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Western saddle with most moveable fenders/leathers.

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  • Western saddle with most moveable fenders/leathers.

    I prefer my Paragon trail saddle which is an english type saddle but I'm thinking of riding one of my horses with a western saddle if I can find one that works.

    The main problem is that if I'm not in a saddle with free swinging leathers, my knees hurt after about 20 min. Does anyone know of a Western saddle that has fenders/leathers that move easily?

  • #2
    This kind of saddle is becoming popular around here for cowboys and ranch rodeos, just because of how free the stirrups move.

    The ones with the stirrups hung from a slot, there are some pictured here:


    How much you can move your leg on a horse is also a question of physics.
    A very short leg just will have problems reaching the larger arc a longer leg permits.
    Especially with western fenders, that tend to be thick and stiffer than English ones, the shorter they have to be to fit your leg, the more restricted their movement will be.

    I have very short legs and so compensate by whittling the top of the fenders/stirrup strap down some.


    • #3
      The 'fender' problem that makes MY knees (and my arthritic mom's knees) is riding in a western saddle that does not have turned stirrup leathers.
      This is also sometimes called a 'Hamley twist' or something similar.

      A saddle with a twist in the stirrup leather will have a stirrup that hangs perpendicular to the saddle, so your foot just sets right in it:
      If you look closely, the stirrup leather has been turned around at the Blevins buckle so the stirrup will hang properly.
      There's a closeup of a turned leather at the bottom of this page:

      (As a side note to the previous paragraph/website, I've tried a Stirrup Straight and found that they made the stirrup feel really unstable, and the metal dug into my shin. I wouldn't personally recommend them.)

      A saddle without the twist can hang like a Breyer saddle, with the stirrup parallel to, rather than perpendicular to, the saddle:
      Riding in a saddle like this, you have to make a twist in the fender (as you do in an english stirrup leather) to have the stirrup properly supporting across the ball of your foot. In a western saddle with a fairly stiff fender, this will make you put pressure on the stirrup to keep the tread secure across the ball of your foot- and THAT is what causes the knee pain.

      You can dampen fenders, and put a broom handle through the stirrups so they get a twist in them, but this doesn't work nearly as well as
      turning the stirrups (which requires removing rivets, turning the blevins buckle over, resetting the rivets, and using a saddle string to put a bend in the end of the leather below the newly replaced rivets.) A saddlemaker can do this for about $40 on most saddles.


      • #4
        Having the Stirrups turned as mentioned does help.

        One problem I have found is people with shorter legs have Fenders that are too long and to adjust them to the inseam you have to pull the fenders up so far they jam into the Tree of the saddle getting stuck underneath the jockies, this keeps them from swinging freely.

        Another cure is to have the fenders removed from the leathers, cut a couple of inches off the top and then re-attach to the leathers, after doing this there is room for the fenders under the jockies to swing freely.



        • #5
          The cure for my achy knees has been oxbow stirrups. And in my English saddle I use the flex stirrups.


          I am not a fan of those swivel stirrups, admittedly I haven't tried them but don't like the look. Wetting fenders and getting the turn of the leathers with a broomstick has always worked for me.

          In terms of 'type' of saddle that might have freer moving fenders, I've tried some reining saddles that were good that way. Probably barrel saddles too though I have not sat in one in a long time.


          • #6
            A radical alternative from outside the USA. The most comfortable saddle I have ever sat on for days at a time is a French-made endurance saddle. As an example of what is happening in France, have a look http://uk.selles-gastonmercier.com/?page_id=2. Beautiful balance, light, lots of room to tie things on and just plain comfortable.
            "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths


            • #7
              Originally posted by Fillabeana View Post
              The 'fender' problem that makes MY knees (and my arthritic mom's knees) is riding in a western saddle that does not have turned stirrup leathers.
              That is exactly the problem I had with a couple of the western saddles I rode in a couple of years ago - either my knees would end up hurting or my ankles would because I'd do weird things with my ankle to try to save my knee. (I have arthritis in my knees and ankles.)

              Interesting to know there's a way to fix it without adding Stuff to the saddle.


              • #8
                Another 'quick fix' for those sore knees is to put endurance stirrups on the saddle. The thick cushy grip, and very wide tread, means that you will be able to more easily get a stable hold on your stirrup without having to stress your knees. This worked for my mom, on her barrel saddle that had big fenders that she didn't want to cut down in order to have the stirrup leathers turned. (They couldn't turn the stirrup in a Hamley twist without taking the fenders down smaller, and the wet fenders/broomstick trick has been pretty much futile.)