HM Saddles FAQ
Are the stirrup bars set in the same place on both the Vogue Dressage/GPS/GPT and the FlexEE Dressage/VSD/GP?
All HM saddles are designed using the theory that a saddle should help you to sit in a correct position and you may find that the stirrup bar placement feels different to other types of saddle. All our GP saddles have stirrup bars that are placed ¾” further forward than the Dressage saddles so they should still enable you to jump, as well as sit in a more balanced position without having to fight the stirrup bars, which are nearly always placed too far forward. Ours allow the rider to sit in the ear, shoulder, hip, heel alignment with ease.
What kind of numnah/saddle cloth should I use with the FlexEE/Vogue?
Assuming that you don’t need to use any padding with your saddle (you will be advised on this during your fitting or via email consultation), then we would always recommend a plain high wither saddlecloth to be used with your saddle. In fact we would advocate using a high wither numnah or saddle cloth with any saddle, on any shaped horse, so that there is no danger of it pulling down over the horse’s withers and making them sore. We also find that it is better to use numnahs with short d-ring straps with our saddles rather than long straps that wrap around the girth straps – you usually find these on a Dressage style numnah.
My girth seems to get looser when I am sitting on the saddle – why is this?
As our saddles are so flexible, they react to the rider’s weight. When your weight is on the saddle, the saddle will be compressed and therefore lower towards the horse’s back. This, in turn, means that the girth will become looser, particularly with a brand new saddle that has never been sat on before. Therefore, we recommend that for the first couple of rides you keep checking your girth to make sure that it is secure until you get to know the saddle and until it beds in.
What is the difference between a Fhoenix and a Vogue?
The Fhoenix was the forerunner to the Vogue and is no longer in production. They are both made from the same materials but the Vogue is the latest version and, therefore a superior saddle to the original Fhoenix, the main difference being that the Vogue has a narrower twist and provides more spinal clearance than its predecessor, although there are other variations as well.
What are shoulder shims?
Shoulder shims are only used on the older style synthetic FlexEE, now only available used. That style of FlexEE has moulded ‘Owen’ panels that are laced in like a normal panel at the back and are velcroed into position on the front. Most horses (except for very wide horses with no wither) need more substance around the shoulder area to support the saddle so we have made the synthetic saddle more versatile. The ‘legs’ of a French panel can be easily added to the underside of the saddle just by using Velcro. The FlexEE Finesse does not require shoulder shims as it a French panel saddle.
Do I need to use knee rolls?
This is very personal to you. We make all our saddles with Velcro pads to attach knee rolls, as we understand that we are all different shapes and sizes and so we have made sure our saddles are as versatile as possible in this respect. You can even use different knee rolls, for example, from an old saddle if you prefer, just as long as they have Velcro!
What girth do you recommend to use with your saddles?
We recommend the Professional's Choice range of girths not only because they are comfortable for the horse as they are soft, but they also do make a significant difference to grip, so just using a different girth alone may well make the difference between a saddle slipping or staying put. Of course, your horse may get on perfectly well with another girth but certainly, if you are finding any stability issues, we would always look at the type of girth being used first.
Why do you use Dressage girths with all your saddles including GPs?
This is because they are less bulky under your leg, which gives you better contact and also more comfort for the horse. It also means that the pressure distribution is much better, because the girth straps are attached at 3 points along the length of the tree (Y-shaped girthing system) and not concentrated to one area.
When will my saddle be delivered?
We will advise you on ordering whether we have the saddle you require in stock and, if not, we will give you an estimated delivery time. Please note that if your saddle is not in stock the lead time can take six to eight weeks. All our saddles are delivered via courier, so saddles will only be delivered Monday to Friday. We use a next-day delivery service and usually dispatch saddles on a Tuesday or Friday. If you require your saddle urgently, then please do let us know when you order and we will do our best to accommodate.
Can I try before I buy?
We offer a service whereby you may purchase a saddle and if within 7 days you would like to return it, you will be refunded the purchase price minus a hire fee and postage.
Why doesn't my FlexEE look completely straight out of the box?
The flexibility of the leather tree sometimes causes the saddle to ‘set’ in transit, so that it may look slightly asymmetric once out of the box. However, the patterns are all matched minutely to ensure that all elements of the saddle match, both longitudinally and laterally, once in use on the horse. Of course this also depends on the symmetry of the horse, as an asymmetric horse can move a flexible saddle so that it appears to be asymmetric when it is the asymmetry in the horse that is causing it. This is why it is essential to get fitting advice, preferably from one of our approved fitters, but through our email and phone customer care if there is no fitter available in your area.
There is no agent in my area. What can I do?
We offer most saddles on a trial basis for a small fee (please see above), so this could be an option for you or you can send us photos and we can help you remotely with fitting.
I have been advised to use padding with my saddle but surely a well-fitting saddle shouldn’t need padding!
Due to the flexible nature of all our saddles, we don’t make adjustments to the saddles themselves (except for the gullet plates in the FlexEE leather saddles) so we would use padding to help with balance. However, more often than not we recommend padding because there is muscle wastage and, whether using a treed saddle or a flexible saddle, we would always advocate using the padding to replace the lack of muscle in an area and then fit the saddle to that. This means that you are not only giving the horse more protection where they need it, but also not hindering them developing that muscle, as they will not be restricted by a tight fitting saddle.
What is the difference between an Owen panel and a French panel?
Most horses will need a French panel (see first picture below), which means that there are ‘legs’ which run down the front of the saddle down the horse’s shoulders, but if you have a very wide horse then this may be too much.
The ‘Owen’ panel is a panel that doesn’t run down the shoulders (see below) and is suitable for very wide horses and ponies. Our HM Pad-dle has the option of either French or Owen panels. The older style synthetic FlexEE with an Owen panel is now only available second hand.
Does the 15” FlexEE saddle come with interchangeable gullet plates?
Yes, you have the option of with or without interchangeable gullet plates on the 15” saddle, although the vast majority of small ponies tend to be of the wider variety anyway and so they would very rarely be needed.