The cutback saddle is a variation of the English show saddle, and it’s all about the razzle-dazzle. You’ll see it at saddleseat events, arena rides, and other exhibitions that showcase gaited horses and emphasize uphill paces. The cutback saddle has an impressive string of alternate names, and equestrians may refer to it as the Lane Fox or Park or Saddleseat saddle.
A horse with a high head carriage, upright neck, animated style, and responsive manner will show off its fancy footwork better in this saddle. Breeds most often seen wearing the cutback saddle include American Saddlebreds, National Show Horses, Morgans, Tennessee Walking Horses, and Arabians.
The typical qualities of the Cutback Saddle are:
• An opening or “cut” in the pommel creates more room for the high withers of the saddleseats and other gaited breeds. This allows the unrestricted movement of the forelegs and shoulders necessary for high-stepping paces. It also eliminates much of the chafing caused by the pressure of the saddle against sensitive areas, especially if a horse has high and narrow withers. This cutback can measure up to 4”, and it compensates for the minimal overall padding and absent saddle pad, which make the saddle sit uncomfortably low on the horse’s back.
• The seat is flat and long, placing the rider’s center of balance farther back to permit proper elevation of the horse’s front areas.
• Saddle flaps are longer and wider than those on a dressage saddle, and they extend farther back than any other English saddle. This coverage protects the rider’s legs, which are rather far back due to the shape of the seat.
• There are no knee rolls, sweat flaps, or saddle pads, as the saddle’s intended use is strictly for exhibition in the show arena.
• Thin leather allows the rider to sit very close to the horse.
• Stirrups hang very long, usually at least as long as dressage stirrups.
An Idea Worth Borrowing
Originally used exclusively for extremely high-withered horses, the cutback on the pommel began appearing in a modified version on close contact saddles in the 1970’s. It proved to be a good match for horse anatomy in general, and now you will find cutbacks of 1 ½” or more on many all-purpose, close contact, and dressage saddles.
Not for Heavy Workloads
The cutback saddle is a show-off saddle, designed to spotlight a horse’s lively bearing and elevated stepping. As it is not meant to be used outside the show arena, the saddle has a flat seat, thin covering, and little padding.
It does not offer the comfort, support, or protection of an all-purpose saddle or dressage saddle, and it does not do well under extreme or prolonged riding conditions. This makes it a poor choice for the casual pleasure rider or anyone engaging in rigorous horseback activities.
Check out the wide selection of quality Cutback saddles (including Lane Fox, Saddleseat and Park saddles) available at our eBay Tack Shop and at National Bridle, the saddleseat and gaited horse experts
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Cutback & Saddleseat Saddles Available on ebay
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