8 of the Best English Jumping Saddles

by Michelle Drum April 16, 2020 5 min read

Equestrian jumping saddle

A properly-fitting saddle maximizes comfort for both you and your horse and aids performance by sending clear communication from you to your horse. Different kinds of saddles are designed for different riding disciplines, each with features that help you handle the requirements and skills involved in each discipline.

English jumping saddles are specifically made for hunter, jumper, and equitation. If you’re ready to get more serious about your performance in these disciplines, you’ll benefit from an English jumping saddle. This guide will share what you need to know about these saddles and recommend a few excellent options for you.


Jumping Saddles

English jumping saddles are designed with features for safety and comfort for hunter-jumpers. They feature forward flaps, and varying degrees of rotation designed to ease a rider’s leg position into the shorter stirrup length that’s required for jumping. They often have padded knee tolls made for show jumping to help make a half-seat position or two-point more comfortable. The pommel and cantle are low to assist the jumping position.

There are two types of English jumping saddles: close-contact saddles and eventing saddles. Each is designed for a slightly different purpose to provide value to the rider, depending on the type of riding and the riding discipline. Let’s look at each.


Best Close-Contact Saddles

Close-contact saddles, also called close-contact jumping saddles (or sometimes simply jumping saddles), remove the bulk between the rider and the horse. The seat is generally flatter, and there are smaller knee and thigh blocks with a forward flap, enabling a more comfortable ride with the shorter stirrup required for jumping. Close-contact saddles are generally used for the spectrum of hunters, jumpers, and equitation.

Here are some close-contact saddles that we recommend:


1. Wintec 500 Close Contact Saddle ($695)

This saddle provides excellent comfort and grip in a durable leather-look for easy care. You’ll be able to fly over any jump with freedom of movement with this thoughtfully-designed saddle that has an open seat saddle with a low cantle. This saddle has adjustable blocks, an ergonomic stirrup bar, a quick-change billet system, a short synthetic triple billet system, and an Elastiflex tree. You can personalize this saddle with a colored stirrup keeper.


Wintec 500 Close Contact Saddle


2. Bates Caprilli Close Contact Classic RearFB CAIR ($1814)

This saddle was engineered for precision performance thanks to its innovative technical design. It’s a comfortable and stable balanced calfskin saddle with an easy-change fit solution. The CAIR Cushion System is designed to maximize your horse’s freedom of movement and comfort. Additional features include an adjustable Flexibloc System, drop-panel point, quilted panel points, short triple-girth points, and ergonomic stirrup bars. You and your horse will enjoy a comfortable fit with a fluid cushioning, optimal impact absorption, and even weight distribution with this saddle.


Bates Caprilli Close Contact Saddle


3. HDR Pro Close Contact Saddle ($745)

This Henri de Rivel Pro saddle is a favorite at a budget price point. The saddle features a slightly flat seat with a low pommel and narrow twist, providing a good platform for equitation. It offers a generous flap that is suitable for most riders and a long flap version to accommodate taller riders.


HDR Pro Close Contact Saddle


4. Black Country Quantum Jumping Saddle ($3,705)

If you’re looking for a close-contact saddle with plenty of customizations for both horse and rider, this is the saddle for you. The trees generally include a ten-year guarantee and are adjustable up to one-width larger or smaller by the factory or an authorized repair agent.

Custom options for riders include velcro or fixed blocks, longer flap lengths for taller riders, front and rear blocks in different sizes, personalizations like the choice of leather type and color, and others. Custom options for the horse include wool serge panels to disperse heat and eliminate slipping, K-Panel for a greater bearing surface and more clearance for horses lacking muscle definition, and front gussets for better wither clearance on some horses.


Black Country Quantum Jumping Saddle


Best Eventing Saddles

Eventing saddles, sometimes called all-purpose saddles, have a deeper seat, a straighter flap, and bigger knee and thigh blocks than a close-contact saddle. This design is a hybrid of a dressage saddle and a close-contact saddle. The straighter flap and deeper seat allow riders to perform jumps as well as accomplish lower-level dressage without having to switch saddles.

The eventing saddle is designed to give a rider a more secure and confident ride across all types of riding. This type of saddle is a perfect fit if you’re unsure which discipline you want to commit to. Eventing saddles can be used for hunting, jumping, and equitation — however, at the upper levels they may be too bulky and don’t offer close enough contact to the horse.

Following are some of our favorite eventing saddles:


5. Bates All Purpose SC Heritage CAIR ($1,695)

This Bates all-purpose saddle has some innovative technology that riders of all levels will love. It’s adjustable with a Flexibloc option to combine leisure riding with jumping. This saddle also has a number of handy customizations, including an easy-change gullet system to adjust to the horse’s width, an easy-change riser system to make saddle panel adjustment for optimal balance and clearance, and an ergonomic stirrup bar which removes a thickness of leather from under your thigh to ensure comfort and improve contact. A rear Flexibloc and molded knee inserts can also be added.


Bates All-Purpose Heritage Saddle


6. Wintec 500 All-Purpose Saddle ($625)

The perfect mix of comfort and practicality, the Wintec is a great affordable option. It provides a secure seat and is made of an easy-care, durable leather-look. You can also personalize it with a colored stirrup keeper. There are some nice features in this budget-priced saddle that riders are sure to love.


Wintec 500 All-Purpose Saddle


7. Black Country GPD All-Purpose Saddle ($2,895)

Black Country makes some of the best saddles available with extensive customizations and styling. This includes many of the features in their close-contact saddle, like front gussets, K-Panels for greater bearing surface and clearance, and serge panels made of wool to disperse heat and eliminate slipping. This saddle tree also has a 10-year guarantee and is adjustable to one width larger or smaller.


Black Country GPD All-Purpose Saddle


8. Saddlery Arena All Purpose Saddle ($1,299) 

The Saddlery Arena offers security and comfort from the bridle-path to the training arena, you will feel balanced and supported in the thoughtfully designed saddle. Whether schooling in flat-work, jumping, or simply riding the local trails, the beautiful Arena All-Purpose saddle has been carefully developed with you and your horse’s comfort in mind. Available in classic brown, the Arena features quality workmanship with beautiful detail and European leather.


Saddlery Arena All-Purpose Saddle


How to Choose Between Close-Contact or Eventing

The choice of a saddle depends on how you plan to ride. When you start in the field, an eventing, all-purpose saddle will likely meet your needs, and it can be used for dressage work as well. And these saddles are likely to meet your needs until you’re performing at top levels. If you plan to focus on English jumping/hunting, you’ll want to look at an English jumping saddle designed specifically for these disciplines.

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