Monday, February 24, 2014


With the saddle discussion . . .

I rode yesterday in N's Adam Ellis 17" dressage saddle. It was painful. The seat is too small for me and there was a lot of pressure holding my knees back. My lower back hurt. N kept telling me to relax and to give it a chance. I felt very secure in the seat because there was no room to move.

Did I mention it was painful?

However, Ashke moved out very nicely. It was obvious that the saddle wasn't affecting his shoulders or his back. He felt light and responsive. In retrospect, he's probably been sore for a while. We rode for twenty minutes or so tonight and it just was uncomfortable. I'm not sure I like dressage saddles.

So. My dilemma is this. Do I try out and spend a couple of thousand dollars on a dressage or AP English saddle OR do I spend a couple of hundred on a Wintec and then a couple of thousand on a custom made Alta Escuela. Without ever having tried it on my horse.

I did suggest to J that I book a flight to Washington DC to try out the saddle, but I was shot down. I thought it would be a good compromise. I would at least know if I liked it. Alas, even after shouting and tears and begging, the answer was no. Damnit. I was told to be practical.

Cassandra said dressage saddles are not designed to be comfortable for long periods of time. They are designed to hold the rider in a proper position for proper riding (sure a lot of proper) and not designed to be comfortable on the trail. That is a con in my book.

I could do Working Eq in full Spanish vaquero garb if I had an Alta Escuela. That's actually in the pro column.

The Alta Escuela is designed for a Spanish horse with a short croup and a wide, flat back. I am waiting to see what the bottom of the saddle looks like and what the tree looks like. I also don't know if the saddle tree can be adjusted later on. If it can't be adjusted, that is a con.

What to do? I am still waiting on an appointment with Bev.

It's too far to drive to the saddle place and try them there.

What would you do?


  1. Contact Lisa and see if her or Mark can bring the saddle to you. :) And I laughed about booking the flight to DC! I'll email you pics of the underside of the saddle so you can see it. One BIG pro of the Alta Escuela is that it puts you in that dressage position without locking your legs in AND is made for riding in it all day. Even without the sheepskin cover, it's still the most comfortable saddle I've ever ridden in.

    1. Ok, since I can't fly out, I need your help. Is your Alta Escuela a wide tree?

  2. I have a 17.5 Ellis h/j saddle looking for a new home. Not sure if it would fit your guy, though, or if that type of saddle is what you're looking for.

    A friend has an AE and I HATE it. I fight with it all day long - it just doesn't fit me at all. I have to say that it doesn't put him in the best position for dressage, although it is legal for dressage and he rides his tests in it. He's just ordered an actual dressage saddle after his dressage instructor told him it wasn't doing his position any favors. BUT, everyone's butt and leg and horse are different. What I hate you might love. You've just gotta try them out!

    I disagree about dressage saddles being uncomfortable - the right one that fits you and your horse can be VERY comfy. Another friend LOVES her super-deep Sankey, but I feel like I'm sitting in a bucket and can barely post! I've found that I prefer a flatter seat - maybe you do too? I've actually got a 17.5 AE on order because it made Paddy go like a Grand Prix Haffie, and I found it pretty nice as well. So I would say that your best bet is to get an appointment with your fitter. Try some different saddles. See what you think of them. Keep an open mind. Don't worry so much about manufacturer (as long as it's a quality saddle) and go with what feels good for both you and your horse.

    And finally... saddle fitting is a PAIN! Good luck!!!

    1. The AE in the second paragraph is "Alta Escuela", the AE that I ordered is an Adam Ellis. Sorry for the confusion!

    2. Thanks for the offer on the H/J but we don't do that. Too far for me to fall and still dealing with back weakness on my horse. He can do cavaletti now, so that's a step in the right direction.

  3. Have you looked into AP saddles? I say that because I had an older (pre-convertible gullet) Collegiate AP that I loved and loved. I could ride in it for HOURS and felt fantastic. Just a thought, and they're cheap!

  4. I would fly to the east coast! DUH! ;-) Say, the weekend of March 21? 'Cause Q and I are trailering over to see Saiph and Lily and ride our little tooshies off. Mike is coming too to keep Charles company while we ladies run amok. Ashke can come, too! He'll have a harem to keep him company - if he can stand the combined equine/human estrogen. ;-)

    And I beg the differ on dressage saddles being comfy for long term - my treeless Ansur is comfortable for 50 miles at least! Mary rides in hers EVERYWHERE. She ended up 4th place featherweight in the AERC NE region this year and 9th overall from her miles. All of those were in her Ansur dressage saddle! Granted...they are treeless. So that may have something to do with it. She does ride in one of the newer ones compared to mine (mine is 10 this fall).

    1. I called my airline and I can't use my points for that . . . :(

      Sounds like a great time, though. I am very jealous, but dealing with it because it would be a four day drive for me.

  5. I hate saddle fit issues. I will say that I use a dressage/trail saddle for miles of trail, and endurance, and that SOME are well designed for hours in the saddle, so not all force you into a correct spot. I also got a saddle about 1/2 an inch larger than needed, for long trail miles it is nice to shift around. Depends on goals, etc, and then of course the horse has to go and change shape all the time!

    I have an Arabian Saddle Company Solstice, which is now marketed under Trail/Endurance saddles, they used to put it under dressage. You could easily do dressage in the saddle, or trail miles, but is there any independent saddle fitters with different options you can try? That is what I use out here on the west coast and I love the fact they don't sell any saddles, just want to find something that fits. Good luck, I know it's frustrating.