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Western Dressage saddle

I’m trying to switch over to western dressage and having a terrible time with saddle fit.

I am small, 5’2” and 105 on a relatively large horse, 16h appendix. Every saddle pulls my lower leg away from my horse.

Any specific brands I should look at? Can I use a working stock saddle in western dressage?

You can use any type of western saddle in western dressage AFAIK.

How do the saddles pull your lower leg away from the horse? It’s not a problem I’ve run into, being taller, but even my daughter when she was young and short (well, she’s still only 5’4") didn’t have that problem in my saddle on my horse.

I have really long thighs for my size and short calves. My lower leg, calf, won’t touch the horse. Each saddle I have tried has done this.

I think his confirmation probably doesn’t help either.

This has happened with some English saddles, but easier to fit.

I’m trying to figure this out, so sorry if my questions seem stupid, but what happens if your feet are out of the stirrups in these saddles? Do your legs go around the horse’s barrel properly?

Oh I don’t know. I’ll have to try! What are you thinking I should look for?

I’m thinking you might be pushing down too hard on your stirrups which can cause your leg to push out from your horse’s side. I remember doing that. You need to let your leg hang down along your horse’s side so you can have a nice contact. It’s possible (from the little you’ve posted) you might be bracing on your stirrups too much to get a nice contact that you’re looking for.

I have a cool saddle you might consider. Alleghany mountain trail Cascade Wade.


Zero bulk under your leg. Very lightweight. Fits a good withered horse with well sprung ribs. pm me if you want more info.


I’m not in the market (I need a rideable horse first), but I love the turned stirrups! It looks very comfortable.


It is possible that your build plus your horse’s build make it anatomically impossible to get the same kind of contact you’re used to in an English saddle. I’m short with short legs. I used to have a big draft cross. My trainer sent me out to buy longer spurs because with my regular spurs, I couldn’t touch the horse’s side and keep my leg where it belonged. That was not an issue in an English saddle.

Have you tried any of the saddles that have the close contact skirt design, where the skirt is cut up under the fender? Like this one: https://circley.com/saddles/trail-saddles/1665-pioneer-flex2r

I don’t know if it would make any difference, but the theory is that it allows your leg to lay closer to the horse.

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Some cordura saddles have fenders that are not as stiff and thick as leather ones. They might help you get your legs in a better position.

No it’s not that. I’ve had this problem with other saddles, mostly western but some English too. It’s something to do with the twist of the saddle, I think.

I’m looking for an extremely close contact western saddle.

The cordura style does not help. I have one. It’s something with the saddle tree design.

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I’m thinking that may be a thing. I know Circle Y saddles fit my horse so I will check it out thanks.

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I’ve experienced what you’re talking about. When I was younger the big quarter horse show saddles did that to me and just about any other western saddle to some degree. I also have long femers.

I dont know how other brands work, but I ride in a treeless Bob Marshall. They have different riggings, and the traditional that I had on loan pulled my leg a bit forward. When I had mine made, I opted for the endurance rigging which puts your leg a little more under you. Huge difference.


Have you looked at any of the “strip down” saddles? They’re about as minimalist and close contact as you can get.


This is cool, I’ll see about a trial thank you

Okay, good to know. I was under the impression a treeless saddle was harder for smaller people but maybe I should finally try one.

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If you want turned stirrups (like in the picture) a quick trick is to run a broom handle thru one stirrup to the other (with the stirrups turned in), leave it like that; some conditioner on the saddle fenders will help soften the leather.

My Circle Y came with the stirrups turned. I did the broom handle trick on the previous saddle I bought in the early 80s. My daughter rides in that saddle now.

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Check out McCall saddles - I have one and it puts me in the perfect “dressage” position.

Maybe something like this: McCall Mc Lite All Around

The owner of that tack shop (RNR) is very knowledgeable about both horse and rider fit and might be able to help you figure out something that would work.

And ditto on turned stirrups - they make a world of difference.