ridden a Scout since about 2004. Never ride anything else.


That Stubben Scout looks like the old ducktail military saddles, except that ours were canvas bottom, not leather.
Those fit practically all horses, the wool flocking self adjusted to most backs, with a thinner felt pad or doubled up wool blanket and were good for endurance, for the heavier riders, better than a plain English saddle, redistributing the weight over a larger surface of the back.

I also have a Phillippe Fontaine trail/treking saddle which has the Stubben tree.The Saddle is mono flap with straight flaps, dressage billets , unfortunately my horse got wider and it pinches him so I have to use an old western circle Y. FYI I had the horn cut off and capped,looks fine.

Wow, great info, guys!

I’ll have to bookmark this and check these out!

It was originally designed for the Belgium army and police in the late '40s. It was produced by Stubben Switzerland (Germany have a rather bad name in that part of the world in those days). It’s got 11 D-rings and you can hang all kinds of stuff from it. It fits our Marchadors very nicely.


Yes, my close to 50 year old Stubben Rex I still use is labeled “made in Switzerland”.
It only has two D’s on the right, for the hunting case, other than the standard breastplate ones.

Interesting the Scout one was made for the Belgium army and police.

Haha, I hardly ever get to ride for that long, and I think have tended to use the jump saddle for speed in the past.

She has a short back, short loins, a big shoulder and good English withers. She had withers like a fat TB. Her back has moderate curve. New model Stubben Roxanne was too curvy and rocked on her, as did a foam Pessoa. County and Passier seem to be our models

She does not fit any saddle I used on my feral horse in the 1970ss :slight_smile: as the old horse had very low with ers.
I went through saddle fitting with a good independent saddle fitter and really you need a horse in front of you and tracings of its back that you can use to at least eliminate the impossible before bothering to do a trial.

Some brands fit some horses. No brand will fit every horse, unless they advertise they have a draft tree a cob tree a TB tree etc. Stay clear of brand reps that tell you they can fit their saddle to any horse. They can’t.

With some trial and shopping you will find the brands that are the best match for your horse.

I expect that an baroque saddle would be built with the Iberian back in mind.

Most English saddles are built with a TB or WB in mind and most western saddles with a stock horse. So it can be a challenge getting a jump saddle for a qh or a Western saddle for a shark fin TB.

I’ve also got a friend who found it a challenge to saddle a lippizaner cross for dressage, not sure what she ended up with, was trying the more experimental custom brands at one point.

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How curious, having a hard time finding a dressage saddle for a lippizaner haha.

Good points.

I like to ride bareback fairly frequently, assuming I’m in good shape and will ride in a way that doesn’t make my horse sore, so am angling for a horse with enough withers to keep a saddle in place, and so I’m not sliding around on top of a barrel, but not so much wither as to be painful, haha.