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Which saddle am I best aligned/balanced in?

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  • Which saddle am I best aligned/balanced in?

    I've been struggling with a chair seat, and a few people thought that the saddle might be too small for me, contributing to the problem. It's a Wintec 2000 AP.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWqRnDbFiZ8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buydjLYe9TU
    So, today I rode in the Stubben jumping saddle
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbygQK0GKeA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKJTVuC4R3A
    and the Crates reining Western saddle
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40Y23ieADwA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAYWWXMM1H8
    I think I still am having the same problem in them, so it's probably just me, but I'd appreciate any feedback on if any of them seem to be working a little better for me. I can't afford to buy my own saddle right now. My friend is letting me ride/use her tack for free. I'm doing lots of exercises to work on myself, and I'm a little frustrated with my lack of progress right now.
    Last edited by Whisper; Nov. 3, 2009, 12:00 PM.
    Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.

  • #2
    Try not to get frustrated. Learning proper equitation is hard work- and takes a long time. You look by far the best in the Stubben. In the Wintec, you are behind the motion of the horse with your upper body, and you are very stiff and locked through your whole body (parts aren't working independently). In the stubben, your leg is less affected by your posting, and your upper boyd is less affected by your stearing- so its telling me that your balance comes more naturally and with less work in that saddle. It's still not ideal, and you will still have a lot of work to do- but I think its the best of the three.


    • #3
      I think the Stueben looks small too. . .


      • #4
        I agree that the Stubben is too small.

        Look for a saddle with a slightly more forward and longer flap and pay attention to the position of the stirrup bars. When the bars are too far forward, they put you into a chair position. You can mention this at the tack store where you are looking.

        It's very hard to maintain your position in a saddle that seats you wrong. Most of the time people end up in a chair seat because the saddle doesn't work for their conformation. When you find one that works, it will be a huge relief!
        Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
        EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


        • Original Poster

          Thanks, joidevie! Bogie and mudhorse, I was laid off a few months ago, and have had some short-term contracts since, but nothing really steady. So, a new saddle is *NOT* on the top of my priorities list right now! I feel very grateful to be allowed to ride and use her tack for free, even if it doesn't fit me very well. She has a couple of boarders who have their own English tack, but I don't have their permission to use it, and feel a little awkward about asking, especially if it isn't on their horse (a couple of her boarders do allow me to ride their horses when they can't make it out that day). I figure there are probably thousands of horse-crazy little girls and women who'd love to have the chance to ride as much as they have time for, so I'm certainly not going to complain! I do help out with feeding and mucking a bit, but not nearly enough to claim to be working off the rides - it's more like 15-30 minutes of work for every 3-4 hours of riding! Once I have more funds, I plan to buy an adjustable saddle, and I'm trying to learn more about saddle fit for both me and horses in the meantime. Anyway, I'm trying to make do the best I can with what I have available. There are the two English saddles in the videos, and a few more Western ones in addition to the Crates (perhaps one of them has a larger seat size), or go bareback. I have a really long thigh relative to my height, so it makes saddle fitting (for me) a challenge!
          Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.


          • #6
            I think the Crates is best, but is also a wee bit too small. And the fenders need to be slid back a bit on it, and a touch longer stirrup length.

            What I see in all three is that you are 'perching,' and that might be part of the problem. It appears from what I can see that you are taking too much weight into your thighs. Allow your weight down, onto the horse's back. You're not any heavier if you truly SIT than you are if you stand. As the hips open and relax (don't try to do it all at once--it HURTS!) it will allow your knee to drop down and back, and your lower leg to come more underneath your center of balance.

            Easiest exercise to feel this: at the halt, then the walk, take both legs up and away from the saddle, but keep the knees bent 'in riding position.' That will let your seat find the point of balance. Try to walk around for more and more time each ride like this, to let your body learn where that balance position is. Once you can get that, then you can just let the legs drape...

            Without seeing the english saddles in person, it's hard for me to say if a lift pad might help... they will compound any fitting issues, though they sometimes can help pretty dramatically for saddle-balance issues...
            InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

            Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


            • Original Poster

              I think she has a couple of Western saddles that are a little bigger, so I can try a couple of others. I think you're right about the perching, and I'm doing a lot of exercises to work on it.
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUZMKkD6WUI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owA_8Fcc-b4
              Oh, here's a closeup of the Stubben without anyone in it if that helps at all: http://www.flickr.com/photos/82782698@N00/3804179018
              Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.


              • #8
                The grabbing the ankle isn't really helping because you are flexible and able to do it... the point of that is to help allow the knee to drop down. Your knee stays fixed. Do that one on the ground. Stand on one leg, grab the ankle of the other, and bring heel to your seat.

                Maybe Medical Mike or someone else will chime in about that...

                I think the lifting the legs off is what I'm talking about--but keep your legs in 'riding position', don't straighten them or bend the knee more. Eventually work up to doing that at all three gaits. I have to do it on the lunge at all 3 gaits.
                InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                • #9
                  Looking at the Stubben I'd say that part of your problem is the saddle is too narrow. Can you see how the pommel is high and creates a sloping angle toward the cantle? That will cause you to tilt back and will make your legs swing forward. Ultimately riding in a saddle that throws you to the back of the seat also will cause soreness in your horse because it overweights the cantle area.

                  Now, with something like a Stubben, often minor fit issues can be changed by having the saddle reflocked. However, that would depend on whether you have access to a professional saddle fitter.

                  The saddle should be level at the deepest part of the seat and the stirrups should hang vertically.
                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks! Yeah, I'm pretty flexible and athletic - I do vaulting as my primary discipline. When they talk about "standing on the horse," they mean it. Trying to translate it into regular riding, where there are so many things going on, gets confusing, though!
                    Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.


                    • Original Poster

                      Yeah, I think the Wintec fits her better, but someone else was using it at the time. I hadn't thought the saddle fit was poor enough to hurt her, but it certainly doesn't help! She usually goes Western.
                      Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.


                      • Original Poster

                        Ok, I rode 3 horses yesterday, but the camera batteries died so I only got video of two. I tried to stay in more of a "half seat" in the Stubben (this is Dixie, who it seems to fit better). The flies were out in force, so we only worked for 20 minutes or so in addition to the warmup and cooldown around the perimeter trail. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6Ooe2l7J2g

                        She let me try a different Western saddle with a bigger seat. I still look like I'm in a chair seat some of the time, but I think my alignment looks a bit better than the other options so far, but my toes are pointing straight down. I think my stirrups were a bit too long. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdK50e6g0Rc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypewYUYXCGI

                        Tentatively at this point, I'm planning to ride the medium-wide horses in the Stubben and the wide horses in the bigger Western.
                        Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.


                        • #13
                          Although you were stiff in the Wintec, that looked like a more correct riding position hip down. Your legs were under you and not in chair seat.

                          The last video of you in the Stueben, it's hard to tell but you seem to be REALLY in chair seat. Your knees are way out in front of you. And your stirrips look too short which isn't helping.

                          You looked most comfy in the Western or Wintec, I think. I am not an expert at all (hence my recent thread on finding a new saddle myself!) but the chair seat in your last post/video seems the worst and is very noticeable in the white breeches even though the video is blurry.

                          Have you tried the "Winged Victory" position or "Stand in Stirrups" and balance (a.e. Sally Swift book). This helped my chair seat tremendously.


                          • #14
                            You are sitting on the cantle in all those saddles. If that is the lowest point when the saddle is on the horse then it does not fit the horse correctly. The saddle is not balanced front to back; the cantle is too low. The low spot in the saddle should be further forward. This also contributes to your bounciness and inability to sit with the motion. The low spot should be about where the horse's wither disappears into his back; behind that, the saddle should start to rise to the cantle.
                            ... _. ._ .._. .._


                            • Original Poster

                              Tpup, I shortened the stirrups from last time, since I thought they were too long. I've been doing lots of stretches, including standing up in the stirrups, but I'm not familiar with the "Winged Victory" one.

                              Equibrit, both saddles seem to be shaped so that the low spot is toward the cantle. The lowest point in the Stubben is just above the back of the flap. It looked a little too small on Tonka, but seemed like it fit Dixie ok (in terms of wither clearance and conforming to her body). The Wintec is a wide tree, but again, the lowest point is way in the back. If they're sitting on a saddle rack, their low points are still in the same spot. I know they aren't ideal, and of course, I don't want to make the horses sore or anything, either. Like I mentioned earlier in the thread, I can't buy my own saddle right now, I'm trying to do the best I can with what I have available to me.
                              Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.


                              • #16
                                There is NO WAY you can avoid a chair seat in those saddles as they are now. You could lift the cantle with a pad (be very careful you don't shift the weight too far forward), but you'd better be darned sure that the wither clearance is ample or you will be making a problem for your horse.
                                ... _. ._ .._. .._


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Whisper View Post
                                  but seemed like it fit Dixie ok (in terms of wither clearance and conforming to her body).
                                  No, too narrow. The pommel is very high and the saddle is sloping back toward the cantle. You need to have a level spot at the balance point of the saddle otherwise you'll be fighting your tack and your horse will be at the receiving end of pressure points.

                                  The problem is, you can't just jack up the back of the saddle because that puts all the pressure on the withers.

                                  These folks have good info on saddle fit: http://trumbullmtn.com/
                                  or, here's an a blog posting that I wrote awhile back: Does this saddle fit?

                                  You need to look at some photos of saddles that fit well so you can compare.
                                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.