It may seem silly to buy a saddle when I don’t even have a horse of my own. Typically, when I ride somebody else’s horse they let me use their tack, and that works out fine because that way I know the saddle will fit the horse I’m riding. But to ride miss Jammy I had to use another boarder’s saddle, and I hate borrowing stuff. Especially expensive stuff.
There are many reasons why it isn’t a good idea to buy something like a saddle sight unseen and without trying it, such as there may be damage not visible on the listing photos, it may not fit rider or horse, etc. But you see, I once had a Passier dressage saddle very similar to this one, and the seller was allowing a 14 day trial, so I could try it pretty much risk free and only be out the return shipping if I didn’t like it. Those are very acceptable terms in my mind for something so hard to find.
Dressage saddles nowadays are made differently, with thick padded flaps and (what I consider) obtrusive knee rolls. I don’t like them. This Passier is brown and has short billets, so it’s totally out of style, with plain flaps and barely-there knee rolls underneath.
Here’s the boring back story:
My first dressage saddle was a Crosby Prix St. George, and I got it for Christmas one year, probably 1988. Up until then I had been doing all 3 phases in a Crosby Hunterdon close contact jumping saddle, but that’s another saddle saga. I think pretty much all the kids out at the barn got dressage saddles that Christmas, and those of us who didn’t end up with the Crosby had a County Competitor. I vaguely remember getting to ride in both and liking the Crosby better.
I spent the summer of 1991 training at Fox Covert, and while there I ended up riding in a Passier Hanover dressage saddle. One of the other students and I decided to switch horses just for fun, and that’s what she had. After we rode around on each other’s horses for a bit, she told me that she didn’t like my saddle. I then said, “Well, I love yours!”
So I decided to sell my Crosby and get a Passier. The trouble was, new Passiers were way too expensive, and the people who rode in them really liked them. So finding a used one was a challenge. Passier may have already quit making those dressage saddles by then, I can’t really remember, and I’m too lazy to research it. Point is, I let my Crosby go for something like $500, and when a Passier finally did come my way, it cost $750 and was in very used condition.
Oh, and my previous Passier wasn’t a Hannover but a Century, which was the closest thing I could find. But I loved it anyway. My Century dressage saddle didn’t even have the slight knee rolls, and the flaps were totally flat. That meant no padding or extra bulk between my legs and the horse. Awesome.
You don’t see dressage saddles like that anymore. The Devoucoux, Barnsby, and Prestige dressage saddles I’ve borrowed in recent months, and all the ones I’ve seen, have massive knee rolls, which do help position your leg back and underneath you, and I understand why some people really like that. If you’re doing a lot of dressage schooling, it is easier to ride in a saddle designed for flatwork. The more you can stay in the correct position, the better the horse will go, and your aids will be both more effective and subtle. But I really don’t like having all that bulk around my legs.
That’s why I prefer riding in an older Albion Legend jumping saddle at WBF. I think they use it for lessons, and they don’t mind me borrowing it when I go out there to ride. It does have padded flaps and adjustable thigh blocks, but they don’t get in my way when my stirrups are longer for doing flatwork. It’s great for jumping, too! Well, at least it was those two times I jumped Jasmine in it.
Resigned that I would never again ride in the kind of dressage saddle that I knew, loved, and then gave away when I started having kids, I figured there’s no point in looking for one. Besides, you can do flatwork in a jumping saddle, but ever try jumping in a dressage saddle? No, thanks. So I was keeping my eye out for an Albion Legend or similar with forward flaps, but so far I haven’t found anything in my price range.
When I stumbled upon the eBay listing for this NEW Passier Hanover dressage saddle, my first thought was, “How can that be when there aren’t any new Hannovers?!” For a fleeting moment I hoped Passier had brought them back and would be making many more. But no, this Passier Hanover sat around somewhere in storage for the past however-many decades. I don’t know how the seller acquired this gem, and it was sent to Passier for some modifications, but the saddle was still technically new, and I had to have it.
That old Passier Century dressage saddle I had 22 years ago was close to the same price, which I find hilarious, but very, VERY lucky for me. Now I just need the fittings…