Twist - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 07-30-2020, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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I have been told that a lot of saddles are too wide for a lot of women. Is twist a measurable thing, like the gullet, or is it more of a "feel"?
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post #2 of 5 Old 07-30-2020, 03:38 PM
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If you ask, the manufacturers can tell you. I find it easy to feel with English saddles and know by looking and feeling what works for me before trying. If pictures taken side by side difference is easy to tell but I've not seen a standardized way to measure as stitching can change the appearance making a wide look narrow or narrow look wide.

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post #3 of 5 Old 07-30-2020, 05:00 PM
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Twist is a vague description of the part of a traditional tree where the rails turn from being angled at the front arch to horizontal under the seat. As far as I know there's no measurement point because it's an area, rather than one spot. It doesn't really apply to modern synthetic trees because they tend to be made as a flat plate, so there's no real ridge under the seat foam to cause a pressure point.
Although the width of ladies pelvises means they can suffer discomfort if the edges at the base happen to be at the same spacing as the tree rail edges, in twenty years I've found this to be a fairly rare occurrence, even though some saddle manufacturers make much of it.

Maybe lady riders are embarrassed to say they're not comfortable, but I hope not, because an uncomfortable rider makes for a less than happy horse, even if the saddle fits the animal well. If possible, it's well worth sitting on as many saddles as you can before choosing one, even on a stand rather than a horse. If you take note of the make and whether you think the twist is narrow or wider, that should give you an idea of what you find comfortable and what you don't :)
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post #4 of 5 Old 07-30-2020, 07:52 PM
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Scheelse has a very good explanation and diagram. You could look it up. I'll find it tomorrow and link it if you don't.

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post #5 of 5 Old 08-01-2020, 10:50 AM
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Saddles too wide for women. Seems odd to me since women have wider hips proportionally than men. Did a search and found this discussing saddles on bicycles and it makes a lot of sense to me (as does @unclearthur 's):
Pressure mapping has certainly made for some big leaps in saddle design and the research and development process. Can you talk us through any of the more surprising findings?

KR: Using pressure mapping equipment consistently for over five years now has allowed us to understand small differences in pressure that may have big effects on the rider. For instance, if the gradient of pressure to the outside of the bone structure is very steep, this is an indication that the rider’s bone structure is running off the edges of the saddle. Think of a bright red hot spot that immediately becomes a cooler, darker colour to the outside of the bone, rather than showing a gradual change of colour.

Your first impression as the researcher might be, “The saddle is obviously too narrow, and it needs to be wider to support that bone structure.” However, sometimes a wide saddle forces the rider to sit too far forward on the saddle, and therefore the ischium of the pelvis runs off the sides. Sometimes switching to a narrower saddle allows the rider to sit on the back of the saddle as the saddle is intended, and the rider therefore gets the proper support he or she is looking for.

Due to this research and the designs that have followed, it seems like an increasing number of riders are opting for unisex saddles, or saddles marketed at the opposite gender. Can you provide some insight into why gender specific saddles might not be so specific after all?

MG: Paraic McGlynn has a really good quote on this: “Your [rump] doesn’t have eyeballs.” Your pelvis really just cares about how it is supported.

We’ve found through testing that as a pelvis gets wider, it needs different things for saddle design. The thing is, it doesn’t matter if it is a wide female pelvis or a wide male pelvis, they both need the same support and soft tissue relief. The biggest difference is that the shallower pubic arch on a woman necessitates better soft tissue relief sooner, but there is no reason a more pointed male pubic arch wouldn’t benefit from the same thing.

KR: For men and women, the fundamental goal of the saddle is the same: to distribute pressure to the bone structure and relieve pressure from the soft tissues. This means that men and women alike benefit from well-designed “cut out” saddles.

While the pelvic structure for women tends to be wider and shallower (front to back) than the average male pelvis, the shape of the bone structure for both vary greatly. Therefore, the shape, width and material properties of the saddle are the most important factors that affect whether or not a particular saddle supports the rider properly.
I've been using two western saddles intermittently this summer - a wide leather one and a much narrower Abetta:

In addition, I used the leather one both bare and with a sheepskin cover that changes its shape underneath me:

At 5'8" and 150 lbs, I'm a narrow-frame runner type guy. But which saddle works depends. Each has advantages and disadvantages based on how I ride. The plain leather works best when I ride "on my pockets". The Abetta works better if I "perch" more in the saddle, using a Forward Seat. The sheepskin configuration is in between. In the drawing below, think of it as:

Sheepskin / Abetta / Slick Seat / Never

People MARKET saddles as best for women or men, but my experience is it depends on the individual human and how they choose to ride. FWIW, I actually like all three variations I've tried this summer. I suspect the Abetta may remain my #1 choice, as much because of its 15 lb weight instead of the 30 lbs of the leather saddle. But the leather saddle can be more comfortable when riding, with the sheepskin version giving me my most "all-purpose" saddle. The slick leather might work well for an all-day ride in the mountains, though. Same rump. Same horse. Different saddles shapes - all usable.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"

Last edited by bsms; 08-01-2020 at 11:01 AM.
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