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It's important that the saddle is not only comfortable for the horse but also the rider. All saddles should work in the same way for the horse - see The horse and The saddle for more details. What is defined as comfort for the rider will depend on what equestrian discipline the rider participates in and more generally in what makes the rider feel safe and secure.
The rider should fit comfortably on the saddle. The larger rider will require a larger saddle but that can conflict with maximum size saddle the horse can carry. This is often a problem with short backed cob types and ponies ridden by larger children.
Riders with long legs may need a longer flap.
If the rider is not straight and balanced they can cause the saddle to move. The answer is NOT to flock the saddle to the rider's imbalance as this will cause the horse to become imbalanced and could lead to pain and injury. The rider will need to focus on improving their own symmetry via training, exercise e.g. pilates and/or physiotherapy.
There are many types of saddle available on the market today for every equestrian discipline. They differ in the shape of flap, position of stirrup bars, size and position of knee rolls, depth of seat etc.
General purpose saddle - standard design for general riding including x country, hunting and endurance – slightly forward cut flaps, can have straight or cut back head, cantle can be round or square (good for drop fences in x country)
Dressage – straight flap to accommodate straight leg, deep seat, knee and thigh blocks for support
Show jumping – forward cut flap to accommodate short leg position, close contact concave tree for rider comfort and security.
Showing – straight flap to show off horses shoulder
Working hunter – inbetween GP and showing to allow for jumping
Racing – v short, v forward cut flap to accommodate very short leg position, close contact tree or ½ tree, minimal extras to reduce weight.
Western – has no flap. It has a very high pommel with a horn for roping cattle. Cantle is also high so aids rider comfort and security. Seat is more padded so rider can spend long hours in the saddle when working cattle.
Side saddle – has 2 pommels – fixed or upper pommel to accommodate the rider's right leg and the lower or leaping pommel underneath – both are set further back than a conventional saddle. Straight cut flap. Balance strap on off side only. Uneven panels.