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wide twist vs narrow twist? Why the difference in how I feel

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  • wide twist vs narrow twist? Why the difference in how I feel

    After trying tons of saddles, both jumping and dressage, I've come to the conclusion that a wide twist just does not work for me.

    I'm curious about what is going on physiologically. The wide twist saddles seem to make my hips hurt a lot to the point where a long ride (ie 45+ minutes) makes my hip joins sore. I ride often enough that I know it's not riding fitness because I don't have this problem in narrow twist saddles.

    Anyone know what's going on?

  • #2
    I'll do my best to explain without it sounding tacky or inappropriate.
    the twist of the saddle coincides with the flat space you have between your legs, and the seat width has to do with the space between your seatbones.
    I'll see if I can find some G rated pictures to help

    okay, warning, girls in bikinis
    This gal would probably prefer a wider twist (look at her the flat space (girl parts) between her legs and the distance)
    This gal would probably prefer a narrow twist
    chaque pas est fait ensemble


    • Original Poster

      That makes complete sense! I think I understand the problem. Good thing I didn't open up the email at work. lol.

      My hip joints thank you for the explanation.


      • #4
        And yet, believe it or not! I don't look like either of those pictures (dang!), according to this theory I would prefer a (Very!) narrow twist, but in fact having just been through saddle trialing hell, I seem to only be able to ride in a wide twist. It doesn't bother my hips, and it seems to keep me from getting friction rubs in the "flat space."

        I really think it's all voodoo.
        Ring the bells that still can ring
        Forget your perfect offering
        There is a crack in everything
        That's how the light gets in.


        • #5
          while you may not look like the models I posted, your skeleton doesn't change when you gain or lose weight (I'm assuming that's what you are referring to?)
          chaque pas est fait ensemble


          • #6
            Darn. Never thought some G rated pictures could be so educational!


            • #7
              YES - I need narrow twists - I am not skinny but not fat - but I have had two kids and guess what? I still need a narrow twist. I have a reg twist in one saddle I use on my WB because - there are not a lot of saddles that fit HIM and me exactly. But my large pony dressage/eventer guy - a SUPER saddle for me - an old County with a narrow twist - I heart my County.


              • #8
                Some of it also has to do with the width and general build of one's hipbones and pelvis. I'm far from skinny in these areas but find wide-twist saddles to be extremely uncomfortable.
                You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                • #9
                  I can't open the first picture here at work, but the second one was rather enlightening.

                  Dr. Joyce Harman says in her book that if you have a round thigh, you might prefer a narrow twist, while those with narrower thighs would prefer a wide twist (round thighs have more to support them on the saddle, whereas narrowe, flatter thighs tend to have less and need more support from the saddle itself). I don't know how true this is, but I know I have a round thigh and prefer a narrow twist to my saddle.
                  "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

                  So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."


                  • #10
                    Petstorejunkie did a nice job.

                    The skeleton question(s) is/are:

                    1) How much horizontal distance between your hip joints?

                    2) (I'd add): How angled is your pelvis (front to back) such that the ball joints of your hip come out of the socket? So the shape and size of the seat of the saddle will matter, too.

                    Then there's the soft tissue involved-- the ligaments that cross the hip joint and muscle that surrounds and supports that. It's superficial to the joint, but very deep to the outside of your body.

                    IMO, you can condition all this soft tissue. Just as a ballet dancer spends years and years perfecting her "turn out" (legs turned out from the hip joint), dressagists can spend time preparing these muscles and ligaments to go "fully spread eagle" on a horse.

                    Short chicks like me will find this especially necessary. You can always ride narrower horses with your toes turned forward, but it takes some physical therapy-like riding instruction to create those strong, flexible hips. Those pups really can take a lot without degeneration once you have been taught to ride this way and have a base of fitness. You can get less fit in these deep muscles, but the muscle memory doesn't go away.

                    Sometimes I think tallies are at a disadvantage because their conformation lets them evade this basic, boring work without looking bad on an average size horse or riding badly? The shorties? We can't cheat because our anatomy won't let us. But in the end, you can sit happily in all shapes of saddle.

                    So, OP, if you don't have conditioned hips/aren't built to do that/have "milage" on those joints already, the best you can do is sit in lots of different saddles until you find the right shape. To really know what a saddle will do for you (or to you), you probably need to put in a ride or two and put your hips through their paces-- post a big trot, sit, sit a big walk and canter. Pay attention to how you feel after a ride in that shape of seat (plus maybe size and large or small thigh blocks and the length of your stirrups), and then compare to other saddles you might buy but can't test drive so hard.

                    Sorry to get so technical. You are asking that kind of question...because these joints are so crucial to riding, so hard to characterize and can seem hard to change-- so it's worth some detail.
                    Last edited by mvp; Oct. 21, 2011, 03:43 PM.
                    The armchair saddler
                    Politically Pro-Cat


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by eventer_mi View Post
                      I can't open the first picture here at work, but the second one was rather enlightening.

                      Dr. Joyce Harman says in her book that if you have a round thigh, you might prefer a narrow twist, while those with narrower thighs would prefer a wide twist (round thighs have more to support them on the saddle, whereas narrowe, flatter thighs tend to have less and need more support from the saddle itself). I don't know how true this is, but I know I have a round thigh and prefer a narrow twist to my saddle.
                      I have a very thin thigh and I like a slightly wider twist (but noot too wide)


                      • #12
                        I'm extremely flexible in my hips so really haven't had any issues riding in any saddle. But if given a choice...a narrow twist is more comfortable for me.

                        I'm taller (5'9") and currently fat (not huge but not skinny--size 10-12)...but used to be skinny (size 4/6). It hasn't change which saddles I liked better so I do think it is really just how you are built AND how the horse is built.

                        For me, the balance of the saddle is much more critical than the width of the twist.
                        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                          while you may not look like the models I posted, your skeleton doesn't change when you gain or lose weight (I'm assuming that's what you are referring to?)

                          I must not understand what you mean, then. You said the seatbones had to do with seat width, and the twist with the 'flat space," implying they are different? How does the "flat space" change if it's not determined by the width of your seat bones, other than by what muscle/fat you have on the inside of your thigh?

                          If there is no musculature (ie a bare skeleton), then the hip joint can rotate in or out to a huge degree. So it must be the soft tissue of one kind or another that would make us feel pain.

                          I'm not arguing, I just don't really get what you mean.

                          I have tried about 30 saddles in the past 2 months, many one right after the other. I never could find any consistency in wide twist, narrow twist or seat size in terms of what worked or didn't for me. I finally found one, just a day or so ago. It feels radically more comfortable than most of the rest, and it happens to be a fairly broad, open seat. However, I found others with the same kind of seat and size to be obnoxious.

                          Ergo, my feeling that it's like shoe inserts. Some just work. Most just don't.
                          Ring the bells that still can ring
                          Forget your perfect offering
                          There is a crack in everything
                          That's how the light gets in.


                          • #14
                            while Mr. Schleese has not figured out what makes my hiney happy (oh this is going a bad direction ) this article is very informative as are the pictures. The linked article by Dr. Deb is a good one too

                            there are 3 elements that go into human saddle fit when we are talking about pelvic comfort.
                            1. twist width
                            2. seat width
                            3. rise of pommel

                            For instance, I prefer a rather narrow twist but a medium seat size and a moderate rise in pommel height. Therefore my seatbones literally fall off of a prestige (yet no discomfort, just not perfect), they hurt on a bates isabell and I rock all over the place, and anything Passier makes feels like it was made for me. Prestige has a narrow twist, VERY narrow seat width, and a steep rise of pommel, while the bates has a medium twist, WIDE seat, and steep rise of pommel.

                            MVP has it right that you can train your connective tissues to tolerate a wider twist with time and practice, and it will only make your leg longer and drapier in the twist that is perfect for you.
                            chaque pas est fait ensemble


                            • #15
                              I had the opportunity to try out a saddle with a wide twist for several weeks. I didn't notice any discomfort while I was riding but a few hours after I got off my hips would scream at me.

                              The more I rode the worse it got until I was experiencing moderate pain into the next day. Oddly enough I felt very secure in the saddle but in the end the wider twist was not for me.
                              "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple” – Barry Switzer


                              • #16
                                PSJ has it right. I'm supershort. I'm not fat nor thin. I have round thighs. I have never had children, for LNS. I love a wide twist, and find I'm grippy and tense in a narrow twist. It all has to do with the width of my crotch (forgive the bluntness).
                                "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                                  while you may not look like the models I posted, your skeleton doesn't change when you gain or lose weight (I'm assuming that's what you are referring to?)
                                  That would explain why I feel like the horse I am riding is too narrow for me when it is actually quite a wide horse.

                                  The twist in the saddle is too narrow. Bugger, I like this saddle but I always feel like I am riding on my forks.


                                  • #18
                                    This explains, I think, why a Schleese hurts me almost immediately when I sit in it. I know it's made for women, but not this one. Same for my sister when she tried it. Dang that thing hurts!

                                    By the time you consider yourself *and* the horse, it's amazing that we can get any saddle to fit!


                                    • #19
                                      Years ago I had a wild hair and wanted to buy a dressage saddle, having only sat in one once before (and didn't like it, in hindsight it didn't fit the horse worth a lick).

                                      I went to a well known tack store to shop, a salesperson said "oh you have round thighs, you would like a narrow twist since it makes room for your thighs to drape down". She sat me in the most uncomfortable saddle ever, it was painful on the hobby horse. I left, no purchase, realizing dressage must be about mastering pain and felt I finally understood why everyone has such a serious expression when they ride.

                                      Anyhow, I'm short, I have round thighs, I like medium to wide twists and a medium rise to the pommel and a wide seat. I had a Black Country once with a freedom tree (very low pommel rise) and I constantly felt like I would roll out of the thing. Since I've had round thighs all my life, I have no idea what my skeleton looks like or which of the two skinny thigh'd models my pubic arch matches, but I would hazard I have the wide flat kind. Saddles with less than full support in the twist and seat area are intensely painful to me.

                                      Medium twists fit me naturally, wide twists I need to relax the ligaments in my hips and settle into, but once I do I love the feeling. Allowing my hip joints to pull out of their sockets, its like satisfying deep stretch to me, and it makes me feel very connected to the saddle and my horse. I feel stretched and refreshed after a ride, not in pain or pulled apart.

                                      This all works out well for me since I gravitate to round, impossibly wide horses.

                                      I'm going to guess and say that there are likely no real bona fide factors to determining comfort choices, someone will always come along and debunk the established thinking. Its really just a personal choice one must discover for one's self imho.
                                      Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                                      • #20
                                        Videos that explain; http://equineink.com/2010/10/29/sadd...ing-for-women/
                                        ... _. ._ .._. .._