Close contact dressage saddles?

What is out there for really close contact, ‘the horse can feel your every move’ dressage saddles? Older, newer, age doesn’t matter but I’m probably not placing any custom orders for brand new saddles right now. Think $1500ish budget unless it’s a unicorn. Think ‘a step above bareback’ feel.

And yes, I know the saddle must fit the horse and that is actually the trickiest part of all I this case; I just need a list of potentials to consider.

Very old pancake Passiers you can find for under $200 and get reflocked?


Or older Stubben Tristans


I was going to suggest this.

I have some of those that I need to sell. All under budget. I wish I still lived on your side of the country, OP, but let me know if you want to know what I have.

Also, I’d say the most CC dressage saddle ever is a Tad Coffin. I love those, but they will blow up the OP’s budget.

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Sure, I’ll send you a PM.

Try an Albion SL (not the SLK) if you can find one. flatter seat, narrow twist. still has big knee rolls but I think they are synthetic ‘wool’ so you can un-stitch a bit and pull that out to deflate them if you want.

My Albion Original Comfort is amazing - I feel completely connected to my horse. It’s that “pry from my cold dead hands” kind of love with a saddle.

Then there are the flapless ones… I have not ridden in one, and they have flaps you can put on for competition…

The older model County dressage saddles feel very close contact to me. You can pick them up pretty affordably on Ebay.


Passier grand Gilbert. Doesn’t have to be ancient either.


My new to me ancient Passier Baum almost feels like my old Crosby Prix de Nations saddle—very minimal and close contact.


I just got one - love it!

Amerigo has a close contact dressage saddle as well. Its their Vega brand.

If you can find an Amerigo Pinerolo, they are also close contact, I believe they are older style now?

I’d chuck older (2010 or older) Kieffer Weins into the suggestion pile. I have two about 10 years of age apart, and both feel very close contact to me. They can be had for dirt cheap. I was actually trying to give away one of them a few months back, it has a broken stirrup bar but could be fixed for less than the saddle is worth. Older BCs are also worth a look, they tend to be minimalist in terms of padding and rolls.

It also depends on your preference for seat type and is not a one-size-fits-all thing, since it really boils down to personal feel which sometimes can’t be duplicated well online or in text.

Older Devoucoux saddles are extremely close contact, single flap saddles. About as close to bareback as it gets and fits a variety of horses. CWD also has a similar version.

I’ve seen so many older saddles with twisted trees, narrow channels, or lopsided panels. I’d strongly recommend working through a good independent fitter or seeing if you can drop the panels for inspection before purchasing. One fitter I know was let go from a consignment store where she had a contract because she failed 70% of incoming used saddles for structural issues and the owner decided to take an ignorance approach rather than lose sales. I’ve got a new Passier with removable blocks. If you pull the blocks off it rides a lot like a CC dressage saddle. They aren’t a flashy brand so are often quite economical lightly used.

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I have a 2001 Passier Optimum that is clearly a black modern saddle, I got it as new shop worn about ten years ago. Modest knee rolls, open seat compared to current saddles. I love it.

The very flat ones are from the 1970s and 80s and tend to be brown.

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I did that, and am scheduling a consult with yet another one now. Some fitters, even the independents, just do not have the knowledge or desire to recommend anything outside their brands, or older than a couple years. The last one I had out, their only suggestion after hearing my modest budget (and telling me I needed to double it) was to look for an old Courbette all purpose. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

This is just brainstorming.

@Xanthoria I am green with envy. If I had $5+k to drop on a saddle I would be ALL over an EQ Saddle Science, they would be perfect for this pony. I’m tempted to do the trial anyway just to test it out, but then what to do if I love it? :joy:

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Tell me about it! New horse and I’m an eventer and dammit, needed two saddles for her :face_vomiting: But I’ve had a Reactor Panel for years, it worked for 3 horses, so I know going in I was gonna be spending the bucks because the technology is really solid… and the company owner is local and so generous with her time and expertise… I tried three models and took the plunge. I’ll have this saddle for a long time. (And need to sell the old RP saddle now)

Luckily I got a used Voltaire jump saddle for “only” $3400, yay me… :face_vomiting::face_vomiting::face_vomiting:

So yeah - if the worst thing that happens is that you and your horse love your saddle, I mean… don’t cry too hard? :joy:

:rofl: I just can’t stomach that price though! Maybe someday. Once upon a time I was also an eventer until I lost my TB a few years ago… this pony is not eventer material at all. Absolutely hates all forms of water, cute jumper but he is NOT bold and has no need for speed. We might dabble someday when he grows up mentally, but for now the sandbox is his playground and one saddle is enough :wink: