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Dressage Saddles - History & Buying & Selling

A High School Dressage Saddle.

The evolution of dressage saddles in the 4th century B. C. named Xenophon, wrote about his training and teaching. His writings are considered today to be the first known manual of Classical equitation. This early rider, trainer, military man and author maintained that a deep seat, accompanied by various shifts of the rider's weight can be used to both collect the horse and signal the horse to perform various movements.

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Another historical moment in the long term development of dressage saddles occurred in medieval times, when knights with their heavy armor, sat with legs widespread in a deep saddle with high forks on both the front and the back of the saddle. The rider was able to maintain the horse s balance only by shortening it, and so collection of the horse became a fundamental principle of a system and the art of riding. The collected and skilled movements of the horse were an asset on the battlefield and culminated, after centuries of perfection, in High School dressage.

Modern day dressage saddles are designed to place the rider in the center of the horse and enable the accomplished rider the subtle use of weight and leg aids. The rider s legs are positioned very close to the horse, with only the thinness of the sweat flaps of the saddle being between the horse and the rider's legs. A dressage rider s leg position is almost straight down from the hip. The riding position draws an imaginary vertical line from the rider s ear straight down through shoulder and hip, to his or her heel, with only a slight flex to the knee. Thus the point of balance in dressage saddles is a few inches behind the pommel of the saddle, which is where the weight of the rider s seat is naturally placed when riding with long stirrups.

Since the discipline requires a long stirrup length, for position of the rider's legs, dressage saddles are made with very deep seats which in turn requires a much straighter cut to the design of the saddle as a whole. The flaps of the saddle are therefore also straight although top-quality dressage saddles will also offer the buyer a choice of short, regular and long flap lengths.

On the leg flaps of dressage saddles, there is also constructed a thigh roll on the front of each flap. This supports the leg, and this support allows even the beginning rider to position their legs correctly for this exactly and refined discipline and a dressage saddle is required to be used in all classes by the international governing body for all Olympic equestrian disciplines, of which dressage is one of three disciplines.

In dressage work, the rider's control, the rider s ability to become one with the horse, the rider's skill in the use of very subtle aids of weight, leg, and collection of the horse in performing dressage movements are greatly enhanced by the current standards in the development of dressage saddles and there are many famous saddle makers all over the world today. While there are slight manufacturing differences and variations, and while the art continues to improve, basics of weight and the rider s use of all aids to achieve the highest standards in the performance of the discipline remain paramount.

Listings on this site by companies who make or sell dressage saddles can be located in the Shopping section of the site, and individual listings will display product information, often photos and pricing, and contact emails, phone numbers and links to individual Tack or Saddlery shops.

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