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Saddle seat is a discipline that many people don’t know much about. It is an elegant style of riding popular among Saddlebreds, Morgans, Arabians, Friesians, Tennessee Walkers, and National Show Horses.
The best saddle seat saddle brands include the Freedman’s, Shively, Lovatts & Ricketts, and Joseph Sterling. Their saddles are often built from high-quality leather and provide a secure, comfortable seat. They provide riders with a proper position, allowing for success both in and out of the show ring.
The Best Saddle Seat Saddles
Freedman’s World Cup SG Saddle
See here on freedmanharness.com.
This elegant saddle is a top choice among trainers, amateurs, and equation riders in the Morgan, Saddlebred, and Arabian industries. The low-profile design and deep seat allow you to really feel your horse underneath you while still providing a comfortable seat.
The soft, super grip leather provides a secure seat while improving rider timing and performance for a better ride. With an adjustable stirrup bar that can adjust into four positions, you can easily find your proper leg position in the saddle. The reinforced wooden tree provides top-notch shock-absorbing capabilities.
This lightweight saddle naturally sits uphill, allowing you and your horse to perform at your best. The double “V” billet balancing system allows for a comfortable fit unique to your horse.
Shively MMX Cut-Back Show Saddle
See here on wcircle.com.
The Shively MMX was developed in collaboration with World Champion Horse Equipment (now Winner’s Circle) and renowned equitation instructor Lillian Shively. Shively has instructed numerous equation riders to multiple world and national titles.
Specifically designed with equitation riders in mind, the Shively MMX features an extra soft deep seat and adjustable stirrup bars. The unique special waxed leather finish provides a secure position. It features durable panels with a narrow gullet and a strengthened, reinforced tree.
With minimum padding, it offers close contact with your horse while providing top-notch comfort. The billets are constructed from extra strong leather for longevity.
Lovatt & Ricketts The Louisville Cut Back Show Saddle
See here on the Lovatt & Ricketts website.
The Louisville deep seat show saddle incorporates a laminated birch wood and spring steel tree. This unique tree sculpts to the rider’s thigh and allows the hips to drop in a more perpendicular angle, creating a more comfortable and also natural leg position.
In addition, the spring tree has enhanced Longitudinal (length) flexibility, allowing it to flex with the movement of the horse’s motion. The panels use the finest English pure wool felt and natural latex rubber that contours to the tree and the anatomy of the rider, creating symmetry between horse and rider. There are five positions on the adjustable stirrup bar, ensuring the rider achieves a proper position.
This popular saddle is made with X-Grip Water Buffalo with Ultra-Tack Calf Skin in the seat for a secure, comfortable position. It is designed to fit comfortably on your horse while providing close contact.
Joseph Sterling Millennium Masterbuilt Cutback Saddle
See here on sstack.com.
A popular choice among amateurs and professionals, the Millennium Masterbuilt is crafted with the finest English Sedgwick leather. The durable yet pliable Buffalo leather flaps offer a superior grip.
With four choices of billet positioning and a steel-reinforced spring tree, the saddle gives horses better freedom of movement so they can be at the top of their game. The well-padded, balanced panels are made to fit your horse while providing optimal comfort and contact. With a deep seat design, it places the rider in a natural position for ideal comfort, balance, and rideability.
The recessed barrel-adjust stirrup bars allow you to achieve a proper leg position. For a touch of elegance, the saddle even features black patent beading.
Perfection Ultimate Pro Show Saddle
See here on wcircle.com.
This high-quality show saddle has a sturdy hand-made resin-reinforced wooden tree. Only the highest quality buffalo hide is used to create durable, extra wide flaps which provide excellent grip.
A calfskin deep seat provides a smooth finish while also being comfortable for the rider. Cushion panels contour to the back while providing close contact with the horse. It also places the rider in the proper position to achieve balance and performance.
Adjustable stirrup bars allow riders to achieve the correct leg position. The billets are heavy-duty chrome-tanned strap leather that is capable of lasting years of wear.
Measuring for a Cutback Saddle
Cutback saddles are measured from the front of the pommel to the back of the cantle. The most common sizes for cutback saddles are 21 and 22 inches.
Generally, there should be about 3-4 inches of space between you and the back of the cantle. In addition, there should be about 3-4 inches of the saddle in front of your knee. Like for every discipline, a saddle should not go past the 18th vertebrae on a horse.
The cutback pommel adds about four inches to the length of the saddle. So, if you are a size 17 in a dressage saddle, you are a size 21 in a cutback saddle.
When measuring for a cutback saddle, sit somewhere where your thigh is at a right angle to your lower leg. Then, use a measuring tape to measure from your hipbone to the point of your knee. This handy guide from Saddle Seat Equitation Information Source can help you find the right size.
|Upper leg length||Recommended seat size|
|Up to 16½” (41cms)||19″|
|Up to 18½” (46cms)||20″|
|Up to 20″ (50cms)||20 – 21″|
|Up to 21½” (54cms)||21″|
|Up to 23″ (58cms)||21 – 22″|
|Up to 23″ (59cms) or longer||22- 23”|
What Type of Bridle is Used for Saddle Seat Riding?
Traditionally, a full or double bridle is used for saddle seat riding. A double bridle consists of two bits, the curb and bradoon snaffle.
Curbs bits on full saddle seat bridles often have a longer shank than curb bits on full dressage bridles. Typically the browband is maroon, red, or polka dot and sometimes will feature a matching noseband.
For training, riders will often use a snaffle bridle and martingale in addition to using double bridles. In some cases, such as roadster, academy, and training classes, a half cheek snaffle and martingale will be used.
Do Saddle Seat Riders Use Saddle Pads?
While training, riders will often use all-purpose or dressage saddle pads with their cutback saddles. Many riders will also use small gel pads as well.
When showing, horses will not saddle pads, however, many horses will wear small gel pads under the saddle. In academy classes, all-purpose and gel pads are commonly worn.