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Saddle sizing for the rider. I've been doing it wrong?

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  • Saddle sizing for the rider. I've been doing it wrong?

    I'll admit that I have spent most of my life in a jumping saddle and concentrated on fitting the horse when it came to saddle shopping. I have always sworn up and down that I need a 17.5 inch saddle. I have an Andalusian with a VERY short back, so this became difficult. Imagine my surprise when the saddle fitter brought out a Prestige Lucky (a youth saddle) in a size 16 and I fit in it! I thought there would be no way my bum would fit in that saddle.

    I did not feel terribly cramped in and it had a nice close contact feel. My horse didn't seem to have any objections and he was quite forward, but that is just from one ride.

    I can fit about 3 fingers behind me so my bum is not eating the cantle. There isn't a whole lot of saddle behind my thigh, but that doesn't seem like a bad thing. My legs also fit well into the adjustable knee block. It is just so much less saddle than my last one. It's crazy. My last saddle put me in a bit of a chair seat so maybe it was too big. I feel more in contact with the back of the saddle now when I post.

    So maybe I've been doing it wrong this whole time but I never imagined I'd fit a 16/16.5 as a 5'4 size 6/8 roughly 140lb person.

    But how does a properly fitting dressage saddle feel on the seat to you? The saddle fitter and my friend said that I look fine (the mirror said so too) and maybe before I was thinking my seat had to be roomier than I thought.

    The saddle fitter also said it is not so much about the size of your bum as it is the length of your leg. I have a somewhat long femur.

    Is it also ideal in dressage to have a few fingers space on the cantle? Should you feel "cradled" in the saddle? I am going to ride in it for a few days due to my skepticism...is there anything I should look for in terms of fit for me? I am not hurting or off balance, but I've spent so long thinking of the horse or riding in jump saddles that I'm not sure what is 100% correct for the dressage rider.

  • #2
    It sounds like I'm a similar build to you. I have ridden in 16.5" jumping saddles for years.

    I'm not an expert by any means, but I've found a lot more variability in the seats of dressage saddles than jumping saddles. The pommel of a 17.5" dressage saddle may crush my pubic bone while I feel like I'm sitting on the cantle in one brand, while I may be able to ride comfortably in a 16.5" in a different brand.

    My first dressage saddle was an older County Competitor in 16.5" and it fit me similarly to how you describe-- a lot of "hug" but I didn't impeded nor was I overflowing it excessively. But I've been trying to buy 18" dressage saddles lately (I swear, it's been a never-ending quest) and feel much more comfortable and effective in most of those.

    If the mirror and experienced eyes on the ground say you look fine, you're probably fine.
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

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    • #3
      It is the length of femur, not the size of the rear. But if you have a long femur and are 5’4” I would not expect you to fit in a 16” dressage saddle. I would think 17-17.5” dressage saddle would be right depending on how DEEP the saddle is. I would be worried about you being forced forward with your pelvis and hip positioning.

      Comment


      • #4
        One possible negative I can think of given your description, is that you feel more in contact with the back of the saddle when you post. This could put some pressure on the back part of the panels which in time might cause your horse discomfort.

        I'm 5'5 -- 125 lbs -- fairly long femur and I fit in various dressage saddle sizes too, but if I go smaller than my usual saddle size (17.5) it greatly depends on the architecture of the seat. I'm better in one that has a longer center where the start of the cantle rise is more L shaped like the Veritas Eximo, not a gradual, curvy swoop like the Prestige Lucky.

        No way would I personally feel okay in the Lucky -- I'd be feeling the cantle and the pommel arch too much -- would feel like I'm sitting ON the saddle rather than IN it. But that's just me.



        Comment


        • #5
          On a side note, if you have a horse with a short back there are saddles that offer shorter panels to accommodate so the rider doesn’t have to ride in a smaller seat.
          "My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."

          Comment


          • #6
            I am 5'4" but have a long femur, so possibly a different body type, but I can't imagine any adult fitting in a 16 inch saddle comfortably. If you had said 17 inch, I would believe it. Check with a knowledgeable set of eyes on the ground to make sure you are not pushing to the back of the saddle. And make sure your knees don't want to come over the flaps.

            Seat size is a combination of the length of your femur and size of your bum.

            I ride short backed horses - one of them is a cob - pony sized! I have a 17.5 inch saddle with short panels

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            • #7
              I'm short and fat. Size of bum does matter if your bum is larger than "normal." If you only use length of femur you'll be overflowing the cantle and it will be noticeable. Seats in dressage saddles vary greatly, more so than jumping saddles. These days seats can be extremely deep versus a decade or more ago. I bought an 18" Albion general purpose saddle in 2000, which I really liked. I walked into the saddler 18 months later and they had consignment special order Albion Original Comfort dressage saddle, with 19" seat, short flaps, extra deep gussets, and the seat is not deep. It's perfect. After they pry it out of my cold dead hands, I hope it will go to someone else built like me.
              Providence sometimes takes care of idiots. Agnes Morley Cleaveland in No Life for a Lady.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by MysticOakRanch View Post
                I am 5'4" but have a long femur, so possibly a different body type, but I can't imagine any adult fitting in a 16 inch saddle comfortably. If you had said 17 inch, I would believe it. Check with a knowledgeable set of eyes on the ground to make sure you are not pushing to the back of the saddle. And make sure your knees don't want to come over the flaps.

                Seat size is a combination of the length of your femur and size of your bum.

                I ride short backed horses - one of them is a cob - pony sized! I have a 17.5 inch saddle with short panels
                Knees are ok, not sure about pushing to the back of the saddle. I'd love to find a 17 inch with the same panel length but I have tried endless amounts of saddles and so many that are "made shorter/upswept" have still been too long in a 17.5 I am also looking to stay under $2000

                I think I may just call the saddle fitter and send the saddle back since I still can. I'll have to be saddle less yet again. I'm so done with this that I'm literally considering selling the horse to a even smaller rider.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm 5'6" and 140lb and I can comfortably ride in a 16.5" saddle, though most of my saddles (including my dressage saddle) are 17". Every time I have a new saddle fitter work with me, they look at me and say, "17.5," and I say no. And I have to explain that it's not a vanity thing, it's that I have a weirdly short femur (I think), and so I need a smaller seat size than you would guess by the size of my butt, and also need super vertical (i.e. not forward) flaps.
                  __________________________________
                  Flying F Sport Horses
                  Horses in the NW

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                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by PNWjumper View Post
                    I'm 5'6" and 140lb and I can comfortably ride in a 16.5" saddle, though most of my saddles (including my dressage saddle) are 17". Every time I have a new saddle fitter work with me, they look at me and say, "17.5," and I say no. And I have to explain that it's not a vanity thing, it's that I have a weirdly short femur (I think), and so I need a smaller seat size than you would guess by the size of my butt, and also need super vertical (i.e. not forward) flaps.
                    Maybe I just think my femur is long. Hm.

                    The saddle isn't really bad, but I cannot get any bigger that's for sure! Maybe I'll add photos tomorrow. I think it is ok for my posture because I tend to either tip forward or ride too much on my back pockets (basically I cannot open my tight hips) and this saddle doesn't really allow either one. IME with Prestige saddles they seem to "lock me in place" while others leave me room. I'm not saying room is good thing because I think that contributed to my precious chair seat.

                    I really don't have much "real estate" to work with (see picture). A lot of the saddles advertised as "short" seem to be just advertising or my definition of short must be different.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      https://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/f...-backed-horses

                      here is a thread that talked about saddle brands for very short back horses
                      "My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by js View Post
                        https://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/f...-backed-horses

                        here is a thread that talked about saddle brands for very short back horses
                        I am quite familiar with that thread and also many of those saddles, unfortunately. But thanks!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It's worth noting that Prestige runs a little differently and a 16" Lucky actually measures more like 17".
                          Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                          you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.

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                          • #14
                            I'm 5'1" and 110 lbs, and I'm a rather elderly adult. My personal saddle is a 16.5 and I love it. However, I ride clients' horses in everything between my 16.5 and their 18's, and every size in between. If the saddle fits the horse well then I can ride in it, if it doesn't then the size doesn't really matter, the ride feels terrible. That said, when I've got clients into the right size for them they've found the job much easier.

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