WESTERN SADDLE STIRRUPS POSITION

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 put more pressure on the rear of the saddle. Together, the seat shims and adjustable stirrups, allow you to align your body to reduce stress on all of your joints and spine.

Where should your stirrups be positioned for a balanced riding position? We know stirrup length affects your position, forces, and contact with your horse. But recent study results suggest that horizontal stirrup placement does, as well. By adjusting the site where you attach your stirrup leathers to your saddle, you could change the way you ride—for better or for worse.

Easy Fit saddle stirrups are adjustable forward and back, bringing the fenders farther forward or farther backwards on the saddle, which can help customize the ride. There are biomechanical effects on riders using a saddle with adjustable stirrups. Read about the study below:

Each rider rode the same horse at a canter with the stirrups set to three different positions: forward, central, and back. They found that each rider’s biomechanics changed dramatically from one position to another. The first rider was small and had a very high level of experience, and the second rider was taller and had an intermediate level of experience. Their size differences and especially the differences in their experience affected their biomechanics. For example, the higher-level rider tended to lean more forward when the stirrups were adjusted farther back, and sit straighter when the stirrups were adjusted more to the front. Likewise, her forces on the horse’s back were greater under the front part of the saddle when the stirrups were back and under the back part of the saddle when the stirrups were in front. She indicated that she preferred having the stirrups in the most forward position,

The intermediate-level rider showed little change in her posture, which remained fairly stiff throughout the experiment, regardless of the stirrup position, the researchers said. But the forward (stirrup) position caused her to have equal pressures across the horse’s back. “This rider indicated that the forward position made her feel like she was being thrown backwards.

Rider biomechanics can significantly influence their horses’ biomechanics, affecting performance, musculoskeletal health, and welfare. These study results suggest that offering an adjustable stirrup bar that changes the fender position horizontally can provide a more customized seat and ride for rider-horse pairs of all levels. The horizontal placement of the stirrups may be as important as their vertical placement. Even so, it’s possible that teaching the intermediate-level rider to adjust her position might have more importance than adjusting the stirrups’ position.

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 put more pressure on the rear of the saddle. Together, the seat shims and adjustable stirrups, allow you to align your body to reduce stress on all of your joints and spine.

Our saddle seat leather lifts, so you can place ground seat shims under your saddle seat. 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/need it by adjusting the shim forward or backwards.

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.

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.

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

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. 

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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.

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.

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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.