Monday, December 15, 2008

English Invasion?

A month ago I suggested to Paint Girl that we thinking about going in together and purchasing an English saddle to share. Her trainer friend brought over a used English saddle this weekend for us to check out and possibly buy. Note: the saddle pictured above is not the saddle we are potentially buying. The friend's saddle is not a brand name saddle or anything fancy, but we are excited about the prospect. I often rode my ponies hunt seat as a child, but have not fit an English saddle to a horse in years.

Me as a teen riding my Arabian/Appaloosa pony, Saberdance.

Would you recommend an all-purpose, a dressage, or traditional jumping saddle? I doubt we will be doing much jumping. However, before we purchase it, does anyone have any suggestions about English saddles in general?


  1. How fun is that!! Trying out saddles. I am not sure which one you would want. Maybe an all purpose saddle. If you aren't going to be doing any jumping. I have a dressage and a close contact saddle, but I was doing eventing at the time. Which was crazy and I give props to those who do eventing. But I love to ride in my close contact jumping saddle. It's my favorite.

  2. I've ridden in a dressage saddle recently and loved it. I thought I'd feel like I was going to fall off (I do that every now and then), but it was a very secure seat. I think if you're worried about being secure in your saddle that might be a good option, or get an all purpose saddle with soft leather or suede to help hold you in. I don't know much about English saddles, but I wouldn't think you'd want a jumping saddle if you're not going to be jumping.

  3. Keep in mind that the saddle you use will also depend on how it fits your horse. For instance, I cannot put a close contact on my mare as she has high withers. But the close contact works wonders on my wide little QH gelding. Anything else just makes it feel like there is too much under me. (And after riding western for the past 2 years, I didn't think it was possible for an english saddle to feel like 'too much' under me ever again!) Ask someone from a local tack store to come out and recomend a fit for your boy. Thats what I did when I was in search of my first western saddle after having ridden hunters for years. If ya need any help just ask, I'll do my best ;P

  4. AS I was posting tonight and playing around with my
    Dashboard..I kept seeing your"English Invasion" heading...I finally got here to see what...

    These are just my humble observations from my own experiences for the past 4 years of looking and trying English saddles myself. I have an awesome Equine theripist that does saddle fitting too..I do believe it is covered on her Web page found here:

    Well, I have to say this this an exciting prospect for you and Paint girl.Though one saddle may not fit both horses.

    I have all the ere mentioned saddles. Dressage, multi purpose, and a close contact "Jump Saddle.
    They just happen to be made by the same man, and that is probably why they fit my hard to fit mare.
    With her withers being high and at first, her back undeveloped. It has changed so much in the past 2 years, as she uses her back more to connect with a lowered neck.

    So, the tree of a dressage saddle is Straight.A close contact or jump saddle is curved and shorter than the dressage giving the horse More shoulder room for bringing the legs forward.Good for Big hills
    and such.

    I would suggest maybe a multi with all the rings to attach packs and bags. (though I added about 6 to my saddle)
    Maybe try local tack stores for comisson sale saddles ..that way you may take them tril like and see if they fit you and the horses.
    Wintec has nice saddles that won't break the bank! Ebay-Craigs list...
    try a style on through the tack store then find the price you want.
    I have loved the 2 I had..very comfy.

    About that pic....the saddle placement made me cringe! It is resting right on the shoulder..atop the withers...
    wayyy too far forward.
    You should be able to run your hand under the front edge and have it sit just behind the blade of shoulder. Put the saddle on and lift the horse's leg forward to see where the shoulder hits the saddle.
    Get your chap stick out and put, yea this works,Let the chap stick roll to the level point whereit stops rolling..and that SHOULD be middle and balanced. Not at the back or too far forward.

    If you find the saddle you like..sometimes it can be a matter of pading as well. I got a "Mattes Correction Pad"..kinda$$ but I love it and you may change it's dimentions by putting in felt or "Thin Line" or taking it is a nice Sheepskin half pad.

    Soo very wordy..but I have alot to say and you asked!! Glad you did now?
    Well, in any case, have fun!!!
    By the by, my absolute favorite saddle is my little Jump has conmfy knee rolls and I have a sheepskin on it for my behinds comfort..a tush cush!

  5. If there is a Sergeant's Western Wear near you, do check out their selection. Despite the name, they do carry English tack. Since they are GOOB, the prices are really good.

  6. Sorry...all western here. I know NOTHING about English saddles! Good luck, sounds exciting!

  7. English saddles can be just as tricky as western.

    A dressage saddle will have a deeper seat and longer flaps - should be very comfortable and you will feel like you have a nice steady seat.

    A close contact probably isn't necessary unless you will be jumping - they tend to have a flatter seat and more forward flaps - not as comfortable in my opinion. Although, some CCs have a deeper seat these days...

    A horse can do small jumps in an all purpose - someone else can correct me here if necessary. I know I have popped over little 18" Xs in an all purpose with no problems.

    Ok - this is getting long - but one more thing. If you can't find a used leather saddle, wintecs are supposed to be really great - the adjustable gullet could come in really handy if you are trying to fit the saddle to both your horses. I've heard that they are comfortable and durable and have good re-sale value.

    Ok- enough from me!

  8. Dressage saddles have a deeper seat and allow you to ride with a longer leg. You may find that more comfortable (versus all purpose) if you spend a while in the saddle. I use my dressage saddle for trail riding. Dressage saddles are stickier for those reasons too. So they aren't really great for jumping because it is harder to get your bum out of the saddle, plus if you bend your knee it may overlap the flaps. But I have gone over very small (6" tops) jumps with mine.

    An all purpose is better if you do plan on jumping some times. I've found the shorter leg isn't as comfortable for trail riding and the seats aren't as padded.

    I ride mostly dressage and trail. I occasionally jump. I personally own a dressage saddle and a close contact jumping saddle.

    But give lots of saddles a try at a store. Everyone is different.

    If a tack shop near you stocks used English saddles you can get a very good value. Better value than a new inexpensive one I think. Bring a "wither tracing" of your horse. That should help the staff to assist you. Some places ship saddles for trials via the internet too.

    Good luck! I had a hard time fitting Armani because he is round and flat backed. Huey, our QH, was easier to fit.

  9. Everyone seems to have given you good advice so I don't know what to add except, whatever saddle you do decide on make sure it fits and make sure it's positioned properly. That saddle in the picture is not placed correctly and unfortunately there are many trainers today who think this is the way to position a saddle.
    One other thing it's really a good idea to test drive the saddle you plan on purchasing to see if it fits you and the horses.

  10. very good information here, thanks everyone!

  11. great advice from the other posters here, especially allhorsestuff's advice on saddle fitting - probably the most important consideration. if you have to fit two horses with different backs, the wintec is a surprisingly good saddle and may be your best bet since they have interchangeable gullets (though they can be a pain to switch.) another option is to buy to fit the wider horse: if it is a bit wider in the tree it can be adjusted to fit the narrower horse with some creative padding, but you will never get a too-narrow saddle to fit the wider horse comfortably. if the horses are similar and you can find a saddle that fits them both, even better!

    i've ridden hunt seat all my life (though i also do some dressage) so i'm most comfortable and secure in a close contact saddle (which incidentally, isn't just for jumping :-) they are designed for forward riding, especially at speed, so i love them for hacking and field riding because, over varied terrain, you can stay out of the horse's way in it, and the saddle also stays out of your way! but if you choose a cc, be prepared to ride with much shorter stirrups than you are used to, and to ride more in your leg with a lighter, forward seat.

    a dressage saddle will give you a similar feel to your western saddle as far as position, length of stirrup and support from the cantle, etc., so that may be a good transition saddle for you.

    all-purpose saddles are a compromise between the dressage and cc, and come in two varieties: one which leans more toward dressage, and one which leans more toward a close contact in style. i have one that is a little more dressagey with a deep seat, knee rolls and a stirrup bar set toward the rear, but also has a more forward cut flap if i want to shorten my leathers a little. it's awkward for serious, technical riding, but i bought this one for riding my retired jumper on trails and it's very comfortable for that.

    what kind you choose is really a matter of personal preference, but whatever style you choose, don't neglect the fit and balance of the saddle and keep in mind the change in your riding position each saddle will require.

    good luck! :-)

  12. I like western, it has a horn to hold on too! he he. Actually my favorite is riding bareback. Must have been watching Black Stallion at a young age? Good luck with your purchase.

  13. Lots of good info posted here for you!! Way more than I know of English. Enjoy your saddle shopping!

  14. I dont know much about english saddles but I have to say that your old pony is just adorable!! I love the colors on her! Good luck. I took a few english lessons a few years back for fun and had a blast! Then I went for a 3 hour trail ride in an english eventing saddle.... boy oh boy was I ever sore the next day...there isnt much slacking off in a english saddle.

  15. If you are generally a western rider and dont have any plans to show or anything English, than I would go with a used, all purpose english saddle..
    That way its broken in, comfy, ready to go!
    I was primarily a western rider, but had an old english saddle I would use when I wanted something different.
    I made the mistake of grabbing a brand new one of somebodies in the barn for a show (since mine was mia) and ended up sliding off the mare mid lope because the brand new girth had stretched!!!
    Its definately worth it to take your time and find one that fits just perfectly. :o)

  16. I can't help you w/that at all. I have never ridden English.

  17. I would def recommend a General Purpose Saddle as you can use it for anything. You may want to get into dressage or jumping in the future and having a saddle that can cater either way is the way to go.

  18. have gotten a lot of great advice, and all I would say is that you may not be able to find a saddle that fits both horses. I am not sure, but your Boy appears to be significantly larger than his girl friend, and that may cause some saddle fitting difficulties.

    As someone who often trial rides in an all purpose saddle, I say go with one that fits your horse, and is comfortable for you to ride in.

    Good luck!! :)

  19. Well its about time!!! Ok so my take is you should think AP. And unless you are totally hung up on leather go for a wintec, so you can change the gullet and better fit the different horses. They also have the CAIR panels and I am huge fan of those. The Wintec 2000 has the equisuede so its not slippy and they really are a very good product. You can alos go with the COllegiate brand and they have the the gullet system but no CAIR, and I think the panels are wool. The AP will have enough shoulder for jumping and deep enough seat for dressage and the close contact feel. If you decide to go for a dressage saddle I would look at the Wintec Pro as many folks also use those for endurance. Email me and we can talk in depth, I have probably looked at them all at some point!! Now do you have hald chaps and paddock boots????

  20. Oh yes and your local tack store will have a Gullet (bates/wintec) measure thing they should let you check out for free to check on sizes.

  21. Oh yes and your local tack store will have a Gullet (bates/wintec) measure thing they should let you check out for free to check on sizes.

  22. OH yes next time you are down in PDX holler and I will meet you at Gallops the ENGLISH SADDLE MECCA

  23. I agree with JME, a close contact is perfect for getting off your horse's back. I always trail ride in my Wintec close contact(the Pro Jump which has a suede-y finish). It has a more forward flap and is really comfy.

    I also have the Wintec Isabelle dressage saddle. It's got a great deep seat.

    I used to own a Wintec Pro all-purpose, and that was perfect for me when I mostly rode dressage but jumped occasionally.

    I guess the only way you can really decide which one you want is to go to a tack store and sit in them and take a few on trial to see how they feel on your horse. If you are near or can go to Bellevue, definitely go to Olson-Mills Tack Shop.
    They are super nice and will be able to answer any of your questions because they are an English only store.

    You should definitely consider Wintec in our climate! It doesn't matter if it gets wet in the rain ;-) Both my saddles have the Easy Change gullet, and I love it! It is easy to change once you get the hang of it.

  24. We have all purpose English saddles here in the Niger bush and that works very well! Have been thinking about getting a jumping saddle since we do so much galloping and the horses work faster if you stand in your gallop.
    As for ordinary trail rides, we're having an aussie saddled shipped out soon (really exited about that, it'll be the closest to Western we've come), and will buy a tree-less saddle for Arwen when I go to Sweden in the summer.

  25. Thank you, thank you! Amazing feedback and advice, everyone! I will have to do a part two on this post once I am able to see the potential saddle in person and try it out and get some pictures.
    Also, is it uncool to ride huntseat in cowboy boots?! :)

  26. Well hi again..fantastic support here for you! I enjoyed reading all!

    Um..not so much that it would be uncool at all to waer cowboy boots... as the English gear we wear that are english riders do it for Purpose. The Purpose of not getting rubbed raw with blisters!

    If you notice, most english riders have "Tight" breeches on and tall boots and or- "half Chaps" that go over your "Paddock Boots" and your pants too. It keeps the matterial from moving around and rubbing ya raw! And.... grip..the leather of the boots and or half chaps..give your leg is quite a freeing(meaning...where is the saddle!) experience to ride a little tiny english saddle if you normally ride western...
    They do make nice riding Jeans...Ask Jewel over at "20 meter circle of life"..she recently found some nice ones!
    Have funnn plesae do repost this subject as you go along! Fun, fun!

  27. All Horse Stuff: you know what is annoying to me right now? I had two pairs of breeches from my foray into hunter/jumper lessons 12years ago....AND they still fit me...but I sold them on last year to raise money for my horse fund! Thinking I would never ride english again.... What was I thinking? :) Seller's remorse!

  28. Get an all-purpose, which is great for flat or jumping and check out the Wintec with interchangeable gullet system, since you would be putting it on multiple horses. The wintec is durable, lightweight, easy-to-care for and looks great. The gullets swap out very quickly--ultra handy. A dressage saddle will be no help to you trail riding if you want to pop over a log or something (and I am a dressage rider/fan).

  29. Hey there, My trainer had me try out something called an Australian saddle this week. A cross between an English and a Western. Ever try that?
    cousin B.

  30. Lots of great advice, but I am perhaps older than most of your readers. I am fond of good OLD English saddles. I have an old Barnsby jumping saddle that has some knee rolls and I've ridden in it for 35 years. I also really like older Stuebben saddles, like an good old Stuebben Siegfried is hard to beat for comfort and stability. And durability. When I say old, I mean saddles that were actually handbuilt, stitched (not stapled) together and built to last a generation or two with normal abuse. You can still find these old timers. Worth looking around for one, in my humble opinion. I keep seeing on Craigs list up here in AK people who bought English saddles who sell them either because they just didn't like them or they didn't fit the horse. So fitting is indeed important. Not something I am enough of an expert on, either! Good luck. You'll enjoy getting back in the (English) saddle and I think My Boy would look cool in one, too!

  31. Cuz B~ I have never tried an Australian saddle, how cool that you have gotten to!

    Julie~ I was on Craigslist looking at saddles last night and saw quite a few, too! I think the one we are looking at is fairly priced compared to what I saw. I noticed a Wintec for a great deal. The fit for two different sized horses is going to be a problem, I now realize.

  32. I've enjoyed reading all the comments about English saddles because I've never ridden in one, though would like to try it sometime. I primarily ride western and trails. I chose an Amish made Eli Miller saddle that is a cross between western and english, but looks more Aussie in design. Many people use them for Endurance and I can see why. My saddle has a suspended seat, so it like riding on a hammock. And the gel seat is so comfy, too. But it's funny that when I show people my saddle, they don't know what to make of it. It's so different...just like me. lol! I love my saddle, can you tell?

    I look forward to reading more about your foray into English riding, PG.

    New Mexico

  33. Lisa~ suspended seat?! Wow! I would love to try one of those sometime, too! Have you done a post on this saddle on your blog at some point? I will have to browse through old posts.


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin