Like with western horse saddles, English horse saddles can come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. Each type of English saddle is designed with a certain purpose in mind. Like a barrel saddle is designed with barrel racing in mind. For example a dressage saddle is designed with dressage in mind. In this article the different types of English saddles will be explained and what each saddle purpose is and how it designed to suit that purpose.
The All-Purpose Saddle (or Eventing Saddle): The all-purpose English saddle is designed like its name implies, to be an all-around saddle. It is a cross-over design of an English jumping saddle and an English dressage saddle. The saddle features a deep seat to aid riders during flatwork. The flaps are set somewhat forward and are typically padded under the rider’s leg. This placement of flaps aids the rider during jumping. This saddle is typically used by an amateur owner, lower-level jumper, endurance rider, and is a favorite among trail/pleasure riders. However it has gained in popularity with some people for starting younger horses, because it offers a deep seat. So if you are looking for an English saddle that is going to be an all-rounder, you found it with the all-purpose English horse saddle.
The Jumping Saddle: The jumping saddle is designed with the English disciplines of show jumping, hunt seat, foxhunting, and cross-country in mind. Thus its design is to aid the rider in their “two-point” or “half-seat” position. These saddles are made to be close contact, so the balance of the seat is set further back and is relatively flat. The cantle and pommel of the saddle are lower, so they do not interfere with the rider’s jump position. The flaps of the saddle are set forward and well-padded to accommodate a jump rider’s short stirrups and aid in their position. So if you are looking for a saddle for the serious jumper you have found it with the English jumping saddle.
The Dressage Saddle: The dressage saddle is not used for jumping and is only used on the flat.Thus its design is to aid the rider throughout their flatwork. The dressage saddle features a very straight flap.This flap encourages riders to have a longer leg position. The saddle also has a deep seat; the deepest part of which is set more forward.This position of the seat also aids in a long leg position.This riding position allows the rider to best influence and communicate with their mount.The pommel is typically higher.The under panels are often padded minimally to allow for a closer feel of the horse. Some designs had very padded knee roles to assist the rider in maintaining the correct riding position.Typically the dressage saddle employs a drop girth system, so not to hinder the shoulder motion of the horse.
The Saddle Seat Saddle: This saddle is designed with the English riding style of saddle seat in mind. The design of the saddle aids the rider in producing the high action gaits of the saddle seat horse.The saddle is longer and flatter. The center of balance is set further back on the horse as result. This encourages the front end to have more action. The pommel of the saddle is cut back to allow for greater freedom of motion for the front legs and accommodate a higher neck set. The saddle flap is wide and contains no blocks or rolls. So if you are looking to start riding saddle seat, you are going to need a saddle seat saddle to aid you and your horse for higher action.
The Endurance Saddle: The endurance saddle is built with long distance riding in mind. The major purpose of this saddle is to provide horse and rider with comfort. The saddle seat is often padded or quilted. The stirrups are designed with a wider tread. The under panels of the saddle cover a larger area of the horse’s back in order to distribute pressure more evenly. The saddle typically contains additional d-rings to allow the attachment of various items. These English endurance saddles are also lightweight. So if you all about long distance rides, consider and English endurance saddle.
The English Show Saddle: This saddle is seen typically in the UK and Australia for showing on the flat or over low fences. This saddle is designed to show off the horse’s conformation. The saddle seat is very flat, similar to the saddle seat saddle. There are no knee rolls or blocks, so this saddle does not aid in rider position. The stirrups are set forward and the pommel is cut back.This encourages a traditional old style rider position with the feet placed forward and the seat pushed back. This is to help make the horse look like it has a longer front end and help provide more front end action. So if you are considering an English show career in the old style traditional position, then consider an English show saddle.
Sidesaddle: The sidesaddle was used by women throughout the 14th to 19th centuries due to long skirts and social morals. Today this saddle is used in shows, parades, and exhibitions. The sidesaddle has only one stirrup and two pommels. Both the pommels allow the rider to remain secure, even when jumping. Both legs sit to the left side of the saddle. The saddle seat is wide in order to accommodate the rider’s thigh. The saddle is flat with a long raised cantle to the rear to help support the rider’s thigh as well. So if you wish to keep the tradition going consider riding in a sidesaddle.
Racing Saddle: The racing saddle is designed for the race horse.The saddle is lightweight and does not interfere with the running horse.The saddle has a very long and flat seat.The flaps are set forward to accommodate the short stirrups of the jockey.The cantle and the pommel of the saddle are flat. They are built atop a half of a tree to cut down on weight.This saddle provides very little rider security. So this saddle is designed for racing and not for the general equestrian.
Polo Saddle: The polo saddle is designed around the game of polo. The seats are fairly flat and the saddle flaps are long.This allows the rider a longer leg position, but it is set more forward than a dressage saddle. There is very little padding under the leg. This allows the polo player freedom of motion throughout the game. So if you wish to participate in a game of polo, you are going to need a polo saddle.
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