Do I need a dressage saddle and how much difference do they make?

  • There is a plethora of saddlery options for horses and riders — but if you’re competing in dressage, do you need a specially designed saddle for the job? Here we investigate and to read more about the latest tack design, including the latest scientific research and our pick of saddles on the market, don’t miss the current issue of H&H magazine, out now (dated 27 June)...

    Q: “Do I need a dressage saddle? I would like to know how far people go before biting the bullet and upgrading their GP (general purpose) saddle to a dressage one. Basically I’d love a dressage saddle but can’t justify one, even a cheapish second hand one will cost me six months’ worth of lessons and I know how much more I will gain from the lessons. We’re off to out first big dressage in a couple of weekends, at novice level, and I’ll be amazed if many others will be doing it in a GP (let alone on a big daft cart horse!), but would a dressage saddle make that much difference?”

    A: I would say that you probably don’t need a dressage saddle if you are doing well in the saddle that you already have and I’d keep going as you are.

    I use jump saddles on my young event horses until they are at novice level eventing and I’ll use a dressage saddle when I have to do sitting trot as it helps support your position.

    Continued below…

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    If you are getting marked down for your position, then it might be worth trying a dressage saddle. But if there’s no other reason than feeling slightly out of place because everyone else has a dressage saddle, stick to the GP!

    It sounds like you are doing the right thing anyway — spending your money on lessons and improving that way. I’d keep doing this and enjoy what you are doing.

    Don’t worry about the saddle until you are at the stage when you need it and you’ll know when that is because you won’t be able to perform certain movements if you don’t have the support that a dressage saddle gives you.

    For more great dressage content, don’t miss the current issue of Horse & Hound magazine

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