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Does this saddle fit me? / Stirrup question

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  • Does this saddle fit me? / Stirrup question

    For the past year or so, I've been struggling to keep my leg at the girth. I went from a cheap Crosby PDN that was giving me a chair seat to a Barnsby Espirit and am now having opposite problems. My leg is always slipping back and after having tried a bunch of suggestions to improve this, it hadn't gotten much better. I can do exercises like up up down and two point easily and when I drop my stirrups, my leg naturally goes into the correct position. I've also tried tying my stirrups to the girth and while it feels kind of weird, I am able to ride pretty well like that but it's not translating back when I untie my stirrups.

    So now I'm wondering if it could have something to do with my saddle fit. Based on these pictures, does anyone have any input on my saddle fit and/or stirrup length? Or any other suggestions on how to fix this?

    I also wonder if my stirrups are hindering me in some way. I switched from Herm Sprenger flex stirrups to Korsteel irons where the footbed just flexes down a little to help get your heel down. But maybe these stirrups are allowing me to flex too much without actually getting enough weigh in my heels?

    The two photos with ribbons are of my most recent saddle. The one without ribbons is a few years old from our first show and has my old Crosby saddle.
    Thanks for any suggestions!!
    Barnsby with Korsteel irons Barnsby with Herm Sprenger irons

  • #2
    Maaaaaybe the flap is on the long side for your leg? The placement of the stirrup bars can make a big difference, too. I'd have a saddle fitter out or at least try borrowing a few saddles to try before I worries about the stirrups. Saddle fit makes a huge difference. I rode for 2 minutes in my daughter's saddle and thought I was going to fall off! 😂


    • #3
      Do you have pictures or videos of your leg sliding back in the Barnsby?


      • #4
        MacKK : The Barnsby Espirit is my FAVORITE saddle! So cool that you have one. I had a medium (3-tree), sold it, bought a 4-tree, then needed a narrower one, again, and wished I had kept the medium. iMHO, from the photos: the PDN did have you in a chair seat. The Barnsby position looks good! Is the transition from leg-in-front-too-much to leg-where-it should-be part of the issue? If you are used to riding in a way where you were always pulling your leg back, since the saddle put it in front of you, then it's maybe a different feel and balance now. I hope someone with more experience chimes in here. Anyway, welcome to the Espirit club! We are a small but mighty group ;0.


        • #5
          I had this problem in my old saddle that was too small for me and had the wrong flap. My lower leg constantly wanted to slip back. It's hard to tell from the pictures but it looks like your current saddle might be a half size or so too small, with too big of a flap that has your leg searching for a place to be. There is so much flap in front of your knee, and it looks like not much seat behind you. It could also be from riding in such a way that your leg slipped forward and now you're stuck subconsciously pulling it back. Try to get videos of your riding so you can see what is happening in real time. But I kind of think this new saddle isn't the best fit for you.


          • #6
            I would say that if you drop your stirrups and your leg goes into the correct position that you need to work on more no stirrup riding (unfortunately!)

            That says that it isn't the fit of the saddle necessarily, but moreso how your muscle memory is acting with your feet in the stirrups. I don't think tying your legs is a good solution nor is it safe

            You could explore a stirrup change as well. Switch back to your herm sprengers and do a *lot* of stirrup-less work.

            I don't think your saddle doesn't fit you. It may not help you with your problem, but I think it's unfortunately how you're just riding right now! I have a left leg that loves to swing. No stirrup work and one stirrup work always helps. It always hurts too


            • #7
              Leg slipping back sometimes means that your upper body is too far forward. When you drop your stirrups, this is virtually impossible. Thus, your upper body and leg go to the correct position. I second Tipzythegreat's comment about no-stirrup work. It hurts so good!


              • #8
                IMO how your saddle fits on your horse has more to do with your position than how the saddle fits you. A rider with a good solid position can do just fine in a saddle that has all the wrong measurements for them but fits the horse great. But trying to get your leg underneath you when the saddle is sitting unbalanced on the horse's back is a whole different ball game.


                • #9
                  Random thought... I went through a very long period where my lower leg would be oddly back despite my upper body not being tipped forward. We finally realized I was somewhat unknowingly clenching behind my knee. Does that make sense? I was engaging the tendons that run up my leg in such a way that I was basically bending knee whilst riding, causing my lower leg to come back. As soon as I thought about “keep your thigh closed, let your leg just dangle from the knee down, THEN close your calf to the horse’s side” I got it to stop. You don’t keep your knee bent. The stirrups do.


                  • #10
                    I bet you that riding in those Sprengers gave you incorrect muscle memory. In my experience, people who ride with spring stirrups tend to put more of their weight in their toe instead of their heel, because your leg was searching for stability and not finding any. So, different muscles got built up. When you balance in your toe, the whole picture is tilted forward and your leg swings back.

                    I suggest finding some plain jane stirrup irons to start. If you need special stirrups because of joint issues, just make sure the footbed doesn't move. Royal Rider plastic stirrups are great; I don't have much experience with Jin/other high end brands however.

                    If you're worried about not having your heels far down enough (which it sounds like you are, based on the current stirrups you're using), focus on picking your toes UP instead of forcing your heels DOWN - this keeps your center of balance in your heels and keeps enough tension out of your leg where you can still give cues.


                    • #11
                      Can you stand straight up in it without falling forward or back?
                      "Do what you can't do"


                      • #12
                        I agree with OnDeck. Your saddle is the right size for you. Your knee bends nicely and sits right in the middle of the knee roll but isn't too forward. It is your position that is wrong. Try lengthening your stirrups a notch or two to help slide your but forward while maintaining the right bend in your knee. Also get a saddle fitter out just to check and ask your trainer about your position and how YOU look in the saddle.


                        • #13
                          People above telling you the saddle fits you from your photos at a standstill aren't really being helpful. I have one saddle that appears to "fit" me great. It's comfortable, my leg fits on it perfectly, I look awesome at a standstill, or even at one constant speed. However, it throws my balance slightly forward on most horses, which means I'm perpetually calibrating my balance against the saddle and having to think about "waterskiing" through my transitions just to stay balanced. My position over fences was suffering. I still have this one because I ride a variety of horses and like another fit option, and at this point I'm pretty adept at adjusting my position in spite of the saddle, but its definitely not my everyday saddle. I switched my stirrups to ones without any flex to make this easier. Incidentally, I got this one after my old Crosby that put me in a chairseat. too.

                          My newest saddle fits my hard-to-fit guy great, and my balance is neutral. Not having to counterbalance all the time lets me just balance and RIDE, and its been wonderful.

                          It's a bit of a Goldilocks experiment, and I agree with on deck that even if it appears to fit you, the way it fits your horse really matters here.