control in a western saddle

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control in a western saddle

This is a discussion on control in a western saddle within the Western Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Western horse control
  • Controlling the horse in western riding

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    06-04-2009, 06:52 PM
control in a western saddle

Im am currently an english rider but am starting trail riding. I have found that I can't control my horse very well in the western saddle. In an english saddle he responds VERY well, but not so much in western. It takes a lot to get him to stop and he wont listen to my legs very well...i would prefer not to change bits but is there any way to just get him to listen better? (im sure its a matter of rider errors not horse lol!)
***Whenever I ride western I find that my foot keeps slipping out of the stirrup, and I can't feel the rhythm very well at the trot! I bounce all over the place and it drives me nuts! Please help! Thanks in advance!
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    06-04-2009, 07:04 PM
If you can't properly reach your stirrups go ahead and shorten them. Since you're just trail riding it doesn't matter how short they are, just to where they're comfortable at. I think that because you feel insecure in the western saddle (being discombobulated, foot falling out of the stirrup, not feeling the rhythm), he's picking up on that and behaving accordingly. You can also post the trot if you want until you get yourself sorted out. I know some western riders who post when they don't feel like sitting and I do as well. :]
    06-04-2009, 07:12 PM
Why not trail ride in an english saddle? If it works better I see no point of even using a western.
    06-04-2009, 07:48 PM
How thick is your pad? One of my mares had some 'communication issues' when I got a new 1" thick wool pad a few years back. She was used to a fleece pad, and the wool was at least twice as thick. Could be all that leather is getting in the way, too. If you want to see if it's the saddle seat you're having problems with or the fenders, take off the western fenders, and put on your english leathers & stirrups. I do that for my little kids that can't negotiate all that leather to start with. It works, it's a lot lighter, and if he's having trouble feeling your cues, that would solve the problem.
    06-04-2009, 08:03 PM
Its a pretty thick pad but I would like him to have it...i don't wanna ride in an english saddle on trails b/c a western saddle is safer for that and much much more comfy for trails than english. I also wanted to no some tell tale signs or ways to check if the saddle doesnt quite fit the horse...i had a post earlier asking about the saddle fit and im sure there are others out there but I just thought I may throw this one out there while were on the western saddle topic...if you have any more advice please post it! :)
    06-04-2009, 08:19 PM
Well, there's a lot more saddle between you and the horse, so that's probably causing some of the confusion, and I agree that he probably senses your confusion, and is acting accordingly. To sit a trot, really work on stretching your heels down and not bracing against the stirrups - that'll cause you to bounce even more.

Maybe practice a bit in an arena before hitting the trail. You both might just need time to adjust.
    06-04-2009, 08:22 PM
Probably the easiest way to see if your saddle fits right is to ride the horse all tacked up for say, 20 to 45 min. When you take the saddle & pad off - everywhere the saddle & blanket touched should be sweaty. It's not a perfect way to see, but it's a round about way. If there's dry spots, you don't have contact there, and presumably, the areas immediately around it are pressure points from the saddle. Otherwise, you should be able to slip your hand all around the saddle when it's on & cinched, and you should be able to get your fist between the withers & the gullet. Longterm - you'll know if there is a major pressure point somewhere if you ride a LOT over the summer, and you find spots of white hair on his back after months of riding. Until then, if you are still questioning the fit after you've done all that, I'd take horse & tack to a saddle shop and have a 'pro' check it out. Most good saddle shops will do this free of charge. Good luck :)
As a side note, I personally take issue against flextree saddles. The on the surface idea is great, but cowboy logic says that trees were designed to distribute the weight of the rider. A flex tree goes against that. It still distributes some of the weight, but not like a regular old western tree. If someone disagrees with me, that's fine, but of the people that I know that ride a LOT, the few that switched to a flex had lots of trouble with chiropractic issues with the horse within a few years. I don't think it's an issue if you don't ride heavy though.(I mean several hours a day, 6-7 days a week here.) Just MHO.
    06-04-2009, 09:27 PM
Yes I am most definitely going to hit the arena this weekend first so I can get the feel lol! Another thing (correct me if im wrong) isnt a HUGE sign to tell if the saddle doesnt fit right is if ur horse starts pinning his ears when you tighten the cinch/girth or just acting up when you work around on his back area? I have been feeling around on his back before and after I ride to kinda check around and he really doesnt seem to care.
    06-05-2009, 01:59 AM
Yes, if he pins his ears and gets angry during tacking up, it could be because the saddle does not fit him properly.
    06-05-2009, 09:56 AM
Originally Posted by Gillian    
If you can't properly reach your stirrups go ahead and shorten them. Since you're just trail riding it doesn't matter how short they are, just to where they're comfortable at.
Not true at all! You need to have the stirrups adjusted correctly in the ring or on trail in any saddle! If you are sitting unbalanced and the horse spooks, you will likely be walking home. Another factor is if the rider is uncomfortable, it's not going to be pleasant for the horse either!

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