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Short rider - forward vs. straight flap? Saddle fit

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  • Short rider - forward vs. straight flap? Saddle fit

    Hi everyone!

    I'm wondering if anyone can help explain how a forward vs. a straight flap on a jump saddle will affect my stability and position? For the short riders out there, which one of these do you ride in and why did you choose that?

    I've had my saddle rep out and she says she likes me in both the forward flap and straight flap monoflap saddles she had me try. Unfortunately, she doesn't have the right combination of exact seat and flap sizes for me to try, so It's been incredibly difficult for me to discern what individual aspects of each saddle I like, and how the forward vs. straight flap on it's own affects my position and stability. Please help! Thanks!

  • #2
    It depends on how long from hip to knee you are as to what flap you require. I’m short, 5ft2, but I’m very long through my femur.....a more forward flap fits me best, if I’m in a straight flap my knee goes over the front of the saddle! But you also have to make sure that in a forward flap, the stirrup bars are also in the correct’s easy to end up in a chair seat! A good saddle fitter should be able to steer you toward the best saddle for your build and generally you’ll fit one flap better than the other. Certain brands of saddles will also put you into a better fit your horse better! You shouldn’t “fight” keeping your leg and body in the correct position in the correct saddle!
    Breast cancer survivor!


    • #3
      I'm a short girl (5'1") with decent-long legs. I end up choosing the straighter flapped saddles. I will say, though, that I like my stirrups on the longer side and my heel is pretty deep.
      The armchair saddler
      Politically Pro-Cat


      • #4
        I'm short with a short femur. The straight flaps work better for me, as it means my knee gets the support of the block. On a fwd flap, the block is too far out in front to do anything. I tend to ride with my stirrups on the shorter side.

        I will say, there is a very wide difference in feeling between different brands w/ a short/straight flap. So it really is in your best bet to find/try one in the configuration you think you want before spending the money on a custom saddle that may not be perfect. I don't own any monoflaps, but find the short flapped CWDs and Voltaires work best for me.
        A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's does that...


        • #5
          Totally depends on your femur and your personal preference. I'd find the right combo to sit in to determine it for yourself. I am 5'2 and I need a forward flap or a saddle just doesn't work for me. I find saddles are a little like bras, if you go up in seat size you should go down in flap size or vice versa. So for example, in Devoucoux saddles I can ride comfortably in a 17" seat with a 1A flap or a 17.5" with a 0A flap. 0 is the shortest flap, A is how they designate forward. I had a 17.5" 0A monoflap by them that I loved and begrudgingly sold when I switched from jumpers to hunters and eq. A saddle fitter once told me I am long through my femur (which, I think is hilarious because I wouldn't describe any part of me as long). I've ridden in a barn mates 17.5" 1A Devoucoux and I felt like a loose mess, like I was swimming in excess saddle. Crazy how that makes a difference

          My current saddle is a CWD (one of the older models, I HATE the 2G, it feels like I'm trapped in the seat, I also don't understand how something with a carbon fiber tree is so damn heavy) with a 16.5" seat and a 1C flap which is their short forward, similar to a 0A devoucoux. I have no idea how my ass fits in that seat but it does I love the saddle. I also ride a hony, it was OK on a big moving horse but is perfect on the smaller guy, so that's something else to consider. How big of a mover is your horse and how big are the fences you are jumping? Bigger fences you might want more room in the seat or more forward space in the flap to bring your stirrups up.

          I've also sat in a barn mates 16.5" short forward flap (not sure what the #/letter is) Voltaire and fit fine in that. I hated how it felt though since their stirrup bars are placed differently so they were a no for me.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks everyone! This is all helpful!


            • #7
              I will say not to neglect the twist fit (as well as stirrup bar placement) when you think about flaps. I didn’t realize that a too-wide twist was pushing my legs forward rather than allowing them to drape. This made it look like I needed a forward flap, when I don’t always. Check your hip/heel alignment when sitting in what you try.


              • #8
                I agree with the others - my 5' nothing tall with short thighs body sits best in a straight flap saddle - and since I tend to ride wide horses, I also want nothing under my knee, so I look for a saddle with minimal to no padding under the flap and a skinny knee roll (ideally set up high).

                My current short flap jump saddle looks a bit silly, but it's probably the best fit for my legs that I've ever sat in. Finding saddle pads to fit it is a bit of an issue though (seat is too big for pony sized, flaps too small for full size).


                • #9
                  Great comment on the twist LakeEffect! Devoucoux actually has a "female twist" as an option on their saddles now too, which is a bit narrowed and designed differently. My friend has it and loves it.


                  • #10
                    OP, if you want to get technical, there's a way to figure this out. Or, at least, this is what I did and it worked.

                    In involves measuring dimensions on saddles that no one talks about, but which will tell you about the flap geometry that works for you. Put a saddle that you like balanced on a stand, with stirrups. Getting it balanced might mean that you put a half-pad underneath and eye ball it until the pommel and cantle are level. Take these measurements, with the flap held out so that you are measuring on a flat surface. That will help you be accurate.

                    1. With the stirrup run down, measure from the horizontal distance from the stirrup leather to the front edge of the flap at its most forward point. This will tell you how forward or straight the flap is.

                    2. Measure how far down from the stirrup bar that horizontal line to the leading edge of the flap. This will tell you how high up or low down the saddle maker thinks your knee is.

                    3. This one is harder: Measure the horizontal distance from the highest point of the pommel to the stirrup bar. That will tell you how far back the stirrup bar is. That's related to the flap, but also to the seat of the saddle.

                    These dimensions will tell you a lot about a saddle's geometry. I did this and learned what I liked. I bought a saddle without a trial just by asking a seller to measure these dimensions and it fits me great, even though I'm short and weird to buy for.
                    The armchair saddler
                    Politically Pro-Cat


                    • #11
                      Honestly, it all depends on your body and how you ride, mixed with the balance of your saddle, your horse, and the saddle your in. You can measure a million things and still get in the wrong flap on the wrong saddle.

                      A Voltaire’s “straight flap” is not the same as a CWD as a Butet as a Monoflap as anything. They all differ some. Also if you go deep seat to half deep to flat.

                      Note that most monoflaps have a more “forward” flap than normal saddles purely due to construction of the saddle. If your a forward flap in a mono, it might not be a bad idea to try yourself in a forward flap in a regular saddle. Howver, since you are short, you want to make sure your flap is also short on the calf or else your going to have no contact at all.

                      Im 5’6. I ride in very flat seats, narrow twists, and short “long” flaps. It’s my preference for my knee to just kiss the edge of the flap and to not have a lot in front of me while having a short flap under my leg.

                      when I ride in a deeper seat, i technically could use a shorter more “forward” flap but that encourages me to remain in a chair and behind my horses movement, so if I go deep - I still prefer a long flap with s touch more panel in the back to get me out of the saddle.

                      My suggestion for you- try again with a different fitter. Sit in as many brands and types as possible. You can measure all the things ask all the shorties, but there are a ton of variables!

                      - previously a professional fitter