My left knee hurts whenever I ride for over 1 1/2 hours. It does not bother me as much in my english saddle, mostly when I ride western. I have tried different saddles and it still hurts. The pain is in front and below the knee cap. Taking my feet out of stirrups and moving my leg around does not help. It gets better when it get off but is still a little sore. Any one else have this issue?
The western saddle part confuses me a bit. I've had this happen in an english saddle, but I simply experimented with different stirrup lengths and then I was fine. I would expect it more from english riding mostly due to the shorter stirrup length and more narrow base of support on the stirrup.
With western, I'm not sure. If you are only taking your feet out of the stirrups for a short while and only after a long ride, you could already be so sore that it's not helping to relieve the pressure. Have you ever tried riding for an hour to 1.5 hours with your leg just hanging from the saddle? no stirrups at all?
Interesting because I've only ridden Western a few times and my knees and ankles were painfully sore afterwards. I attributed it to the heavy/awkward stirrups, not sure if they're always like that. Even after knee surgery (replaced ACL), I don't have issues in English tack.
I also have this issue .... Left knee only. Very painful after about 2 hours in a dressage saddle (I trail ride in my dressage saddle.). Two things have made it slightly better: losing weight so there is less thigh mass and making a conscoius effort to rotate that leg inwards.
The chiro / pelvis comment is interesting; may have to explore that.
"Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
- Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926 RIP Carleigh 1999-2011
I go to chiro pretty regularly and will still have knee pain (although that's certainly a good direction to go!)
The rotated stirrups help, as do wider stirrups for some reason. Not wider by width but the base of them (aw heck I cannot think straight this morning... I've been riding in those endurance style stirrups, they help me a lot even though they are dreadfully ugly to me)
Also, making sure I do some posting trot every once in a while helps.
I can go on a 1 hour ride and be sore if I only walk. If I go 3 hours with a lot of trotting I won't be sore at all... not my knees, anyway
I'd look at iliotibial-band syndrome. It's most common in runners, but also common in horseback riders. There is a large strip of fascia that runs down the lateral side of your thigh from your hip and inserts just below your kneecap on your tibia (among other places). After years of riding, the "bow-legged" nature of riding sometimes causes ITBS. Your pain sounds very similar to the pain I experience from ITBS. For me, it usually doesn't bother me when riding, but has in the past when I've been riding for an extended period of time, or when I'm having ITBS flare-ups.
The fix is easy (using a foam roller, you can google it and find multiple references since it's super common in runners), and you can try it and see if it helps you.
I have similar issues. What I think is going on is that if I'm in my Western saddle or just riding at the walk in my English saddle for an extended time, I'm not moving my legs a whole lot compared to if I'm riding English and posting or half seating a bit. I get similarly sore in the car if I don't keep moving around.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.