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Your saddle can have a big impact on your riding. If you often feel out of balance, or struggle to stay in the position described by your riding instructor it may not be just your abilities as a rider, your saddle can either help you find a balanced and comfortable position or it can do just the opposite and have you feeling continually out of sync with your horse.

Saddle fitting is a big topic for both horse and rider, and whether a saddle has a forward, rear, or center balance is just one small piece of the picture. However, as we become more aware of the details that affects both us and our horses we can make better decisions about everything from equipment to training techniques.

In today's video, I give you a few pointers on determining the balance of a saddle and understanding how that my affect you as a rider.

*Please note that I highly recommend working with a professional saddle fitter to find a better fitting saddle for you or your horse or to change the fit of a saddle. It is difficult to fix a saddle's fit or balance by simply changing pads, other factors such as the width of the saddle, shape of the tree, and placement of the stirrup bars can also affect the rider's balance. 

Here are the links to the other videos I referenced.

What Poor Saddle Fit Can Do to Your Horse – Interview with Terry Peiper

How Saddle Fit Affects the Rider – Interview with Jochen Schleese

Thanks for watching! I will see you in the comments!

Callie

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18 Responses

  1. Hi Callie, I watched your video Understanding The ” balance ” Of Your Saddle. I found it to be very informative . I take lessons at two different stables and fine each saddle to have a different feel. I definitely feel more forward at one stable compared to the other. I do have a question. I cannot change the saddles, however can I change my position in the saddle to help compensate my forward position? Thank you Linda

    1. Hi Linda,
      Yes, you can change your position, but listen to your body and to the horse. Holding yourself in position and fighting the saddle has been shown to cause physical problems down the road for riders. For more in-depth information on this, I would recommend Jochen’s book: http://www.amazon.com/Suffering-Silence-Exploring-Saddle-Fit-Psychological/dp/1570766533
      It’s not a perfect world, and many times we have to work with what we have, especially when taking lessons, but being educated keeps you aware of little issues that may be brewing.

  2. Thanks Callie. Just recently my instructor told me the saddle I use on the school horse I ride will be adjusted and I wasn’t quite sure what she meant . Thank you for enlightening me and hopefully the saddle re-balancing will help me keep the upright posture my instructor is always looking for.

    1. It’s an interesting process to watch if your instructor will let you sit in on the saddle adjustment session!

    1. I haven’t tried enough different brands to speak for every treeless saddle out there, but the ones I have tried I haven’t liked at all. I found them difficult to balance in and very unsteady on the horse. There is a lot of arguments for and against tree-less saddles, but I have never ridden in one I found comfortable enough to warrant further research. The way I see it, if I am uncomfortable I will be more tensed, no matter how hard I “try” to stay soft. That tension won’t help the horse, regardless of any arguments about treeless saddles creating less pressure.

  3. This video and the accompanying links couldn’t have appeared at a better time for me, thanks! I recently bought a used all-purpose saddle to use on the lesson horse I’ve been riding, based on “trying it out”: It felt comfortable to me, and my instructor thought the horse definitely “likes” it. But I’m going to be working with a saddle fitter in April to tweek the “good fit” we’ve got now. In addition to having some idea of what the saddle fitter will be aiming for, I feel like I will be more ready for it if there’s a part for me to play in the process.

  4. Hi Callie,
    An informative video about finding the balance point of each saddle and how that varies depending upon the back that it is sitting on. I will have to start to assess this when I am tacking up my school horses. In general, I have definitely noticed that some saddles are more comfortable than others and affect the body position positively or negatively. Thanks for another great video and nice to see handsome Mojo.
    Nancy

  5. Very informative. I find myself frequently standing in the stirrups and tucking my butt under to get back in a position that is comfortable and better aligned. I will have to check the low point of the saddle I use. (I lease from my instructor and use her saddle.) I wonder if using my trail pad pulled toward to the front of the saddle would help shift my pelvis back enough since I don’t have the option of a different saddle right now(?).

    I also found the video with Jochen Schleese very informative. I especially like at the end where he pointed out the placement of the stirrup bar. I never even realized that could vary so much from saddle to saddle, although it makes sense. I like his suggestion of wearing regular jeans to sit on a saddle to check for position & comfort. I know I can’t wear jeans at all in the saddle I use without expecting to “pay for it” for the next day or so. But again I would never have thought of such a simple way to rule out a new saddle.
    Also it makes sense now, after listening to his explanation, about the width of the saddle – thinner for men in the front. I would have thought the exact opposite!
    Thanks for sharing both these videos with us.

    1. Hi Shanna,
      Is the trail pad something on top of the saddle for you? If so, you could try moving it around and see how it feels. If the trail pad you are referring to is a pad under the saddle for the horse I would be very careful moving it. If we raise the front or back of a saddle with pads alone, we run the risk of increasing pressure elsewhere for the horse.

      1. It’s just a cloth covered foam pad on top of the saddle for my comfort. So thanks for your response and I think I will try moving it into different positions to see if that helps.

  6. Hi Callie,
    You said we should notice something that our teacher might be repeating for us to correct and we keep struggling with. I find that pretty much every time my horse (school horse and school’s dressage Parelli saddle) changes gait my foot slides forward and my boot’s heels are what keep them from sliding all the way forward. Could this be a saddle fitting problem or more likely a skill problem?

    1. Hi Izabella,
      Without seeing you and the saddle its tough to tell – it could be a combination of both. The stirrup bar also plays a role in how the rider’s leg will hang, and just because a particular saddle is balanced on one horse doesn’t mean that it will be balanced on every horse. The shape of the horse can completely change how a saddle feels.

  7. Great info Callie! Would you consider expanding on this topic and talk about how we can improve saddle balance? Possibly a blog/video on shimming? I find I constantly feel like I’m trying to not fall forward on my horses neck, I’ve heard shimming the front might be an option but I’m not sure how to do it. Thanks so much!

  8. Hi Callie! This is great and very informative and helpful. I ride different schooling horses, but just purchased a used Tad Coffin saddle and my leg position has been alittle more forward than it used to be especially on certain horses. Any recommendations on how to correct without having to to get a completely different saddle? The saddle is extremely comfortable and on a few horses my leg is perfect. So this has been a perfect video for what I’m experiencing. I thought it could be the horse/saddle combo since it’s good on some and forward on others, however, I didn’t know how to fix. Help, please!

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