Our tester was impressed with the secure feel and customisable design of this stylish saddle
The Aiver Sport Performance dressage saddle is an attractive, smooth leather saddle, with white line highlight detailing. I tried a model with a thigh block at the front, but none at the back, though that variation is available.
The first thing I noticed, before sitting on the saddle, was the way it curved up from my horse’s back.
For full disclosure, I have been riding in the predominantly the same saddle for over 10 years, the Ideal Suzannah, which is very deep-seated and with very large thigh blocks, so many of my observations come as a relative comparison.
The Aiver Sport Performance dressage saddle is designed to gently curve away from the back, eliminating the possible pressure point from a traditionally-shaped flocking panel which can look as if they are wider at the base than at the point they leave the seat of the saddle. It is an attractive looking saddle, and has scalloping round the bottom edge to double up the leather layer and prevent the stirrup leather rubbing it away.
When sitting in it, the thigh blocks give a secure feeling without being restrictive. I was testing the saddle on my four-year-old mare who is pretty laid-back about life, but having the feeling of security in the saddle is always welcome, no matter how placid the horse you’re sitting on usually is.
Aiver Sport’s website states that the tree is made from polyurethane, so “when the horse turns or bends his body the tree encourages the horse to use their back because of ability to flex and adjust”. It also comes with a five-year warranty. Handy!
One thing I did notice that felt different to the saddle I was accustomed to was the amount of movement, particularly in trot. I felt that the Aiver saddle almost came up to meet me in rising trot, which was a bit of a departure. The horse seemed very comfortable in the saddle though, and worked just as well as in her own saddle previously.
Another neat design feature is the changeable width at the head of the saddle, allowing for horses to change in shape and muscling and remain comfortable in the saddle. The gullet is also shaped anatomically so as to minimise pressure below the withers, which is why it is angled backwards, like a V with bent legs. To change the width at the pommel, all you need is an Allen key, which is handy, though it is of course still a good idea to consult a qualified saddle fitter to find out which of the three gullets (narrow-medium, medium-wide or wide-xwide) is most suitable. Although it’s a great feature to have, it did not turn me into a saddle fitter overnight! It’s particularly useful though if you are using the saddle on multiple horses of varying shapes.
And it’s not just different shaped horses that this saddle can accommodate; the seat and panels are all fully customisable for the rider, too.
The girth straps were sturdy and made of pleasingly thick leather. They didn’t feel like they would stretch and become thin like some models do after a couple of years’ use.
All in all, the saddle feels like a qualify product, is aesthetically pleasing and performs well.