So I’ve officially ridden in the new dressage saddle for a few weeks now, and I have to say – I never thought I’d see the day I’d not only have a dressage saddle on Amber, but that I’d also ever even OWN a dressage saddle. Then again, I never thought I’d really be into eventing so I suppose the never-thought-I’d-see-the-day point is moot? haha
But just a little fun backstory: it has been no secret for those people that have been around us for more than a few years that my mom and I dislike dressage. At one point it was a very intense dislike that you could really equate to hate. We swore we would never ever ever ever…..EVER ride dressage (ha ha, oops. sorry, mom). Interestingly enough, the dislike began with the popularity of Rolkur, and we hadn’t known what it was at the time and just agreed we disliked that way of going.
It has been amusing though on this journey of jumping into eventing because my poor mom is trying to be supportive but every time we talk about dressage her nose wrinkles a bit. (And then she gets really worried about me going on cross country lol) Except when I was showing her a few clips of good dressage stuff. She likes it then. But she sort of sighs every time dressage is brought up. It’s really been funny because she wants to be supportive – she really does – she is just not a fan of it. Which I totally understand and is perfectly okay, and still makes me chuckle. So that makes it even more amusing to me that she actually advised me to get this saddle since it was a killer price and everything I was looking for for Amber.
Can you believe that?! I couldn’t at first haha.
Also, I’ve come to find I actually like dressage.
I know. BLASPHEMY haha. When it comes to training horses though, I’m very cerebral, and I like to look at all moving parts and figure out what works best for which horse and why. So dressage training correctly makes a whole lot of sense to me. It’s helped me formulate a better idea of the concepts I’ve been working on with Whisper and transferring that knowledge in a way that makes sense to my mom.
But that’s something that I love doing and why I’ve loved learning so many different horse riding disciplines. After riding reiners there are some training concepts that help exponentially as I’ve been moving to dressage. Western pleasure concepts have helped create awesome, sharp slow downs on reiners. Learning the bit of dressage I have on Amber has helped me better communicate the lope to Whisper. You never know what concept from what discipline will aid you and your horse in the learning process, so I love learning all the things. As fascinating as dressage is for me, I couldn’t do it as the only discipline I rode, which is why I think eventing will be for me. You’re constantly improving at 3 completely separate disciplines, and that is even better to me because you get to learn all the things of three different things all at the same time lol.
So, back on topic of the dressage saddle I never thought I’d have. I was wanting a brown saddle, but I am not even upset. I thought I would be, but I’m sure it’s because I really like everything about this saddle so far. I maaaayyyyybbbee could use a half size bigger since it’s only a 17″ (but supposed to also cover to 17.5″) but I think the true 18″ would be too big. I love the way my western saddle hugs me in the seat, and I wanted to find a dressage saddle with that exact feel since I can sit Amber well in my western saddle. I also feel so much better in this saddle. When Amber was giving me little trots here and there on our way back to the barn during our walks for a bit, it was ridiculous how easy it helped me just sit there and be in the perfect spot. The trot that was SO HARD to sit in the jump saddle was so much easier in this saddle. It really lets my leg hang down, and I’d find that no matter how hard I tried to sit up and let my legs drop, my jump saddle would push me back a little and let my thighs come up. Which, well, it’s supposed to because it’s an eventing saddle. It’s perfect for that, but I feel like I can actually sit WITH Amber in this, like I could go back to riding with the Master Dressage videos I followed and be able to do all of this. I have noticed that I have a tendency to tip forward though, and I know that’s from compensating for my jump saddle and then just my natural tendency from riding hunters as a kid. So I’ve been working hard on sitting straight and making that a habit as Amber and I walk. The thigh blocks aren’t too big either which I’ve worried about that since it’s always been hard for me to sit like you need to in a dressage saddle (working on my hip flexors has helped immensely tho).
Once I sit correctly, the saddle feels like this wonderful glove that just holds me there, and I really like the way I sit in it. The best thing? It’s already broken in. It feels wonderful and is starting to feel like home to me. The good thing is that it fits Amber pretty damn perfectly. I found it interesting that the day I was trying on the Lund breastplate she ground her teeth when I put the jump saddle on. Dressage saddle got no such reaction. Pretty sure she likes it. The only sad thing is that I’ve been keeping my black stirrup leathers I bought originally for my jump saddle – holding out JUST in case the dressage saddle I bought was black. Sure enough it is, it’s just that….well….I underestimated that dressage wants a REALLY LONG leg haha. I have those leathers on holes 3 and 2 1/2 and here I was thinking I had short legs and the 53″ would work lol. Turns out I have very normal legs when it comes to nylon lined stirrups – I’m used to the unlined ones so they’ve always really stretched out. Which means I’ll HAVE to get new stirrup leathers sometime in the future and Lund has some great ones so….twist my arm for that, right? Haha!