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Shorter riders, what have been your problems?

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  • Shorter riders, what have been your problems?

    I'm 4'11" and riding can seem quite handicapped for me at times.

    What have been some of your problems while riding as a shorter person?

  • #2
    short person here!

    I'm a little taller, 5'1", but am long-waisted and therefore have short legs.

    I find it hard to use my legs as effectively as taller people since they just don't reach down as far I also have a 1/2 Connemara pony that requires a wide tree saddle. I find it much easier to ride my 1/4 Connemara 3/4 TB that is 15.3 but on the narrow side.

    Also, because of short legs, you don't have as much "purchase" on the horse so it is much easier to fall off. Finding a saddle with short enough flaps without having to order custom is also a problem.

    I often wonder if us short folks are more intimidated by the jumps when we walk courses. I'd love to be tall for one horse trials and see what it's like!

    Mary in Western NY


    • #3
      Saddle fit! I ended up getting last year a custom Black Country monoflap saddle. I didn't need a "short flap" which would move the thigh block, just needed an extra inch off the bottom of the flap which they could do for me. Also, BC does custom saddles at no extra charge. It is so wonderful to finally ride in a saddle that fits.
      Horse fit is not as big a deal--I found myself a 15.3h TB who is the perfect size for me.
      Having a saddle and horse that fit me both allow me to ride like a taller person can.
      The other issue I've had is finding half chaps and tall boots that fit. My foot is a size 8, and pretty much all off the rack boots are too tall for me. I found semi custom Konig boots 1/2 price at Beval a few years ago, so I keep those as my show boots. For half chaps I feel like my options are limited. Forget Ariats--those never fit me.
      I'm 5'2". I don't think being 5'5" or 5'7" would make the jumps feel any smaller!


      • #4
        I'm 5'3 but have short arms and legs--finding tall boots is a challenge. The biggest problem I have, though (aside from the bridling on an exciting day/ mounting from the ground/ earclipping type nonsense) is that between my short arms and big boobs, my hands never seem to be far enough in front of me to keep dressage instructors happy. I'm constantly being told both to let my elbows hang at my side and to move my hands forward and it just doesn't seem to work.

        My horse is a slab sided but big 16.1+, but I ride horses from 14.3 to 16.3 regularly and once I'm on, I'm fine. Getting on the 16.3 guy wearing all my extra layers and feeling like the Pillsbury dough girl--not fun, since the mounting block is in the middle of a snow bank.

        I take jumping lessons with Sally Cousins, who is just about my height, and I'm amazed by how elegant she manages to look even on the gigantic horses. I feel okay, but I know I look ridiculous.


        • #5
          Hmmmm. Can't think of riding issues off the top of my head, but there are a variety of fit issues that come to mind:

          saddle--flaps too long on dressage saddles

          breeches--velcro closure falling to my ankle, baggy fabric around my thighs because there is too much length to fit correctly.

          coats, especially dressage--so long I end up sitting on the back when I post.


          • #6
            I am 5'2" with short legs and no waist!
            Problems I have:
            Need a mounting block for ANY horse anymore (BTW, I am 52 too). Esp my 17.2 hand mare.
            Need kid's length stirrup leathers.
            Finding shorter flapped saddles.
            Finding jump saddles with knee rolls that are actually at my knees!
            Getting leg on a horse. Esp on my big mare my legs barely come past the mid of rib cage.
            I also have short arms, and a short back/waist. So trying to not appear like I have my hands in my lap is hard without leaning forward but still keeping my elbows at my side.
            Finding breeches that aren't "loose around the arm pits" or are too long in the inseam.
            I have given up on half chaps the correct length while being the correct width. I just suck that part up.
            I don't have a problem with tall boots though.
            Short waist also means trying to find an inexpensive coat that isn't too long in the waist.

            If I have a horse that doesn't drop its head to be bridled I of course need a step stool. I taught my mare very early to drop her head. Makes life alot easier.

            Having ridden since the age of 9 however, I have adapted to being short.


            • #7
              I'm 5'1" and short waisted. I don't remember why I was showing someone a picture of me on my (16.3) hand horse - at a tack store waiting for someone, I think - and she was surprised how short I was when I stood up, because my legs look like I'm an average height on him. My challenge is being able to move enough through my body to move with his big trot. There's simply a limited amount I can move, so I have to max out that ability through core strength and not tightening up inefficiently. I do much better with shorter backed horses in general, which I've been told is common for short-waisted riders.
              If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


              • #8
                I do much better with shorter backed horses in general, which I've been told is common for short-waisted riders.
                Maybe that is why I really like short backed horses. I am 5'3", but very short-waisted. I agree that the biggest problem is having my hands far enough in front of me with my elbows bent. I also have a hard time getting heavy blankets on tall horses (not mine, who are all short)
                OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


                • #9
                  I find that because I am short (4'11-and-a-bit), I have to compromise rein length and body position. I am somewhat short waisted and I find that for jumping, on the landing in order to keep my upper body back a bit, the reins do have to slide a bit.


                  • #10
                    I'm not too short (almost 5'4"), but shorter than most I know! Biggest problem, by far: SADDLE FIT. It took me forever to realize that I don't need a 17" saddle (common size, so that's what I've grown up riding in and felt comfortable) and even longer to find a saddle where the blocks actually touch my legs. I always jump with fairly long stirrups, because if I hike them up too short, I feel like I'm sitting ontop of the horse, instead of around it. I just can't seem to close my leg. Thankfully, my butt is proportionate to the rest of my body and I fit perfectly into a Prestige 16" Meredith (which actually measures 16.5" for those of you gawking). The straighter flap enables me to jump with my preffered stirrup length and still gives me the support of a block, unlike other saddles which have forced me to shorten my stirrups if I want any sort of support.

                    I've also had a hard time keeping my seat low and my knee bent over fences - I straighten my knee out in attempt to get my leg around the horse over the jump. This was, again, fixed by a saddle that fits.


                    • #11
                      I think my biggest frustration with my stature are my arms. I feel like they are either not bent/braced, or my hands are in my crotch. I can't seem to come to any happy medium.

                      Of course, it is also rather embarrassing if I ride in a saddle other than my own and find that I have to roll the stirrups. That's not fun.
                      -Debbie / NH

                      My Blog: http://deborahsulli.blogspot.com/


                      • #12
                        I'm put together horribly: I'm 5'4" (so not super short, but still short), have a short torso with long arms and long legs, but with most of the length being below the knee. The odd leg proportion makes it horrible to find a saddle AND boots, since I need more height in the boots, but less length in my saddle flap I look stupid it my dressage saddle...like a little kid who borrowed their older sibling's tack.

                        Other than that, I don't really have any issues with riding. I'm blessed that most of my height is in my legs, because it grants me the flexibility to get on 17.2+ horses from the ground and to be able to wrap my leg around the bigger horses decently, but I can still fit on the ponies fine too.
                        "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"


                        • #13
                          I am 5'2" with relatively short legs and a long torso and feeling pretty special right now.

                          I have not had problems finding a saddle or tall boots. No real problems getting on horses or feel that I cannot do something because of my size...legs seem fine on the horse's side, I feel like I release normally and all that.

                          Maybe it is because I am used to it, but I don't know. I have ridden everything from 12HH to 17.2HH and right now I ride a 12.2HH pony, 13HH pony, 15.2HH horse and 16HH horse.


                          • Original Poster

                            I agree with everything said!

                            I have the easiest time sitting up and feeling secure on a 15 hand and smaller horse, but horses with long necks/backs, I feel I have to brace my arms and lean forward to give them their heads.

                            It's a constant struggle and I also wonder if my saddle doesn't fit because my leg never seems comfortable no matter how long or short my stirrups are.

                            It's nice to know it's not just my own psychological problems and that my littleness does have a lot to do with my riding!


                            • #15
                              I am 4'11" and saddle fitting is the hardest. Also riding those really large WB that have the super thick barrels....yeah I can't get my legs around them!!! I make it work and I try not to think about it and do what I can to get the job done.
                              No Worries!


                              • #16
                                Hmmm...I'm 5'2 (5'3 in the am) and I can't think of any specific riding issues that would be small size - related, lol.

                                The one thing that comes to mind is that I had to customize my vest when I was eventing, as it fit my torso but was too long in the back and hitting my saddle. So I un-stitched it, cut it, and stitched it back. Problem solved.

                                Interestingly, I need a 17" jumping saddle because of my long thighs. It took me a while to realize that!
                                Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


                                • #17
                                  im a midget well not really im 4'10 saddle fit for me is hard and boots! i have short legs but wide calfs from playing soccer and cycling
                                  MIDWAY SOCCER 08' First Season!!!!!!


                                  • #18
                                    5'1" But it's all in my legs(thighs mostly) So I needed an extra forward flap on a 16.5" saddle. Any bigger than that and I'm swimming in the seat which I hate. My biggest problem is getting my dressage saddle down off the top rack in the tackroom where it lives. Luckily it's a Wintec so I kinda toss it up And I pull it off by the flaps. And on very tall horses I need a step stool to brush their backs. haha!! And of course, getting on from the ground can be a bit difficult. I competed in games in PC though so I can vault on if need be. I also have a problem really wrapping my legs around a horse too. Not bad in my dressage saddle, but definitely in my jump saddle with shorter stirrups. And ah yes, stirrup leathers. I take 48" kids leathers too. But I have very wide feet so I need the 4 3/4" irons. Although I have to say that short people rock! We can ride ponies!!!


                                    • #19
                                      I'm 5'2" and never really noticed saddle fit problems. I do have to buy kids XL breeches to get the length right. They are too complicated to be worth while to shorten them. My horse is 14.2 and fairly narrow. If you have any problems with lengths on coats or dress shirts a decent tailor should be able to fix that. Riding clothes cost enough its worth it for it to fit correctly.


                                      • #20
                                        I'm 5'2" with the stupidest, shortest legs on earth.


                                        My thigh is pretty normal, but I'm so short from knee to ankle! NO, I don't have cankles, though! Finding tall boots, breeches, half chaps, regular chaps, it's all impossible.

                                        I had to buy a new saddle when I got my current horse and I'm fairly certain it doesn't fit me that well, since I got it because it fit my horse. I mean, yeah, I sat in it and said "hey, feels good".. but I don't believe it's actually fit to me. Any tips on finding a saddle/saddle fitter that DOES fit both you and your horse on a budget? Such as.. $2-3000.