Riding in a Dressage Saddle - help please

littlebranshill

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I have been riding in a Heather Moffet dressage saddle for about 3 years now but for various reasons which I won't go into I am now looking for a treed dressage saddle. My saddle fitter has gone above and beyond to help me find one but I seem to get a "double bounce" in the ones I have tried (about 10 to date). I spoke to someone today who said that dressage saddles are very different to ride in than Gp's or Jumping saddles and that I have to learn to ride in one. Also she said that I should lengthen my stirrups which would help. She also said that I have to slow my rise but come down slightly quicker. I have a dressage saddle to try for a week and gave her advice a go this afternoon. I lengthened my stirrups and this seemed to help a lot. Has anyone else had this experience? I've been around horses for years and never heard about this before. Would welcome feedback.
 

littlebranshill

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What's a double bounce in this context?
As I am doing the rising trot as I come down there is a sort of slight double bounce. It's like the saddle comes up to meet me when I am on the way down but my saddle fitter says that the saddles are not moving. Hope that makes sense?
 

Widgeon

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I can't say I noticed a huge difference going from a GP to a dressage as my everyday flat / hacking saddle, other than needing to drop my leathers two holes (and being comfier, IMO!). Can you maybe have a lesson on the trial saddle and ask your instructor for some feedback on what's happening? Eyes on the ground are probably going to be the most useful thing, having exactly the same problem with 10 different saddles seems a bit unusual to me.
 

CanteringCarrot

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Maybe the seat is too deep for you? Are these deep or more open seated saddles you're trying. Seat size may be something to look at too.

I sucked at riding in a dressage saddle after riding in jump saddles for years. Definitely a learning curve for me!
 

littlebranshill

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I can't say I noticed a huge difference going from a GP to a dressage as my everyday flat / hacking saddle, other than needing to drop my leathers two holes (and being comfier, IMO!). Can you maybe have a lesson on the trial saddle and ask your instructor for some feedback on what's happening? Eyes on the ground are probably going to be the most useful thing, having exactly the same problem with 10 different saddles seems a bit unusual to me.
My trainer rode in the last saddle I had on trial and he noticed there was a bounce too. I am now trialing an Ideal Suzannah saddle which seems to be the best yet but still getting a slight double bounce and not totally sure my horse likes it. The trot is fab but the canter is not so good in that I did a comp at the weekend and he broke canter in the first test and pissed off with me in the canter in the 2nd. Not sure if it's the saddle yet. It's interesting to note that you didn't notice much of a difference in GP and dressage.
 

Pinkvboots

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Is there a specific reason for a dressage saddle? A vsd is a good alternative so is a working hunter show type saddle they are straighter at the front but not so deep in the seat. I love a deep seat dressage but some people struggle with them after a flatter type of saddle.
 

sbloom

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Do you have a video? I suspect the saddle is moving based on your trainer finding the same issue. Alternative perspectives: - you may need a flatter tree, but it also sounds like you may need something more tailored to your exact seatbone/pubic arch/hip conformation which is seldom mentioned; - you may need to work on more of a biomechanically correct swing in the rising trot and the canter, and only saying this on the basis that 10 saddles have had this issue; - you may have a particular leg-foot build that means the super set back bars in the HM are what you need. Try using a plaiting band on the stirrup bar to hold the leathers back.
 

Pinkvboots

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Could it be the transition to a treed saddle that is more of the issue? I rode in felt pads on ponies for a while and riding in a proper saddle felt a bit weird sometimes.
 

littlebranshill

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Could it be the transition to a treed saddle that is more of the issue? I rode in felt pads on ponies for a while and riding in a proper saddle felt a bit weird sometimes.
No I don't think it's that as the "bounce" was one of the reasons I am changing from the HM. I really just wanted to know if anyone else had heard of problems getting used to riding in a dressage saddle.
 

littlebranshill

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For your position it’s difficult to beat the ideal Jessica for a first dressage saddle it’s very forgiving but of course it needs to fit the horse .
However if your trainer finds the same it sounds like a fit issue .
It was the previous saddle I tried that he felt the bounce and I was watching and that saddle didn't move.
 

Pinkvboots

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For your position it’s difficult to beat the ideal Jessica for a first dressage saddle it’s very forgiving but of course it needs to fit the horse .
However if your trainer finds the same it sounds like a fit issue .
I love the ideal Jessica but they only fit one of my horses and I have to agree it sounds like the saddle doesn't fit, is it moving I find if its too narrow in front it moves behind which then would maybe make you do a double rise?
 

Goldenstar

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Usually the right saddle for you feels great straight away .
I made a few mistakes before I sussed this .
However you do need a position that’s suitable if you have a something that needs working on it could cause all sorts of funny feelings a session with a trainer who starts at the riders position would be a great investment . However the killer here is that the saddle is doing the same with the trainer .
 

LegOn

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You do need to learn to ride in a dressage saddle though - is there any pure dressage trainers in your area that could give you a private lesson? I would try sitting trot in it and then slowly introduce the rising but you dont rise from your feet or calf, you kinda raise from just your pelvis and thighs, its more like a push or tilt from the hips rather than a traditional rise. Go from sitting and just lift or lighten rather than 'rise'! You also have to have your seat bones well engaged and underneath you, even when you think you are sitting back, you probably arent - you are probably tilted forward a bit! It can be small adjustments that can help you feel the saddle a little better but if your trainer is getting the same double bounce feeling, it could be the fit!
 

planete

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It sounds as if the saddle fitter is not succeeding in balancing the saddles correctly for the rider or the horse if your trainer is having the same problem. You could try and have a lesson on another horse/dressage saddle combination at a reputable riding-school to check whether the problem comes from your riding (I did this a few weeks ago after battling a new saddle for weeks and being told I was at fault. Nope, saddle and fitter now ditched).
 

sbloom

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Usually the right saddle for you feels great straight away .
I made a few mistakes before I sussed this .
Yes and no, sometimes the saddle that's right for you can feel alien, sometimes it does take getting used to. Both brands I fit tend to be wider and more open in the seat than many people are used to, but the stability gives confidence over time in the wide horse saddles. The rider-focused saddles apparently can definitely take some adjusting to, what's perfect for us still takes us to do some work, the first one I fitted took the rider a couple of weeks to get to grips with. It does make things tricky.

You do need to learn to ride in a dressage saddle though - is there any pure dressage trainers in your area that could give you a private lesson? I would try sitting trot in it and then slowly introduce the rising but you dont rise from your feet or calf, you kinda raise from just your pelvis and thighs, its more like a push or tilt from the hips rather than a traditional rise. Go from sitting and just lift or lighten rather than 'rise'! You also have to have your seat bones well engaged and underneath you, even when you think you are sitting back, you probably arent - you are probably tilted forward a bit! It can be small adjustments that can help you feel the saddle a little better but if your trainer is getting the same double bounce feeling, it could be the fit!
Agreed, I wonder if the horse is super short backed and the fitters are offering deep seats that just don't allow the rider to sit and move correctly. OP can you enlighten us as to what size saddles the horse can take, which models you've tried, and yours and your trainer's height and weight, if you'd like more definitive advice. And the videos I mentioned? Without more info it's super hard to know.
 

littlebranshill

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Yes and no, sometimes the saddle that's right for you can feel alien, sometimes it does take getting used to. Both brands I fit tend to be wider and more open in the seat than many people are used to, but the stability gives confidence over time in the wide horse saddles. The rider-focused saddles apparently can definitely take some adjusting to, what's perfect for us still takes us to do some work, the first one I fitted took the rider a couple of weeks to get to grips with. It does make things tricky.



Agreed, I wonder if the horse is super short backed and the fitters are offering deep seats that just don't allow the rider to sit and move correctly. OP can you enlighten us as to what size saddles the horse can take, which models you've tried, and yours and your trainer's height and weight, if you'd like more definitive advice. And the videos I mentioned? Without more info it's super hard to know.
Yes he is short backed. He is a M/W and a 17.5" saddle. I'm 11st 3lbs and 5ft 8". The horse is 15:2/3hh. All the Ryder trees have been tried on his back, (the tree that fits him best is the latest model so no 2nd hand ones about - typical. Can't afford £3,400 for a new saddle!), Harry Dabbs, one Devoucoux, Flexee and a Saddle somethingorother. The lengthening of the stirrups was a breakthrough and now only get an occasional bounce in the Ideal. I do have a video (which doesn't want to load)and although a 17.5" it looks like I am landing on the back as it's quite high backed. Although I do like the current one something tells me to keep trying. I think I should try a flatter seat.
 

sbloom

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I think the deep seats are a big factor, there's just no leeway to land softly if the seat is too deep, too small, or webbed incorrectly for your requirements. You're a really similar size and weight to me and I'd struggle in a deep seated 17.5 yet in a brand that's customised to pelvic shape etc I take a 16.5 (though to be fair I don't ride these days and barely trotted when I tried it out lol). Saddles vary so much and so many dressage saddles use deep seats and big blocks to compensate as they really aren't customised to that rider's real requirements.
 

TheHairyOne

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Yes he is short backed. He is a M/W and a 17.5" saddle. I'm 11st 3lbs and 5ft 8". The horse is 15:2/3hh.
I'm a little bit taller And a little bit heavier than you and have a Suzannah on my 16hh boy (though he is now in a stretched wide!) and can't say I have any issues with it, but i do have pretty long legs too.

My previous saddle for my fatter self and less muscled horse was an older style ablion dressage saddle, that does have a flatter seat and less restictive knee blocks. Just another type to consider since I didnt see that in your list and they are pretty easy to find.

We're all built differently and I have to confess to hating the heather moffatt saddle my sister had on her horse (briefly as she hated it too!).
 

littlebranshill

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I'm a little bit taller And a little bit heavier than you and have a Suzannah on my 16hh boy (though he is now in a stretched wide!) and can't say I have any issues with it, but i do have pretty long legs too.

My previous saddle for my fatter self and less muscled horse was an older style ablion dressage saddle, that does have a flatter seat and less restictive knee blocks. Just another type to consider since I didnt see that in your list and they are pretty easy to find.

We're all built differently and I have to confess to hating the heather moffatt saddle my sister had on her horse (briefly as she hated it too!).
Thanks for all your replies. I have absolute trust in my saddler and I am sure we will find something to suit. I will definitely try a flatter seat. and thanks for the Albion recommendation. It's a real minefield. I was happy with my Vogue for 4 years but it's not until I looked back on previous videos of me riding compared to my riding in a treed saddle that I can see how much more secure my position is and that my horse benefits from that too. It's all a learning curve!
 

LegOn

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No not that I am aware of.

So your shoulders are infront of your hips, so your hips arent actually absorbing the movement of the horse through the saddle, you can try pushing your shoulder blades together & put them in your back pocket! (little visual cue my instructor tells me!) Your hips need to be engagement more and further back... also from the position of your heel (I know its only a moment in time) but it looks like you are rising in the trot from your feet, you need to push your body weight down from your hips into your feet but only rise from your hips and your hips shouldnt really rise they should kinda push forward which is why if your shoulders are over your hips - you wont be able to do this!

Your position would definitely contribute to feeling like you cant absorb the movement in a dressage saddle - you have to mould to the saddle and work with it & not against it if that makes sense! Your hands also should be up at your belly button height and pushed more forward up the neck so they arent interferring with your position - you should be all hips focused and everything else just hangs off that!
 

Pinkvboots

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You look like you need to sit on your bum you look perched so your tipping forward, also if your sitting on your bum your back will naturally straighten and help your shoulders come back, practice sitting properly on your bum on a chair and you will notice how different it feels then do the same when your riding.
 

Velcrobum

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You look tipped onto the front of your pelvis as Pinkyboots says you need to be sitting on your bum and bring your shoulders back.
 
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