Indiana 7 year old Icelandic with Round pen and indoor arena to ride in by  beginner.

 Question: I want to no what type of saddle to ride this Icelandic in -not quite 14 hands, Headset and bit. Right now im using a Big Horn lite Saddle for its what I bought for my QHmare..and the headset is 2 ear with snaffle bit.curb chain.And I have a McClullen saddle never used..Some ride gaited horses I've heard in McClellen....I have not rode this horse as of  yet ,but he has been ridden at this barn when  he first came in,for he coliced after casting  in his stall when first bought at this board  farm-4 days after I purchased him and so were  just getting started...I want to no how to  measure him for a correct fitting
saddle.......some use Dressage saddles...I  want to no if I use that how to measure him  and for a girth..his western saddle girth is  28 inches but to measure for an English girth
is quite different not familier  with that.So if I need all English which I use  to ride 25+ years ago.....thats fine also but  I'm planning on taking Dressage lessons to get started again at some point after taking  Western all last year....I dont have the same  horse....and need a Restart....

Thank  you..
Bonnie Walker

From Panelist Lukka

It's usually best to buy a saddle especially made for icelandics.

Sometimes people wonder why it's such a common phrase that you should buy an Icelandic saddle, or a saddle especially made for Icelandics, to ride them. Now, why is that? 

There is nothing that says that you HAVE to ride in an icelandic saddle (meaning a saddle made especially for Icelandics).  But so far, most or all of the other saddles I've seen get the Icelandics on the forehand.  The main reason is, that they put the weight of the rider too much forward, the rider is thus resting it's weight on top of the withers of the horse, or very close to being on top of the withers, and even  interfering with the movement of the
shoulderblade (when the horse lifts it's leg and takes a step in tolt, there is a huge rotation happening in the shoulderblade, and the horse should not have to squeeze the  shoulderblade under the saddle in every step).  To get the Icelandic to free it's withers and get off the forehand (thus getting less pacy, less trotty, and with more footlift), you have to be resting your weight a bit more behind on the horse than you do on most (I can't say all, as I haven't seen all saddles in the world) endurance, dressage, western and other such saddles.  The horse simply works better that way.  

But if you're riding a  horse that is all on the forehand, and the non-icelandic saddle you ride the horse in is not poking the horse in the back or the withers, and you're not dissatisfied by having the horse on the forehand, that's of course okay.  But if you want to be able to change the movements of the horse towards cleaner tolt, towards moving up and down in the withers and using the behind as a motor to carry the horse and move it forward, that is, if you want to do any kind of basic collection, it is at best very hard, and at worst totally in vain, if your weight is counteracting this process all the time.  I guess that many trainers have a hard time explaining exactly why an icelandic saddle is better,
they've propably never thought about it, but simply see that the same horse moves better in a good icelandic tolt saddle than other types of saddles. 

This does not mean that all saddles made for icelandics are good, there are differences between how they are made, but a good Icelandic saddle helps you collect your horse.
It seems as though the position of the stirrup leather on an Icelandic saddle is further back and straighter down than more typical English or endurance models. This keeps the leg more toward the middle of the horse and also away from the sides of the horse.     The tree, and consequently the panels of the Icelandic saddle are generally more flexible than traditional English and endurance models.  That helps the horse free the shoulder, it improves saddle fitting and makes it less likely that the horse gets sore from the saddle.
If price is a problem, Vintec makes synthetic saddles that are especially made for Icelandics, and they are not expensive. 



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