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Charlie Horse in feet while riding in western saddle

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  • Charlie Horse in feet while riding in western saddle

    Anybody else have this issue? Any suggestions? I seem to get a charlie horse in both feet when riding western for any length of time. I have always been blessed with saddles with already turned stirrups, so not sure what the issue is.
    Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
    The Blog

  • #2
    I have this happen as well, but in an English saddle. Would love to hear what anyone has to say. I have heard Calcium helps so I have been taking that. Also heard cold makes it worse so I try to wear warm socks if it is cold. Would love to hear other advice as well.
    Impossible is nothing.


    • #3
      Maybe those are Charlie donkeys, not horses?
      You need the right diagnosis first, before we know what to advise you to do.

      Seriously, cramps could be from lack of magnesium, rarely also calcium and they are relieved by pointing your toes up hard.

      Try adding some minerals to your diet, thru food or even supplements and see if that helps.

      There are some cramps that happens from pinched nerves, but those would feel more like pins and needles than real cramps.

      I hope you find what it is and what gives relief and tell us, so others can be helped.


      • Original Poster

        Well it only happens when I am riding western, not in my english saddle, so I thought maybe it was something related to the saddle. I suppose remembering to take my multi-vitamin everyday wouldn't hurt anything either.
        Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
        The Blog


        • #5
          Could it be footwear?


          • #6
            Stirrups too long? Are you reaching for them?


            • #7
              It could be so many things. Just because you're getting cramps in your feet doesn't mean the problem is your feet or the stirrups. It could be that your position is different in a Western saddle and you're having circulation issues. It could be that what you're wearing combined with the position is causing problems. It isn't something one can diagnose in a discussion thread I'm thinking. I can say that I had to go with a wider tread on my English stirrups (I went with the composite wide tread) because my feet were cramping on my skinny stirrups when I hacked out, but that was me.

              He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


              • #8
                I get them too, no matter which saddle I use. I have tried all different types of stirrups. And I took the vitamins for a while and it didn't help. They are much worse if my feet are cold. I now wear sox at night when its cold.
                There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.


                • #9
                  I've had that happen when my stirrups were a titch too short for my saddle/horse barrel shape/leg position, making me put too much weight in the stirrups. In other words, I was shoving my heels down rather than keeping a soft, draped leg.


                  • #10
                    Try a magnesium supplement.

                    My feet will cramp with little or no encouragement. Driving the car, or pointing my toe to put on socks or footwear can set it off. Magnesium supplements help a lot. If the problem still bothers you when you get home, soaking in HOT water and epsom salts (magnesium) will do the trick.


                    • Original Poster

                      I do wear different boots when I ride western versus english, either my fat babies or gypsy boots, but I also wear those boots to ride english when I am feeling lazy and I don't cramp. Has anybody that got cramps ever tried the stirrup turners?

                      Today I started to cramp so I took my feet out of the stirrups and just rode without them. The cramp went away after a little bit.
                      Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
                      The Blog


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Skyedragon View Post
                        I do wear different boots when I ride western versus english, either my fat babies or gypsy boots, but I also wear those boots to ride english when I am feeling lazy and I don't cramp. Has anybody that got cramps ever tried the stirrup turners?

                        Today I started to cramp so I took my feet out of the stirrups and just rode without them. The cramp went away after a little bit.
                        A lot of times, at least with me, I spend more hours in my western saddle and am prone to cramping. Moving my feet around in the stirrups or dropping the stirrups for a bit seems to help as you found. I think when I ride in my dressage saddle, it is easier to move my feet around so don't cramp up as much.

                        Also I drop my stirrups down a notch when trailriding, and make sure I just drop my leg down and have my feet relaxed in the stirrups. If you force your heels down into a chairseat, that can cause tension and foot cramps.


                        • #13
                          Are you sure it isn't peroneal tendonitis?


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by OveroHunter View Post
                            Are you sure it isn't peroneal tendonitis?
                            I don't think so. Its not in my ankle, its the foot and it feels like a cramp, not tendon pain.
                            Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
                            The Blog


                            • #15
                              Ditto magnesium. Also make sure you take a multi vitamin every day. They make lovely gummy ones that taste like candy - I am addicted to them!
                              Man plans. God laughs.


                              • Original Poster

                                I just started taking a multi-vitamin again. I will admit when I moved out of my parents house in college I got a little lazy about the calcium and vitamin pills they use to make me take every morning at breakfast.
                                Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
                                The Blog


                                • #17
                                  A banana a day works for me (plus a multivitamin and trying to eat well and exercise well which I don't do enough of!).

                                  As for western stirrups- seems counterintuitive but since I went to oxbow stirrups a couple of years ago, any and all foot/knee discomfort disappeared, even on all day rides. They do for western riding what four way flex stirrups do for English riding. Just tiny foot adjustments when needed throughout the day do the trick.


                                  • #18
                                    Could it be the tilt of your pelvis in the western saddle compared to the tilt in the English? It could very easily change the nerve and blood flow to the feet. Maybe a saddle expert could help evaluate the problem?


                                    • #19
                                      I agree with SanJacMonument; something going wrong further up the leg probably caused by a slight pressure point or pressure on a nerve somewhere. I have sharp pains in my shoulder blade due to a bulging disk in my neck. I've had foot cramps while riding too and changing position, kicking my feet out of the stirrups, leaning very far forward, pulling my knees up as high as I can, helps.


                                      • #20
                                        What kind of western saddle are you riding in? I have this problem in some roping saddles (flatter, wider seat). I have a trail saddle with a narrower twist (more rock in the bars) that I never have this problem in. My wade (wide twist, but with more upward curve in the seat so I have more even pressure along my pelvis and down my thighs. I don't think I'm explaining this well, so I dont' know if that makes sense.) has only given me this problem on one horse, and that was a horse that set the balance point of my saddle very far back. If I'd ridden that horse more than one or twice I would have needed a back riser. I've noticed the same thing in various reining saddles, the ones with flatter seats tweaked my legs funny. I could sometimes fix the problem by shortening my stirrups, but in my wade if I shorten my stirrups too much then I cause the same problem.