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craigbunch
Tenderfoot

2 Posts

Posted - 05/27/2005 :  9:56:23 PM  Show Profile  Visit craigbunch's Homepage Send craigbunch a Private Message
Hi all! I recently got back into western riding and owning horses after a 12 year hiatus. I am currently riding with a cordura type saddle with a round back and 16" seat that I bought at a used tack sale. I'm 5'8" and weigh 160#; however, my inseam is only 32" and I am very long waisted.

Even with the stirrups the whole way down and everything passing the armpit and butt tests I feel very "top heavy". The seat seems shallow and I feel like I am constantly pushing my butt down into it. Trotting is a lot of work, spinning about throws me, and canters are impossible because I just pop forward and lose my seat...gallops are cool, but I figure that's because I'm standing up!

As a teenager (I was 5'8" and 110#), I rode a saddle with an 18" seat because my old horse was huge and the saddle pulled double duty for my father. I didn't have a problem holding my seat back then regardless of the gait or spin. I do recall that the saddle had an extremely deep seat and high back...it was very "old school" in it's styling.

Could the saddle be the root of my problem? I'm considering buying another one. Any suggestions on what to get would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
Missy

Red Hawk
Clinician



USA
5092 Posts

Posted - 05/28/2005 :  8:28:04 PM  Show Profile Send Red Hawk a Private Message
Hi Missy; It could be your saddle, but it could also be how you sit your saddle. What you need to do is lower your center closer to the horse.

Try this: Sit quietly on your horse without him or you moving. First I'd like you to tighten and squeeze your horse with your thighs. You should feel yourself life right out of the saddle and maybe even feel off-balance. What you have done is raise up your center of balance and push it away from your horse. Now, relax your thighs & widen them so you can feel yourself almost sink right into the saddle. This lowers your center of balance closer to the horse and will greatly increase your stability in the saddle.

Is your stirrup length long enough for your legs? In a western saddle, if you sit on the horse with your feet out of the stirrups, you should just have to raise your toes and slide them into the stirrups. If you can't do this, your stirrups are too high and should be lengthened. This, too, will keep you more balanced and less likely to lean forward and you won't be pushing your rear onto your cantle.

When you walk off, don't grip with your thighs to keep your balance. Instead, keep your thighs relaxed and try gripping the horse lightly with your calves (your lower legs below your knees) to keep your balance if you need to. This will keep you from bouncing out of position in the trot, too . Your upper body position should be directly above your legs. Your shoulders, elbows, hips, & heels should be in a straight line. And your knees should be directly above your toes.

Now, while doing all this, you should try to stay relax and not be tense or stiff, but don't slouch. Once this position becomes normal for you, you will discover that you can stay in better balance, your horse can balance you much easier, and your rides will be much better and feel smoother.

Now, if you have tried all this, it might be you need more room in the saddle. 18" is a very roomy seat for a western saddle. An average western saddle is usually 15 or 16 inches. It could be you just need a bigger saddle. You might also want to try a reining or barrel saddle. They have deeper seats as a general rule. Some trail saddles have deep seats, too. I'm sure that Chuck can help you out, here, more than I can . But I'd still try the exercises I've suggested. It might save you the need to buy a different saddle .
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craigbunch
Tenderfoot

2 Posts

Posted - 05/29/2005 :  1:44:10 PM  Show Profile  Visit craigbunch's Homepage Send craigbunch a Private Message
Hi Redhawk!

Thanks for the advice...now it's all making sense! I could never squeeze my thighs in on my 18" as a teenager because it was so huge and I was so light. Using my calves was the only option, so I guess I stumbled into doing it right back then but never really learned the technique!

The stirrups on my 16" are fine from a length standpoint, the seat just feels very shallow...it's different from what I was used to. It fits my Appy mare very well, so I'm going to practice and make it work. It won't fit the Paint/Quarter Horse gelding that I'm breaking right now (he's a barrel with feet), so I will be looking for a second saddle for him.

Thanks for the advice!!
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