Why No Western Saddles Allowed in Regular Dressage?

As stated in the topic. I have never found a dressage saddle my horse is comfortable in but the horse loves my western saddle. If my horse goes better in it (I’d think the weight alone would be considered a disadvantage) why not be able to use it? As a dressage rider I’m less restricted in it and it certainly does nothing to put me in the right position. I have to find my own “sweet spot”

So go in Western dressage.

All the disciplines have traditional equipment.

I have ridden in Western, as well as both poor and well fitting dressage and jump saddles. I would not want to sit the extended trot in a Western saddle.


I prefer regular dressage tests. Plus, my horse’s gaits are big. She is more suited to regular dressage than WD.

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Well, that’s a conundrum. What level are you training at? I could see muddling through a training level test in a Western saddle but not riding say fourth level.

There are many many dressage saddle options out there although it is true that English saddles run much more expensive than Western for comparative quality. If you have the budget then I am sure you can work with a qualified fitter to find a dressage saddle.

I will say that dressage saddles are much less forgiving of rider error than Western saddles, and you need a much quieter seat to not piss off the horse.


Contact show management at your desired venue.
Maybe they will allow you to use your preferred saddle - same as allowing certain equipment for para-riders.
Does your mare go in a legal-for-dressage bridle?

Would you wear traditional Dressage attire or Western?

I don’t understand why people think a sport should be changed to accommodate them.

That aside, have you employed the services of a Master Saddler to find a dressage saddle? There are so many options in terms of trees and panels that I find it hard to believe there’s not a dressage saddle that will fit your horse well.

ETA There’s nothing to stop you from using whatever tack you want when you ride at home.


I have never found a western saddle my horse is comfortable in but the horse loves my dressage saddle. If my horse goes better in it why not be able to use it? As a western pleasure rider, I’m quieter in it and it does nothing to put me in the right position.

Shouldn’t I be able to use a dressage saddle in a western pleasure class?

Look for a saddle that fits you and the horse and take the time to get used to it. FWIW, I never ever thought there’d be a western saddle I could ride in (I am not actually a WP rider even though I have helped clients with WP horses!) until I catch rode a friend’s horse in a clinic and had to use her saddle as I wasn’t expecting to ride. That was a revelation!

If you don’t like feeling restricted look for a saddle with removable knee blocks rather than the big built-in blocks that are fashionable.


If you wish to compete in traditional dressage you’ll need to find suitable equipment. A western saddle is not suitable as it is not allowed. Nor are yoga pants and birkenstocks, much to my annoyance :wink:


I’m schooling 2nd and have my Bronze & Silver. My western saddle was made by a cowboy for ranching. It’s a wade. It cost more than any dressage saddle that I’ve bought and ended up selling except for a Hermes.


Western attire. Working cowboy gear not blingy stuff.

My personal experience is that I can “feel” the horse a lot more in a dressage saddle than a western saddle. F1 v Truck?


So you want the rules to change for the rider dress too?


Now - IMHO - you are pushing the boundaries too far :roll_eyes:
You might have better luck approaching the Western Dressage Powers That Be asking to include more traditional Dressage movements.
Knowing nothing of Western Dressage, is it so very different that you can’t aspire to move your mare up the levels in your desired tack & dress?


For the same reason I can’t show up in a WP class in a dressage saddle and double bridle.


Who said I want to change the rules? Sheesh…

Well, considering that the dressage rules state an English saddle must be used, and you want to use a western saddle, it kind of sounds like you want to change the rules. What were you suggesting, if not that?


I think the conversation took a little of a critical turn, but OP, it is because only “traditional english tack” is currently permissible.

It specifically disallows western tack in the next sentence, of all varieties.

As for why only english tack is allowed… Dressage is a sport steeped in tradition. It took long enough for them to allow Micklem Bridles. Give them 20 years, give or take, before they allow anything but dressage-purist saddles. :wink:

At one point people - some on this forum - were quite critical of western dressage. It’s a growing sport because of questions like yours, OP. There is a niche out there for many people who want to do dressage without the tradition.


And this is why I stopped posting on COTH for do long…


Well don’t you? Colour me confused!

Whatever discipline you choose to ride in there are both traditions and rules, you want to compete, you go with the rules.

How about looking at Working Equitation, fun tests, plus an obstacle section, and it a come as you are party I believe.


Yes. Right. Agree. I am aware of the rules. I’m just curious. I’m 65 and have already had that journey. The next step is gold and I’m not interested in that journey. I was just looking for some friendly thoughts and chat. I forgot about all the armchair quarterbacks🙂