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Saddles - types of horses & types of riders

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  • Saddles - types of horses & types of riders

    Somewhere, on one of the numerous intense saddle-fitting threads that are floating around, some (maybe mvp, maybe not) made a comment about fitting the horse vs. fitting the person - and how hard it is to find a saddle that fits both.

    That got me wondering - can we generalize types of horses and types of riders?

    Say, come up with 10 general types of horses, and some number of types of riders? Even within one discipline.

    Or is it just impossible?

    Maybe what I'm asking is: what matters when it comes to saddle fit?

    For a rider, things that probably matter:
    * leg length
    * thigh length
    * pelvis width
    * thigh thickness
    * etc.

    Things that probably DON'T matter:
    * head size
    * hand size
    * arm length
    * etc.

    And then maybe rank the ones that do matter according to how critical they are to saddle fit.

    Same thing for horses:

    Things that matter:
    * wither height
    * shoulder slope & length
    * back length
    * etc.

    Things that don't:
    * color
    * tail thickness
    * etc.

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could build a decision tree, and at the end of each branch in the tree would be a group of saddles LIKELY to fit?

    Tall, skinny riders with a narrow pelvis should first consider XYZ, ABC, and DEF saddles.
    Short-backed sofas with no withers should consider GHI, KLM, and ABC saddles.

    So a stringbean riding a short-backed sofa should first look at ABC saddles.


    I've seen quite a few recommendations throughout these threads along the lines of: Well, his back is this way, and often this kind of saddle works well.

    Could there be a science to this, or is it all just art & black magic?
    Approved helmet: Every time; every ride.
    "When a sport gets to be predictable it ceases to be fun." - RAR's wise brother

  • #2
    Gawd, wouldn't that be nice. Since I'm a stringbean needing a saddle for a mutton withered sofa.

    Comment


    • #3
      I do love me a good decision tree/flow chart.

      There ought to be one for picking the horse as well. IE: If you're a narrow pelvis, long legged, big thighed chick, you should probably NOT go with the super wide round barreled horse that makes you feel like you're doing the splits and your legs can NEVER wrap around because your thigh and their barrel are in the way. Eh?

      Interesting idea though. i'm game.
      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

      Might be a reason, never an excuse...

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm sure there's a way to do it, but it would take a lot of pain and a lot of brains.

        What might make more sense is an internet-based database where each person could go in, fill in what saddle they purchased, explain the characteristics of their body and/or the characteristics of their horse's back, and over time the database would become comprehensive enough to make plausible recommendations.
        Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          Sweet Jesus JN4--all logical and rational. What is THAT about?

          Ya know...I do have access to a SQL server and can build a website interface...hmmmm.
          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

          Might be a reason, never an excuse...

          Comment


          • #6
            oh awesome idea... I love generalizing in terms of "what to look for" for a logic tree

            a poster on another forum (am I allowed to do this? if not, mod please feel free to do as needed) posted this very handy sketch: http://www.horsegroomingsupplies.com...ml#post3864508

            but in the end, I agree that a database of experiences is probably the best. Submitters urged to photograph the saddle well and the horse's back.

            buddyroo, I got all giddy about the idea of putting together a master saddle fitting site and purchased a url already findtherightsaddle.com

            I'm a total saddle geek, who knew?
            Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

            Comment


            • #7
              I'll start

              Assuming you have picked our discipline-specific saddle (but this make work for the GP/Close Contact/Deeper Jumping Bucket genus).

              You begin with the horse.

              Within his category, you then begin with the tree as it fits him.

              Within the tree category, you look for (and in this order, perhaps):

              The width of the points.

              The degree of curve-- Yup, RAR is right from the other thread-- its Parabola from front to back. Here the rider may have to compromise, but perhaps not too much. This will be true at the extreme ends of the spectrum-- where the person wants a very flat seat and close fit to a horse with a curvy back or tall withers (the classic Butet scenario, in my mind) or (easier-- witness dressage saddles for Wideloads): the person who wants a bucket built on top of a flat, witherless type breed.

              A close third: you try to consider the placement of the points and angle relative to the front of the flaps that will really help determine how forward or back the whole shebang will sit on his back.

              Then you get really serious about panel shape and thickness everywhere.

              Finally, it the position of the saddle's stirrup bars to center of the seat have at all passed rider muster, then you consider the rider's geometry and what you can do with flap position or layers of latex in the seat to help.

              So I'd make my decision tree based on the most permanent parts of the saddle and work to most adjustable. What I have discovered is that when a saddle fits my horse and stays in the right place on him, that alone makes it so much easier to balance that I get less fussy about fit for me.

              Anyone else? This is a great idea.
              The armchair saddler
              Politically Pro-Cat

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Risk-Averse Rider View Post
                Things that don't:
                * color
                So does TOO matter!

                More later, this will be a cool thread
                ______________________________
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jaimebaker View Post
                  Since I'm a stringbean needing a saddle for a mutton withered sofa.
                  Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post
                  There ought to be one for picking the horse as well. IE: If you're a narrow pelvis, long legged, big thighed chick, you should probably NOT go with the super wide round barreled horse that makes you feel like you're doing the splits and your legs can NEVER wrap around because your thigh and their barrel are in the way. Eh?
                  Eggggzacery!

                  We can't help when ponies choose us though, so those of us smaller/skinnier than we "should" be to ride our tall/wide ponies shouldn't necessarily be blamed
                  ______________________________
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    OK... <RAR's database designing circuits kick in>

                    Let's talk about what we need/want to track about the saddle specs:

                    * Make
                    * Model
                    * Year? Does the year of manufacture make a difference? I'm guessing it might, for 2 reasons: age of saddle and the possibility of design changes
                    * Year of purchase
                    * Purchased new / used
                    * Seat size - we know this is pretty much a fiction, but it's something people can check, and it's a way of identifying a particular saddle
                    * Tree width - likewise
                    * Customizations (forward flap, etc.)

                    Are there other measurements that a layman could easily take that would be useful?

                    Do we want to allow for the uploading of photos, if available? (Since we're still in the blue-skying phase ) Or links to photos posted elsewhere?


                    What do we want to track about the rider?

                    * Height?
                    * Weight?
                    * Inseam?
                    * Is there some easily-obtained pelvic width measurement?
                    * Do we want people to submit a full-body CT scan?



                    Do we have rider profiles, saddle profiles, and then feedback linking them together?


                    Search criteria:

                    1. Search for a saddle, and see what (if anything) someone else had to say about it
                    2. Search for a rider body type, and see what saddles are tied to it?


                    I think we'd need to have accounts, so that a person could register info for different saddles over time, without re-entering his/her personal data (allowing, perhaps, for multiple profiles in the case where someone is reporting on a saddle used as a kid, pre-pregnancy, post-menopause... etc.)


                    <gauntlet hits the ground>

                    OK, guys - start hacking / adding / editing
                    Approved helmet: Every time; every ride.
                    "When a sport gets to be predictable it ceases to be fun." - RAR's wise brother

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      omg I love it!

                      Originally posted by Risk-Averse Rider View Post
                      OK... <RAR's database designing circuits kick in>

                      Let's talk about what we need/want to track about the saddle specs:

                      * Make
                      * Model
                      * Year? Does the year of manufacture make a difference? I'm guessing it might, for 2 reasons: age of saddle and the possibility of design changes
                      * Year of purchase
                      * Purchased new / used
                      * Seat size - we know this is pretty much a fiction, but it's something people can check, and it's a way of identifying a particular saddle
                      * Tree width - likewise
                      * Customizations (forward flap, etc.)

                      Are there other measurements that a layman could easily take that would be useful?

                      Do we want to allow for the uploading of photos, if available? (Since we're still in the blue-skying phase ) Or links to photos posted elsewhere?


                      What do we want to track about the rider?

                      * Height?
                      * Weight?
                      * Inseam?
                      * Is there some easily-obtained pelvic width measurement?
                      * Do we want people to submit a full-body CT scan?



                      Do we have rider profiles, saddle profiles, and then feedback linking them together?


                      Search criteria:

                      1. Search for a saddle, and see what (if anything) someone else had to say about it
                      2. Search for a rider body type, and see what saddles are tied to it?


                      I think we'd need to have accounts, so that a person could register info for different saddles over time, without re-entering his/her personal data (allowing, perhaps, for multiple profiles in the case where someone is reporting on a saddle used as a kid, pre-pregnancy, post-menopause... etc.)


                      <gauntlet hits the ground>

                      OK, guys - start hacking / adding / editing
                      Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        More thoughts, because I've spent years (literally) designing databases & web interfaces to gather all kinds of data from employee resumes to nuclear training documentation - and I know that the denseness of people when faced with an interface can be astounding. Not to mention heart-breaking for the designer of said interface.

                        Thinking about describing the horse(s) on which the rider's saddle(s) did/did not fit (because I completely forgot about this part the first time around, despite the fact that mvp said we begin with the horse):

                        What if we said to people:

                        1. Look at your horse's withers (is it unreasonable to ask them to do a wither tracing to answer this question?). Do they most look like
                        A. (line drawing of mutton withers)
                        B. (line drawing of normal withers)
                        C. (line drawing of shark fin withers)
                        D. (line drawing of sailboat)

                        etc. as appropriate

                        2. Look at your horse from the side. Does his topline most look like
                        A.
                        B.
                        C.

                        and so on.

                        That is, can we distill the horse shapes down into 5-7 general types for each significant measurement?

                        If not, how do we gather data about the horses?


                        I'm thinking that we're only looking for general guidelines anyway - if you're this size and your horse's back looks like this, then you might want to consider these saddles.
                        Approved helmet: Every time; every ride.
                        "When a sport gets to be predictable it ceases to be fun." - RAR's wise brother

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Risk-Averse Rider View Post
                          More thoughts, because I've spent years (literally) designing databases & web interfaces to gather all kinds of data from employee resumes to nuclear training documentation - and I know that the denseness of people when faced with an interface can be astounding. Not to mention heart-breaking for the designer of said interface.
                          Having spent 10+ years writing the requirements for you designers to design things, and 10 years before that at 3rd tier support for the people using the things "you" designed, I 1000% empathize with you!

                          Still more on this thread later - busy with a few other things tonight
                          ______________________________
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by JB View Post
                            Having spent 10+ years writing the requirements for you designers to design things, and 10 years before that at 3rd tier support for the people using the things "you" designed, I 1000% empathize with you!

                            Still more on this thread later - busy with a few other things tonight
                            I knew I liked you guys for a reason

                            (I also build the things I design - kind of a renaissance geek)
                            Approved helmet: Every time; every ride.
                            "When a sport gets to be predictable it ceases to be fun." - RAR's wise brother

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Renaissance geek? You rang?

                              Things we need to track in saddle specs:
                              * Make
                              * Model
                              * Year
                              * Tree size according to manufacturer
                              * Seat size, cross your fingers
                              * Serial number in its entirety, decoded (telling somebody that the serial number is 17 5 2AB 8675309 PX4 PX7 PXWTF will not help them. Telling them it is a 17.5 with a 2AB (regular length, forward at the top, forward at the midpoint,) Jenny I've got your number, panel configuration in this area goes like so, in that area like so, that area was just our little joke, is more helpful. Heck, if there were a page that decoded the serial numbers of every French saddle out there and said what each notation means, that would be awesome.

                              In terms of easy-to-take measurements, provide an outline of a basic close contact saddle and then ask people if in their opinion the saddle they're "measuring" is:
                              * Higher through the pommel than the illustration
                              * More forward through the flap than the illustration
                              * Longer in the flap than the illustration
                              * Has more curve to the seat than the illustration
                              * Has panels stuffed to be bigger than those in the illustration

                              Rider info:
                              * Height
                              * Weight
                              * Full inseam
                              * Inseam measurement from crotch to knee
                              * Inseam measurement from knee to floor
                              * Ability to ride a fat barrel of a draft horse for an hour cross-country without feeling like your legs are going to fall out of their hip sockets

                              Step 1 of recommending saddle for Horse
                              Ask people about their horse. In comparison to the following illustration of an "average" wither:
                              * Does your horse have a higher wither, or lower?
                              * Does your horse have more hollowing beside the withers, or less?
                              * Does your horse have a steeper incline to the wither, or a shallower incline?
                              Also in this section:
                              * Do you feel like your childbearing potential will be severely compromised by riding your horse bareback, or are you comfortable riding bareback? ("Oh, my succession!" answers will likely correspond to "higher wither" and "steeper incline". If they don't, perhaps the wither is not the problem...)

                              In comparison to the illustration of an "average" shoulder:
                              * Does your horse have a broader shoulder?
                              In this section also:
                              * Does your horse's shoulder tend to push saddles back towards his croup?

                              In comparison to the illustration of an "average" back:
                              * Is your horse's back longer, or shorter?
                              * Does your horse's back have more curve to it, or less?
                              * Is your horse's backbone more or less prominent?

                              From the following pictures, pick the WITHER SHAPE that looks most like your horse's:
                              * Shark fin
                              * Average wither
                              * Low/mutton wither
                              * Shark fin with wither hollows beside
                              * Average wither with wither hollows beside

                              From the following pictures, pick the TOPLINE that looks most like your horse's:
                              * "Average" back
                              * Flat back
                              * Roached back
                              * Sway back
                              * Curvy back

                              Some of these questions are re-iterations, but they may allow for greater precision in results.

                              Step 2

                              The information you provided indicates that you believe your horse to have [this type of] wither, with [this type of] back. Based on that information, here are some saddles you may want to consider.

                              Provide topline photos and brief descriptions of the horse who belongs to that saddle (see Amerigo's website for an example.)

                              Horses with [average withers, large shoulders, short backs, and a curvy topline] tend to go well in [Saddle X] because [Saddle X] [has a high pommel to allow for wither clearance, thin panels over the shoulder to allow full range of shoulder motion without pinching, upswept panels so the thing doesn't sit on the croup, and more curve to the tree to conform to the back.]

                              Riders with [long femurs, short tibias, and big behinds] like [Saddle X] because it [has a forward flap to accommodate a long thigh, a short flap to accommodate a short calf, and a wide seat with wide twist so your butt is not hanging off the side of the saddle because that is uncomfortable and unattractive and we are hunters and want to look preeeeeeeeety.]

                              This saddle retails new for [insert figure that may or may not make you cry] and can be found used for approximately [insert figure that may or may not still make you cry] depending on your area, based on X reports. Its resale value is approximately [insert figure that may or may not make you want to just ride bareback for the rest of your life] based on X reports of resale.
                              "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

                              Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
                              Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Renn/aissance View Post
                                Jenny I've got your number, panel configuration in this area goes like so, in that area like so, that area was just our little joke, is more helpful. Heck, if there were a page that decoded the serial numbers of every French saddle out there and said what each notation means, that would be awesome.
                                Seems that wouldn't be too hard. A basic Wiki tool like PBWiki or JottIt could handle that.

                                I hope nobody's planning to work too hard on the coding. There are so many survey sites out there already, some of which will feed into a simple database (like Google Polls):
                                http://c4lpt.co.uk/Directory/Tools/forms.html

                                and for you mind mapping geeks, here's some afternoon-killing tools:
                                http://c4lpt.co.uk/Directory/Tools/mind.html
                                Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Real dimensions

                                  Glad to see this is rolling along.

                                  Though they are approximate (and a joke to some), I think it would help to add some real dimensions to part of the discussion. Remember that The Uninitiated have to start somewhere and when they are using WikiSaddle (Buy that URL name, buck22?) to help, they'll want to be able to get on Ebay or take the info to their first-stop local tack store.

                                  So I'd include the standard/dot-to-dot measurement so many use to denote trees' width. IMO, 4" is the "standard" Medium we inherited from the Crosby Dynasty. 4.5" might be the new Medium for saddlers building for WBs. Check sites like fineusedsaddles-- even trees this wide are a bit tough to find. 5" counts as Wide to most saddlers and the width my fairly average-looking/sized WB would like. Stupid-wides, of course, needed even more inches her.

                                  I would not use the mm. measurements that some Europeeps use to mark the space between the bottom of the points of the naked tree. If we could dissect saddles down to their bones or know where on our wither tracings the points of the tree would actually sit, I suppose this info would be useful.

                                  I'd also develop a protocol for measuring femur length. I like Barnsby's (I think its theirs): Squat next to a wall with your knees bent 90 degrees. The linear measurement from the wall (the back of your pelvis) to the front of your knee cap is not quite the length of your femur but does give a fixed and approximate measurement of your thigh's length. I don't think the inaccuracy built in by the thickness of the knee cap and position of the hip joints to the back of the pelvis will create a big problem. I suspect that the variations in this part of human anatomy are perhaps small enough in their linear dimensions that they can be absorbed in the much longer length we want for the thigh.

                                  Then add some real examples. So for me, 5'2" and usually wanting a 16.5" to include my girl-booty, the thigh measurement is 22.5." Can you tallies add your data points? Some scrawnies of any height can play too, and that will help many more people.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by mvp View Post
                                    Then add some real examples. So for me, 5'2" and usually wanting a 16.5" to include my girl-booty, the thigh measurement is 22.5." Can you tallies add your data points? Some scrawnies of any height can play too, and that will help many more people.
                                    5'5", 120lb, 20" sitting in a flat, straight-back chair.
                                    ______________________________
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by mvp View Post
                                      I'd also develop a protocol for measuring femur length. I like Barnsby's (I think its theirs): Squat next to a wall with your knees bent 90 degrees. The linear measurement from the wall (the back of your pelvis) to the front of your knee cap is not quite the length of your femur but does give a fixed and approximate measurement of your thigh's length. I don't think the inaccuracy built in by the thickness of the knee cap and position of the hip joints to the back of the pelvis will create a big problem. I suspect that the variations in this part of human anatomy are perhaps small enough in their linear dimensions that they can be absorbed in the much longer length we want for the thigh.
                                      And anyone who can't manage to do this doesn't deserve a saddle that fits?!?!

                                      Isn't there a way to do this while sitting on a straight chair?

                                      Or this way: http://cherry.dcwi.com/cherry/info/fit_info/thigh.html

                                      Crap: these folks do the sitting against the wall thing, too: http://www.terrafermacycles.com/fit/measuring.htm
                                      Approved helmet: Every time; every ride.
                                      "When a sport gets to be predictable it ceases to be fun." - RAR's wise brother

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I thought this article might appeal. Scroll down for the description of the Zafu site design.
                                        http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200712/clothes

                                        My concern about using a questionaire-based approach is you'd be assuming that the people entering data actually know how to evaluate saddle fit. As an admitted novice, I could *probably* describe the shape of my horse's back, etc. But the saddle I put down as satisfying my needs may or may not be the kind of perfect match you'd want to build this kind of advice-giving database.

                                        Comment

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