The bridé seat
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Author:  Hanne [ Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:06 am ]
Post subject:  The bridé seat

We have a discussion going at the "Norwegian part" of the forum, regarding the bridé seat. Not that we disagree, but we try to find out from historical sources and our own trying out how it was done and what the purpose with the position was.

When Luke was here last, we discussed the pros and cons of the very tall saddle that was used in one period. (I don't remember the name) One of the conclusions was that one might get a better "torque", that is that the seat gets stronger, you get a more powerful seat.

I tried it out in a portugese saddle we have borrowed, and the effect was rather obvious. We also see that it feels rather natural to keep one's legs in a forward position once you start maneuvering around in canter, and the twists and turns follow each other rapidly.

This works fine on a horse with a strong back and hindquarters. The only prerequisite is that the rider must have a strong body, which we assumed was more common in medieval times than now..

We also suggested that the long spurs that were modern in one period could have some significance, but they seem to have been in vogue for a short period only, and the bridé style was in use for a much longer period.

We also discussed the meaning of the phrase "a la bridé", whether it means "to the bit", "riding with reins" or other, and what it actually refers to.

Hans Jørgen is actually translating a dressage manual from the 10th century, and he tells it's the best riding manual he's ever read, so we rather look forward to seeing the result.

But in the mean time, we'd like to collect experiences and opinions here, as it seems to be a topic that is also very practical. I mean, we really can learn from trying things out with the same equipment and the same type of riding as they did.

A very abbreviated translation of the discussion, but I hope good enough to start someting here as well.


Author:  Luke Binks [ Sat Sep 20, 2008 1:19 am ]
Post subject: 

Hi Hanne,

I have been wanting to make a post here following on with the discussion but just havnt had a chance over the last few days. So ill make a quick post now and hopefully will be able to to talk some more about it over the weekend.

I have found there are many advantages and reasons too the high seat in medieval war saddles. One of them being the added advantage of increased pressure and use of seat. Being raised off the horses back, even by a few inch's allows you to sit over the horse without having to bend your legs in the same way as you do in a normal seat. This allows you to sit in a straighter up and down position and and doesnt require the lateral bend in your knee that you dont get in leg harness. Im kind of having trouble explaining that without a diagram. So if that didnt make sense ill try and explain it again :wink:

This also gives reason to the long spurs used in that period. Yes some of the spur's were just fashion, but some length to the shank of the spur is necessary to close the gap that is caused by the leg harness not allowing the lateral bend in the knee. When the leg projects straight down from the hip it creates a gap from about half way down the calf, and having the longer shank on the spur closes that gap. Its a bit like having contact on the reins. you can do it with out spurs like this, but you have to move your leg further and its not as instantaneous response as it is with the longer spur.

I have also found that having your legs closer together over the saddle (in the war saddle) puts you in a position to use your leg more effectively and with more strength, but less effort. It is kind of like the difference between having your legs a shoulder with apart, and having them wide apart. I know the Barrel width of the horse doesnt change with the saddle, but being higher up does change the angle that your legs envelop the horse. Ok, im starting to loos myself here, so i must have lost any of you reading this by now :? So i think i might just try and find some pictures that can explain it better than my ramblings :P

Hopefully some it made some sense.

More to come soon.


Author:  Hanne [ Sat Sep 20, 2008 7:46 am ]
Post subject: 

Thank you very much, it helped a lot actually. I had all kinds of problems explaining this, I understood it when we talked last, but since I have no experience in this saddle myself, it's so difficult to explain to others.

The Portugese saddle has the part with more "torque", but not the part where you are able to sit with straight legs. It's actually the same effect that is caused by the twist in modern dressage saddles, but put to a more extreme.

I would have liked to try a saddle like that once, just to learn the difference. :)


Author:  Luke Binks [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 10:50 pm ]
Post subject: 

You are exactly right, a good modern dressage saddle also tries to put as little as possible between your upper leg allowing you to have a straighter leg with maximum amount of effective contact in your upper thigh. This is the reason i have chosen to joust in dressage saddles as opposed to other types with broad tree's and seats, such as western or some stock saddles.

You still may get your chance to try a medieval warsaddle sometime in the near future.


Author:  Dave [ Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The bridé seat

From Luke's description I am curious as to whether the high seat saddles put one in a position similar to what one uses for striking in polo. See 0:47 in this video:

for an admittedly very forward example of this position — it's actually much more upright when one isn't striking at a ball on the ground at speed (see image below). There are two major reasons to adopt this position: being able to move around above the saddle gives greater reach (which would not be true of a high seat saddle, I presume), but also (see 1:03) the high position allows one to rotate the hips for added power without disturbing the horse's back — which could easily motivate using a high seat saddle. Can any of you with experience with these saddles comment as to how reasonable (or unreasonable) this speculation might be?
File comment: polo upright
Unknown.jpeg [ 65.33 KiB | Viewed 15857 times ]

Author:  Hanne [ Sat Apr 19, 2014 5:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The bridé seat

I really would have liked to answer this, but I am afraid I have no knowledge of historical saddles, and Luke is gone to Australia and terribly busy. We must hope that he will find some time in the future to stop by. :)


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