A saddle is a piece of equestrian equipment that allows you to comfortably mount and lead your horse. Besides playing a key role in the proper transferring of information so you can communicate with your horse, it is also a necessary piece of equipment for you to safely ride your horse. Featuring elements that adjust to the horse’s and your anatomical shape, a saddle makes house riding a pleasant experience for both you and your horse.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Saddle
You communicate with your horse through signals that trigger his reactions. With the help of your body’s balance in the saddle and your calves and hands, you influence your horse’s movements. Depending on the equestrian discipline, you should choose saddles based on the structure that will better communicate valid information to your horse. His reaction would be the feedback and the performed task would be the effect of the communication. A precise saddle fit will ensure a better synchronisation and fluency of your horse’s movements. Particular movements of its construction will allow you to create different configurations to fit your equestrian discipline and individual needs.
Featuring a minimalist construction, this type of saddle is very lightweight and ideal for standing in the stirrups for a long period of time. Because of that, it provides the most comfortable experience for both the horse and rider.
Meant to be used only on ponies by teenagers and children, junior saddles allow proper development of the young skeleton by being much narrower so they fit kids’ hips and pelvis. Aside from being incredibly soft, these seats also come with knee blocks attached with velcro to ensure proper leg placement. All these features make junior saddles a safe and comfortable solution for kids.
Designed for show jumping, the construction of these seats allows for proper leg position and dynamic raises during jumps. The seat is usually half-shallow or less deep than regular ridding saddles for horses, which makes you sit lightly or halfway through. They are lightweight and come with knee blocks. Bigger knee blocks are meant for beginners or intermediate riders and smaller ones are ideal for more experienced riders who can keep their balance. A jumping saddle should be positioned behind the shoulder blade of the house and never in front of it.
This type of saddle is deep, has a big tight and knee block and it’s available in different shapes, widths and lengths. Dressage models enable you to sit in a static and straight position. They go on the back of the horse and their construction provides a safe balance so you can ride comfortably.
With this type, you get a combination of the dressage and jumping model in one saddle, which makes it suitable for jumping and performing dressage elements. However, it’s not meant to be used as a replacement for the former two. Although you get a decent amount of comfort with versatile saddles, they don’t have a specific shape or force you into a specific position.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Saddle
Leather is the traditional material for saddles. To make sure you get a high-quality leather saddle, take a closer look at the quality of the stitching and billet straps. Synthetic saddles are also available. These are made from suede materials that make them look like traditional leather ones. Synthetic versions are lightweight and easy to clean and are also available in different styles.
Withers bar is the opening at the front of the saddle. To get it right, you’ll need a precise measurement from the left to the right edge of the pommel. For the best fit, you’ll also need to pay attention to the individual anatomy of the back of the withers bar.
The right size seat for you will be determined by your weight and height. Although there are no universal rules when choosing a saddle size, sometimes you need to go for a non-standard size. Manufacturers make certain models that fit a certain weight and height range. For example, if you weigh between 55-80 kg, then you need a 43-45cm saddle, or if you are 1,65-1,75m tall, you need a 41-45 cm saddle.
Centre of Gravity
This is the lowest point in the seat saddle, which should be the highest of the horse’s back. In order to achieve a balanced centre of gravity, when trying out the saddle on your horse, make sure it feels like you’re sitting on the horse.