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Saddle "Anatomy" question

This is something that I want to know just for knowledge. This will probably seen straightforward but I’ve looked and looked and can’t find a solid THIS WHAT IT IS anywhere. What is the pad on the top flap (not sweat flap) called? Is it a knee roll? Or a knee block? I’m talking just the flat pad on the front where your knee rests. And what is it’s function? I feel like a flat pad isn’t going to encourage your leg to stay anywhere so is it just a pad for your joint or just looks?

It is called a knee roll. It’s just padding. Blocks would go underneath (attached to the sweat flap). Blocks help with leg position stability.

So what is the function of the knee roll then?

It’s called the knee pad. I think you are talking about the pad that is almost half moon shaped and often a different leather or color?

I would call it a padded flap. The knee roll, which is hard and formed, is under the saddle flap. IMO, blocks are “thigh” blocks and are always behind the leg, not in front. Whether it’s a pencil roll or something bigger, I’d always call the thing in front of your leg (and under the flap) a knee roll, not a block.

If you do a Google search for knee rolls and knee blocks, you’ll see that traditionally, the pad you are talking about is called a knee roll. Though, many of the “attachable blocks” that go under the flap are sometimes called rolls as well. http://www.landrsaddles.com/images/saddles/dressage/full/KneeRollTypes.jpg

In my opinion, the knee roll is for more than just looks. It provides both support and padding. You’ll find with dressage saddles that many of them have both a knee roll and thigh block, which helps keep the leg more stabilized.

I consider the front block to be a thigh block as well because it should be situated above the knee area

The honest, keep-it-real answer: there’s no standard term for it.

You’re talking about that stitched-on piece of foam, typically covered by leather or suede, at the front of a saddle’s outside flap. Some people call that a knee pad. Others call it a knee roll. Both terms are technically fine and correct.

Personally, I think knee pad is the better term because knee roll is also sometimes used used to refer to the knee block. Knee blocks are usually understood to mean “those hard, half-moon-shaped things, typically sewn onto the inside flap aka the sweat flap, that’s designed to block your knee from going into bad joo-joo places, especially if an equitation catastrophe strikes.” Knee blocks came to be called knee rolls because for many years, the most common block shape was a thin crescent-moon-shaped block that most people call a pencil roll. It’s not a big jump from pencil roll to knee roll.

Fortunately, the terms don’t usually go “the other direction.” You don’t usually hear knee pad used to describe the knee blocks on the sweat flap. But if we’re talking about–say–a monoflap cross-country saddle where the blocks are on the outside/only saddle flap, then you might have a knee pad and a block on the exact same part of the flap. And in those cases, the knee pad and block are usually sewn on together, so you might hear someone refer to a “knee pad” and really they mean “that whole thing, right there, that is actually a knee pad + a block sewn onto/into the knee pad.” That’s rare, but I’ve heard it because there’s no good/clever way to refer to “that whole mess of stuff at the front of an exterior flap, like padding and the block and everything.” Maybe someone should invent a term. The Knee Complex, or whatever.

But wait, there’s more! Some people use the terms knee block and thigh block almost interchangeably. Because on some saddles, particularly dressage saddles, it’s basically the same thing. If you’ve ever seen a dressage saddle with a big ol’ block on the front of the flap, those blocks are generally designed to block your knee and your thigh at the same time. So in that case, sometimes people will stop calling it a knee block and start calling it a thigh block even though it’s on the front half of the saddle flap.

But on jump saddles, it can be useful to differentiate between the knee block (commonly used to refer to the block on the front of a jump saddle flap) and a thigh or calf block (commonly used to refer to the block on the back half of a jump saddle flap.) You can avoid this little hassle by referring to a front block and rear block instead, but people rarely do that. I guess they don’t want to look uncool by being so clear. :lol:

As for the function of the knee pad, it’s theoretically there to gently help support a good leg position in novice riders by turning your knee slightly outward. It also provides a little extra grip and comfort if you end up pinching with your knees, perhaps in an emergency situation. But there’s no reason you can’t ride in a plain flap, if you have a sufficiently strong leg position. Other people argue that there’s no harm in blocks and pads, provided you don’t use them as a crutch and only engage with them in an equitation emergency. I have certainly been grateful for my knee block + knee pad when I was riding a horse who tripped in front and almost went down. There’s “good equitation” and then there’s “s— happens.” :eek:

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