Here's a "Marmite" comment.....

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domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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..... I bought a Total Contact Saddle!!

I know some of you will be interested, some of you will call me brave (๐Ÿ˜‚) and some of you will instantly doubt how it can't possibly cause pressure points!!

So I've followed the TCS page on FB for years (now named Total Contact Equine Solutions). Albi was a hard pony to saddle fit, so I contemplated it way back then. Anyhoo, what gave me the final nudge was seeing a video come up of my friend and her horse on their page. For those with FB, if you look and find the "SH" vid.... a piebald being trotted around the arena and read their story ..... you'll see why. Sarah is very hot on saddle fit and works full-time as a very popular Equine Bowens practitioner (so frankly she's sh*t-hot on backs and saddles!!) and she's very impressed with hers and is using it on three of her cobs already.

Anyhoo, it arrived at the weekend and we've had one short go in it so far. It's very weird, but not unpleasant. Your bum says "bareback" and you're legs say "but.... stirrups?", so your brain goes ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿคฏ Gracie wasn't too sure either. I've not ridden her bareback much, certainly not to rise to the trot! ๐Ÿ˜‚. It's going to highlight my riding weaknesses, that's for sure!!!

๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

I'll get some pics.
 

Bodshi

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2009
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I'll be interested to hear how you get on, as I like the idea in theory, especially as it means less tack to lug around!

One thing that puts me off is seeing pictures of people who seem to be sitting really far back in an 'armchair' position, definitely not in the straight line shoulder, hips, feet. It looks both less stable for the rider and less comfortable for the horse, as the rider is sitting behind where a normal saddle would place them.

That might be to do with the rider and/or the shape of the horse though, rather than the TCS.

Personally, I love my bareback pad as an alternative to a saddle, but of course I have no stirrups.
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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I will also watch with interest, and reserved judgement ;)

I'd like something like that because as @Bodshi says it's less to lug about and would be super useful for those quick 20 minute rides in the winter before it rains/gets dark and could be locked away easier, but I know a friend of mine who had one from very early days and couldn't say good enough about it, spend ages messing about finding the right 3 pad combo to make it work on her mare and has recently gone back to a regular saddle....

I wish you all the best with it, and @mystiquemalaika with hers too :D
 

domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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No, you're absolutely right, @Bodshi. We DO sit in more on an armchair position, but to be honest, why is that wrong these days, if it's comfortable and you feel balanced? Who actual said that the"correct" way to ride is with shoulder, hip, heel alignment? The TCS sits just behind the withers but you don't actually sit on it, you sit on your horse's back - through a cloth or BB pad. Your knees will be on the sides though.

I am having some hip pain at the moment and have actually been advised to ride in more of an armchair seat because of Gracie's width. Apparently traditional cob riders shouldn't try to ride "long" because it places an awful lot of strain on our hips and knees to be placed in that position. Interesting really, especially as they advocate dressage saddles for the sake horses that sit behind the shoulder. Talk about rock and a hard place!! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฆ
 

Pete's Mum

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Jun 4, 2014
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Oooh, interested how you get on with it! I follow their FB page too.

Hopefully, it will help with your hip pain. Pete's very wide too and I can really notice it if I let up with my pilates, yoga and legs/bums/tums classes as I have tight hip flexors. Intrestingly, Pete's the only horse I've had knee pain with too - I just thought that was reaching 30 and getting older thing :D

Do keep us updated :)
 
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Bodshi

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Apr 23, 2009
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No, you're absolutely right, @Bodshi. We DO sit in more on an armchair position, but to be honest, why is that wrong these days, if it's comfortable and you feel balanced? Who actual said that the"correct" way to ride is with shoulder, hip, heel alignment? The TCS sits just behind the withers but you don't actually sit on it, you sit on your horse's back - through a cloth or BB pad. Your knees will be on the sides though.

I am having some hip pain at the moment and have actually been advised to ride in more of an armchair seat because of Gracie's width. Apparently traditional cob riders shouldn't try to ride "long" because it places an awful lot of strain on our hips and knees to be placed in that position. Interesting really, especially as they advocate dressage saddles for the sake horses that sit behind the shoulder. Talk about rock and a hard place!! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฆ
I'm sure there's nothing wrong with an armchair position if you feel comfortable and balanced. I'm pretty sure I ride in one myself (and that's with a saddle!) I'm thinking of people who don't look balanced and appear to be sitting too far back on the horse.

Totally get what you're saying about traditional cob riders not riding "long" - it's bringing tears to my eyes thinking about it! I know someone who is thinking of selling her wide horse because she just can't ride her without hip pain any more. And yes, she has a lovely little show saddle for her with straight cut flaps. Never even thought of the mechanics of that before.

Hope the TCS works out, I asked a physio how she felt about treeless saddles once, because I'm on a very traditional yard and was warned that treeless saddles 'ruin' horses' backs. She said that the people who had problems were those who didn't feel comfortable in the saddle. Those who were comfortable tended not to have any issues. I'm guessing the same applies for the TCS.
 
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Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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No, you're absolutely right, @Bodshi. We DO sit in more on an armchair position, but to be honest, why is that wrong these days, if it's comfortable and you feel balanced? Who actual said that the"correct" way to ride is with shoulder, hip, heel alignment? . . .

I am having some hip pain at the moment and have actually been advised to ride in more of an armchair seat because of Gracie's width. Apparently traditional cob riders shouldn't try to ride "long" because it places an awful lot of strain on our hips and knees to be placed in that position.
Interesting post. I was never taught text book alignment by our RI and I fear pics show me in an armchair seat. Just as you say. I was taught to put the weight on my seat bones and that settles one back in the saddle. I was also shown how to ride quite long. though I cant ride a wide horse at all.
Having one's weight back does not mean that it is rigid - one's hips move up and down to allow the horse free movement.

I think the alignment ideal is to prevent the rider tipping forward. However as soon as one rises to trot or to canter or jump, that alighment is changed. So are we only talking about alignment at halt?
The head of the rider (I was taught) is the heavist part of a human, and the horse's head is very heavy too. So the tendency might be for everything to topple forward.
I suspect too that it depends on the saddle, being open and roomy. One cant ride chair seat in a modern dressage saddle.
So there you go.
The pics of my grandfather and his groom show men in chair seat. In those days the horses developed the fore-end, the shouders, because until the 1920s the jumps were ridden sitting. Think of all those hunting pics with the rider leaning way back.
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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...la la land
Interesting i sat on chunky for the first time since February or beginning of March cant remember exactly when it was at the weekend. He is wide and i did feel uncomfortable bareback with my legs dangling down. So i pulled my knees up a bit which automatically tipped me back more into the armchair position and onto my seat bones. I immediately felt more comfortable. This took the strain off my hips. Unfortunately i couldnt ride holding my knees up. In this instance i would have benefited from a tcs.
I cant trot bareback, im all over the place so it will be interesting to hear if you feel stable enough with addition of the stirrups.
 

domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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I took Gracie round the farm this afternoon for a quick, fast, blast in her normal saddle. She was forward-going and threw a free shakes in for good measure! We were only out 35 mins. When we got back to the yard - and I was sure she'd got the tickle out of her toes - I swapped to the TCS. I fully intended to take her in the school but as I was doing her girth up again sometime else went in there, so as she was all ready to go I hopped on and took her round the farm again. We both initially felt a bit weird after the full saddle ride but actually within a couple of minutes we both relaxed. We weren't out long but did walk, trot and canter.... and I didn't fall off ๐Ÿ˜‚

I will be swapping to a half pad with spinal clearance, but until I feel more confident, I'm (literally!!) sticking to my Acavallo pad!

Here she is modelling it.... plus from above, so you can see her width.

No hip pain from either set up ๐Ÿ‘

20200729_155011_copy_800x600.jpg

20200729_155123_copy_600x800.jpg
 

joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
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Definitely not my cup of tea. Either I want to ride bareback, which to me also means no stirrups, or I want a saddle. But whatever your preference it doesn't matter as long as both you and the horse are comfortable.
I'd be concerned that having all the pressure concentrated on that one small part of the spine would make them sore over time. In normal saddles the pressure is much better distributed. It also doesn't look like it would suit a horse with a high wither?

ETA. I have just watched a couple of videos of people riding in them, and decided I definitely don't like! It puts them in a chair seat and well behind the movement.
 
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Huggy

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Nov 11, 2018
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I took Gracie round the farm this afternoon for a quick, fast, blast in her normal saddle. She was forward-going and threw a free shakes in for good measure! We were only out 35 mins. When we got back to the yard - and I was sure she'd got the tickle out of her toes - I swapped to the TCS. I fully intended to take her in the school but as I was doing her girth up again sometime else went in there, so as she was all ready to go I hopped on and took her round the farm again. We both initially felt a bit weird after the full saddle ride but actually within a couple of minutes we both relaxed. We weren't out long but did walk, trot and canter.... and I didn't fall off ๐Ÿ˜‚

I will be swapping to a half pad with spinal clearance, but until I feel more confident, I'm (literally!!) sticking to my Acavallo pad!

Here she is modelling it.... plus from above, so you can see her width.

No hip pain from either set up ๐Ÿ‘

View attachment 103212

View attachment 103213
It does look comfy.
 

diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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Suze is pretty wide being a comtois but she is in a wide fit Albion VSD Buddy's old saddle. I am too heavy to ride on a pad so can't comment. Fortunately i don't get issues with my hips, just my knees. For the lady with the wide cob, the VSD is good on cobs as i used to ride Molly and Rose in it as it sits behind the shoulder and is not as unforgiving on the rider as a show saddle.
 

carthorse

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@joosie those are my concerns too. For short periods of light work maybe, but not for anything more. I don't see how anything that encourages a chair seat can be good for a horse, add in stirrups to make another small intense pressure point and I start worrying.
 
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joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
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We DO sit in more on an armchair position, but to be honest, why is that wrong these days, if it's comfortable and you feel balanced? Who actual said that the"correct" way to ride is with shoulder, hip, heel alignment?
The people who worked out how effective it is? ;) "These days" we have a much better understanding of the biomechanics of riding and how our position and the way we use different parts of our body influence the horse's way of going and our ability to be in harmony with each other. There are things we do that help the horse and there are things we do that inhibit them, and riding in chair seat tends to be the latter. The textbook shoulder-hip-heel alignment for riding on the flat is an ideal, most of us will never have it "perfect", but we work towards that position because it promotes the most balanced and effective riding and enables rider and horse to be in sync. To be in balance with the horse your centre of gravity needs to be above theirs - that's why we aim to be upright on the flat, why we come forward over fences, why we "hover" over the horse at a gallop, how we stay on board when things go a bit wrong ;) Sitting in a chair seat puts your centre of gravity BEHIND the horse's - so even if you "feel balanced", you and the horse are not IN balance. It also means you're behind the movement as soon as the horse travels forwards. If you do some reading on rider biomechanics you can see why we aim for that upright position and how a chair seat works against both you and the horse.
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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A chair seat also stops your legs acting as suspension between you and your horses back, it's much harsher on their back than sitting in alignment.
 
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mystiquemalaika

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Jan 7, 2013
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I followed them for years now and hated them to start and @Jessey can vouch for That as she asked me about them years ago but will admit that as time has gone on they work for so many people and horses and they are being used in endurance as well I decided to be open minded and I needed an Interim saddle while my deuber is getting made. I had to sell my 2 sensations to fund that and it's still not fully payed for but I also didn't want him having 10-12 weeks off. I am however using a special pad to give spine clearance and cushion between me and Comet!

Now I've only rode in it once but had a fantastic ride I have to say, walked trotted and cantered and Comet was so relaxed and smooth!Do I want this to be my permanent saddle? No, but I'm not worried about it for keeping him ticking over and actually it will help me as Well as I've lost strength with my gammy knee and I do feel it's going to help me there and with straightness again.

I'm glad you are getting out and about in yours @domane :-D
 
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Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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There are more ways of sitting on a horse than some folk here realise. My RI explained some people sit more forward than she teaches. But I am comfortable with her way and horses go well forward for me. Hrses and their owners like it and I wouldnt want other new riders coming to this forum to think that how I ride, approaching chair seat is wrong.

Here is Felix Brukner - German military instructor and Olympic dressage winner.

 
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Bodshi

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Apr 23, 2009
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There are more ways of sitting on a horse than some folk here realise. My RI explained some people sit more forward that she teaches. But I am comfortable with her way and horses go well forward for me. Hrses and their owners like it and I wouldnt want other new riders coming to this forum to think that how I ride, approaching chair seat is wrong.

Here is Felix Brukner - German military instructor and Olympic dressage winner.

Yes, some of the old-school hunting folk ride like that. I would say that he seems to be sitting in the normal spot on his horse's back, just that his legs are further forward than I am being taught. However, some (not all) of the pictures I've seen of people using the TCS appear to show the rider sitting further back than a traditional saddle would place them, obviously not ideal for the horse. Of course, it can be hard to tell from photos, especially if they're not a full side-on static shot.
 

carthorse

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There are more ways of sitting on a horse than some folk here realise. My RI explained some people sit more forward that she teaches. But I am comfortable with her way and horses go well forward for me. Hrses and their owners like it and I wouldnt want other new riders coming to this forum to think that how I ride, approaching chair seat is wrong.

Here is Felix Brukner - German military instructor and Olympic dressage winner.

I thought Joosie had already explained this really well

The people who worked out how effective it is? ;) "These days" we have a much better understanding of the biomechanics of riding and how our position and the way we use different parts of our body influence the horse's way of going and our ability to be in harmony with each other. There are things we do that help the horse and there are things we do that inhibit them, and riding in chair seat tends to be the latter. The textbook shoulder-hip-heel alignment for riding on the flat is an ideal, most of us will never have it "perfect", but we work towards that position because it promotes the most balanced and effective riding and enables rider and horse to be in sync. To be in balance with the horse your centre of gravity needs to be above theirs - that's why we aim to be upright on the flat, why we come forward over fences, why we "hover" over the horse at a gallop, how we stay on board when things go a bit wrong ;) Sitting in a chair seat puts your centre of gravity BEHIND the horse's - so even if you "feel balanced", you and the horse are not IN balance. It also means you're behind the movement as soon as the horse travels forwards. If you do some reading on rider biomechanics you can see why we aim for that upright position and how a chair seat works against both you and the horse.

Also look at the Classical schools of riding, this knowledge about being in balance with the horse rather than behind him is as old as the hills. Look at the Spanish Riding School
if you want to see examples of riding in balance and so allowing the horse to perform in an amazing manner because the rider is staying out of his way. Now I'm not saying any of us need to be able to ride that well or send all the hours on the lunge just to hack our horses around the countryside, or even compete at low levels, but I do feel very strongly that we owe it to our rides to make life easier for them by balancing ourselves correctly.
 
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