PROPER POSITION IN A SADDLE
Proper body position is the basis of good riding. You are looking for balance, alignment, and, ultimately, comfort. These are determined by how well the saddle fits the rider and the horse.
Riding is challenging because it demands your balance while aboard a moving horse. If you sit in the correct position, you’re just above and behind the horse’s center of gravity, and your aligned body makes it easier to stay on board. It aligns your skeletal system, and that, in turn, provides stability. Your skeletal system – not your muscle strength will keep you balanced. Flexible joints act as shock absorbers to help you move smoothly with your horse.
If the rider is unbalanced, they may be leaning too far ahead or too far behind, sliding around in the seat, or leaning to one side. These things can cause the horse to move differently to try to compensate. If the saddle doesn’t fit the horse well, he may be uncomfortable due to pinching and uneven weight distribution. The saddle may not sit straight on his back. Again, this can cause him to compensate, which may affect the rider.
It’s about finding balance for you and your horse.
Here are the TOP POINTS
Saddle fit for the rider
Proper rider position in a western saddle means the rider is comfortably balanced in the center of the seat, aligned from the shoulder, through the hip, and down to the heel. And they are aligned side to side. Achieving this takes more than just a proper stirrup length and seat size. Riders come in all shapes and sizes; a saddle that works for a friend or a famous trainer may not work for you. Male or female, big or little booty, lots of natural lower spine curves or very little, etc., etc., we are all different. Finding a saddle that accommodates your body shape and size is essential to optimize your performance and ride comfortably through proper riding positions.
The shape of a ground seat (seat) in a saddle and where the rider sits in it determine the angle of the pelvis. The goal is to have a neutral pelvis, neither tipped forward nor back. Most saddles are built with a particular place where the rider naturally sits. Some saddles have a deep pocket and a steep rise in the front. Others are wide and flat. Comfort in the saddle maximizes contact between saddle and rider or the even distribution of the rider’s weight from the crotch down to the knee. We become accustomed to the saddle we ride, and changing to a new saddle feels strange.
Asymmetry in the rider – The most common riding problems can be traced back to the pelvis. Are you sitting crooked in the saddle, can’t follow the canter in one direction, or have trouble picking up one lead? Does your head tilt off to one side? Is one shoulder higher than the other? More than likely, your pelvis is naturally not symmetrical.
In an Easy Fit saddle, the ground seat’s shape can be adjusted by you to fit your body and riding preferences. Moving the shim pad under the seat 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.
Gender appropriate seat
Easy Fit Saddles have considered all the physical characteristics and built a saddle seat for women. It is wide where it needs to be wide and narrow where it needs to be. Padding and relief points have been carefully considered. It is comfortable for all when shimmed to your personal preference. The pelvic bones make contact with the saddle seat, and the hip sockets will not be strained. Bulk has been minimized under the leg to keep the twist narrow and allow for close contact.
Choose a smaller seat size.
A smaller seat keeps us closer to the horse’s center of gravity. The horse’s center of gravity is the point around which it rotates as it moves; it is located 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 center of gravity, the less movement you have to compensate for; the horse revolves around your position instead of having to move to compensate for them. Choosing the Easy Fit Cut Back model allows you to move ahead in the saddle and, therefore, closer to the horse’s center of gravity..
Stirrup strap / Fender Position
Fenders that are too far forward cause the rider’s leg to fall in front of their pelvis. This position is called the “chair seat” because it almost looks like the rider is sitting in a chair. The rider’s weight is then pushed to the back of the saddle. When the rider rises to the trot, a lot of effort is required to lift out of the seat or brace on the back of the seat; either way, it will cause the rider to be behind in the horse’s movement.
Fenders that allow the rider’s leg to hang in alignment with their hip and shoulder easily will make posting or standing in the stirrups much easier. Instead of leaning forward to balance each post, you rise in the stirrups. This will also affect the horse, allowing it to move more freely under you, and the strain on your back and shoulders will be eliminated.
Unless the fenders are adjustable forward or back on your saddle, there isn’t much you can do to change the position if you find that it’s not ideal. The fender position can affect your riding position and ability to keep your leg in the right place. Our Easy Fit fenders are adjustable forward and backward.
We’ve all heard the instructors saying, “Heels down!” but forcefully pushing your heel down in the stirrup can cause your legs to swing ahead and tip you into the back of the saddle. To maintain alignment and proper riding position, your feet should be flat, resting in the stirrups.
When sitting in any saddle, you should be able to achieve your balance quickly. The classical seat position remains correct today.
SADDLE FIT FOR THE HORSE
The permutations for the shape of horse’s backs are infinite, as are the conditions of saddles produced. If your horse is to carry you comfortably, you want to get it right. If the saddle is too narrow in the front, it will pinch the wither. Too wide, and the saddle may fall onto the wither. If the tree bar (the framework inside the saddle) is too flat, only the tips of the bars will sit on the horse, losing equal weight distribution along the bars. Too much rock and all your weight are on the center, and the saddle will feel unstable. Too long, and the saddle may hit them in the hip. These are just some things to consider in saddle fit; many fitting solutions require more refined evaluation.
Easy Fit Saddles start with comprehensive measurements of your horse’s back. From those measurements, we make a tree to fit. With the shimable bar pads and the cable rigging, you can adjust the fit should your horse change through fitness level or age. It also allows you to make adjustments for asymmetries of the horse like one shoulder is larger than the other.
Western saddles are designed to have the front tips of the tree bars sit directly behind the horse’s scapula. A curve to the ends allows the scapula to slide under the bars when it moves. Having your saddle sit too far forward and on top of the scapula will harm your horse, make your saddle unstable and negate even the best-fitting saddle. If your saddle is sliding, rolling, or giving your horse pain, this may be the problem.
The horse and the saddle tree shape alone should dictate the saddle’s position. Horses are asymmetrical; one shoulder is larger than the other, and the minor shoulder is usually rotated ahead of the larger one, so saddle placement should be to the shoulder furthest back. To check, stand over the top of your horse and put your finger on the back edge of each scapula. Most horses have their left shoulder rotated back, so saddle placement should be done from that side. If your horse is opposite, you must saddle from the other side. The bar tip should be placed right behind the largest scapula’s back edge. Concho and rigging straightness should not come into the equation; find the bar tip under the front of the skirts, then find the back of the scapula on the correct shoulder.
Our saddles have bar pads that can be moved forward or backward to help keep the saddle in place on asymmetric shoulders. The saddle will usually fall off to one side or the other because of our horse’s asymmetry or our own. The bar pads can be shimmed on one side to correct the imbalance. additionally, our stirrup strap can be offset to help keep the saddle straight. These features can help you and your horse stay balanced.