Best Dressage Saddle

Hey,

I’m a Jumper/Hunter rider and am planing on going to an equestrian school in two years (so money is no object as I’ll be able to save). I have ridden in a few dressage saddles and understand that they are VERY different from jumping saddles. It need to be able to fit most horses as I’m not sure what all I will be riding.

I ride in Antares Jumping Saddles and saw that they have a couple dressage options, any opinions? Or is there a better Dressage Saddle brand? I will be talking to the Dressage riders at my Stable, but I’m just looking for some ‘extra’ opinions!

Also, should I be saving to get ‘special’ Dressage riding boots? I don’t remember what brand, but I have $600.00 (Canadian Dollars) Jumping tall boots… As I’m not sure how much Dressage riding I’ll be doing after school, and I won’t be competing!

Any and all info is helpful!! Thank you in advance!!

Truly, it’s not about the brand. It’s about what fits you, and supports/enhances your position without forcing it… and what fits your horse, allowing optimum movement.

Quality is quality, so if you can afford nicer materials and excellent workmanship, all the better.

I help fit saddles for rider and horse almost every day of the week and everyone is different. How the rider is built and how the horse is built and how the saddle is built varies so greatly from customer to customer it really is like solving a puzzle. Take recommendations with a grain of salt, not because they’re not valid, but because no one is you.

The more you sit in, the better you’ll know what suits you… but it will be very helpful if you have a knowledgeable trainer weighing in. My own lightbulb moment came at a clinic an eon ago: I had switched to dressage from h/j a few years before and felt comfortable and balanced in my saddle. The clinician, an S judge and gifted teacher, pointed out my saddle was not doing me any favors. I was able to experiment with a different saddle that weekend and the difference in my riding was immediate.

I hate to be the poster of doom, but I think that finding a saddle that fits you and every other horse you ride is near impossible.

I’d start with determining from a professional saddle fitter what dressage saddle seat, and what flaps, fit you best. This is separate from what fits the horses your ride. A more downhill horse will put your leg under or behind you in “saddle A”, a more uphill horse will put your leg under or in front of you in “saddle A”, given that “saddle A” technically fits both horses and given the flocking patterns of that saddle. Sadly, there’s no “one size fits all”.

I wouldn’t bother with special tall boots for dressage. Most are built to be very stiff and are not going to be very comfortable for jumping. What you currently use for jumping will be just fine for what you are doing. I know a lot of riders who move up the levels and choose to get the stiff dressage boots since they feel it helps their position, but it’s not necessary.

As for the saddle, save your money. If you are going to be riding a lot of horses, I wouldn’t expect one saddle to fit a lot of them as others have said. Besides, if you are taking dedicated riding lessons on dressage horses, each horse should have its own saddle or one it shares with others of similar build.

Thank you all for your comments!

I will be going and trying out as many saddles as I can (In store and out) to see what works best for me and my body. As for the lessons, the riding school requires me to bring my own saddle, and it needs to be Dressage (I’ll also be taking my jumping saddle). I get that every horse is different, but as I haven’t ridden a ton of horses I wasn’t sure if someone knew of a saddle that could fit more/most horses or something like that… I have a few years before I need to buy and as after my year of the school I more then likely won’t be to much Dressage… I’m just trying to get a head start on figuring out what to get.

Thank you!

I have heard that Equipe Emporio fits a lot of different horses, but of course, it won’t fit all of them. No saddle is. You could also try some of the treeless saddle options, but not even those are going to fit all of the horses. Will the horses be of similar body type?

I also agree that one saddle will not fit all horses. Our most popular selling size in every model is 17.5 wide unless you will be primarily riding TB’s and then it is 17.5 medium. Make sure the saddle fits you at least, and I would opt for wool flocked as it has more adjustment options if needed. Have a good correction half pad that you can shim front or rear as well.

IME Albion saddles fit a lot of horses.

I have heard more than one fitter say they can get any saddle to fit any horse by using a mattes pad.

If you can afford a good saddle, get a popular brand and you will be able to get a good price if you sell it used later

Maybe ask the school what size tree most horses use, or what breed they mostly have?

I would err toward a wide or MW tree and get a shimmable half pad, maybe, like the Mattes or ECP or Fleeceworks or something like that–you can’t do much to make a too-narrow saddle comfortable for a horse, but at least you can shim up and pad up one that’s a bit too wide without it being uncomfortable for them for a short time.

I have to ask what kind of riding school does NOT have saddles for its horses? This seems strange to me.

I agree^^^

Gotta agree. The equine programs in Ontario do not operate on this principle, and Olds in AB programs focus on racing.

OP, pretty much every second post on this forum is a saddle question and they all come down to the same answer…gotta fit the horse and rider. Suggest that you just read this forum as “best saddle” is subjective at best.

Plus, you will learn alot. Some amazing insights here.

Best of luck

Especially dressage saddles, where correct fit is so important.

When you (eventually) purchase a dressage saddle buy one where the tree can be adjusted. NOT the “adjustable” one like the Wintec’s that have a replaceable gullet, but saddles linke the Verhans/Henings which can be adjusted by the saddler to fit a specific horses back.

A lot of people go through several saddles, I bit the bullet and purchased a Verhan and had it adjusted - first for one horse (think flat back well-sprung ribs) than adjusted for a totally different horse (slab sided - more like a Tb).

In my mind better to save money and get an adjustable that fits you and horse rather than paying for several saddles which can’t be adjusted to fit horse as they gain muscle.

What about a Strada saddle? I’ve read that they “mold” themselves to the horse.

Thank you all (I have no idea if you’ll be able to see this…)

I have also really wondered why each horse doesn’t have its own saddle… The school in question is Meredith Manor…

I’m thinking about taking a trip to visit where I will be able to talk to them (as I’m not one who likes emailing back and forth) and maybe get some ‘better’ recommendations. As they will have an idea of the types of horses that I will be riding. I do know that some students bring their own horses and some people have their horses trained there, so I’d assume many different breeds…

Regarding saddles with adjustable trees… I’ve always been told not to never to get one… But that was speaking with people who only have one horse.

… Look at how helpful I am… I’m sorry… Thank you all for your advice!

Please please please search this forum for Meredith Manor! It might not be a place you’d want to go and spend your money on.

Second the research. MM does NOT have a good reputation.

OP…best to decide what you want from your post secondary education before considering where to put your saddle money.

If you want to teach lessons…do the OEF (or equivalent provincial) certification program.

If you want to work in the horse industry…go to Guelph. At least you will get a diploma and recognized transferable credits from a Canadian college/university.

If you want to do equine massage…go to Darcy Lane in London, Ont.

If you want to make money…get a degree/diploma in a lucrative area that will pay for your horse habit.

If you want to be a vet…go to any of Canada’s Veterinary Colleges and get your DVM: Guelph, St. Hy, Saskatchewan, PEI.

Vet Technician…get a diploma from a recognized college.

Equine Chiro…get a DVM, then do the additional studies for horses; go to chiropractic school, then do the additional studies for horses.

Farrier…Olds College

Bottom line, take your saddle money and invest in education that is recognized and where you have flexibility and actual credits to pursue your equine dream.

Best of luck!!

Ditto. There are many solid equestrian programs, but MM isn’t one of them. It has a bad reputation in the industry.

I’d look for a school with a strong equestrian program, and a business major - like Centenary College.