I am often asked for advice about the best type of saddle to suit a customers particular needs, so I would like to talk a little about the main categories of saddles and their applications. There are of course specialist saddles for certain disciplines such as Endurance, but I am going to concentrate here on the five main styles. This month Show and Working Hunter saddles.
Show Saddle – The typical show saddle has a very flat seat and a straight cut flap with little or no knee roll for support. Its purpose is to look elegant in the show ring and should not cover the shoulder, the desired picture should be one where the saddle does not interfere with the judges view of the horse or pony. There is a danger with showing saddles that they become all about the look, but of course it is essential that the horse is comfortable if he is going to perform to his best, and that the rider can sit in balance. It is important that show saddles are properly fitted and I still much prefer that they are traditionally made with wool flocked panels.
Working Hunter Saddle – The working hunter saddle seems to have become the modern day general purpose saddle as it is extremely versatile and will do several jobs well. Ironically, despite the name, it is not widely used for working hunter classes where jumping saddles are now more popular. The typical working hunter saddle has a medium deep seat, flaps that are straight but perhaps not as straight cut as a show saddle, with small to medium knee rolls. The seat is also a little wider than a showing saddle. Consequently it is great to use in the show ring but is also a very comfortable all round saddle for every day use, schooling hacking etc. Additionally as it has a fairly straight cut flap it will double up for dressage too. Increasingly I am finding that many of my clients are combining showing with dressage and is a great alternative to having to buy two saddles. We now even do a workers saddle designed specifically for this dual role.
Both of the above can be in either all leather or part suede finishes although Havanna is considered correct for showing. Next month more about saddle types.