Thigh/knee blocks and seat depth for custom saddle

Sep 16, 2003
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#1
Okay, the custom dressage saddle I may order comes with options for:
(i) how big I want a thigh/knee block
(ii) seat depth.

Just curious to get some feedback on this. Thought/comments?

Here's my story: I am a fairly beginner/novice dressage rider, and have used so many saddles that I have not developed a strong preference for anything in particular. I hear the default block is quite notable in size, and I can request that it be a bit smaller (the stirrup bars are placed a bit further back than many saddles and I have heard allow for a great position, so maybe a larger block becomes redundant, or maybe it is nice - some riders must like it I guess). I'd think a standard seat depth might be fine for me - you can see the standard seat depth in the picture below from their web site:

 

SpyGirl

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May 25, 2006
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#2
I would say if the stirrup bar is already in the correct position, go for the smaller knee block, and no thigh block. The depth on that picture looks good. Is there a demo or something with 'default' options that you can try first, so you can say, well I would like this smaller and this bigger?
 

kelsey

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#3
It depends if you want to be "locked" into position or you want to be able to find your own position.

My first dressage saddle was a Kiefer Action (or Berlin) that has huge knee blocks and a very deep seat. It is mainly used in Europe as a training saddle (from what I understand) - you can sit a bucking youngster by pressing your knees forward into the blocks. At the time I rode in it, I thought it was great and it "seemed" that I had a good position.

Having said that, when I got my next saddle (Keifer Wein), it had much smaller knee blocks and very small thigh blocks, but still a deepish seat. I came to prefer it to the Berlin as it now seems very restrictive to me.

Lately I have tried several saddles out, and I really don't like the deep seats and big blocks at all now. The saddle that put me in the best positions was a very flat Schleese (too bad the seat was like a rock!)

I ride a lot without stirrups and I think my position and balance have evolved to the point where I am not relaxed when forced into it. So what you like/need in a saddle now may change as time goes by.

I am now waiting to try out a used Hennig with small blocks. It also has the stirrup bars further back, which is a good thing.

Remember to ask about the twist on your saddle - I can't ride in wide twists, but there are others who can't stand the narrow ones.

Saddle shopping can be very stressful!
 

Tangle

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#4
When OH and I were looking for a new saddle, we were looking for a relatively flat seat - as with Kelsey, we didn't like being locked in too much. However, if Skeet's trot is going to stay SOOOO bouncy, you might find the extra support handy :confused:

Knee/thigh blocks...
Personally I wouldn't have thigh blocks on a dressage saddle (unless they're so small they're not doing anything, imagine doing no-stirrup work :eek:!). Knee blocks where something OH and I had a disagreement over - I wanted them, he didn't. So we compromised. The saddle has very small knee blocks stitched on (I think to the back of the flap). And we have a more substantial pair that I can velcro on as and when I feel the need. If you're dithering, could be worth asking if this is an option - then you can modify over time.

Good luck - and have fun choosing :)
 
Sep 16, 2003
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#5
Bumping this thread.

I am going to order the saddle soon, so thought I would bump this up in the list to see if any other feedback!

By the way, can someone describe where thigh vs. knee blocks are positioned relative to one another - what is the difference?
 

Tangle

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#6
My understanding is that knee blocks are the ones in front of your knees. Thigh blocks fit behind/under your thigh - you often get them on close contact jumping saddles, such as this:


Large knee blocks (and no thigh block) is a more common configuration for a dressage saddle in my experience:


If you have a saddle with large thigh blocks, your leg is restricted in how straight it can hang. If you have a very deep seat, combined with large knee & thigh blocks, you will be fitted in pretty tight ;)
 
Last edited:
Sep 16, 2003
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#7
Okay, thanks Tangle! Now I get it! :)

So the default Regal is a pretty big knee block - no thigh block. So, the question is how big do I want that knee block! Still unsure of this. I may just go with the standard large one, or maybe medium. Once there is a knee block, how much difference would it make how big it is - it would position your leg back once it is there no matter how big, and it is just a question of feel to the rider, correct? :confused:

It seems a larger knee block might help you out if the horse ever decided to buck?! But how likely is that with Skeeter?! Not at all, so not relevant...
 

Tangle

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#8
If you can't try the different options out (which sounds pretty impossible) then I'd really REALLY ask them about velcro on knee blocks. They can have quite a big impact on how you can use your leg and, if very large, can be quite restricting.

Standard on our saddle is a pretty small knee block (maybe 1/2 inch?), and I was VERY unsure that this was going to be enough to make me feel secure (my seat not being as secure as OH's). So they added some velcro and threw in some larger (another 1.25" ish?) detachable knee blocks.

The difference between them is either having a ridge that you can slide over pretty easily if you want, to having something that you're knee pretty well cannot pass, no matter how much you may want it to. Bringing your outside leg slightly forward to help stop the horse falling out through it's shoulder can be useful as a reminder - but becomes much harder with very large knee rolls, as one example.

Sorry - waffling now :eek:. To sumarise, I guess I'm now very glad our saddle doesn't have stitched on large knee rolls. If you're not 100% sure you want them, I'd try and have them removable - the price you'll be paying it shouldn't be a problem ;)
 
Sep 16, 2003
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#11
CanadianRider said:
I have nothing constructive to add :rolleyes: .

I am guessing that since you are planning on ordering the saddle everything went well last night and you liked the saddle. That's great.
Yep, had a nice visit with my old trainer and got to have a quick ride on Topper to try out the saddle. He is a lovely horse. Also her new horse arrived when I was there, and it was nice to see her. I was there about 2 or more hours, chatting and such. Too had you were not there.
 
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#12
Absolutly agreed with Tangle - get them to make you removable blocks ;) If you're getting it custom made, it's the least they can do ;) Then you could get little knee blocks and big knee blocks and use them as and when you want. It's easy to do - saddle surface has the soft loop side of rip-stick/velcro, knee block has the harsh hook side. And them you can also position them where you want them.