For the discerning rider, there is no substitution for a good, high quality jumping saddle and synthetic jumping saddles are a variable alternative to traditional leather. Jumping saddles come with a slight curve in the seat, wide padded flaps to give good knee support, and a short stirrup length, all tailored to keep the rider firmly in the saddle during the most rigorous of leaps.
For these reasons, jumping saddles are frequently called close-contact or forward-seat saddles. Other features include a balance set further back than in traditional eventing saddles, and a low pommel that won’t get in the way of a rider’s posture. Just as in other types, jumping saddles can come in traditional leather or synthetic materials, such as Cordura.
There is a substantial debate between which material is superior, just as there is in many other competitive sports. However, synthetic materials do offer significant advantages over leather saddles that interested riders may wish to consider.
Foremost is that synthetic saddles are typically lighter than leather saddles. Saddles are heavy, and the longer a heavy weight rests on a horse, the more wear and tear on that horse’s muscles. Riders looking to spend a lot of time in the saddle can give their animal a break by reducing the load carried.
Leather saddles also, due to material costs, production means, and overall popularity, cost more than synthetic models. Horse riding is expensive, and a good synthetic saddle will offer similar durability to a leather version for less investment.
Finally, all it takes to properly maintain a leather saddle is a damp cloth, rather than the oils and conditioners required to keep a leather saddle in good condition. While leather saddles are by no means an inferior choice, synthetic jumping saddles are a viable option for riders looking for a lower cost, equal quality alternative.