The Society of Master Saddlers offer advice on General Purpose saddles versus discipline specific saddles.
FOR many, starting out in horse or pony ownership, a General Purpose saddle provides the ideal choice.
Whether you simply enjoy hacking or compete at a lower level it can offer everything you need in the early stages.
Even within the General Purpose category there are many different styles to choose from so when looking to buy a saddle make sure you think about the disciplines you will focus on when it comes to competing.
If dressage is your preferred choice ask your Qualified Saddle Fitter to recommend a General Purpose saddle with more knee roll, longer saddle flaps and a straighter cut.
If you intend to do more show jumping or cross country when you start to compete your horse then look for a saddle with forward cut flaps and knee roll to offer support when positioned forward and slightly out of the saddle.
The General Purpose saddle offers a host of advantages for when riders are looking to have just the one saddle for their horse or pony and with careful consideration and advice from a Qualified Saddle Fitter they will be able to compete across a number of disciplines if not aiming too high.
In recent years, a lot of research and development – often working with elite riders – has gone into the design of such saddles. However, they all involve compromise because no one saddle can perfectly fulfil the needs of two different disciplines.
Some General Purpose-type saddles are designed for the rider who spends most of the time involved in flatwork with just a little jumping. Others are intended for the combination that does a lot of jumping – and not a great deal of flatwork. And then there are the saddles that fall in the middle of these two extremes.
The very diversity of today’s ranges of saddles indicates the importance of seeking advice from a Qualified Saddle Fitter.
For riders looking to progress through the competitive ranks consideration must be made that at some point it may be necessary to invest in a dressage or jumping saddle.
With so much choice available today there is also the option of buying a saddle designed and made specifically for cross-country jumping as opposed to show jumping.
It is also worth considering buying a second hand saddle if your funds are stretched but you would prefer a discipline specific saddle rather than having just one General Purpose saddle.
In this connection, the Society of Master Saddlers issues another recommendation that every saddle should be fitted by a Qualified Saddle Fitter – in fact – fitting a second-hand saddle is even more important than fitting a new one!
A saddle adopts the contours of the horse on which it is regularly used – this means that asymmetric musculature, for example, can easily be passed on unless the flocking is carefully adjusted.
To find your local saddle fitter and for more information visit www.mastersaddlers.co.uk or contact The Society of Master Saddlers on 01449 711642.