Buying Guides Dressage saddles

If you’re a budding Charlotte Dujardin, chances are you’ve considered investing in a dressage saddle and wondered how it might enhance your experience of the discipline. As well as helping to complete an elegant picture, dressage saddles are designed with your position in mind, so feel very different to sit in compared to a jump or GP saddle.

No two dressage saddles are the same, either. Different models, styles and features all cater to different rider levels, and rider proportions, too. Perhaps you’re a tall rider with a short body and long legs – you’d never buy a jump saddle if your knees jutted out far past the knee rolls, and a dressage saddle needs to fit you just the same.

A big part of choosing your dressage saddle will be personal preference, too. Some riders like to feel anchored in the saddle thanks to large, supporting knee and thigh blocks and a deeper seat, while others prefer a stripped back saddle with a close-contact feel and get just as much stability from a shallower seat.

So, how do these different saddle features affect you, and how do you know which is right? We spoke to Master Saddler Laurence Pearman to find out more.

Did you know?

Some dressage saddles come with adjustable knee and thigh blocks, so you can change block position to suit you.

Dressage saddles at a glance

Dressage saddles have elongated, straighter flaps, longer girth straps and stirrup bars set further back. These features help you achieve the perfect position by offering support for a longer stirrup length and a deeper, more centralised seat.

Dressage saddles benefit your horse, too. The straight flaps free up his shoulder, while the absence of girth buckles between the saddle and your leg make for clearer aids.

In a flap

Lightweight, monoflap saddles feature only one saddle flap. This means a closer-contact feel and external knee and thigh blocks. Shorter-legged riders can benefit from them because, without the extra leather, it’s easier to wrap their leg around their horse. Others like the integrated blocks of more traditional dressage saddles with more bulk to support their lower leg. In the end, it’s all down to preference.

In position

Your first ride in a dressage saddle may feel strange, and you might find you prefer some models to others. For example, a deep-seated saddle with larger blocks may help if your leg isn’t secure, or if your legs creep forward or back. However, blocks must be precisely placed, otherwise you risk having your leg wedged into an uncomfortable or limiting position.

Claridge House New Generation

£519

It features generously-cut saddle panels flocked with synthetic wool for optimum pressure distribution, and a robust yet flexible synthetic tree.

  • Changeable gullet
  • Moveable blocks

kramer.co.uk

Whitaker Harrogate

£945

While the outer is leather, this saddle’s underpanels are synthetic and require minimum care. A large knee roll and deep seat encourage perfect posture.

  • Changeable gullet
  • Extra wide fit

johnwhitaker.com

Kent & Masters S-Series Surface Block 

£975

A slim-line panel design and changeable billet straps provide multiple girthing options, allowing you optimum saddle stability.

  • Changeable gullet
  • Extra wide fit

kentandmasters.co.uk

Collegiate Integrity Mono

£999

Made from high-quality, soft double leather, this saddle features generous external knee blocks, a deep seat and a close-contact feel.

  • Changeable gullet  
  • Extra wide fit

collegiatesaddlery.co.uk

GFS Premier

£1,450

It features Y-shaped girthing and a flexible, carbon fibre webbed tree, while the contoured, dual knee block stabilises your leg without restriction.

  • Changeable gullet
  • Extra wide fit
  • Adjustable tree

gfsriding.co.uk

Ideal Styletta

£2,295

This calf leather, European-style saddle is close-contact and features a specially designed tree with a narrow twist for rider comfort.

  • customisable
  • Moveable blocks

idealsaddle.com

Fairfax Spencer Monoflap

£2,400

Features Fairfax’s patented, Prolite-lined performance panel, which is scientifically proven to reduce pressure and distribute it evenly.

  • Changeable gullet
  • Moveable blocks

fairfaxsaddles.com

Bliss of London Loxley

£2,400

This close-contact monoflap saddle can be adjusted to suit any horse. Its deep seat and external blocks help to keep you secure in the saddle.

  • Changeable gullet
  • Extra wide fit
  • Adjustable tree

loxleysaddles.com

Bates Isabell

£2,499

It features a deep seat to help keep you balanced and in the correct alignment. The tree is anatomically shaped to ensure maximum comfort to your horse.

  • Changeable gullet
  • Extra wide fit
  • customisable
  • Moveable blocks

batessaddles.com

Wow Competitor

From £2,760

A patented laterally flexible tree allows your horse freedom in his shoulder while keeping you in a still and effective position.

  • Made to measure

wowsaddles.com 

Solution Saddles Smart Pro

From £2,995

This lightweight saddle uses impact absorbing materials to protect your horse’s back from pressure and flexes with his movement.

  • Made to measure

solutionsaddles.com

Equipe Olympia

£3,200

This close-contact, monoflap saddle features a synthetic tree and is anatomically shaped for a close and comfortable fit.

  • Changeable gullet
  • Extra wide fit

zebraproducts.co.uk

Antares Tempo

£4,100

This monoflap saddle features external thigh blocks and has a close-contact feel. Its panel design gives your horse freedom of movement.

  • Made to measure

pmequestrian.co.uk

Childéric DGP

£4,320

The careful positioning of the panels and girthing options complement your position, while ensuring a non-restrictive fit for your horse.

  • Made to measure

childericsaddles.co.uk

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