Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturdays with Suzanne: Today's Dressage Saddles

Today's dressage saddles

I am not a fan of the newer dressage saddles these days. Compared to the saddles we learned on in my youth, today's saddles seem "orthopedic" to me. They are big and bulky like overstuffed sofas!

In comparison, our saddles then seemed almost close contact. If there were knee rolls, they were very small. There was no such thing as a thigh roll or leg block.

Riding was about balance, and good position was acquired with long hours on the lunge line. We wanted to be able to move, if necessary, to properly aid our horse. This is invaluable in training.

It's strange, too, how in the past one saddle fit most every horse in the barn. I know people today who still have such saddles. I rode saddles that were 20 to 30 years old and still in fantastic condition.

I don't understand why riders these days seem to feel the need to change saddles so frequently! Neither do I understand blaming your saddle for riding or training woes. That is rarely the cause.

The dressage boom has spawned a plethora of "cottage industries" surrounding the sport. I don't really recognize most of the newer brands, and by the time I do, they have disappeared. Prices have gone through the roof, too. Can the price of raw materials have gone up so much, or are we paying for some exotic idea or sponsor? I actually know riders who are not supposed to run their stirrups up on the leathers for fear of rubbing through the thin, stretched leather on their saddle! It seems to me that we have become more obsessed with having all the faddish "trappings" than we are with learning to ride.

-- by Suzanne May

1 comment:

Judi said...

I'm just a trail rider, and I haven't had any experience with dressage saddles, but I have been wondering about saddle fit for the last few years. Yes, I remember when an average saddle would fit an average horse. In fact, my saddles are old enough that they fall in that category. We put on many hours and miles, so saddle fit is just important to us as any performance rider. So, this has puzzled me.

Is it the marketing that makes people feel they need new saddles for each horse? Is it the popularity of warmbloods--are they built different? Is it people looking for a quick fix to their own bad riding? Is it just fashion--which brings us back to marketing?

I'm glad I'm not the only one questioning it!