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Hi, I’m Ken Lyndon-Dykes from Saddleworld and today we are looking at jumping saddles, some of which will be close contact which are much favoured nowadays and others that are semi-close contact.

What do we mean by that?
Well, first of all, if we are to look at perhaps one of the most famous jumping saddles in the world which is the Nelson Pessoa saddle. This has a thin panel of foam and is called a close contact saddle and it gets you, surprise surprise, close to the horse. Almost always they have a fairly flat seat rather than a deep seat which some people do like. The roll on this particular saddle is quite hard.

This is also a Pessoa saddle and has got an adjustable pad for the knees to suit the riders own comfort and length of
leg. This particular saddle has also got an adjustable soft panel as opposed to the full close contact.

So we will talk about close contact saddles as they mean different things. This has a block panel therefore technically is not a close contact saddle, it's a semi-close contact but what makes it closer is that it only has one flap. So this is a single flap close contact saddle and also it has long billet straps on often thought to be dressage straps but plainly not so that the buckles come away from the leg. So the wide of the leg can come in here straight and has one role holding you fairly high up.

This is a close contact saddle.
Firm panel, not adjustable although the tree is adjustable with this one and detachable rolls as is this one.

When I first started riding on jumping saddles, people liked deeps seats and big rolls which
was great every time you got the stride right but no matter how good you are, you don’t always get the stride right.

I helped design the saddle for Nelson Pessoa a few years ago and I said why is it that you want a saddle that’s so flat? And he said, well when you are coming into a
combination, if you get the first part wrong and let's say the horse either a long stride or a very short one you get poked up the bum with a deeper seat throwing you forward, you are out of balance.

You are over the first part coming into the second or third part and you are taken by the roots. So with a close contact saddle, it isn’t what it does for you, it’s what it doesn’t do to you when you get the stride wrong, it allows your body much more freedom.  

So this is a very technical piece of equipment nowadays and if you go to most jumping competitions 9 people out of 10 will be on close contact saddle or semi-close contact saddles.

Semi being flat in the seat adjustable panel, full close contact, a non-adjustable panel but still fairly falt in the seat.

The amount of depth to the seat varies according to the riders liking and of course the shape of the horse because if you have got a horse with a very flat back you can’t have a deep seat. Or if your horse has a very dipped back you can’t have a very straight panel because it will bridge or have room underneath.

So get your local qualified saddle fitter to come along with a big range who will go through all of these things with you.

Team Horsemart
Published on 02-04-2019