Really bad chair seat - what can I do? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 33 Old 03-14-2016, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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Question Really bad chair seat - what can I do?

So I got a new saddle for my horse this winter after her old one was found to be a bad fit. I think I've always had problems with chair seat, but this new saddle just seems to draw it out a bit more. My instructor has never mentioned it before, but she has started to bring it up in our lessons now.

The problem is that I know I have a bad chair seat, but every time I try and put my leg back, either when I'm told to or when I'm riding alone, it throws me way off balance. It feels like I'm riding on my crotch, not my butt, since I'm tilting my pelvis to accommodate. And my leg doesn't stay back, it always comes forward again. It doesn't feel right to put my leg there, it feels natural to have it forward. But obviously this is not how it's supposed to be, so I need some advice.

I took a video of myself riding a few weeks ago and that was when I really noticed it and was like wow - that's embarrassing! I attached some pics so you can see how bad it is. My horse is slightly too small for me too, which might be another factor. I'm 5'6" and she's 15h.



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post #2 of 33 Old 03-14-2016, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by girlgone View Post
So I got a new saddle for my horse this winter after her old one was found to be a bad fit. I think I've always had problems with chair seat, but this new saddle just seems to draw it out a bit more. My instructor has never mentioned it before, but she has started to bring it up in our lessons now.
Some saddles do have a tendency to put us into a chair seat; more than others.

What type of saddle are you riding in? It's hard to tell with your pictures. Is it a jumping saddle? All-purpose?

Quote:
Originally Posted by girlgone View Post
The problem is that I know I have a bad chair seat, but every time I try and put my leg back, either when I'm told to or when I'm riding alone, it throws me way off balance. It feels like I'm riding on my crotch, not my butt, since I'm tilting my pelvis to accommodate. And my leg doesn't stay back, it always comes forward again. It doesn't feel right to put my leg there, it feels natural to have it forward. But obviously this is not how it's supposed to be, so I need some advice.
What happens if you drop your stirrups and ride without them? How is your lower leg? Is it in the right place and/or is it stable?

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Originally Posted by girlgone View Post
My horse is slightly too small for me too, which might be another factor. I'm 5'6" and she's 15h.
I guess I don't see why this would have to do with anything?

And I certainly would not call your horse small for you.


Total side note ..... but be careful of your horse getting behind the vertical. She is doing so on both the pictures you posted.

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post #3 of 33 Old 03-14-2016, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for replying! It is a dressage saddle. I am also still a beginner rider, so I haven't ever heard of being 'behind the vertical.' But I just looked it up and basically the horse's mouth shouldn't be behind it's poll? What are your suggestions about that? She is mostly a trail horse, so I only ever have her yield to the bit in the arena.

My lower leg I've been told is stable, but that was in a different saddle and when I was strongest last summer.
Also, I don't have video of me dropping my stirrups so I can't say.

My concern about her size was because, to my eyes, it looks like I am a little hunched up on top of her and sometimes I can feel my feet hitting her elbow/forearm when cantering in a circle or on a turn. I was wondering if maybe I need to let me stirrups down lower.
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post #4 of 33 Old 03-14-2016, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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If it is the saddle, is there anything I can do? I tried tilting it downwards in the front by using a corrective pad in the back, but it put so much pressure on her withers that she had a circle on either side where she didn't sweat. So that's concerning to me too. I'm wondering if this new saddle is still too narrow for her, even though my instructor thought it looked fine when I first got it.
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post #5 of 33 Old 03-14-2016, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by girlgone View Post
If it is the saddle, is there anything I can do? I tried tilting it downwards in the front by using a corrective pad in the back, but it put so much pressure on her withers that she had a circle on either side where she didn't sweat. So that's concerning to me too. I'm wondering if this new saddle is still too narrow for her, even though my instructor thought it looked fine when I first got it.
No, you don't want to alter the saddle like that because the #1 priority is that it needs to fit your horse's back. With that said, the #2 priority is it needs to fit the rider too!

I'm not as well-versed with dressage saddles but you may need to experiment with different flap lengths, seat depths, and saddle designs.
http://www.doversaddlery.com/images/...0selection.pdf

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My concern about her size was because, to my eyes, it looks like I am a little hunched up on top of her and sometimes I can feel my feet hitting her elbow/forearm when cantering in a circle or on a turn.
If your legs are in a chair-seat position and way out in front of you, this is going to happen.

Also, are you bracing with your lower leg? This can push your legs into a chair seat as well. Again, this is where doing some stirrup-less work can give you more insight.

Also, make sure your saddle is NOT placed too far forward on your horse's back. Here's some saddle fitting guidelines:
https://youtu.be/Ffsz53UwLF0
https://youtu.be/EEIY0iv7ljA

Quote:
Originally Posted by girlgone View Post
I am also still a beginner rider, so I haven't ever heard of being 'behind the vertical.' But I just looked it up and basically the horse's mouth shouldn't be behind it's poll? What are your suggestions about that?
That's the general gist of it. But also, head carriage comes from BEHIND .... and shouldn't really come much from the reins. If your horse is traveling in a collected and correct frame, the head/neck should be aligned as well.

Your instructor should be able to help you with this, and help you push your horse forward with your seat and legs, and help you with your rein cues as well, so she's not getting behind the vertical.
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post #6 of 33 Old 03-14-2016, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beau159 View Post
If your legs are in a chair-seat position and way out in front of you, this is going to happen.

Also, are you bracing with your lower leg? This can push your legs into a chair seat as well. Again, this is where doing some stirrup-less work can give you more insight.
This is what I'm seeing.

It really looks like your leg is thrust forward and you're bracing against the stirrup. This is causing you to sit back and down on what would be your seat pockets, if you were riding in jeans. Your rear should not be so far toward the cantle of the saddle. You should be sitting in the middle of the saddle.

See where this rider is, compared to how far back you're sitting (random pic pulled from the internet):


This is more exaggerated than what I'm seeing you doing, but maybe it will help you see what's going on/what I'm seeing. This is from an ad on my local Craigslist:


See how her legs are thrust out in front of her and she's sitting so far back in the saddle? That's what I'm seeing from you, just not as exaggerated.

I don't ride dressage, but I was always taught to stand in your stirrups, then sit straight down while bending your knees to find your proper seat position. Your seat should be in the same place when you drop your stirrups as it is when you are sitting in the saddle.
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post #7 of 33 Old 03-14-2016, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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DraftyAiresMum, thanks for your comments. I think you are both right about the bracing. She is very forward and I am still working on my seat and get unbalanced easily, so that's likely part of why I am putting my legs forward. It also seems like, compared to the photos of the grey horse, I am putting the saddle too far forward on her back like beau159 said. I will try putting the saddle further back next time and I guess put less weight in my stirrups and more in my seat?
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post #8 of 33 Old 03-14-2016, 02:33 PM
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With any saddle, you should put it on where you think it should go, then rock it from side to side gently until it slides into the "sweet spot." This is where the saddle will want to rest naturally. Any further forward and you get interference with the shoulder blade.

Yes, to putting more weight in your seat and less in your stirrups! This is why stirrupless work is so important. It helps you get the feel for how your seat should be balanced. Maybe ask your trainer if she'd be willing to do a few stirrupless lunge line lessons with you.

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post #9 of 33 Old 03-14-2016, 03:15 PM
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There look to be several things going on here.

1. Saddle is too far forward I think
2. You're bracing against the stirrups forcing you back into a chair seat
3. Your stirrups are too short, you have a LOT of bend at your knee, almost pushing your knee over the edge of your knee roll.



Dropping your stirrups a hole or 2 would help that as would stirrup-less work on a lunge line. Another thing that a lot of beginners do is they push their heel down, which forces the foot forward and braces against the stirrup, rather than just lifting the toes up and letting the heel stretch down naturally. I start every ride standing straight up in my stirrups and just ride that way for a minute or 2 and then relax down into the saddle, concentrating on just letting my seat down, not moving my legs.

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post #10 of 33 Old 03-14-2016, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreamcatcher Arabians View Post
I start every ride standing straight up in my stirrups and just ride that way for a minute or 2 and then relax down into the saddle, concentrating on just letting my seat down, not moving my legs.
You described that MUCH better than I did. That's what I was trying to describe of the way I was taught to find my balanced seat.

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