Let's talk saddles…
So the question that comes up all the time, and I mean all the time is;
“I’m starting out in endurance, what saddle do I need?”
“Next season, I want to up the distance but I only ride in a GP.
What endurance saddle do you recommend?”
My answer is always, always - a saddle that fits!
You do not need any particular endurance saddle to do endurance. There are hundreds of riders, competing in the high distances, with a good English wool-flocked saddle. This too is my preference. I really think you can't beat a well-fitting in saddle.
Our horses have to perform for hours and hours, in our discipline, a correctly fitting saddle can be the difference between success and failure.
I choose to ride in a Thorowgood Saddle Makers T8 Dressage with Surface Mounted block (helps with security in the saddle for spooky arabs!).
I ride in a dressage saddle particularly for my length of leg. As Arabs are typically quite compact horses, there isn't a great deal of room for long panels and mine are all in 17". This means that to ensure my centre of gravity is balanced and evenly distributed, I need to have my legs quite beneath me and sit in a fairly deep seat to ensure my weight is central. If I rode in a GP or compact, my centre of gravity would be pushed further back towards the cantle simply due to my length of leg so this wouldn't work for me. But GPs or even jumping saddles are commonly used in endurance and as long as they are well fitting that's fine too.
My saddles get checked by Master Saddle Fitter, Ruth Wyatt Saddlery every six weeks. This is because with the amount of work we do, the flocking invariably needs minor adjustments and these things are best kept on top of. Working closely with your saddler and physio is really key to success.
What I look for in an endurance / any saddle:
- Balance from front to back / side to side
- Spinal clearance
- Width - matches the shoulder
- Contact - even contact the full length of the panel (some horses need flatter panels, some need more curved. A saddle fitter will be able to help you if you are unsure)
- Length - ensure that the end of the panel doesn't go beyond the last rib
- Soft panels (no lumps, bumps or hollows in the flocking)
- Comfort and security for the rider
To find a saddle fitter visit https://www.mastersaddlers.co.uk/ and look up a Master Saddle Fitter in your area