Does Half a Size Make A Difference?

My two stubbens I ride in (jumping saddles) are both 18". I sat in a lovely bates Isabell, and decided to try and find one to use during flatwork (my trainer was thrilled, as she thinks her attempts to convert me to dressage are working- she might be right aha!).

I found a bates Isabell, great price point, gently used in a 17.5". I know a lot of people say that the “new” model of the bates Isabell is a little roomier. So, do you think going down a half an inch would make a difference?

My other option is an 18" wintec Isabell, but it is much more used and I wouldn’t say that I fancy the synthetic too much… Hopefully the girl with the 17.5" bates will let me trial it! I’m pretty sure it’s love.

The new and old Isabells are really different. I ride in a 17.5 old one, loVE the synthetic…so much that I have two, one black and one brown!

I don’t find the new model similar at all. It’s roomier in some ways, but I need a bigger size in it because of how long my thigh is. Also how chunky my thigh is. The old Isabell feels more streamlined…I took the blocks out of mine though.

IME dressage saddles fit “closer” than jump saddles. If anything I usually need to go up and a size in a dressage saddle.

I agree with Fordtraktor.

I go down 1/2" in dressage saddles. My jump saddle is a 17.5, dressage 17. You won’t know until you try the saddle!

Forgot to mention that I’ve ridden in an 18 newer isabell before, fit fine with a little wiggle room…GOD I hate saddle shopping in a place where there are NO local stores with good selection :frowning:

Thanks y’all!!

I loved the older-style Wintec Isabell! I am not built for dressage saddles with deep seats and long flaps, but I loved my trainer’s! A friend of mine who is short like me but tiny (size 2) has one and ended up buying a half-to-whole size larger than her old Stubben because the seat was so deep on the Isabell.

I love the synthetic Wintecs because they are so easy to clean; also loved the equisuede because you didn’t need full-seat breeches. She bought hers new about 8-9 years ago. I did NOT like the overgirth; I don’t know if the new model has one or not.

So many people cut off the over girth! I actually really like it.

Yes, a half size can make a critical difference. If you sit on the area of the seat there the cantle is rising, your pelvis will be tipped forward. Then, if you try to sit vertically, you’ll be fighting your saddle and/or making your back sore, neither of which is conducive to correct riding.

Next time you’re shoe shopping, try a have size too small, then see what you think.

^^Please read that with a smile, I just couldn’t resist. :slight_smile: as others said, it definitely can be a difference, but it can also be really hard to say with any certainty until you try it. Those inch measurements are almost worthless when there’s so much more to consider, like the width and depth of the seat, the height of the cantle, the placement of the flaps and stirrup leathers, etc.

Good luck, I hope it works out the way you want! (I’m a certified saddle addict …)

Until I was trying out dressage saddles I didn’t really find that much of a difference in half sizes. I’m on the thinner side. However, I was able to try out a 17.5 and then immediately the same saddle in an 18" and without a doubt I felt 100x better in the half size up! My jump saddles are sized 17 and 17.5. I don’t know why that 1/2" made such a difference and wouldn’t have believed anyone if I didn’t try it myself at the suggestion of my saddle fitter. My body just flows better with the saddle and thus with the horse, and I have room for larger movements to produce themselves. It feels great so if you can, hold out for the larger size!

I just went through this process this past week. Going into the fittings I would never have thought that 1/2 size would be that impactful. Boy was I wrong, and am thankful that I took the time and had the the number of saddle she to try. I ended up moving down from an 18 in to a 17 in. The brands were different but I tried so many that I can say I found the 17 felt the best in the various models. I also would say that as you move up the levels, saddle fit for both the horse and rider become critical. I got away with riding in the 18in up through 4thish, but at PSG a totally different game.

There are many factors that determine how a saddle feels – the depth of the seat, the position of the stirrup bars, the cut of the flaps.

I would not buy a saddle a half size smaller than the one that fit me unless I could try it, because it can most certainly make a difference, and not in a good way :).

There are many factors that determine how a saddle feels – the depth of the seat, the position of the stirrup bars, the cut of the flaps.

I would not buy a saddle a half size smaller than the one that fit me unless I could try it, because it can most certainly make a difference, and not in a good way :).

The short answer is yes. Dressage saddles tend to measure “bigger” than jump saddles because they are deeper. If a saddle is measured from the front button to the middle of the cantle, a deeper dressage saddle would measure 18" and a flatter jump saddle would measure 17" or 17 1/2" for the same-sized bum. Thus, as a general rule, go larger for a dressage saddle. Having said that, the measurements are really more a way of tracking stock for the saddle maker than they are sized for actual bums. Therefore, you really must try the saddle for yourself to know for sure, also taking into account the angle of the flap, size/position of rolls/blocks, etc. A straight flap with a large knee roll will push a rider with a long thigh back onto the cantle – that saddle would need to be an 18 1/2" or maybe even a 19" for the bum mentioned above. An angled flap with a small knee roll might be just fine at 17 1/2". If you are worried about the synthetic seat because you have come from hunter-land, don’t fret. No one in dressage-land cares, least of all the judges. Get what works best for you.

Erggh I guess I should get the wintec in an 18… I’m just stuck on whether synthetics are a faux pas or not… anyone show in a synthetic, like the wintec Isabells?:confused:

I have shown in Isabells for years, until the one I had for the older horse stopped fitting him and I bought him a semi-custom Black Country. Until this past week the younger horse also had one, but he just got an upgrade.

Fwiw, seat size really depends on the individual saddle, as a couple of people have already stated. My older Isabell is a 17.5, the newer one is an 18. My Black Country Eden is an 18, although I probably could have gone down half an inch because it has a pretty open seat. My jumping saddles are 18 and 17.5 (this one has a longer sloping cantle, so it rides bigger). And the used Black Country Eloquence I just bought is a 17.5 and possibly a little small for me - the jury is still out - because it has a deeper seat and a pretty steep pommel rise.

I’ve shown in synthetic saddles, a jumping saddle and my three custom saddles. Got a 73.something or other in the synthetic. No one gives a crap.

Your response was so helpful. I’m new to dressage and have a long femur. I’m currently trying a saddle with a large thick thigh block and I feel like I being pushed higher in the rising trot.

OP, you asked if it’s OK to show in a synthetic. It’s fine. Isabell has won Olympic medals in hers: