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Discussion Starter #1
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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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?

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?

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?
:confused_color:
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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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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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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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/art/equine library 59 saddle selection.pdf

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

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. :wink: 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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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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Discussion Starter #7
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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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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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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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. :lol: That's what I was trying to describe of the way I was taught to find my balanced seat.
 

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i think that saddle may also be too small for you.

i'd like to see a few photos of the saddle on your horse, tacked up in the normal way but you not in it, then maybe a few from different angles with NO pad under it, just positioned where you normally put it. let's look at how it fits your horse (you can look at other saddle fit threads for ways on how to do good fit eval photos)

then, take some photos of you IN the saddle. I just get the feeling that not only is the fit of the saddle causing the front to be too high, the saddle itself may be too small for your leg, AND if by the design of the saddle itself, the stirrup bar is too far forward, you will never be able to get in correct alingment.


see, in order to post "effortlessly" you need to be able to line up your center of gravity over the stirrup, and it works best if that stirrup bar (that metal thing from which the stirrups hang) is right UNDER your thigh when you are sitting, not in front of it.


I just found this old thread on the stirrup bar placement :

http://www.horseforum.com/horse-tack-equipment/stirrup-bar-placement-saddle-balance-293449/
 

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A dressage saddle will/should look much further back than another type due to the lack of a flap. That straight drop should ALL be BEHIND the shoulder/blade. Better too far back than too far forward (you don't want to affect fit or be riding on her bum of course, but it's unlikely you would end up doing it that extremely).

I would think your instructor would say something if the placement was off.

What was your old saddle? You are not riding as a match to this saddle (you may be more comfortable in another type) A dressage seat really needs a longer leg and even if you aren't used to it some of those saddles really NEED it. I would drop your stirrup a ton, your knee should be behind the knee roll not on it That is there to hold your leg in position.

Yes the most important thing is the saddle fit the horse, BUT the second most important thing is it fits you. This may not be the right saddle? You look like a hunt seat rider not a dressage rider, and it can be a pain to try and compromise with a saddle. Unless you want to learn to change your form, which is great, but up to you.

Also, you and your horse are a cute match. I would think 15hh is perfect for you. And honestly, from the title the pictures really aren't that bad. I was trained hunt seat and while I am intentionally trying to learn more dressage and coincidentally riding in a lot of dressage saddles I tend to look more like you than that lovely lady on the grey.
 

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From the little that we can see of the stirrup leathers they appear to be angled forward instead of straight down, which suggests, as you already know it's from your leg.
Yes, lengthen your stirrups, then with your horse standing still, stand in the stirrups then sit straight down while keeping your legs in that position. Use your core to lower yourself instead of dropping your butt. Try to have more inner thigh against the saddle versus the back of your thighs.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
i think that saddle may also be too small for you.
I think you're right. When I bought it from a used tack shop, the lady said it was a jumper saddle, but it felt like a dressage saddle to me (which I ride in because I'm an English trail rider) so I bought it anyway. Turns out I was right, it's dressage. But she also said it was 17" and now I'm wondering if she was just confusing the saddle I bought with another one. Maybe it's smaller than that. From what you said, I'm thinking that's the case. Now I'm upset because I'm on a tight budget and will have to buy another saddle.

And looking at pictures of my old saddle, I definitely had more room. In the video I took these pictures from, I can clearly see that my butt takes up the entire saddle with literally no cantle left to show. Shucks. But I'm glad I posted here, because now I know.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
A dressage saddle will/should look much further back than another type due to the lack of a flap. That straight drop should ALL be BEHIND the shoulder/blade. Better too far back than too far forward (you don't want to affect fit or be riding on her bum of course, but it's unlikely you would end up doing it that extremely).

I would think your instructor would say something if the placement was off.

What was your old saddle?
You are not riding as a match to this saddle (you may be more comfortable in another type) A dressage seat really needs a longer leg and even if you aren't used to it some of those saddles really NEED it. I would drop your stirrup a ton, your knee should be behind the knee roll not on it That is there to hold your leg in position.
Unfortunately, I'm realizing from this post that my instructor definitely missed some important things about the saddle fit and my riding. So that's disappointing and slightly concerning, considering the amount of trust I had in her.

And my old saddle was a Wintec dressage. It was definitely bigger than the Stubben I'm in now, which Avna and tinyliny mentioned is obviously too small for me, which I didn't see until now because I was told when I bought it that it was a 17" seat like I'm used to. I only have a handful of pics of me in that saddle, but it looks only a tiny bit better than the ones I posted of the Stubben. And actually, my instructor had once let me borrow her really nice crazy expensive dressage saddle a year ago and I have a picture from that time that shows my legs in almost perfect position, minus my heels being up. So it's looking like I just need a bigger saddle. It's too bad I can't remember what brand of saddle it was that gave me great leg position that one time though. Haha, no like I could afford it anyway. :cry:
 

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Unfortunately, I'm realizing from this post that my instructor definitely missed some important things about the saddle fit and my riding. So that's disappointing and slightly concerning, considering the amount of trust I had in her.

And my old saddle was a Wintec dressage. It was definitely bigger than the Stubben I'm in now, which Avna and tinyliny mentioned is obviously too small for me, which I didn't see until now because I was told when I bought it that it was a 17" seat like I'm used to. I only have a handful of pics of me in that saddle, but it looks only a tiny bit better than the ones I posted of the Stubben. And actually, my instructor had once let me borrow her really nice crazy expensive dressage saddle a year ago and I have a picture from that time that shows my legs in almost perfect position, minus my heels being up. So it's looking like I just need a bigger saddle. It's too bad I can't remember what brand of saddle it was that gave me great leg position that one time though. Haha, no like I could afford it anyway. :cry:
Chin up. You just learned something about saddle-fit for both your horse and yourself. You also learned that many people who sell saddles don't measure correctly and don't actually know what they're selling. Always bring a tape-measure and measure for yourself, and trust what your bum says when you sit in it (seat size is measured from the button to center of cantle). Educate and trust yourself next time. Since your current saddle is a Stubben, you will be able to re-sell it easily.

I know it's frustrating, but we've all had these moments.

I'm seeing a combination of 3 things:
-1- The saddle does not fit you correctly, and that can be remedied by getting rid of the thing.
-2- Your stirrups are way too shprt for a dressage saddle. That's about the length I use for jumping. Drop the stirrups and let your leg hang from your hip. That's about the length you want in a dressage saddle. The design of a dresage saddle really won't allow you to shorten the stirrups like that. That can be fixed.
-3- You're bracing. Lots and lots of stirrupless work to get you to use and trust your seat instead of getting into an ineffective defensive position. So that can also be fixed.
 

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I bet that saddle is actually an all purpose saddle. Stubbed made some that were either all purpose/jumper type. Or all purpose/dressage type. Not fully dressage saddle , just somewhat shaped and balanced that way but still retaining a slight hunt seat shape too.

Look at a Crosby. They have a nice lower price dressage saddle that in my experience fits a lot if horses. Second hand maybe $400.
 

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Dreamcatcher says it best! Your stirrups are much too short. Lower them.

Stand up in the stirrups and let your legs find the balance point-legs too far forward and you won't be able to easily get your rear out of the saddle, legs too far back and you'll fall over the horse's neck. Once your legs are in position where you are balancing easily, sit straight down into the center of the saddle and leave your legs where they were.

Stand up regularly on every ride at the halt, walk and trot to check yourself. Eventually your legs will automatically go to the right position and it won't feel comfortable when they are wrong any more!
 

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if the balance is off, however, lowering the stirrup and trying to stand up will invariably result in the rider needing to lean way forward in order to even be ABLE to stand. and, very likely, end up putting a lot of forward pressure into the stirrip, so it goes even further forward.

First to consider is if that saddle really DOES fit the hrose. if it isn't too narrow and thus propping up in front. that's task number one. part of that is having it correctly positioned on the back , probably sliding it back a inch or two.


next, consider the fit of the seat and bar position to the rider.

if the saddle fits ok, I'd do more riding without posting. lengthen the stirrups and do more sitting trot work. and, start your saddle search for a saddle that is better suited for YOU.
 
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