As any horse enthusiast can testify, there are many different types of saddles available to use.
Each different type of saddle has its own individual and unique style complete with very specific characteristics. So, what’s the difference between, say, jumping saddles and dressage saddles? Read on to find out…
Close Contact Saddles
Designed for jumping, close contact saddles are pretty self-explanatory. The leg flaps are thinner to enable closer communication and to make it easier for the rider to connect to the horse through their seat. The rider sits closer to the horse and the saddle may feature a single-saddle flap. It can sometimes take a while to get comfortable using a close contact saddle due to the reduction in padding for the rider.
Dressage saddles, which are used both in training and while competing for dressage riders, have a trademark deeper seat, stirrup bars set further back and longer saddle flaps. Big knee blocks ensure the rider can sit correctly, while another feature is lengthened firth straps that allow the girth to be attached below the saddle flaps.
General /All Purpose Saddles
A versatile piece of horse equipment as the name suggests, the general /all purpose saddles are extremely popular due to the fact they can be used when riding on the flat, hacking out, jumping and for other equestrian disciplines. If you’re the type of person who likes to dip into the different types of riding styles then a general /all purpose saddle would be an ideal purchase.
Jumping saddles have a flatter seat and allow riders more mobility, which lends itself to ensuring horse and rider manoeuvre quickly and safely over any number of obstacles over a short period of time. Shorter stirrups enable the rider to get up quickly in the approach to a jump and get back seated again straight away afterwards.
The weight of the saddle itself is a key difference between a racing saddle and the other different types. Speed is essential in horse racing and it’s for this reason that racing saddles are extremely lightweight, which again impacts on the comfort factor for the jockey. It has a single girth strap on each side and should be used with an over-girth.
Western saddles have a very distinctive look to them and there’s a real emphasis on comfort, with the seat larger, longer stirrups and rings so that saddle bags can be attached. As western saddles are commonly used on working horses in ranches in America, it has been designed in a way to that ensures both rider and horse are confortable for hours on end.
This guide to the different types of horse saddles was compiled by Equestrian Clearance.