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June 03, 2021 2 min read

What is the difference between a polo saddle and an English saddle? 

A polo saddle is a kind of close contact English saddle, but there are a few key differences to a general purpose English saddle: 

1. A polo saddle has no knee rolls, compared to a general purpose English saddle or jumping saddle. This is important because knee rolls can prevent a player from turning fully to rotate through the swing - ultimately, this can make the ball go in a different direction! Knee rolls are especially likely to interfere if the player is wearing polo knee guards, which add an extra layer of bulk. 

2. Polo saddles must be made to a higher quality standard, with extra reinforcing, to withstand the force they take. They need reinforced girth points, extra strong trees and heavy duty construction, to be able to last through the rigours of polo games. 

3. Polo saddles have a higher pommel at the front of the saddle, and lower cantle at the back of the saddle, compared to most English saddles. The higher pommel allows for better grip while leaning out to swing, and the flatter seat is easier to stand up and out of than a deeper, higher-backed saddle. 

4. Polo saddles are made to withstand extreme lateral force so that you can turn and throw your weight side to side without the saddle coming off. The saddle padding is wider and often flatter than other types of English saddles, so that the saddle grips onto the horse's back without slipping. 

5. Polo saddles should be lighter than most general purpose or dressage saddles, to minimise the strain on the polo ponies (and the grooms!). 

6. Polo saddles are made to fit polo ponies - which are often 15-15.3hh thoroughbreds or throughbred crosses. So the gullet and tree of the saddle is targetted at this type of horse, and is often used across several ponies in a string, rather than just one specific horse. 

Polo saddles are specially designed to optimise playing performace and withstand the heavy duty requirements of polo.