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Side-saddle design is based on a tree similar to an astride saddle, but when the panel is constructed, the left hand side of the saddle is built up with felt and wool to compensate for the fact that more of the rider’s weight is on that side of the horse. However, this soon packs down and repeated re-stuffing can twist the tree and cause discomfort to the horse.

Riders have traditionally been taught not to put weight on to their left seat boneto keep the saddle level, but as three-times national champion Clarissa Dawson explains, this creates its own problems.

“The rider uses her seat more than astride, and needs to be able to use the left seat bone to ask for a neat strike-off into left canter and when performing lateral movements. Novice riders tend to feel unbalanced due to the lack of support under the seat bone and twist to compensate.”

Saddler Karl Niedersuss, best known for his KN dressage saddle range, has worked alongsideDesmond O’Brien and Roger Philpot, vice-chairman of the Side Saddle Association, to develop a new saddle which addresses these issues.

The KN Menuett, which retails at £2,000, is built on a carbon fibre tree. It has a number of advantages:

  • It’s lighter and slightly more flexible than the traditional wood and steel version.

  • The panel takes account of the more muscled-up horse and provides a much wider gullet.

  • The seat of the saddle is made of a suede-covered solid rubber compound which does not pack down

  • and it’s built up on the left hand side by 3/8in, giving a completely level surface on which the rider sits with both seat bones.

    Clarissa Dawson is clear about the benefits to her horse, Shadow Of Doubt, a seven-year-old 7/8 Thoroughbred who is working at medium level dressage and won the side-saddle concours d’elegance at last year’s Royal Show.

    “He moves better in this saddle than he does in his astride dressage saddle. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to use my seat effectively and means that I can ask for truly accurate work. He also has a big jump and can really use himself over a fence in the KN saddle,” she says.