Last updated: August 12, 2021
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Welcome to our big dressage saddle test 2022. Here we present all the dressage saddles we have tested. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best dressage saddle for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a dressage saddle.




Summary

  • Dressage saddles are specially designed for dressage riding. The long, straight saddle flap means that you sit low and upright on the horse and have a long, stretched leg.
  • With dressage saddles you have the choice between a saddle with a deep or flat seat. Depending on your preference and needs, one of these may be more suitable for you.
  • Dressage saddles are available in different seat sizes and with different gullet widths. It is very important that the dressage saddle fits both you and your horse well.

The Best Dressage Saddle: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a dressage saddle.

What is a dressage saddle suitable for?

As the name suggests, a dressage saddle is primarily suitable for dressage riding. A dressage saddle is the best choice for riders who focus on dressage and also want to go to competitions.

The dressage saddle encourages a deep seat with a long, stretched leg. The rider sits very close to the horse and can therefore give very differentiated aids with the leg, cross and weight.

A dressage saddle is designed for dressage riding because the shape of the saddle allows the rider to adopt a perfect posture for influencing the horse. (Image source: 123rf.com / 44084238)

A dressage saddle gives the rider an upright and controlled seat with good and differentiated influence. These characteristics make it particularly suitable for dressage. A dressage saddle is less suitable for beginners, as it does not provide such good support and the low seat can throw a beginner off balance and make him or her insecure.

A dressage saddle is also only conditionally suitable for jumping. Since it is designed for a deep seat with a long leg, it is difficult to change to the light seat, which the rider assumes over a jump. However, a small jump in between is also possible with a dressage saddle.

If you want to jump more regularly or take a few higher jumps, it is better to choose an eventing or jumping saddle. You can also ride out with a dressage saddle. Many riders find the deep seat very pleasant and it is also comfortable for longer rides. However, you will have less support in this saddle if the horse bucks or takes a lunge.

Note that with a dressage saddle you have longer stirrups, which you can only shorten to a limited extent due to the shape of the saddle flap.

This makes it a little more difficult to go into the easy seat if you want to take an obstacle or relieve your horse when riding uphill.

In the end, the most important thing is that you and your horse feel comfortable with your dressage saddle and that you have a good, comfortable seat in it. If it is right for you, you can use your dressage saddle for riding out.

What are the characteristics of a dressage saddle?

A dressage saddle has a long, straight cut saddle flap and long pommels. This allows for an upright, low seat and a long, stretched leg.

Due to the smaller contact surface and recessed seat, the rider sits very close to the horse's back. A dressage saddle also has no calf blocks, only knee blocks. These promote the rider's optimal sitting position.

How does a dressage saddle fit properly?

The right seat and a good fit are extremely important for a saddle. If the saddle does not fit the horse, this can cause pressure points, pain and tension in the horse. It is best to get a saddle fitter to help you assess the fit.

He can usually adjust the saddle if necessary. However, there are some factors that you can check yourself to see if the saddle fits properly or not.

The saddle must be fitted to the horse so that it does not rub against the horse and so that the horse can walk freely. (Picture source: 123rf.com / 28236478)

The first point is freedom of withers. The horse's withers are very sensitive, so the saddle must not rest directly on them and cause pressure. There should be four fingers between the saddle and the withers, and at least two to three fingers at the sides. The saddle should also not rest on the spine at any point. You can check this by looking through the gap between the saddle and the withers from the front.

There should be at least two finger widths of space everywhere. For most horses the spinal canal should also be about four fingers wide.

The next point is the gullet width. This determines how wide a saddle is. The saddle should be stable on the horse, but still leave enough room for withers and shoulder blade movement.

To test this, you can lift your horse's front leg and move it forward. The saddle should not slip backwards and it should not hinder the movement of the scapulae. The length of the saddle must also fit the horse.

The saddle should be behind the shoulder blade and should not come over the last rib at the back. A saddle must also match the horse's centre of gravity. For this, the lowest point should be in the middle of the saddle. The saddle should also lie straight on the horse and not be crooked.

What does a dressage saddle cost?

Dressage saddles can cost from several hundred euros to several thousand euros, depending on the price category. The price depends, among other things, on the material, the quality and the age of the saddle.

In addition, dressage saddles can also be bought second-hand, which is usually cheaper. When buying a saddle, it is important to remember that a good saddle can last a very long time.

It is also very important that the saddle fits the horse and the rider well, otherwise the horse can suffer health problems. Therefore, price should not be the most important criterion when buying.

What are the alternatives to a dressage saddle?

If you are looking for a saddle for dressage, the main alternative to a dressage saddle is an eventing saddle with a focus on dressage. As the name suggests, the general purpose saddle is versatile. It is a hybrid between a dressage and jumping saddle, and is therefore suitable for both jumping and dressage.

Thanks to the comfortable seat, all-round saddles are also very popular for riding out. For dressage, there are eventing saddles with a focus on dressage. They have smaller pommels and a slightly longer and straight saddle flap, which makes them suitable for dressage riding. If you want to use your saddle for longer rides or for jumping, an eventing saddle with a dressage focus is recommended.

However, if you want to focus on dressage and also want to go to competitions, it is better to take a dressage saddle. Some riders also have a second saddle, so that they have one saddle for jumping and riding out and one for dressage.

Decision: What types of dressage saddles are there and which one is right for you?

If you want to get a dressage saddle, there are different types you can choose between:

  • Dressage saddle with deep seat
  • Dressage saddle with flat seat

Depending on what you prefer, a different type is suitable for you. In the following section, we would like to make the decision easier for you and give you an overview of the different models.

Type Features Characteristics
Deep seat Higher padding at the back and front, high rear pommel Deep, calm and secure seat, lots of support
Flat seat Flat seat at the front and back, deeper rear pommel Lots of freedom of movement, can easily adjust the seat

What are the characteristics of a dressage saddle with a deep seat and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

In a dressage saddle with a deep seat, the saddle is padded slightly higher at the front and rear. This results in a deep seat, the rider is really embedded. You sit very securely and calmly and have a lot of support. In addition, the rider feels closer to the horse.

Advantages
  • Deep, calm seat
  • Much support
  • Sits close to the horse
Disadvantages
  • Static seat
  • limited freedom of movement
  • difficult to give aid

However, the seat is rather static due to the deep seat. The rider is placed in the position dictated by the saddle, which frames the pelvis and restricts freedom of movement. This can make it difficult for the rider to give aid, as a mobile pelvis is very important when riding.

What distinguishes a flat seat dressage saddle and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A dressage saddle with a flat seat is cut rather flat at the front and back. It is characterised by greater freedom of movement. With a flat seat it is easier to move the hips, for example. In addition, the rider can adjust his seat more easily and sit a little further forward or back to compensate.

Advantages
  • Great freedom of movement
  • Seat easily adjustable
  • Easier to balance
Disadvantages
  • Must find own sitting position
  • Less support
  • Rider must balance himself

In contrast to the dressage saddle with a deep seat, the flat seat does not automatically place the rider in a predetermined position. Therefore, the rider has to balance himself and find the right seat.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate dressage saddles on the basis of these factors

In the following we will show you which aspects you can use to compare different dressage saddles in order to make your decision. The criteria you can use to compare dressage saddles include:

  • Seat size
  • Gullet width
  • Pommels
  • Material
  • Colour

In the following paragraphs we will explain what is important in each of the criteria.

Seat size

The saddle must not only fit the horse well, but also the rider. The seat size plays an important role here. If the seat is too big for the rider, he has too little support.

If it is too small, however, the rider is constricted and cannot compensate for the movements. The seat size is usually given in inches. However, some manufacturers use different specifications or measure differently. Therefore, you should always try on the saddle before you buy it.

For most manufacturers, the standard measurements are between 16.5 and 18 inches. Below we have included a table with the size specifications so that you can get an overview.

Seat size contact surface of the saddle dress size women dress size men
16.5" 42 cm 36 44
17" 43 cm 38 46
17.5" 44 cm 40 48
18" 46 cm 42 50

For children, a saddle with a seat size between 15 and 16 inches is recommended.

Chamber width

The gullet width is the distance between the two ends of the gullet plate. It determines how wide the saddle is and how it is angled. The standard sizes of most manufacturers range from 26 to 36 cm.

You can either have a saddler measure the correct gullet width for your horse, or you can make your own template. Take a soft wire and place it on the withers. Shape the wire to the shape of the horse, then draw the template on a piece of paper.

You can then measure the girth, or you can cut out the template and hold it up to different saddles. If your horse has high or rather narrow withers, you will need a smaller gullet width. Horses with pronounced withers, on the other hand, need a wider gullet width.

The gullet width can also be adjusted on some saddles by changing the gullet plate.

Pommels

The pommels vary in strength and position depending on the saddle. They are designed to support the rider's knee and promote the desired sitting posture. In the dressage saddle this is the long, stretched leg and the upright seat. What kind of shape the pommels should have is mainly a matter of taste.

Therefore, it is again very important that you try out the dressage saddle before you buy it. For riders with strong thighs, saddles with few or short pommels are usually more comfortable, as they do not block the leg.

Riders with slender legs, on the other hand, prefer saddles with a little more knee rolls so that they have enough support.

Flat seat dressage saddles tend to have more pronounced pommels, while flat seat saddles have less pronounced pommels.

Some manufacturers offer saddles with Velcro panels. These can be easily removed and replaced. Pommels can also be adjusted.

Material

Classically, dressage saddles are made of leather or imitation leather. A good leather saddle is considered to be of very high quality and durable. However, you have to care for the leather regularly so that it does not become brittle.

Dressage saddles are made of leather or imitation leather. (Picture source: 123rf.com / 34850445)

The saddle tree can be made of wood, steel spring or plastic. The material has an effect on the weight, load capacity and adjustability of the saddle.

A wooden tree is rigid and difficult to adjust. A steel saddle tree is more flexible and also very durable. However, it is also difficult to change the chamber width. Plastic trees adapt well to the horse's movement. However, they can bend when exposed to heat.

Colour

Since most dressage saddles are made of leather, the colours offered mainly include leather colours such as black, light brown, dark brown or cognac. Different leather colours can also be combined.

Facts worth knowing about dressage saddles

How do I fit the dressage saddle correctly?

  • First check that the stirrups are pulled up and that the girth is over the saddle.
  • As a first step, place the saddle with the saddle cloth or saddle pad on the horse's back. Place the saddle slightly in front of the withers.
  • If the saddle cloth is not attached to the saddle, you can place it on the back first and then place the saddle on top.
  • Push the saddle and the saddle cloth together backwards until the saddle is at the lowest point on the back.
  • Check that the saddle is in the right position. There should be at least two finger widths between the horse's shoulder blade and the front edge of the pommels.
  • Go to the other side of the horse and take down the girth. There should be about a hand's width of space between the girth and the front leg.
  • If the saddle fits properly, go back to the left side and close the girth loosely first.
  • Lead your horse a few steps, then tighten the girth. Make sure that you have tightened the girth before mounting, otherwise the saddle may slip.
  • The girth should be tightened enough, but there should still be two fingers of space between the belly and the girth.
  • Ride for a few minutes at a walk and check the girth again. Tighten it again if necessary.

Which girth fits the dressage saddle?

A short girth fits a dressage saddle in order to fasten the saddle to the horse. A short girth is needed so that the buckles of the girth do not press and disturb the rider.

With a normal girth, the buckles of the girth lie under the rider's thigh. However, since you have a long leg in a dressage saddle, this is uncomfortable and can hurt the rider. Therefore, a short girth is needed to avoid this problem.

A dressage saddle has suitable long girth straps so that a short girth can be attached.

What stirrup length do I need for a dressage saddle?

The correct stirrup length is very individual. The stirrups should be adjusted so that you have a good, stable seat and you can sit loosely on the horse. For the dressage seat, your shoulders, pelvis and heel should form a line.

To find out the right length for you, you can stand next to your saddled horse and put your fingertips on the stirrup buckle. Adjust the stirrup leathers so that the stirrup lies under your armpit with your arm stretched out.

You can also sit in the saddle and let your legs hang loosely. The stirrups should now end at about the level of your ankle.

How do I care for a dressage saddle?

It is very important to care for a leather dressage saddle so that the leather does not become brittle and remains durable. For this purpose, a dressage saddle should be cleaned and greased regularly. For saddle care you need saddle soap, water, leather grease, a sponge and a cloth.

It is best to place the saddle on a saddle stand for cleaning and care. Start by cleaning the saddle. Moisten the sponge with saddle soap and a little water and clean the leather on the seat and the top and bottom of the saddle flaps. Then turn the saddle over and clean the underside of the saddle.

After you have cleaned the saddle, you can wipe the saddle with the dry cloth and dry it. Finally, you can care for your dressage saddle with leather grease or other leather care products. You can use a sponge, cloth or brush for this. Apply a thin layer of leather grease to the dry saddle so that it can be absorbed well.

Make sure that you store your dressage saddle in a dry and well-ventilated room. It is best to hang it on a saddle rail.

Moisture can cause mould to form on leather. You should also avoid direct sunlight, as this can cause the leather to fade.

Picture source: 123rf.com / 59216538

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