From Endurance to Dressage
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Do any of you read “The Clinic,” a photo/video critique column of Dressage Today? It’s quite interesting and includes a critique of the rider’s seat and riding ability by Axel Steiner. This is all very educational, but what I find particularly helpful is Terri Miller’s critique of the rider’s turnout and how the horse is presented. She frequently comments on the rider’s choice of pads, commenting both on the color choice and the size. Hmmm …
This is a problem for us. I don’t ride a big warm-blood. I ride an Arabian gelding, who is nicely sized, especially for his breed. He’s not all leg, he’s not too narrow, he’s proportionally correct. Since makers of dressage tack are unaware that there are non-warm-bloods competing in dressage, I am having trouble finding a dressage pad that fits my well-proportioned, but non-warm-blood, Arabian.
Last summer, I bought two dressage pads and one all-purpose pad for showing. Both dressage pads, while beautiful are … just … too … BIG.
The black pad is the Zinnia Ribbon pad from Equine Couture. It measures 25” x 22”. It is simply too long down his back, and the drop is so deep that I have to place my girth over the bottom edge of the pad. If I slide the pad back farther, the girth loop is too far back to be useful.
The white pad is a Lami-cell and much the same (24" x 22"). For this ride I skipped the girth loops which helped, but the pad stretches down to my spurs! Although if my leg were in a better position that wouldn't have been a problem. This photo is from last July. My leg position has improved since then.
The all-purpose pad … fits … well, mostly. The length along the spine is good. The drop is nearly perfect. But since it is an all purpose, the front edge of the pad has a curve for the rounder shape of non-dressage saddles. My compromise has been to just slide the pad back an inch or two. That sounds great in theory, but what happens is the straps for my girth are now placed too far back for them to be useful. The billet straps still work, but only just barely.
My favorite all-purpose pad, from Rider’s International, has double piping, has a perfect foam filling, and measures 22” x 37” - but it still isn’t perfect. It is slightly more square than the white all-purpose, but it doesn’t come in black, the white version has navy piping, and it still has a slightly rounded front edge.
This is the pad that I ordered. It's a Roma Merino All Purpose Square Sheepskin pad. It measures 22" x 20". The reason I went with this pad is that the half pad/square pad combination looks "busy" on Speedy G. In all these photos, the only pairing that looks "classic" is the one using the over-size Lami-cell pad. This pad was $84.94 (including shipping) at VTO Saddlery.
The pad arrived shortly after I first wrote this, and it fits REALLY well. I'll post pictures when I next have it on Speedy G.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: