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Western saddles - long legs & medium legs?

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  • Western saddles - long legs & medium legs?

    Mr. RAR is 6'4", with long legs to go with it.

    I've got 5'7" legs.

    Any chance we'd both be able to fit in the same Western saddle? How adjustable is the length of the stirrups?
    Approved helmet: Every time; every ride.
    "When a sport gets to be predictable it ceases to be fun." - RAR's wise brother

  • #2
    Probably but you sure would get tired of moving those stirrups!! Also I would assume he has a bigger tush than you so the seat size would be different.
    "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"


    • #3
      Probably. Western saddles are generally very adjustable unless you are extremely tall or short.

      The problem is, that for a proper seat, you need a larger seat size for longer legs. At 6'4" and long-legged, your husband should probably ride a 17" seat. If you are very long legged, you may be comfortable in a 17", or you may feel like you're swimming and be better off in a 16".

      "Tush" size really has nothing to do with seat size, unless a person is so overweight that their stomach is rubbing against the back of the saddle horn. The longer your thigh bone, the larger the seat should be. I'm a bit over 6'2" and ride a 17" reiner/cowhorse.

      Luckily, more saddlemakers are realizing that taller people need larger seat sizes, so they have become more common, particularly in reining, cutting and trail saddles.


      • #4
        Scuse me...but I'm 5'7...average weight and unless the 6'4" guy isn't a string bean and is height /weight proportioned, I would guess that his hiney...or jeans/waist size is bigger than mine!
        I interpret that to a larger seat. Most men I know use a 17" western seat. I prefer a 16 although a 15 - 15.5 fits nicely.
        "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"


        • Original Poster

          Mr. RAR is not a large man - just tall. Not the stringbean that he was right out of college (6'4", 145 lb at one point while we were in the Peace Corps ) but still not big around.

          Clearly, I would want him to be able to be comfortable, but this would primarily be my saddle, and he would (might) use it now & then just for an amble somewhere.

          My English saddles are 17.5 - 18.

          I've been thinking about getting a Western saddle for a number of reasons, and he commented once that I might actually get him on one of the horses if we had a Western saddle.
          Approved helmet: Every time; every ride.
          "When a sport gets to be predictable it ceases to be fun." - RAR's wise brother


          • #6
            Originally posted by Risk-Averse Rider View Post
            Mr. RAR is not a large man - just tall. Not the stringbean that he was right out of college (6'4", 145 lb at one point while we were in the Peace Corps ) but still not big around.

            Clearly, I would want him to be able to be comfortable, but this would primarily be my saddle, and he would (might) use it now & then just for an amble somewhere.

            My English saddles are 17.5 - 18.

            I've been thinking about getting a Western saddle for a number of reasons, and he commented once that I might actually get him on one of the horses if we had a Western saddle.
            a 16" seat for both of you will be fine. and most any western saddle will suit you two


            • #7
              I would say no, the two of you are not going to fit the same saddle well.

              Best thing to do is go to a tack store and sit on a lot of saddles. Talk to a man at the store who rides often, about fitting your husband into a Western saddle. Another man will relate to him better than you, it is just a guy thing. I can ride my husband's saddles, but don't like them much. He hates mine. He and son were happy in their "men's saddles" with wider seats. DD and I prefer our narrower, "girly" saddles, both English and Western. Good fit does affect your equitation, especially if you are out for hours on a trail ride. You have more fun with good fit.

              In my experience, women like saddles with a narrow twist, while men like a flatter seat with a wider twist, no build-up of the seat front. Just the way the male and females are built thru the pelvic area. But the fit is REALLY a big consideration in comfort for the rider BEFORE you buy it. Western saddle is almost harder to fit comfortably on a man, than English saddles. And saddle needs to fit your horse too, so he doesn't get crabby with pokes and pinches when ridden. Crabby can escalate into nasty acting, if fit is very bad on the horse.

              I hear all these HUGE sizes of seats for western saddles, and have a hard time picturing any one without a large stomach riding in them. 17 inch seats or larger, are for ENGLISH saddles. As a kid and for a long time after, a 15" seat was considered normal, with most of us riding in 14" to 14.5" seats. I am 5'7", with fairly long legs, not scrawny, but not fat, they fit fine. 16" seats were custom size in ordering a saddle for the really "larger" rider.

              Personally, I would not be letting any 17" western saddle on my horse! The bars needed on that seat are way too long along the spine of horse. Rider is always behind his legs, has a "chair seat" and is grinding those rear ends of the bars into the horse back. I knew lots of tall guys and they didn't need such big seats. Never heard the long femur theory before!! Saddles were better designed, seat above the stirrups so legs were aligned with body as the "correct" seat for riding western. Legs are supposed to be mostly vertical in a western saddle, not ahead of the hips, so no need for long length in saddle seat.

              Perhaps the cantle is not shaped well or is too tall behind you, comes in too sharply around your rear-end, to be comfortable in a smaller seat size. I have a roping saddle with the higher cantle, holds me in place too much and really dislike it. However HORSE loves the fit, so we use it anyway, though I am looking for another saddle. Horse is hard to fit, darn it! I hear lots of folks who "love" the high cantles, feel it is a more secure seat. They do tend to ride LARGE sizes in the saddle sizing.

              Super-sizing on a saddle seat measurement, is hard on your animals.


              • #8
                I beg to differ. I have three very tall (5'11" and two at 6') thin friends who ride in a 17" western saddle, as do I (5'9" and big ass). If you have a good ask around, I am sure you will find a lot of tall people ride in 17s, especially men. R-AR, the more important thing is full or semi QH bars and gullet size. Oliver, Hols, needs full QH and at least a 7.5" gullet, and my Crates show saddle fits him fine, me too, and only weighs 27 lb. A good tack store is your best bet. But methinks you'd be fine in Mr's saddle, whereas Mr in yours not so much.


                • #9
                  Just because you haven't heard of a theory, doesn't make it untrue. We all hear things for the first time at some point.

                  Saddles are getting bigger, not because people are getting fatter, but because people are getting taller. I was pretty unusual as a kid, now it's pretty common for me to see women my height and even taller around town, especially college towns.

                  A properly fitted (larger) seat does not put a person in a chair seat, unless they insist on bracing their feet in front of them and pushing their rear against the cantle, which is improper riding and painful to the horse. A proper western seat is much like a dressage seat, longer leg, but classic ear-hip-heel alignment. The rider should be sitting in the "pocket" of the saddle, with a little room between the rider and the cantle and between the swells and the thigh. A too-small seat will make the thigh drop at too sharp of an angle and push the feet back behind the rider. This is not only uncomfortable, but tends to make the rider's torso fall forward when the horse makes quick maneuvers and makes the seat less effective and more unstable. While the rider should be riding in proper alignment most of the time, in the quick moves of cutting, reining and cowhorse, there are times that you need your fender to swing so that you can get your feet a little forward so that you can round your back and move with the horse during a hard stop or turn with a cow. A too-small seat will prevent the rider from getting the leg forward. To really ride a western performance horse, the rider needs room to move and adjust as the horse's center of gravity changes during hard stops and turns.

                  A large-seated western saddle may look huge to someone used to seeing hunt and dressage saddles, but it is very unlikely to be damaging to the horse unless it's some cheap e bay pos. The bars of a well made western saddle are contoured to the horse's back and their large surface area distributes weight more fully than the smaller tree of an English saddle. I have never sored a horse with my well-made western saddles, and I've ridden some rather small-for-my-taste cutting horses that were short-backed.

                  But, I suppose I could be wrong. It's happened before. I've only been involved with western riding my whole life and tried very hard to educate myself on the most current, proper and effective methods and equipment, as well as experienced the difference when an educated saddle maker suggested that I move up to a 17" due to my long legs. But, I will remember, if I'm ever in Michigan, to not try to throw my saddle on goodhors's horse. ;-)


                  • #10
                    "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"


                    • #11
                      I'm 5'7 and a tad, and unless I balloon WELL over 200 # I have plenty of sittin room in a 16" saddle. Mr Jeano is 6'1 with really long legs, all his height is in his legs--and he can ride the same saddle comfortably. My butt is big and so is his (his waist is a 36, and my "best" breeches just happen to be a men's 36 L. The leathers on the Abetta saddle I have are on the very shortest hole and I ride with a very long leg. I think a lot of Western saddles might be the same way, plenty of length for today's taller riders.

                      There's more to Western saddle fit than meets the eye, so I second both y'all need to sit in several saddles to see what works.


                      • #12
                        Possible, though the fit will not be ideal for you both.

                        I am 5'8", and my hubby is 6'2" or 6'3". We just bought a 16" Dakota that works for both of us. Of course, our legs are closer to the same length. And the saddle is a bit big for me, and a bit small for him. But it does work. Fits him a little better than it does me