Weight in stirrups western riding - yes or no? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 15 Old 12-24-2013, 12:59 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: UK
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When riders describe their 'seat' readers often come to the idea that there is only one English seat /way of riding. In fact there are numerous 'seats' - each designed to support the rider in different postures:
The flat race jockey sits perched on the saddle; the jump jockey rides with the legs down longer.
The dressage rider sits upright with weight in the saddle and with long stirrups with minimal weight pressing onto the stirrup irons.
The show jumper sits with shortened stirrup leathers and bent legs allowing him to lift up off the saddle and lean forwards and over the horse's neck when the horse is jumping.
The cross country rider carefully adjusts the length of the stirrup leather to allow the rider to rise off the saddle and jump the fences - yet the rider must be supported for the galloping lengths.
The amateur rider adjusts the stirrups to feel comfortable until the muscles in the crotch, thighs and lower back have developed.

An English saddle manufacturer will offer a GP saddle, a dressage saddle, a jumping saddle, a racing saddle, a hunting saddle & an endurance saddle - and mixtures of all cuts. Look at the 'Ideal Saddle Manfr's' web site.
Most established English riders will have more than one saddle for the same horse.

Invariably every horse will have its own GP -general purpose saddle - English saddles cannot readily be swopped from horse to horse for fitting reasons.

The saddle's function is to put the rider in the correct posture on the horse's back
and over the horse's centre of gravity and to keep the rider's weight off the horses spine.

Adjustable stirrup leathers make if possible to allow for the different heights and physiques of a broad mix of riders.

The length of leg a rider needs is to a significant extent determined by the rider's fitness and state of muscle development.

The rider's thigh must be 'rolled' over to allow the leg to fall naturally and make it possible for the rider's heel to lie naturally lower than the toe. In an ideal situation the position of the riders heel and toe determine the length of the stirrup leathers - unless the rider is competing or having a lesson in show jumping when the stirrups should be adjusted short.

It is one thing to adopt the correct sitting position -- what counts is for the rider to be able to maintain it - and that takes muscle development.

Acquiring from the very beginning the correct seat posture is of supreme importance to the novice rider. Sadly too few novices know why.

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post #12 of 15 Old 12-24-2013, 01:00 PM
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I usually have weight in the stirrups but I don't push.
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post #13 of 15 Old 12-25-2013, 06:44 AM
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I wrote my article about English saddles because to my way of thinking the saddle highlights the difference between English & Western riding.

On BSMS post there is a photo of his horse Mia kitted up with a neat Western saddle which enables him to do pretty much all he wants in the way of riding. The saddle from appearances sits well and by design it spreads the weight of the rider across the horse's back. There are only two adjustments - the girth and the length of the stirrup leathers. It is a sturdy workman's tool which will carry the rider, his coat and his tools of his trade.

It was designed to enable a man to work cattle all day and is based on the design used in the Iberian Peninsular by the local herdsman who ride in the Doma Vaquera style. Even the relatively inexperienced rider can mount up and soon feel a degree of security.

By comparison the English saddle is a far more specialist tool which doesn't always offer a sense of security to the rider.

Essentially the English saddle has been developed especially for use in equestrian sports; the Western saddle is an all rounder often used by the working man.

At the recent Horse Fair held in the Olympian indoor arena, an Italian rider won the Puissance competition when his horse uniquely cleared a two meter high fence. No other rider/horse combo managed to jump that high.

The horse was wearing a simple bridle set without a bit. There was no other tie downs such as a martingale or breast plate. The rider's style was also simple in that he left the horse to find its way over the fence with the minimum of direction by the rider. The saddle was a light, cut back, jumping saddle.

It was a marvellous exhibition of what a horse, utterly bonded with its rider can achieve when fitted with the lightest of tack. The rider cried with joy when he realised he had won the competition against some high class international competitors. His horse just gave him a nudge.
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post #14 of 15 Old 12-25-2013, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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I don't jump, but I like Littauer's theory of jumping - teach the horse to jump, then let the horse do so. I've often wondered if some horses might not jump better equipped like Mia when I ride her in my 'jump' saddle, using one hand and slack in the reins, allowing her to decide how to do what I've asked:

But at 12 & 55, Mia and I are too old to experiment with jumping in western reins! And it sounds like the Italian rider has answered the question, at least for some horses.

The western saddle robs the rider of some of the feel of the horse. What I hadn't fully appreciated, though, is that it "robs" the horse of some of the feel of the rider...and Mia doesn't mind the theft! Comparing the jump saddle with the western, she rides about the same sitting in the western as she does in two-point with the jump saddle. I suppose if I had thought about it, it is like carrying a 50 lb pack with 1 inch straps, then changing to 2 inch straps. And sitting in the saddle is much easier on my back than staying in two-point the whole time.

I had seen some of that on the few times I rode her in our Circle Y, but what really surprised me was how well she turns in this saddle. There is a lot of flare to the front of the bars. In turn, she moves her shoulders much better in a tight turn - better than she does in an English saddle.

In some ways, I think my heart will always lie with the English/Australian saddle and the forward seat as taught by Littauer and Chamberlin. But I'm pretty sure that if I asked Mia, she would tell me to toss that western beast on her back! Either that, or tell me to trim down to my 20 year old, all running no weightlifting days, when I weighed 135 lbs instead of 175!

Time takes its toll on us all, and I reckon my odds of choosing the Martin saddle are better than my odds of shedding 40 lbs. But I think I'll keep both my Aussie-style saddle and my little jump saddle. My job now is to learn how to use the western saddle to its full advantage.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #15 of 15 Old 12-26-2013, 09:08 AM
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Location: UK
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By my way of thinking, the Western saddle gives the rider the opportunity of being comfortable. Horse and rider have to come to learn each other's cues.

The English rider, once he has fitted that specialist dressage saddle has to learn to follow the rules of the style in vogue.

BSMS' English cut saddle looks as though it is based on the English hunting saddle - so it should fit the purpose for all activities except those calling for a cut back saddle such as jumping. Incidentally strictly speaking it should not need a thick blanket - may just a thin cotton cover to keep the saddle clean from sweat and dust. Mr Littauer. would have approved. What is imperative is that the fit of the saddle should follow the curve in the horse's back; that the saddle does not impede the movement of the shoulder and that the saddle does not in any way touch the spine. The one illustrated is fit for a heavy male rider.

PS Happy New Year everyone Barry G
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