Animal Rescue Site
HoofBeat New Events Diary - March 2009
The Brooke
World Horse Welfare Special Interview
Society of Master Saddlers

Saddles for Eventing – What's the Score!

The Importance of Fitting a Bridle Correctly

The Society of Master Saddlers offer advice on what to look for when it comes to saddles for the sport of eventing

The magic of visiting a major three-day-event comes high on the list of must do's for most equestrian fans throughout the year.

From Badminton to Burghley, Bramham and Blenheim – there is something very special about watching horse and rider as they tackle three very different disciplines in such a short space of time.

Here the Society of Master Saddlers discusses various options when it comes to buying saddles for your chosen sport.

It has to be said that Eventing can be more expensive than other disciplines in relation to tack and equipment because, ideally, most riders would prefer to have specialist saddles and bridles for each phase.

This initial investment may be beyond the means of riders starting out at unaffiliated level or the lower stages of affiliated level with most having to compromise and make do with one saddle in the initial stages, then as rider's progress, extend their range of saddles further.

The Society of Master Saddlers recommends riders never to compromise by buying inferior 'cheap' saddles that may involve poor quality materials and low standards of craftsmanship that could impact on welfare, safety, comfort and performance. If the budget doesn't allow purchase of good quality new saddles, better by far to consider buying a good quality second-hand one.

A rider whose budget extends to two specialist saddles will probably opt for a dressage saddle and a jumping saddle. It is with the jumping saddle where some decisions need to be made because the saddle that will best assist the rider in the show jumping phase may not beabsolutely identical to the one that would be most helpful across country. 

Because they afford the rider manoeuvrability, close contact saddles are by far the most popular with the show jumping fraternity! The cross country rider also needs 'space' in order to adapt their position if something goes slightly wrong. Because of the diversity of the fences, the rider also adapts his position far more across country than in the show jumping arena. Riding across country, most riders prefer a saddle that incorporates some form of knee roll that adds to their security – and it is also important to consider the shape of the saddle if the rider intends adding an overgirth.

Riders starting to event at riding or pony club level will usually choose to use their existing saddle probably a GP of some type. 'GP', 'Event' and 'All-purpose' are among the names manufacturers give to saddles designed to cope with more than one discipline. In recent years, a lot of research and development, often working with elite riders, has gone into the design of such saddles. However, they all involve compromise because no one saddle can perfectly fulfil the needs of two different disciplines.

The very diversity of today's ranges of saddles indicates the importance of seeking advice from a Qualified Saddle Fitter.

Use the services of a Society of Master Saddlers' qualified saddle fitter to undertake fitting checks regularly.Always have a new saddle fitted and recognise that it is at least equally importance to have a second-hand saddle fitted. SMS saddle fitters have a comprehensive knowledge of saddle brands and designs. They are aware of the rules and regulations applicable to tack and equipment used in all the equestrian disciplines and sports, and offer advice and professional services.

Information about the Society of Master Saddlers can be found on the website: or telephone 01449 711642.

Interview sourced from