The General Purpose Saddle is often referred to as the “Jack of all Trades “ Saddle, and of course it then follows that it is the master of none!! Of course this can be a bit unfair as for most owners one saddle needs to be able to meet all of their needs. The General Purpose will be suitable for most equine activities, flatwork, hacking and of course jumping. However, it may be worth asking yourself what you really want to do with your horse before automatically going down the GP route.
Many of my customers today enjoy a variety of horsey pastimes but it is becoming increasingly common for those avtivities to exclude any jumping and if that is the case it may be worth considering a different sort of saddle to meet all of the other requirements you have.
A GP saddle will typically have a more forward cut flap with a reasonably large knee roll. The knee roll’s purpose in life is to support the leg, but on most GP saddles this knee roll has been postioned in a more forward position and only really becomes effective when the rider has shortened their stirrup leathers a couple of holes to get into their jumping position. The net result is that unles you intend to do a bit of jumping a Working Hunter style saddle may provide a better alternative as this will give more support to the leg and help the rider sit in a more correct position.
Of course with all things relating to saddles there are few hard and fast rules and if a GP saddle suits your way of riding or indeed if you enjoy jumping as part of your horse’s varied routine then a General Purpose saddle will be your best option.
Once you have decided on a GP saddle then there is quite a variance between one model and another. It is important to try different saddles to see which style will suit your way of riding. Just how forward the saddle is cut will make a difference and needs to reflect your riding position and preferences.
So my best advise would be to discuss your needs with your saddler as never before has there been so many options available to riders. The GP certainly has a big role to play as it remains the most versatile saddle on the market.