As shoulder pads are replaced by dolman sleeves only to be replaced again by shoulder pads…and English Country style is replaced by minimalism is replaced by Cottage Chic…as bistro food gives way to nouvelle cuisine gives way to comfort food, what goes around comes around.
And so it is with dressage saddles. As it reaches its superstructured, overstuffed and over-intellectualized limit, the Ubersaddle may have reached the end of its useful life.
What makes me think so? The new, old-fashioned saddle from Passier — The Freemove Dynamic Dressage Saddle, the popularity of the Stubben endorsed by Catherine Haddad, and the louder and ever-louder “buzz” from people discovering or rediscovering the joys of riding in closer contact.
I think every rider wants to be the best rider he or she can be, and an Ubersaddle can make it — or appear to make it — easier. A superstructured saddle puts a rider’s seat and legs exactly where they’re supposed to be in order to be effective. Unfortunately, once they’re there, that’s exactly where they’re staying. Which prevents riders from moving with their horses.
The problems usually arise at the trot, when you see bobbing heads and rocking torsos and undulating lower backs, because the movement of the horse has to be absorbed somewhere in the riders’ body, and if the legs and seat are blocked, the movement will come out somewhere else. At canter, an Ubersaddle with too small a sweet spot can make even a good rider bounce her buns up and down in the saddle like a beginner.