saddle fitting: what I learned
This past week, I got a saddle fitted for the first time. It was a completely new experience for me, so I did some research to find out a little more about different kinds of saddles, what to expect, etc. I didn’t find much, because most saddles are pretty custom to an extent, so I took the saddle fitting as an opportunity to ask some questions. I learned some cool things about saddles that I definitely didn’t know before, and I wanted to share some of that information to hopefully give some future first-time saddle buyers an idea of what they might be looking for.
One of the main things I learned were saddle seats. Close contact jumping saddles (ones that have a forward cut to help the rider get into a forward jumping position) can have a flat or semi-deep seat. A flat seat allows for a mobile ride that give the rider the ability to have the most freedom of movement. A semi-deep seat promotes more horse and rider comfort, while still allowing for balance and freedom of movement. A deep seat saddle is more commonly seen in dressage saddles. Like the name suggests, it allows for the rider to maintain a deeper sitting position in the saddle.
What makes a saddle “flat seat” or “deep seat?” The height of the cantle, which shifts the balance point of the saddle. The balance point is the deepest part of the saddle, and where the rider sits. The taller the cantle is, the further forward the balance point shifts. For example, in dressage saddles, the cantle is much taller, shifting the balance point forward to allow the rider to maintain a seated position. In showjumping saddles, the cantle is shorter, shifting the balance point back and allowing the rider to keep a more forward-seated position.
Another thing I learned with saddles is there are two different types of flaps: round and cut. As opposed to the regular round flap, the cut flap allows for people with longer legs (like me) to increase the flap size, allowing more knee room without having to deal with a longer flap. The reason behind the cut flap is there needs to be enough of the rider’s lower leg stretching below the saddle to allow for contact with the horse.
I bet there is a whole slew of saddle information that I still don’t know, but I feel a lot more knowledgeable about saddles than I did even a week ago. Hopefully this can help a few of you feel the same way, whether you are looking for a new saddle, or just looking for something new to learn :)