Check out the pros and cons of the versatile all purpose saddle, to see if one might be the right choice for your riding preferences. And if you’re looking for the best all purpose English saddle for your money, this article may help you find that one great saddle that can do many jobs!
Who Might Benefit from an All Purpose English Saddle?
If you concentrate on a specific equine sport, you might not want a general purpose saddle. You will probably choose a discipline-specific saddle tailored to keep you and your horse comfortable and keep you in the proper position for the narrow scope of your performance.
Furthermore, if you compete or show at an advanced level, you might invest in a specialty saddle for each discipline and each horse you own, to afford you every advantage you can have to get a jump on the competition.
On the flipside of specialization, what if you want to participate in several different sports; eventing, for example. Or let’s say you ride dressage part of the time, and then pivot and go for a hack on the trial or ride hunt seat on occasion?
What do you choose if you are a beginner, and you are not sure what you want to do? What if you want to purchase an affordable saddle that can get many different jobs done? The answer to these questions may be addressed by using an all purpose, or general purpose English saddle.
The Best All Purpose English Saddle for the Multi-Disciplined Rider
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View and compare the best all purpose English saddle brands used by top professionals around the world, including Bates, Collegiate, Wintec, Kincade and many more leather and synthetic models.
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Advantages of All Purpose Saddles
Simply, they can be used for many different types and levels of riding. The combined traits of the best all purpose English saddle provide a very practical solution to thousands of riders. What are some of the main benefits?
- The all purpose saddle is often favored by riders who jump their horses and ride on the flat. This style of saddle marries the separate characteristics required for both flatwork and taking jumps into one single saddle.
- The English all purpose saddle is very suitable for lower level showing, pleasure rides, or for use in schooling and starting horses.These saddles are a very cost effective way for an exhibitor to show in multiple horse sports using one saddle versus purchasing several specialty saddles.
- They are popular with trail riders as they are designed with medium depth seats for security. An additional plus for trail riders is that good quality all purpose saddles will have ample padding in the seat, making it very comfortable for racking up multiple hours in the saddle.
What Are the Disadvantages of the All Purpose Saddle?
While the English all purpose saddle has advantages as far as price, comfort, and versatility, there are also some definite disadvantages inherent in these saddles. Since the AP saddle is indeed a union of two different saddles, both in nature and in use, many advanced riders find that even the best all purpose English saddle may indeed be a “jack of all trades” yet a “master of nothing.”
- Some riders find that the position of the stirrup bars in relation to the flap is a compromise that is detrimental to the relationship between leg position and seat position.
- Many competitors find it difficult to achieve the proper position they need as they advance in competition. Since the stirrup bar is situated far away from the balance point (deepest point) of the seat, it positions the leg in front of the body which gives the rider the feeling that they are behind the motion, or feeling out of balance at all times.
- Additionally, due to a high cantle and a forward leaning tilt on the all purpose saddle versus the jumping saddle, the rider can get pushed too far forward for jumping in the correct position.
The Hybrid Traits of the English General Purpose Saddle
An all purpose saddle is a hybrid of two entirely different types of English saddles; the jumping or close contact saddle, and the dressage saddle.
Dressage saddles have long straight flaps to allow for the leg to hang straighter and be under the body. Dressage saddles also have long billet straps. Another distinct characteristic of the dressage saddle is the extremely deep seat. Some dressage saddles have varied degrees and shapes of knee rolls to aid rider stability.
Jump saddles / close contact saddles have flaps that are set farther forward to accommodate the shorter stirrups and bent knee position needed for jumping. Saddles used for fence work have a shallower seat. Additionally, the billets on saddles used for jumping are much shorter.
The fusion of the dressage and jumping saddles results in flaps that have more length than those of the jumping saddle, but not nearly as long as found on the dressage saddle. The flaps of all purpose saddles are moderately canted towards the front, but not nearly as extreme as on the typical close contact saddle. The seat of these all-around English saddles are usually of medium depth, and a compromise between the deep seat of the dressage saddle, and the shallow seat of the jumping saddle. The billets are of medium length which is yet another result of blending the dressage and jumping saddle.
Certain general purpose saddles employ a knee block and enough forward angle to enable the rider to assume a position suitable for taking fences. The generous flap of this saddle allows for multiple stirrup lengths and aids in keeping the leg on the flap over rough terrain with different elevations encountered in cross country rides.
An equestrian is also able to “stand up” in the all purpose saddle when negotiating differing jump elevations.
Best All Purpose English Saddle – For Many it’s the Ideal Solution!
When considering the purchase of a saddle, the all purpose saddle should be a strong contender when you need to balance versatility and price against specialization. Even with the drawbacks factored in, these saddles will always be a popular choice among equestrians.