2 Seat Styles & Panel Designs
Someone recently asked me about different types of panels and how they interact with different seat styles.
The black saddle with “pointed/regular” panels has what we call a “back seat”, where the rider sits behind the horse’s center of gravity. The seat is sized so the rider is quite snug, as shown in the second picture (the rider with the tan boots). This saddle was recently bought and custom fitted to this rider, so it is the correct size for her, according to the brand’s Fitter. Because the rider’s weight is much further back, the panels MUST extend behind the cantle in order to cushion the rider’s weight.
The brown saddle pictured has a more traditional scoop seat and “upswept” panels. “Upswept” panels are designed to taper off just behind the end of the jockey skirt (where it attaches into the back of the seat).
In the traditional “scoop seat” design, the rider sits more forward, directly over the horse’s center of gravity. The seat is sized so that there is the customary 4 fingers of space between the rider’s buttocks and the edge of the cantle. You can see in the picture with the rider in purple breeches how the rider’s weight does not go beyond the end of the jockey skirt. Therefore, it is unnecessary for the upswept panels to extend out past the cantle, since no weight is being distributed there.
This is also a new custom fitted saddle, and according to that brand’s Fitter, also sized correctly for the rider.
As for fitting horses, I think either works well when the horse and rider are compatible. However, if you have a larger rider on a short backed horse, having a “back seat” style seat and “pointed/regular” panels becomes an issue - you either have to shorten the seat to prevent going over T-18, or accept that you may place pressure on the horse’s loin/lumbar area.