Horses need to have well-fitting saddles. Fitting a saddle to a horse needs knowledge about equine anatomy, and saddle structure. Add to this the biomechanics of the horse and the mechanics of the saddle, and how they mesh. Video by Joanna Robson, Napa, CA
Here are two Icelandic Horses with different style saddles.
The first is a treed icelandic-style saddle. The lowest part of the seat is further back, putting the rider in a chair seat, which places most of the weight behind the action of the horse (center of mass), and on the weakest part of the horse's back.
This is a treeless western-style Sensation saddle. The rider will be aligned more with the horse's COM (center of mass). Even though the saddle ends past the last rib, since it's treeless, it's not a problem (there won't be anything digging into the loins), and the center of saddle (the low point) appears to be well forward.
The Icelandic Horse is not built to succeed or excel in dressage. Because of their conformation, they are not meant to be held in frame with contact. Their heads and necks are conformed for loose-rein riding.
Considering the problems in modern-day dressage, should we "do" dressage with Icelandic Horses?
In Gerd Heuschmann's new book, Tug of War: Classical Versus Modern Dressage, he writes a Preface directed to the USA (UK and other English speaking countries). Here are some excerpts:
"...Europe and Germany... has had an enormous influence... in the development of equestrian sport all over the world."
"...in order to cater to the market, the horse-training process is being shortened... A group of trainers has evolved who strive only for the quickest way to success."
"Such a monetary goal... isn't something fundamentally wrong, however, if on the way to such success the horse is reduced to a mere object... is not only very dangerous but also morally questionable."
"Some horses are being trained with mechanical and technical devices in the shortest time possible... being trained mechanically."
"Other nations... are attempting to emulate these quick training methods... "hand-dominated" riding is also being copied."
"Riders and trainers... in... the United States are widely imitating this procedure... despite the fact that hand and strength-dominated riding isn't part of the American way of riding at all. Remember... a light and horse-friendly riding style [of the US]."
"...it's an American, living... in Germany... who is showing the entire equestrian world that riding with feel and delicacy in harmony with the horse... leads to great success."
In Philippe Karl's new book, "Twisted Truths of Modern Dressage":
"One of the most outspoken critics of the modern dressage world reveals some disturbing facts about the physical, anatomical, and mental effects through official dressage guidelines as issued by the German Horse Society (FN) on horses. By comparing these with philosophies of masters of classical riding such as La Gueriniere and Baucher, he shows possible solutions to the challenging situation of modern competitive dressage."