ADJUSTABLE WESTERN SADDLE FOR THE RIDER

ADJUSTABLE WESTERN SADDLE TO FIT A RIDER

How to fit a western saddle to a rider
How to fit a western saddle to a rider

Riders come in all shapes and sizes, so what works for a friend or trainer might not work for you. A good seat design, in my opinion, provides even pressure across the entire contact area. Female sit bones are generally wider than male sit bones, with more or less booty, more or less natural lower spine curvature, and so on. We are all unique. Rider fit is critical for your horse; a saddle that does not fit properly will affect your balance, causing the horse to compensate. Our saddles can be fine-tuned to fit the rider perfectly. The rider can use their legs independently of their pelvis when they have a neutral pelvis. A saddle seat with a narrow twist allows your calves to make better contact with your horse.

Choose a small seat size

A smaller seat size keeps us closer to the horse’s center of gravity. The centre of gravity of the horse is the point around which the horse rotates as it moves; it is located somewhere below the wither and moves back as the horse collects up. A saddle bronc rider or a jockey will ride over the wither because that is the spot with the least movement. The closer you are to the horse’s centre of gravity, the less movement you have to compensate for; the horse revolves around your position instead of you having to move to compensate for them.

Tush-Cush Seat Shims
IMG 20200711 120447 edited scaled
Adjustable seat shims come in various shapes.

Our saddle seat leather lifts to expose the ground seat shim under your saddle seat. The width of the saddle twist is critical to hip joint comfort. With our seat adjustable replaceable seat shimming system, you can make the seat twist feel narrow with a thicker shim or wider but closer to your horse with a thinner shim. Finding a balance that’s right for you takes some trial and error. A very thin shim under the top of your thigh can make an incredible difference in the angle and how your hips feel when sitting in the saddle seat. 

Ground Seat

The ground seat’s shape can be adjusted to fit your body and riding preferences. Moving the pad forward creates a deeper pocket while moving it back removes it. Finding a neutral pelvis position is critical as you stack your body over your pelvis by aligning your heel, hip, and shoulder. Moving Shims under your seat allows you to find a neutral pelvis position, neither tilted forward nor back.

Consider the significance of alignment:

Place your feet apart on the ground as if you were posting the trot, and bend and straighten your knees several times. Then sit on a medium-height stool, feet apart but not aligned under your hips. From this position, try “posting.” Which is more comfortable? Most saddles do not allow the rider to adjust to achieve proper alignment. Alignment is essential for avoiding aches and pains as well as your horse’s comfort. It’s similar to sitting at the trot, with less movement from the rider to moving with the horse.

The seat size you choose should allow you to sit in the middle of the seat with approximately 2 fingers’ width of space between the swell and your thigh. From the back of your seat to the cantle should be approximately 4”. A larger seat will be required if you ride with your feet out in front of you than if you ride with your feet under you. The larger seat size puts you further away from the horse’s center of gravity. The

Stirrup Leathers

Stirrup are the foundation of

You should also be able to stand in your stirrups and sit again without moving your lower legs or fear of falling forward onto your horse’s neck. Our stirrup leathers are attached to the tree with hook and loop fabric. This allows the rider to move their stirrups forward or backward to position their legs and feet under them for proper alignment at the shoulder, hip, and back of the heel. If the stirrups are too far back, the rider will tip forward. If the stirrups are too far ahead, the rider will tip back into a chair position, which often leads to bracing and sitting more on the cantle, putting more pressure on the rear of the saddle. The horse will compensate for the out-of-position rider by changing its way of going. The seat shims and adjustable stirrups work together to align your body and reduce stress on all of your joints and muscles.

Consider wider stirrups

When you’re riding all day, you want stirrups that are wide and flat to provide maximum support over the ball of your foot. Consider purchasing trail stirrups with extra-wide treads. Look for shock-absorbing pads as well, which can improve foot and joint comfort.

Consider Twisted Stirrups

If you ride a Western saddle and have sore ankles and knees, you may be trying to keep your feet pointing forward in stirrups that are designed to be sideways! Some riders soak the fenders in water, twist them into the desired position, and then put a broomstick through the stirrups to hold the fenders in place until they dry.

Consider Angled Stirrups

Have you ever had your little toe toe go to sleep on a long trail ride? The cant (angle of your foot) is usually little toe prominent, as well the twist of the fender will angle the stirrup up on the outside compounding the issue. Kneel on a stool with your feet out back and have someone take a gander at your boots from above; is the little toe prominent? My wife is just the opposite, so its important to have alook.  Angled stirrups can your foot to be parallel with the ground, which greatly improves balance, control, and riding comfort.

My hip sockets feel like they are going to break off when I sit in the saddle, my private parts are on fire after every ride, and my knees and ankles simply do not like riding. And I’m tired of going to the chiropractor for my back! These are comments we generally hear from women, but guys, we hear you too! Riders come in all shapes and sizes; what works for your friend or your trainer may not work for you. Male or female, big or little booty, lots of natural lower spine curve or very little, etc, etc. we are all different. Finding a saddle that accommodates your body shape and size is important, so you can ride comfortably, especially when out trail riding for long hours and sometimes over many consecutive days.

EFS Remedy
We start with a tree that is designed for close contact and to accommodate a woman’s pelvis. Then we provide mechanisms for the rider to adjust the seat shape, width, and pocket as well as the position of the stirrups (forward or back).

If your hips hurt, it could be that the saddle is too wide. A shim in the centre of the seat will lift you and make the seat feel narrower. EF saddles are designed to reduce bulk under your leg: narrow “twist” tree, single layer stirrup straps, cable rigging.
If your private parts are on fire, it could be the rise in the seat is too high. A woman’s pubic bone sits lower than a man’s, so she requires a lower seat rise.

If your knees and ankles hurt, you could try changing your stirrup length and/or pre-turned stirrups. Shoulder, hip, heel alignment could also be a factor. EF saddles all come with pre-turned, padded stirrups. Additionally, we have reduced the bulk and stiffness of the fenders, so your knees and ankles aren’t fighting against that constant strain.

A saddle should allow you to align your shoulder, hip, and heal. Many western saddles are built with the stirrups too far ahead to achieve this. When the stirrups are too far ahead it takes a lot more effort to post the trot, and it will cause back strain. It can also encourage bracing against the cantle which in turn puts more weight onto the back tips of the saddle tree bars, causing improper weight distribution and discomfort for your horse. It will also cause you to lock your joints and lose the ability to move with the horse. Stand on the floor with your feet apart; bend your knees; move up and down like you are posting. This is a very balanced stance and is what you are looking to achieve when in your saddle. All of that being said, if you really are more comfortable with your stirrups slightly ahead, you should be able to achieve that too. Easy Fit saddles allow you to move your stirrups forward and back and adjust the shim under the seat, so you can find the perfect position.

Our philosophy is that saddle fitting has two main elements: fit for the horse and fit for the rider. If one element falls short, it will suffer from discomfort, which will affect the performance of both.
Rider fit is important to your horse: a saddle that doesn’t fit you properly can affect your balance, which can cause the horse to compensate or move differently.
Horse fit is important: A saddle that doesn’t fit your horse properly will make him uncomfortable, grumpy, distracted and not move to his fullest ability. For example, he may not want to pick up one lead.

EFS Remedy
Measuring your horse is the first thing we do when you order a saddle. That way, we get the tree right for your horse’s comfort. Beyond building the proper seat size and fender length for the rider, we provide mechanisms for the rider to adjust the seat shape, width, and pocket as well as the position of the stirrups (forward or back). That way, we get the saddle right for your comfort.

Rider alignment – Rider alignment refers to aligning your shoulder, hip, and heel and is the key to maintaining the most effective position in the saddle. Stand on the floor with your feet apart; bend your knees; move up and down like you are posting. This is a very balanced stance and is what you are looking to achieve when in your saddle. This position also allows your body to utilize all the shock absorbers (ankle, knee, hip) most effectively. 

EF Saddles have components that allow you to make adjustments to achieve alignment.

When you get all the following components right, and you get comfortable with this new feel in the saddle, you won’t be hearing those comments about your position from your trainer. 

  • Stirrup length – Stirrups that are too short may cause you to sit too far back in the seat and your lower leg forward, like you are sitting in a chair. Stirrups that are too long may prevent you from keeping your heels down. It may also cause you to constantly reach for the stirrups with your toe, and then your leg will be too far forward.
  • Stirrup position – Stirrups that are too far forward will cause you to sit further back in the seat. It will take more effort to post the trot. Stirrups too far back will cause you to fall forward.
  • Seat pocket position – Where that seat pocket is placed will determine the angle of your pelvis. The pocket position needs to be determined in conjunction with your stirrup position to achieve rider alignment.
  • Horse asymmetry – Horses commonly have one shoulder bigger or one wither pocket deeper than the other. This will cause you and the saddle to fall to one side. You will need to look at shimming one side to even it up. 
  • Rider asymmetry – Most people are not perfectly symmetrical; you may have one hip that sits further forward, a foot that turns in, one leg longer. How can you shim under your seat or change a stirrup to compensate for that? It will take some experimenting, but just know that a very small change can make a big difference.

EFS Remedy – We’ve got you covered! Not only do we have high-quality saddles in a wide variety of styles, built specifically for you and your horse, but you choose all the colours and finishes. Choose your saddle style, then pick leather colours, conchos, tooling, and accessories. Each saddle crafted by our experienced saddle makers is unique to the buyer’s specifications. When you look at our saddles, you will see similar styling, profiles, and materials used for hundreds of years in crafting Western saddles. The leather is quality American leather, and tooling is all hand done. Materials are strength tested for durability. We ride our saddles to ensure all components function as expected. Colours and finishes are where you come in.

The width of the saddle twist is critical to hip joint comfort. With our seat shimming system, you can make the seat twist feel as wide or narrow as you like. (Men typically like a wider seat, but not necessarily.) A very thin shim can make an incredible difference in the angle of your thigh and how your hips feel when sitting in the saddle seat. Seat shims also allow you to position your pelvis to a neutral position, neither tilted forward nor back.

  • Ways we have designed our saddles to accommodate a woman’s pelvis:
  • The rise of the seat is low to accommodate a low pubic bone.
  • Seat padding and seams are wide in the sit bone area.
  • The twist has been kept as narrow as possible without compromising close contact with the horse.
  • Saddle rigging & stirrup leathers have been minimized under the leg to reduce bulk and keep the twist narrow.
  • You will be out riding more if you feel less strain from sitting in the saddle!
  • Aligning your spine, hips, knees, and ankles puts you in a very balanced position on the horse. And, not having to accentuate the angles of your joints any more than necessary when sitting in the saddle, will prevent joint pain.

Feel the importance of alignment – Stand on the ground, with your feet apart. Bend and straighten your knees several times as if you were posting the trot. Now sit on a mid-height stool with your feet apart but not aligned under your hips. Try “posting” from this position. Which feels easier? Most saddles do not allow the rider to adjust, so alignment can be achieved. Alignment is a key component in avoiding stress on joints.

The width of the saddle twist is critical to hip joint comfort. With our seat shimming system, you can make the seat twist feel as wide or narrow as you like. (Men typically like a wider seat, but not necessarily.) A very thin shim can make an incredible difference in the angle of your thigh and how your hips feel when sitting in the saddle seat. Seat shims also allow you to position your pelvis to a neutral position, neither tilted forward nor back, essentially putting the seat pocket where you need it.

EFS Remedy – Lift the seat leather to place the shim. Ride for a little while, then change the position and try riding it again. You can try adding a thicker or thinner shim.

Have someone on the ground analyze your riding position – Are you aligned (shoulder, hip, heel)? Changing the seat shim in conjunction with the position of the stirrup leathers (forward/back) will allow you to attain the best position for your body.

  • FACT: 85% of riders are women.
  • FACT: Saddles are constructed mostly for male anatomy.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pelvis-abc-1.jpg

The anatomy of a woman, including their lower back, pelvis, and thighs, is constructed differently from a man, primarily because a woman’s pelvis must allow a baby to fit through the birth canal. Because of this, women will tend to have different physical difficulties when learning to ride, and it follows that riding techniques that work for men don’t always work for women. The saddle structure is critical in preventing discomfort or even harming women when they ride.

A woman’s pelvis is designed to allow for childbirth, so it is larger and broader than a man’s. Her pin bones (ischium) are further forward and wider apart than a man’s and the pubic bone (pubic symphysis) at the front of the pelvis, is further forward and sits lower. The portion of bone that joins these 2 points (inferior pubic ramus), is closer to horizontal than a man’s and so makes more contact when sitting. Also, the placement of her hip socket (acetabulum) where the femurs are attached, is wider than a man’s, and women have more muscle on the inside of the thigh as opposed to a man’s located more toward the back. As a result, women’s femurs start wider at the pelvis and angle inward at the knees (Q angle).

A woman sitting in a man’s saddle will often find the twist to be too wide. (When looking at the saddle from above, it’s the narrow part of the seat just behind the swell.) This will cause her knees and hence her toes to stick out (and potentially spurs in). A woman may also be inclined to sit in more of a chair position to find a comfortable position for her hip joints, putting her out of alignment for a balanced ride. Additionally, she may find that the seat rises in the front such that it causes pressure on the pubic area. Remember, the female pubic bone sits further forward & lower than a man’s. Seams in the saddle seat may be situated right where her pelvic bones make contact with the saddle, as a man’s pelvic contact is much narrower.

The hip sockets, lower spine, and seat bones of males and females function differently in the saddle. A man’s anatomical construction makes sitting trot and canter easier for him than for a female rider. When it comes to the position of the rider, it is easier for a man to rest the inner surface of his thigh flat against the saddle since the hip sockets face more to the front than in women. Women’s thighbones tend to slant in from hips to knees. In a saddle built for women, the stirrup bars need to be placed differently from a saddle built for a man. Since the majority of saddles are “male” saddles, it then seems that women are at a disadvantage due to their own physical attributes and by the features that are or aren’t in a standard model of a saddle.

So how can top female riders have the ability to win gold in a saddle built for men? Probably because they are really talented, and they have a pelvic shape which allows them to sit more comfortably in a man’s saddle than most other women.

LC0 0576xxx scaled e1579463219836
Correct horse riding position

Aligning your spine, hips, knees, and ankles puts you in the correct riding position on the horse. And, not having to accentuate the angles of your joints any more than necessary when sitting in the saddle, will prevent joint pain.

Feel the importance of alignment: Stand on the ground, with your feet apart. Bend and straighten your knees several times as if you were posting the trot. Now sit on a mid-height stool with your feet apart but not aligned under your hips. Try “posting” from this position. Which feels easier? Most saddles do not allow the rider to adjust, so alignment can be achieved. Alignment is a key component in avoiding stress on joints when riding.

Riders also come in all shapes and sizes; what works for your friend or your trainer may not work for you. Male or female, big or little booty, lots of natural lower spine curvature or very little, etc, etc. we are all different. Rider fit is also important to your horse; a saddle that doesn’t fit you properly will affect your balance, which will cause the horse to compensate or move differently. Our saddles can be adjusted to fine-tune fit for the rider.

Tush-Cush Seat Shims – Our saddle seat leather lifts, so you can place saddle shims under your saddle seat to contour the fit to your preference. The width of the saddle twist is critical to hip joint comfort. With our seat shimming system, you can make the seat twist feel as wide or narrow as you like. A very thin shim under the top of your thigh can make an incredible difference in the angle and how your hips feel when sitting in the saddle seat. Shims under your seat allow you to position your pelvis to a neutral position, neither tilted forward nor back. Place the pocket where you like it by adjusting the shim.

Stirrup Leathers – Our stirrup leathers are attached with hook and loop fabric under the seat. This allows the rider to adjust their stirrups forward or back so that they can position their legs and feet under them for optimal balance. Stirrups too far back will cause the rider to tip forward. Stirrups too far ahead and the rider will have more of a chair position which often leads to bracing and sitting more on the cantle which can be uncomfortable for the horse. Together, the seat shims and adjustable stirrups, allow you to align your body to reduce stress on all of your joints and spine.

Feel the importance of alignment: Stand on the ground, with your feet apart. Bend and straighten your knees several times as if you were posting the trot. Now sit on a mid-height stool with your feet apart but not aligned under your hips. Try “posting” from this position. Which feels easier? Most saddles do not allow the rider to adjust, so alignment can be achieved. Alignment is a key component in avoiding stress on joints.

The seat size you choose should allow you to sit in the middle of the seat with approximately 2 fingers width space between the swell and your thigh. From the back of your seat to the cantle should be approximately 4”. If you ride with your feet out in front of you, a larger seat will be required than if you ride with your feet under you.

Most women don’t know that a western saddle can be comfortable for them! – It seems an obvious statement, but women are built differently from men. That being said, why is it that women have been riding in saddles built by men, for men, for so long? We have Saddles Built for Women and yes, a western saddle can be comfortable for women!

A brief summation of female/male pelvic differences – A woman’s pelvis is designed to allow for childbirth, so it is larger and broader than a man’s. Her pin bones (ischium) are further forward and wider apart than a man’s and the pubic bone (pubic symphysis) at the front of the pelvis, is further forward and sits lower. The portion of bone that joins these 2 points (inferior pubic ramus), is closer to horizontal than a man’s and so makes more contact when sitting. Also, the placement of her hip socket (acetabulum) where the femurs are attached, is wider than a man’s, and women have more muscle on the inside of the thigh as opposed to a man’s located more toward the back. As a result, women’s femurs start wider at the pelvis and angle inward at the knees (Q angle).

A woman in a man’s saddle – A woman sitting in a man’s saddle will often find the twist to be too wide. (When looking at the saddle from above, it’s the narrow part of the seat just behind the swell.) This will cause her knees and hence her toes to stick out (and potentially spurs in). A woman may also be inclined to sit in more of a chair position to find a comfortable position for her hip joints, putting her out of alignment for a balanced ride. Additionally, she may find that the seat rises in the front such that it causes pressure on the pubic area. Remember, the female pubic bone sits further forward & lower than a man’s. Seams in the saddle seat may be situated right where her pelvic bones make contact with the saddle, as a man’s pelvic contact is much narrower.

A seat built for women – Easy Fit Saddles have taken all of these physical characteristics into consideration and built a saddle seat for women. It is wide where it needs to be wide and narrow where it needs to be narrow. Padding and relief points have been carefully considered. It is comfortable for all the pelvic bones to make contact with the saddle seat, and hip sockets will not be strained. Bulk has been minimized under the leg to keep the twist narrow and allow for close contact.

Customization – That being said, not all women are built the same, and they come from a variety of riding backgrounds, so some customization is required. With this in mind, we have incorporated a few more features to further enhance comfort. The first is a variety of shim pads available to place under the seat cover. These pads can be moved to change the shape of the seat until the rider finds their optimum comfort and balance point.  Second, fenders can easily be moved forward or back so that the leg and foot are at the most optimal angle for comfort and alignment.*

Lightweight – Our saddles have one more feature that most women love – our saddles are lightweight. With stirrups and girth, they weigh in at just over 20 pounds. No more struggling to heft a saddle up onto your horse.

Easy Fit Saddles have built a saddle that is comfortable for women. We have used modern materials providing our riders with a strong, durable product that is innovative on the inside with a traditional look on the outside, and we think you are going to love it!

*We can also customize to fit men.

Our stirrups can not only be lengthened and shortened but also moved forward and back.

IMG 20190829 180456

To change length, unbuckle the hobble strap just above the stirrup. The fender will now be able to slide up and down on the stirrup strap. Twist the T-buckle 90 degrees and pull it from the slot. Reinsert the T-buckle to the desired position. Re-buckle the hobble strap, ensuring that you have put it through both the slot in the fender and the stirrup twister. The tighter the hobble strap, the better the stirrup twister will work.

To change the position of the stirrups forward or back, start by lifting the saddle seat. Follow the piece of Velcro down the side until you find the pull tab to lift the Velcro. It may be somewhat tucked under the tree. Lift the Velcro and move it to the desired position. ¼” can make a big difference, so do this in small increments. There is centerline stitching on the strap to help you keep it even side to side. Press the Velcro back down, tuck the pull tabs in, put the seat cover back down.

We suggest you try your stirrups in various positions in conjunction with the seat shim until you get it right. If you’re falling forward, your stirrups could be too far back, and/or your seat shim is too far back. 

stirrup leather adjust w
How do you adjust the seat for the rider?

Your saddle comes with a seat shim that can be positioned to your preference. It allows you to put the pocket where you want it. Pushing the shim back up toward the cantle will cause your pelvis to tilt forward. Sliding it forward will cause your pelvis to tilt backward. You want to be sitting in the centre of the seat, not back on the cantle. 

If your saddle has a short seat, you may find that the rise in the front of the seat is too steep and pressing on your pubic area. You can trim the front of the shim off, thereby reducing the rise in the seat.

If you have very narrow hips or have hip problems, try using a thicker shim (even ¼” will make a difference). It will lift you a bit and make the saddle feel narrower.

If you are asymmetrical you can put a small shim under one seat bone or even offset your stirrups to get your level in the saddle.

We suggest you try the shim in various positions in conjunction with the stirrup strap until you get it right. Ride for 15 minutes then make changes and ride again. You will soon figure out where you feel most balanced. Have someone on the ground check you for alignment.

20190223 134331

The hook and loop tape, not actually Velcro, is covered by the seat, so it collects very little debris, and what does collect can be easily cleaned with gentle sweeping action with a wire brush on the hook side and by using a vacuum on the loop side. 

The tape we use is rated for 1000 pulls, but once you get your stirrups positioned where you like them, you won’t be changing them often.

Using the right glue along with staples as a mechanical fastener was the strongest method of attaching the hook and loop tape (tested to 2000lbs,).

PXL 20210415 164205333

We offer a plastic twister to connect the stirrup to the strap to pre-turn the stirrup, I also make the twister in an angle version to twist and angle the stirrups, easy on the knees and ankles.

  • Their current saddle – muscle memory says it fits perfectly, rider’s acceptance of new ideas, are the benefits worth the cost & inconvenience of getting a new saddle.
  • Position of the rider in the saddle – bracing against the cantle, leaning ahead, chasing stirrups, size of the rider muscle and padding all can place them in a different part of the saddle.
  • Horses’ back length and or whither length -makes it difficult to provide enough flat seat area to accommodate proper seat area.
  • Stirrup angle– Turning the fender put pronation, foot placement can influence thigh angle. 
  • Stirrup strap position correct for the rider alignment.
  • Stirrup length.
  • Western saddle, the bulk of rigging, stirrup strap leather widening the saddle.
  • No support for the thigh under the seat jockey. The seat jockey comes off an elevated seat and offers no support to the thigh.
  • The seat height needs to rise up to make the horse width comfortable for the rider.
  • Rider thigh muscling, padding and Q angle.
  • Neutral pelvis angle, how to measure and support.
  • Utilizing the back curvature to absorb movement.
  • Most rider’s centre of gravity to the right pulls the torso forward and over
  • Most horses are asymmetrical to the left, with the shoulder rotated ahead
  • Hip and or foot stability problems, the right side is stronger and prominent.
  • Pelvis contact with the seat – seat width, balance the rider side to side and variable support for the pelvis front to back.  
  • Proper range of rider motion through various gaits.
  • Hip, knee replacement and its effect on saddle fit. 

Then get into the issues with fitting the horse. This is where a continuously adjustable piece of kit is potentially a great idea along with the understanding that saddle fitting is a never-ending continuum. It comes down to working through what you can measure and modify. Create a series of tools to measure, software to record and recommend a good starting point. Easy to say, but a lot of work to create. If we believe that the rest of the horse world will follow the English model, that fit is important for top performance, then a fitting system similar to the bike model will be in demand.

Yes, They are adjustable to both horse and rider