Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why We Chose Not to Use Icelandic Saddles

These images show the difference between jineta and brida saddles.

Saddles should not sit past the last rib, approximation marked by the red dot. The dot on the saddle shows the "seat" of the saddle. There is a dot that shows where the stirrups are hung, and the third white dot shows an approximation of the horse's center of mass.

When you ride, you want to be aligned with the horse's center of mass. Which saddle helps you do this?

Jineta and brida style riding and saddles:

Jineta saddles and jineta style riding is balanced riding where the saddle has stirrups more centered, which allows for the rider to be balanced and in alignment from shoulder, hip, heel. "The jineta saddle promotes loin coiling in the horse, ensuring his comfort and mobility including that of his rider." (Quote from the Conquerors.)

Brida saddles and brida style riding is heavy to the rear, feet forward, riding the horse's face. "Brida" is short for "riding from the hand". "The rider's weight pressing down on the tabs crushed the horse's loins, ensuring that he maintain a hollow back, a high head position, and often, a forced ambling gait." (Quote from the Conquerors.)

Here are another couple of examples. This is an icelandic saddle on an Icelandic Pony mare, who does not have a short back.

One image shows the saddle set up front to try to keep it off her loins. As you can see the saddle is "perched" in the front and angled down. The rider's seat is behind the horse's center of mass.

The second image shows the saddle sitting back further, which puts the rider ever further behind the horse's center, and more of the saddle and weight past the last rib, onto the loins.

If you are trying to determine saddle fit for your Icelandic Horse / Pony, one important consideration is the placement of the last rib. Saddles should not sit past the last rib.

Here are a couple of pictures showing how to find the last rib on an Icelandic Pony:


Anonymous said...

The saddle shown is a very 'old skool' icelandic saddle. App. 30 yo? Much has changed since then. Further more the fit is extremely poor - it clearly does not fit either of the horses shown.

I also use a treeless saddle for my icelandic, but I know for sure, that it is possible to find modern icelandic style saddles, that will fit and not harm the horse.

I do not hope that anyone will use these pictures, as an reason for not choosing an icelandic style saddle, as they do not represent facts very well.

Br, Sara...
...a Danish (not the donut) Icelandic enthusiast! :-)

IceRyder said...

Sara, do you have any pictures of any other icelandic style saddle on an Icelandic Horse?


Anonymous said...

there's loads of newer icelandic saddles. especially those by german firms who have been building dressage saddles, etc. in the past like stuebben, passier, etc. also there's newer models by ástund which are a lot more fit to the back of an icelandic horse than those old stock saddles used to be.

IceRyder said...

Thylja, do you have, or can you get some pictures of the saddles that you mention, on some Icelandic Horses?

That would be very educational.

We see that these old stock saddles are used quite a bit in Iceland and on trekking horses.

Would love to see how the new saddles fit the horses to see what differences there are.

We'll be very glad for you to get some pictures for us!



Anonymous said...

I can definitely send you the links to the companies' websites where you can take a closer look at the saddles. without horses though.
you might want to take a closer look at this link:
unfortunately the site is in german, but if you use a google translator or babelfish you should be able to read it and find contact to anna sievers,who is a professional saddler(?) specialied in icelandics and who should be able to give you tons of informations on this matter.

IceRyder said...

Thanks, Thylja (love your name!). I will write to her and see what she has in regard to pictures.

I'm surprised that there are no pictures on her site of saddles on horses!

I think that is a big problem with the saddle websites. The saddles need to be shown on many horses to get an idea of how they fit.

Putting a saddle on a saddle stand and taking a picture of it like that is not so helpful to see how it fits a horse :-).

Do any of your friends have Icelandic Horses and use newer saddles? Do you think you can get some pictures of real horses and real saddles for us?


We really appreciate your help!


Anonymous said...

I can definitely try, my horse (just starting to ride him) is in for a saddle fitting too, but I have a few ideas. I'll see what I can do and get back to you then.
Best wishes :)

IceRyder said...

Thanks Thylja.

I wrote to Anna at I was surprised that there were no saddle fitting pictures on her site, but even more surprised that she wrote back and said that she has no saddle fit pictures!

I can't believe it!

As far as I know, my site is one of very few that has Icelandic Horse saddle fitting information which includes pictures and video of the saddles actually on the Icelandic Horses.

I'm so glad to have your help on this situation and would be very grateful to get more pictures and videos from you and your friends.

Have you seen the saddle fitting videos on

Anonymous said...

hm. I kind of understand that when she does her work she's more focussed on giving informations, paying attention to the horse, the owner, etc.
i actually didn't know that video at hestakaup (although I used to watch the other videos like a while ago), but thanks for pointing it out to me!
An icelandic's back should not look like those in the videos, no clue how old they are... but there's zero muscle on either one of them, a horse older than 20- 25 can have such a back... but holy moly... especially as an adult I would not dare to sit either of them...

Nina said...

I´m from Germany. So my English isn´t pefect ;) But I want to say, that there much new saddles for Icelandic Horses. Good saddles I think ... But they´re don´t cheap :) Sometimes you´ve to search for a saddle which fits on your horse, but I ride my Icelandic Horse in the "normal" style and I don´t think that this is wrong. My horse isnt a "sport"horse but I train dressage and tolt much and also ride outside. I really love my horse but Ißm very happy when she´s tolting (I don´t know what you say in germab tölten..) good. Here some sides with new Icelandic Saddles. You cam also find me on youtube. (membername: 94carmi);jsessionid=154ad23d6c127c5/shopdata/index.shopscript

IceRyder said...

The sites don't really show the width of the saddles very well.

Mindbuzzler said...

Hi everybody,

Disregarding which saddle you go for it needs to fit both the horse and the rider. If an 18 inch saddle, disregarding what type, sits on your horse's loins it does not fit him. As far as I am concerned saddles in general are made to provide the rider with more comfort and at the same time do not interfere with the horses back, shoulders, ligaments and muscles. The Icelandic saddle is made to accommodate for the extra gaits of the Icelandic and to provide an extra smooth experience for the rider. Here is a websites which might help: Saddle Fitting

IceRyder said...

You said: "The Icelandic saddle is made to accommodate for the extra gaits of the Icelandic and to provide an extra smooth experience for the rider."

How does that work? Can you describe how it's made to accommodate for any extra gaits, and how it's made to make it an extra smooth ride?

Anonymous said...

I ride in an Icelandic saddle.

And that is an ANCIENT saddle. Really. Maybe about 20 years ago this would be common, but saddles develop. Mine is larger than an english saddle, but it fits behind the shoulder. And how much different is that from Western saddles?

I have been riding horses since I was 6 years old, and Icelandics since I was 9. And I can assure you, these horses are not miserable.

Anonymous said...

Sara's right, that is an ancient saddle. Nobody uses them anymore. I ride in a specially designed icelandic dressage saddle, which is actually very wide.