10 Best Dressage Saddles Actually Worth the Money (2023)

Dressage is one of the most popular equestrian sports, with both English and western riders participating.

The term dressage basically translates to training, and the best dressage saddles make it easier for the rider to improve both their own and the horse’s performance because of the deep, centered seat, the high cantle, and knee rolls that add security.

We Recommend

dressage saddle

Best Dressage Saddle
Bates Isabell

dressage saddle

Best for Tallest Riders
M. Toulouse

dressage saddle

Best Western Dressage
Circle Y

Best Dressage Saddles

1. Bates Isabell Dressage Saddle CAIR

dressage saddle

The Bates Isabell Dressage Saddle CAIR is the best dressage saddle for the money because it was designed by Olympic champion Isabell Worth, who knows exactly what riders need. This is the best dressage saddle with its deep, centered seat, Flexibloc system, and grippy leather that helps keep the rider secure.

There are many adjustable aspects to this saddle, from the gullet to the stirrup bars and girthing system. All these adjustable options can be a bit overwhelming but make it easier for the rider to achieve the perfect ride. The CAIR cushion system that the dressage saddle brand is known for will keep the horse and rider comfortable.

What We Liked 

  • Adjustable ergonomic stirrup bars for the perfect leg position 
  • The double-lined leather of the saddle provides extra grip for the saddle
  • An adjustable dressage saddle that fits any horse with the easy change gullet system
  • Deep and close contact seat makes it easy to communicate with the horse
  • CAIR cushion system ensures horse and rider are both comfortable

What Can Be Improved 

  • Limited seat sizes available with only three options
  • Only comes with one gullet size, other five must be purchased separately
  • Riders can be overwhelmed by the number of adjustable choices the saddle has

Weight: 14.8 lbs
Seat Size: 16.5’’ to 18’’)
Gullet With: 8.3” to 9.6”

2. M. Toulouse Aachen Dressage Saddle 

dressage saddle

The M. Toulouse Aachen is a high-end dressage saddle that is soft and comfortable with an anatomically designed seat that provides extra security.

The softness is because it’s made with calf leather, providing extra grip and further enhancing this quality dressage saddle. The Aachen is also unique in that it comes with a 19-inch seat option for the tallest of dressage riders, as well as half-seat sizes. 

The Genesis adjustable tree system means that the rider can use their saddle on all their horses. It can feel like there are too many choices, with the removable and adjustable knee blocks further adding to the saddle’s customization, but that’s a worthwhile challenge to handle.

What We Liked 

  • The soft and comfortable anatomically designed seat also provides security
  • Genesis adjustable tree system fits multiple horses 
  • Slightly forward position with a D-ring for a point billet two-in-one system
  • Comes in a 19-inch seat for the tallest of dressage riders, as well as half-seat sizes
  • Soft calf leather is comfortable and provides extra grip

What Can Be Improved 

  • The movable and removable knee blocks can give the riders too many choices
  • Warranty is only a five-year limited one for manufacturing defects
  • Stirrups, leathers, and girth aren’t included in the purchase price

Weight: 15 lbs
Seat Size: 16.5’’ to 19’’
Gullet With: 6.5’’ to 8’’

3. Circle Y Team Camarillo All Around Saddle 

dressage saddle

Dressage tack can be either English or western. The Circle Y Team Camarillo All Around Saddle is the best saddle for western dressage because it is an all-around western saddle with a deep seat, high cantle, and the flexibility to fit multiple horses. The three-way in-skirt rigging is adjustable and fits a variety of conformation types. There are seat sizes available for riders at all heights.

Equestrians exploring western dressage may find the tall swell and horn can get in their way but soon adapt to this saddle as they pursue the discipline. The beautiful acorn oak and basketweave tooling add a distinguished and elegant look.

What We Liked 

  • Many seat sizes are available, from 12.5-inches to 16-inches
  • Fits horses of a variety of conformation types because of the adjustable rigging
  • High cantle at four inches adds additional security for the rider and helps keep a deep seat
  • Beautiful tooling on the saddle adds intricate details
  • A trusted brand and high-quality saddle that will last for years

What Can Be Improved 

  • Seat size is measured differently in western saddles, be sure to order the correct one
  • Western saddles are heavier than other dressage saddles
  • The tall swell and horn can get in the rider’s way

Type: All Around Western Saddle
Weight: 35 lbs
Seat Size: 12.5’’ to 16’’
Gullet With: 6.5’’ to 8’’

4. Arena Dressage Saddle 

dressage saddle

The Arena is a deep-seat dressage saddle that uses precise and innovative design to help the rider perform in unison with their horse during dressage tests, all in a beautiful saddle designed for the job. The quality craftsmanship means the Arena Dressage Saddle is beautiful to look at and can withstand the rigors of regular training and competition. 

Riders love the fact that there is a brown leather choice in addition to the traditional black dressage saddle too. Unfortunately, there are only four seat size options, but some of these are half sizes. The long slender flaps let the rider have the long leg needed for dressage too.

What We Liked 

  • Comfortable saddle with a high cantle and balanced seat
  • High-quality craftsmanship makes a beautiful and long-lasting saddle
  • Long, slender flaps mean the rider can have long stirrups and leg position
  • Ideal dressage saddle for the seasoned pro or those just starting out
  • Choice of black or brown leather, both are soft and supple European leather

What Can Be Improved 

  • Limited seat size options with four choices, including two half-seat sizes
  • This saddle has beautiful leather but does need to be broken in some
  • Billets and stirrup bar aren’t adjustable at all

Weight: 13.5 lbs
Seat Size: 16.5’’ to 18’’
Gullet With: 8.3” to 9.6”

5. Wintec Isabell Dressage HART 

dressage saddle

The Wintec Isabell Dressage HART is a ladies’ dressage saddle that combines all the innovative design elements needed in a quality saddle in synthetic materials for a lightweight package.

This saddle is fully customizable with the gullet and riser system, as well as the Y-girthing system that provides greater stability. Recessed and ergonomic stirrup bars provide closer contact with the horse too.

The extra billet from the Y-girthing system can feel like it’s in the way at times, but adept riders soon figure out how to tuck it in and enjoy the flexibility it provides. While many ladies use the Isabell, men can also ride in it.

What We Liked 

  • Easy change gullet and riser systems allow for complete customization
  • The tree has ergonomic flex that conforms to fit the back of the horse
  • Stirrup bars are ergonomic and recessed for greater comfort and closer contact with the horse
  • Lightweight and easy to maintain because of the synthetic materials
  • The Y-girthing system is adjustable and provides greater stability

What Can Be Improved 

  • Black is the only color option
  • Extra girth billet can get in the way and be cumbersome because it’s not in use
  • It’s not a leather saddle and is instead made of synthetic materials

Weight: 13.2 lbs
Seat Size: 16.5’’ to 18’’
Gullet With: 8.3’’ to 10’’

6. Arena High-Wither Dressage Saddle 

dressage saddle

The Arena is a dressage saddle brand known for its quality and affordability. The Arena High-Wither Dressage Saddle is the best dressage saddle for thoroughbreds with its unique design that eliminates the pressure points these horses normally face in saddle fit. This design, coupled with the standard features of an Arena saddle make this a favorite among people with high-wither horses. 

The seat is deep and supportive, with quality leather and craftsmanship that can withstand the rigors of years of use. The slender and extended flaps make it easy to ride with a long leg. Equestrians whose horses have regular withers should not use this saddle. 

What We Liked 

  • Eliminates pressure points that horses would high withers would otherwise experience
  • A deep and supportive seat that is also comfortable for the rider
  • Made of supple, high-quality leather that is soft yet durable
  • Both beginners and seasoned professionals enjoy and use this saddle
  • Allows for a long leg with the slender and extended flaps

What Can Be Improved 

  • Not designed to fit horses without high withers, but they have a different saddle for those
  • It’s not a good saddle for inclement weather as it can become damaged
  • The bulky knee roll isn’t adjustable

Weight: 13.5 lbs
Seat Size: 16.5’’ to 18’’
Gullet With: 8.3” to 9.6”

7. Bates Dressage Saddle Heritage CAIR

dressage saddle

The Bates Dressage Saddle Heritage CAIR includes multiple adjustable features, from the gullet system to the girthing and knee blocks. These, along with the quality materials and craftsmanship, make it a top dressage saddle for riders at all levels.

The seat is deep and it features a very narrow twist, making it a closer contact saddle than some other types. The close contact allows for accurate and imperceptible cueing of the horse.

Bates stirrup leathers should be purchased, as the keeper is very narrow, and not all stirrup leathers will fit in it. Riders will love the soft and comfortable leather that makes training and competition a treat.

What We Liked 

  • Ergonomic and adjustable stirrup bar, making the saddle perfect for any leg position
  • Knee blocks are adjustable with the unique Flexibloc system and molded knee inserts
  • This is the best dressage saddle for high-performance horses
  • This is also the best dressage saddle for short-backed horses
  • Deep seat with a narrow twist for close contact and accurate cueing

What Can Be Improved 

  • The stirrup leather keeper is narrow, so the leathers also have to be narrow
  • Challenging to get fit perfectly at first because so much is customizable
  • It only comes with a medium size gullet

Weight: 14.3 lbs
Seat Size: 16.5’’ to 18’’
Gullet With: 8.3” to 9.6”

8. Wintec 500 Dressage HART 

dressage saddle

Many think of the Wintec 500 Dressage Hart as a cheap dressage saddle – but it is so much more. This saddle incorporates some of the most innovative design elements at a price point that allows anyone to try and enjoy dressage.

The saddle has ergonomic and comfort features that make it adapt to the horse and rider using it and keep both comfortable and moving freely.

It is a synthetic saddle, and that is a downfall for those that prefer leather. However, it does make care and cleaning the saddle really simple. The billet system can be changed by a saddler to fit any horse, and there are many other customizable features.

What We Liked 

  • CAIR Cushion Panel system evenly distributes the rider’s weight
  • Tree ergonomically flexes with the horse’s movements 
  • Saddlers can change the billet system for an ideal fit
  • Best dressage saddle for beginners as it is an economical and quality introduction to the sport
  • Easy to clean and care for by simply washing it off and then letting it dry

What Can Be Improved 

  • It’s a synthetic saddle instead of leather
  • Black is the only color option available
  • Best to only use it with one horse as the saddle conforms to fit that horse’s conformation

Weight: 13.2 lbs
Seat Size: 16.5’’ to 18’’
Gullet With: 8.3’’ to 10’’

9. Martin Saddlery Joe Beaver Calf Roper

dressage saddle

Western dressage riders will rejoice with the Martin Saddlery Joe Beaver Calf Roper. This saddle is comfortable and provides close contact with the horse. The shorter swell and horn cause less interference with the reins. There are five gullet sizes available on a reinforced tree, ensuring both fit for any horse and the durability and lifespan to last many years.

Technically, this is a roping saddle and wasn’t designed for dressage, but the parallels between the two disciplines make this a viable option. The bars have a wider flare to keep shoulder movement open and unrestricted. It was designed by a world champion calf roper, and he included all the features any rider would want.

What We Liked 

  • Close contact design allows the rider to easily cue the horse 
  • The rider’s leg hangs straight thanks to the weighted fenders
  • Swell and horn aren’t as tall so they don’t interfere with the reins
  • The reinforced tree adds to the saddle’s durability and lifespan
  • Five gullet size options offer something for horses of every shape and size

What Can Be Improved 

  • This is a heavy saddle at close to 40 pounds
  • Only comes in a light tan and oil color
  • Technically, this saddle is meant for roping and isn’t a horse dressage saddle

Type: Western Calf Roper Saddle
Weight: 36 to 40 lbs
Seat Size: 13.5’’ to 15’’
Gullet With: 6.5’’ to 8’’

10. Bates Outback Heritage with Swinging Fender CAIR 

dressage saddle

The Bates Outback Heritage with Swinging Fender CAIR brings the comfort of a stock saddle with a unique Australian design to the western dressage arena. Riders will enjoy the perfect fit and comfort this saddle combines with swinging fenders for full freedom of movement. 

Technically, this saddle is an outlier for both western and English dressage, although it’s growing in popularity among western dressage competitors. The sculpted seat and Poley blocks provide maximum security and comfort even after long hours in the saddle. It’s available in both black and brown colors and weighs much less than a traditional stock saddle does.

What We Liked 

  • Combines perfect fit for the horse with comfort for the horse and rider
  • Technically a stock saddle, but it feels more like an English saddle for some riders
  • Can be used in other disciplines like trail riding 
  • Swinging fenders give the rider greater flexibility and freedom of movement
  • The seat is sculpted to support the rider for long hours

What Can Be Improved

  • Seat size measurement is more complex than other saddles
  • Some riders have a harder time adjusting to the Poley blocks
  • An outlier that looks slightly out of place in both the English and Western dressage 

Type: Australian Saddle
Weight: 18.7 lbs
Seat Size: 15’’ to 16.5’’
Gullet With: 8.3’’ to 10’’

How to Choose a Dressage Saddle? 

Dressage saddle choice should focus on fit for the horse and rider, as well as the balance and alignment it provides. 

Deep Seat

A deep seat is one of the primary considerations when choosing a dressage saddle because it provides the rider with the support and contact they need to correctly ride dressage in training and competition. The cantle height is taller than most other English saddles and slopes down into a balanced seat.

High Cantle 

The high cantle of a dressage saddle is a hallmark that helps create the balanced seat so crucial in a dressage saddle. It should be two or three inches higher than the pommel, helping to keep the rider secure in the deep seat. Cantles are only one inch higher than the pommel in close-contact saddles.

Balanced Seat 

The balanced seat sits the rider squarely in the dressage saddle so that they are better able to keep the horse’s rhythm and tempo upbeat and allow the rider to make their aids clear to the horse. The balanced seat helps provide close contact with the horse and keeps the horse and rider in constant and imperceptible communication.

Knee Rolls

The knee rolls in a dressage saddle keep the rider’s leg in line with their hip. The plumb line from shoulder to hip to heel is essential for the dressage rider. Flaps and knee rolls are long. The knee roll also keeps the rider from moving too far forward and secure in the deep seat.

Quality 

Quality is an important characteristic to consider in any saddle, including a dressage saddle. They can be high-quality whether made of leather or synthetic materials, and the design and innovation used are an impactful part of the quality. A high-quality saddle makes it easier for the dressage rider to practice proper equitation.

FAQ

What is a dressage saddle? 

A dressage saddle is a type that is made specifically for the discipline of dressage and keeps the rider aligned correctly above the horse.

What is different about a dressage saddle? 

Dressage saddles are different because of the balanced seat, high cantle, and knee rolls that keep the rider’s hip and knee aligned.

What makes a good dressage saddle? 

A good dressage saddle is high quality and helps the rider stay centered and aligned with the horse.

Are dressage saddles heavy? 

The typical dressage saddle weighs around 15 pounds or less.

Are dressage saddles comfortable? 

Dressage saddles are very comfortable because they are designed to keep the rider centered and balanced.

What’s the difference between a cutting saddle and a dressage saddle? 

A cutting saddle is a western saddle for moving cattle and a dressage saddle is an English saddle for balanced training.

Can you do cutting in a dressage saddle? 

You can do cutting in a dressage saddle, but if you get serious about the discipline will need a cutting saddle.

What is the point of the sliding stop in dressage?

Dressage riders don’t complete sliding stops but do a square halt at the beginning and end of every test.

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