A dressage saddle is designed to allow optimal communication with your horse by placing you in the centre of gravitity, providing a sufficiently deep seat to feel secure but still be able to absorb the horse's movement and by placing your leg long and relaxed to enable the appliciance of a minimum of aids (almost invisible aids).
The seat is deeper than in both GP or jumping saddles. Some dressage saddles provide an extra deep seat with a high cantle. The seat is in total is shorter than in GP or jumping saddles as there is no need to leave the saddle as it would be necessary when going over a jump.
The length of the saddle flaps:
The saddle flaps are much longer and straighter cut to allow the rider to use long stirrups without getting the riding boot caught under the saddle flap. You should be able to fit approximately four fingers below the rider's knee for a dressage saddle.
The knee rolls are longer in a dressage saddle again to allow optimal leg contact and a relaxed leg which swings with the horse's movement. Some dressage saddles come with thick knee rolls to support the rider in the correct position. This might be good for the beginning dressage rider but one should watch that it does not hinder the rider's muscles from relaxing into the horse's movement. To make dressage beautiful it is of utmost importance that the rider remains subtle through all paces of the horse.
Seat sizes vary from 16 to 19 inch in most saddles. You should be able to fit approximately a hand behind your bum. A seat which is too small will make it very difficult to sit in the point of gravity and therefore absorb the horse's movement. A too big seat supports the rider less and might feel like a boat aloowing too much movement on top of the horse.
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