1. The General Purpose English Saddle
This saddle is bought by riders more than any other. Like the name says they are used for general purpose riding. You can take lessons, jump, practice dressage or just go for a leisurely ride using one of these all around saddles.
This saddle is recommended for use by adults or children who are taking lessons or love to ride on the flat, jump over small fences or practice for an up coming show.
The general purpose saddle is a little more comfortable than a regular jumping saddle and is great for everyday riding, however this type of saddle is not designed for any type of competitive riding.
2. The Jumping Saddle
Like the name says, these saddles are used in show jumping, fox hunting, hunt-seat equitation, and cross-country eventing. These saddles encourage the forward position that is so important with this sport. If you look closely at the jumping saddle you will notice that the saddle flaps are not only padded, but they are also placed farther forward than on other saddles. The saddle flaps give the rider a place to rest the knees as he or she rises up with the horse to complete the jump. The seat is flatter with a low pommel and the stirrups shorter than on other saddles. This is an ideal saddle for anyone wanting to learn how to jump. Riders who compete in jumping events also love the Close Contact Saddle.
3. The Close Contact Saddle
Many riders who have mastered jumping a horse in the Jumping saddle move on to the close contact saddle. It’s design is very similar to the jumping saddle with one exception. Most of the padding that makes a rider feel secure has been removed. This allows the rider to really feel the horse under them, a lot like bareback riding. Riders who use these saddle are often recognized as more advanced because the saddle does not give a sense of security. It may be argued that this is the best saddle to learn jumping on if you are confident enough to try.
4. The Dressage Saddle
The design of these saddles encourage a perfectly balanced seat, longer leg position with less padding on the flaps. The notable difference between this saddle and other English saddles is the length of the flaps and the way they hang. You can see that they hang almost straight down, unlike the jumping saddle where the flaps are hanging more towards the shoulder of the horse. The dressage saddle needs to be designed this way so that the riders legs will contact the horse in as small a area as possible. The whole point of dressage is to make it appear as though the rider does not have to do anything at all to get the horse to preform the dressage movements. The cues the rider gives her horse should be hidden by all but the sharp eyes of the judge.
If you were to use a jumping saddle for dressage, your legs would be to far forward and it would be very obvious to every one when you cued your horse with your legs.
5. The Endurance Saddle
These saddles as the name implies can be used for long cross country events. They are built for comfort of the rider and are lightweight for the horse. These saddles are mostly bought by folks who will participate in long endurance rides or by folks who just want to enjoy the pleasures of English riding anywhere anytime. These saddles are not only gorgeous and comfy, they are also very sturdy and will last a lifetime of riding. They make an ideal everyday saddle for anyone who enjoys riding a horse.
A few thoughts on buying an English saddle
There are many types of English saddles and some have dual purposes, some saddle makers will put extra features into a saddle to make them more appealing. When choosing a saddle for yourself, consider what you will use the saddle for and what your ultimate goals as a rider are.
Is it also worth noting that saddle makers don’t all use the same design templates. However even though there may be some variations in the general look and feel, the important parts like how far forward the flaps are or where the stirrups hang have been carefully calculated by saddle makers so that you will get the most out of the saddle and can confidently continue to improve your skills.
Quality should always be given the most consideration when buying a saddle. Not only do you need a good saddle to learn on, but your horse needs a saddle that will be comfortable on his back.
English Saddles built on solid wood trees and flocked with pure sheep wool are considered better than any other. Sheep wool is a natural material that adds a layer of comfort between the saddle and your horses back. Sheep wool can be replaced easily and as often as needed. Sheep wool does not hold moisture, it repels moisture away, keeping your horse drier and happy.
Used saddles are often for sale in horse forums, e bay, and most on line saddle shops. Beware if your buying a used saddle on line. Ask many questions and get pictures from all angles including underneath the saddle. Most used saddles are safe to buy and most saddles can be fixed up enough to restore their natural beauty and function. However the one thing that can not be checked is the saddle tree. This is the foundation of the saddle, from which all parts are built upon. If the tree is broken or badly abused the saddle will be un-usable. Some riders will not know they have a broken tree until their horse begins to act up and become very agitated. This often leads them to sell the saddle because they think it no longer fits their horse. A broken tree will be very uncomfortable for the horse and may even cause serious damage to his back. So use caution when buying a used saddle and if at all possible only buy used saddles off line where you can personally check them out..