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Silly Saddle Question

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  • Silly Saddle Question

    I currently ride in a borrowed Prestige Top Dressage, 17/34. It fits both my horses, which is insane and wonderful because one is a 14.2 hand (on a tall day) Morgan, and the other is a 16.1 hand OT Appendix QH. I am slowly but surely saving up for my own saddle (just got the jumping saddle, now I need dressage but have very little money left after getting a good jumping saddle that fits the Appendix). I am not positive it fits me though- it is super comfy, but my leg likes to creep forward in it and my seat feels like itis "loose" in the seat for lack of a better term- I have fair amount of room front to back to move my rear end around. I have ridden in 17" saddles for ages now, but always jumped, and for dressage just ridden in whatever the horse had as I was usually on borrowed horses. So my question is two fold-

    1. Should I consider a different saddle, meaning different seat size, model, brand for me, or do I just need to work more on my position?
    2. are there saddles that fit similarly to the Prestige (as far as the horse is concerned) that might work and might possibly be cheaper (I am thinking used already but if it is cheaper I can get my own saddle sooner...)?

    I really like the comfort level of the Prestige considering that on my bad days, holding the reins is hard, so support and cushion is nice for bad joints, and on good days I don't feel like I am uncomfortabely locked in. Also, I had a horrible time trying to find a jumping saddle that fit the appendix- bates and wintec were horrible, stubben was passable but not great, collegiate is hit or miss, crosby was a failure...so there is a part of me that really doesn't want to mess with what works. If it is just that I need to ride better I'm ok with that too

    here are some links to pics of me in the borrowed saddle...sorry I don't have better ones. I promise I am working on fixing the shoulder hunching and looking down....and have improved since the pictures were taken....as has my horse...he wasn't having his best day ever....Thanks in advance for any assistance...



    My blog:


  • #2
    Hi! If it were me I would shorten those stirrups a hole or two and work on balance first. That may help you from pitching forward. Then I would look again. Find your balance by posting one beat, standing two, all around the ring. There are other ways to mix it up, but start with that.


    • #3
      sorry i'm no saddle expert (or even super knowledgeable about the different ones), but i agree with cutemudhorse-- , i'd shorten the stirrups first and see if that helps.


      • Original Poster

        I wanted to shorten my stirrups, but have been advised against it by my trainers In fact they want to get me one hole longer. It may be those particular pictures...

        I have done (and still do) the posting exercise mentioned and it does help with balance. I can try shortening my stirrups a whole or two though and see if the trainers are ok with it...I don't see them very often (can't afford it) so I could also try it for just a day to see if it helps. I think some of the pitching forward in my upper body comes from being a h/j rider for ages, but the reallly annoying issue that I can't seem to fix on my own power is my leg sliding forward (which is a very new problem for me; very odd...I used to tend the other way) I also ride without stirrups both in dressage and for h/j work.

        So....I will give those ideas a shot.....
        My blog:



        • #5
          I looked at Prestige saddles not long ago (love them!)I noticed that the seat size was really big, compared to what I was expecting and the other 17's I was trying. When I looked around on the net it seemed to be normal for the brand.

          If the saddle is great for your horses, maybe you could hunt around for another that is a 16/34 and see if the smaller seat helps you out?

          This is from VTO " The following is VTO's opinion: Prestige saddles are available in 3 seat sizes. The 16" fits like a 17". The 17" fits like a 17.5" and is by far the most common size. The 18" fits like an 18". "
          Reasons I'm crazy, #37: I went out shopping for a pony and came home with a 17hh OTTB
          ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


          • Original Poster

            Twigster- I had hear that about Prestige's too...the ironic thing is my Prestige jumping saddle that is a 17 fits me wonderfully...but, two different saddles for two different things I guess.

            It may really be some problem with my riding and I can definitely try shortening my stirrups and more of the posting exercise mentioned- the whole thing just puzzles me though since I have never strugled before with having my legs too far forward. Oh well...more practice I guess...not that riding more makes me sad it just very weird to me...position flaws I am used to, but not this particular one
            My blog:



            • #7
              From the pictures I have seen, I think the OP needs either a forward flap or a "bigger" saddle. She has a rather long femur and the saddle she is riding in the picture put her knee right at the edge. If she shortens the stirrup so she has a better support (in the picture she is fishing the irons), her knees will push right over the edge. I am thinking maybe that is why her trainer wants her to lengther the stirrup one more hole when she is already fishing for the irons as is.


              • #8
                It sounds like the saddle isn't level.

                The position of the stirrup bars may be too far forward and you have to catch up with gravity. You might play with shims and see what happens. Another possibility is that the shape of the twist and the flare of the seat are affecting how your hip/leg rotates.
                Intermediate Riding Skills


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Gloria View Post
                  From the pictures I have seen, I think the OP needs either a forward flap or a "bigger" saddle. She has a rather long femur and the saddle she is riding in the picture put her knee right at the edge. If she shortens the stirrup so she has a better support (in the picture she is fishing the irons), her knees will push right over the edge. I am thinking maybe that is why her trainer wants her to lengther the stirrup one more hole when she is already fishing for the irons as is.
                  totally agree- op if you havent got the correct lenght in the stirrup that effects your position which in turn effects your balance
                  so those that said oik it up one or maybe 2 holes would make you sit back and into the horse which will help your balance rather than pitching forwards and trying to hang on so in turn
                  if you did as reguired would help your hands and the contact moreso so you would be working the horse between leg and hand and your aids will improve somewhat all beucase you tweeked your position via your stirrup lenght


                  • Original Poster

                    so....anyone know of a dressage saddle that can accomodate my ridiculous femurs?

                    (I say ridiculous because the saddle's owner is a solid 2 inches taller than me and it fits her beautifully...and I had the same issue when I was looking for a jumping saddle- my knee was 2+ inches off the front of the flap on most saddles if I put my stirrups at the correct length.) My legs are proving to be the bane of my existence again (so maybe a little dramatic, but lets just say I'm boot shopping now too and that is not going very well either)
                    My blog:



                    • #11
                      It is hard to tell from the pictures, but it is quite possible that the saddle is too far forward, which would make it unlevel.

                      Another possibility is that the rider is trying to hard to "push her heels dowsn" which is pushing her legs forward, rather than just letting her legs "hang" down to the stirrups.

                      But I am curious about the pictures. The "show coat" and the bridle number indicate a show, but the horse is wearing bandages, which are strictly illegal (around here- even for schooling shows). Maybe it is the warm up ring at a show.

                      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                      • Original Poster

                        It was the warm up ring at a schooling show. I school even in warm ups with them on unless rules don't permit them- I jokingly call my horse bubble wrap boy

                        And my coat in that pic is my jumper coat as for that show I didn't have a dressage coat. I was just given one- thank goodness! So I know my turnout there is weird. I need to get white wraps too as for most recognized shows here even using colored wraps in warmup at a show is a bit of a faux pas.

                        I have tried putting the saddle farther back but the girth seems to pull it forward to where it is in the pictures. I may try one of the county girths next time as I can borrow one.

                        I don't consciously try to push my heels down, but that is distinctly possible from my initial training in h/j I suppose. Even in h/j I have a tendency toward overflexing my ankle down, but it doesn't seem to mess up my leg in my h/j saddle.
                        My blog:



                        • #13
                          Instructor may be having you leave the stirrups long thinking it might get you to sink down in the saddle. This does happen if the person gets tired enough, they open the hip, stop bracing in the stirrups.

                          It's very common here for folks to post pictures like this and be told they have to raise their stirrups. The reasoning being if your heel is up and there's no bend in your knee, the only reason can be that the stirrups are too long. In fact, though, often the reason is that the person is pushing themselves up out of the saddle.

                          Try sometime when your muscles are really exhausted, walking for a half hour with your stirrups dropped, and your toes pointing forward and down. Totally relax and loosen your leg. Pick up your stirrups. They will feel very short.

                          Your pictures show two views where you are braced in the stirrups, toes turned out, hips closed and in those your leg is completely straight. The first one is more marked. You might be at the top of your posting diagonal in that one. If not, it makes it look like you don't sit down in the saddle. This can be in part because you lean your upper body forward. Even a small amount can take the seat out of the saddle. In the second trot pic you may also be posting, but either you are sitting the trot and not getting let down into the saddle, or you don't have a very clear up-down in the posting trot. Like most people with a braced leg, you seem to 'hover' above the saddle, rather than sit down in it.

                          In the first pic it looks like your horse's back is hollowed and dropped (it may be more in that pic, or that's just a good angle to see it from), with his head held up too high. It can be that more training will help to round his back and make it a more 'hospitable' place for you to maintain your position.

                          One walk picture shows you lifting your knee and heel, that pic is very different from the other two, in that one, it's more clear what's going on, because you're not as braced up above the saddle. You have still lifted your heel up, but when you sit down in the saddle and relax, when not trotting, it becomes more clear that you can sit with a bend in the knee when you aren't braced upward. In the walk pic, your knee is pointed outward, and it seems that you have a lot more leg to put on the horse yet.

                          No matter how the instructor is trying to get you to tackle it, the bottom line is getting the hips to open and sinking down in the saddle. With the ankle braced and c0cked it won't happen, with raising the stirrup, it actually gives the braced rider MORE to brace on. Then the leg becomes like a vise that closes the hip.

                          To most people, if they see your knee straight, they assume the stirrups need to be raised. Sometimes an instructor gets better results if he tackles why the knee is straight - not always long stirrups, often it is the rider is actually pushing himself up out of the saddle so the stirrups seem too long. Once he sinks down in the saddle the stirrups look the same length.

                          Ride without stirrups and preferably without reins. Ride in a very active sitting trot til you can't brace any more. Loosen up and soften your leg, rotate your whole leg so your toes point forward (don't try to twist the ankles and knee in, rotate your whole leg from the hip). Do exercises on the longe line, and get good and tired.

                          Try sitting like a jockey, with your knees pressed together and lifted up so they are above the pommel of the saddle, so you have to sit on your butt and not hang on with your legs.

                          Let go, don't use your leg to hang on and don't brace in the stirrups (you brace so hard in the stirrups, the sole of your boot is actually deformed by it). It will let your hips open and sink into the saddle. You have an absolutely perfect build for riding and a gorgeous horse. This is to an extent a normal phase to go through, and it's of concern more to getting thru it and going to the next thing, than anything else.
                          Last edited by slc2; Sep. 11, 2009, 08:14 AM.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by myvanya View Post
                            I wanted to shorten my stirrups, but have been advised against it by my trainers In fact they want to get me one hole longer. It may be those particular pictures...
                            do you have a pubic bone left? yeouch with those stirrups that long it's bound to take a beating.
                            Your leg looks long and disconnected at the hip, so i'm thinking that you've accomplished what the long stirrup was meant to do. Warm up your first 5-10 minutes without stirrups. take your whole leg off the horse and straighten it, lie it back on the horses side and relax. this will help pull all that flesh out from between you and the saddle and allow your leg to drape properly. pick up your stirrups by lifting your toe; keeping your leg on the horse.
                            Shortening your stirrups is a reward for good position. shorten them one hole, and perfect your pelvis, then shorten again in a month or so.
                            I think your collapsed pelvis may be yes from being in the hunters before (raises hand, was guilty too!), try this: while your legs are stretching, scootch forward in the saddle so that the twist supports your pubic bone, then roll your pubic bone upward like a wasp trying to sting. should feel like your seat bones are facing down. you dont look like you are too far back in your saddle now, but your pelvis needs to rotate. If you find attempting this to be painful in your connective ligaments, you may need a narrower twist. If you feel like your girl parts are getting smashed, you may need a wider twist.
                            chaque pas est fait ensemble


                            • Original Poster

                              slc2- thanks! I think you may have hit the nail on the head! I have fairly long legs so I was a little surprised at people suggesting to shorten my stirrup because I do, IMO, most of the time, have a bend in my knee. After a brief ride (my horse was a bit off ) last night I noticed I do like to brace down into the stirrup. I have been trying to work on getting my hips more open and that has been specifically mentioned by my instructors (really anyone who knows dressage who has watched me ride in person ) as I really struggle to open my hip and keep my knee and toe forward and then, for lack of a better term allowing my leg to drape arlund the horse. My instructor was having me ride with my stirrups at the shorter length for my comfort temporarily and as I got more secure in the longer length (than my jumping length) was going to lengthen them..but maybe I should just take the pluge and feel like ick for a bit or just get rid of the stirrups all together for a while- it's not like I actually need them

                              and petstorejunkie- I promise I am really very comfortable and actually in my sitting trot (which I usually do...my posting in dressage as you see is atrocious...it is so different than posting in h/j) can get back on my seat bones very well...that part feels great...my lower back and seat are very happy...its just my closed hip and turned out leg that keeps slipping forward that are driving me nuts. And my knees are still bent- the stirrup hits above my ankle bone actually as I checked that last night...I think I picked bad pictures to show leg problems maybe.....
                              My blog: