Saddle and hips and fit

Nov 7, 2014
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#1
After goodness’s knows how many saddles I have had a fylde ray for two years. Pony went nicely in it and I was fine. She is a 13.3 Fell and five foot one and mid 50s. Sadly ray saddle no longer fits length wise as she has changed from shoulder to bottom. Soooo I researched and got a chunky monkey freedom saddle, pony went wonderfully but after a month I came to the conclusion I couldn’t ride in it as nearly shot over ponys head at each downward transaction. Sam from chunky monkey came out and concluded that seat and flaps totally wrong for me so ahe exchanged it free of charge for another more working hunter style with moveable knee blocks. Pony moves wonderfully in it, I can sit her canter properly and influence it BUT my hips kill after more than 5 miles and I have to slowly unstick myself and slither of after long rides - pony is v patient. Is this likely to be age or saddle related? Issue is I want to do long distance next year! Photo is of me on saddle that tipped me forward. Can’t fault chunky monkey for their service - very patient.
 

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Skib

Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2003
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#2
I can only describe my own experience. Which starts from a different type of horse. Having degeneration in my lower spine means I need to ride a narrow horse. Cobs are ruled out but much depends on the shape of the top of the horse's back, a broad flat back is worse of all.

I ride in an open saddle. You describe sliding forward on downward transition - it might be possible to work out why? Because bareback one should be able to sit securely on transitions even with no saddle to hold one in place. I learned to ride in my 60s and came into the hands of a RDA trained classical RI who gives lunge lessons teaching one how to sit on a horse and how to adjust one's seat for the best balance. It sounds as if you are depending on the saddle for that?

But you switched to a saddle that had more structure too it and knee rolls and my answer to that is yes - I suffered. When my share's saddle went to be reflocked they lent me the best saddle on the yard -a dressage saddle that held me in place. I hacked in it once only and it crippled me. Just as you describe.

One of the benefits of riding for an older person or in RDA is that riding involves constant tiny adjustments of one's muscles in order to hold one well balanced on top of a moving animal. If one rides in a confining saddle that restricts ones movements, one is bound to move less and in cold weather will stiffen up more. It is always hard to dismount in cold weather and I was taught to stand up in the stirrups a few times and also wriggle my toes before getting off the horse.

As for going long distance - I have never done more than 2 hours without a break and I have usually given my body a rest but not cantering long distances on two consecutive days.
So riding into old age is a compromise.

In the picture you post, the position you are in is with your head (the heaviest part of your body) well forward as if you are bound to tip forward. Plus you seem to have a seat saver that will make the horse wider.
Dont get me wrong. I have not been taught to ride in a picture book position with head hips and heels aligned on the vertical. But I have been taught to sit and feel the horse through my seat with the weight on my two hip bones. And then when one isnt sitting, in rising trot to roll my hips forward. In forward seat I was taught to fold my body a bit like an ironing board. The weight of one's head going forward must be balanced by one's bum going backwards.

I have a big fleshy back side and I need a saddle with room for me to sit on it. The saddle in your picture doesnt look if you have room to sit flat on it in front of the cantle. And if you are sitting on a sloping surface, that slope of the saddle will slide you forward on downward transitions. In the USA Western especially riding in mountains, the saddle fits the seat size of the rider rather than the horse.

If you learned to ride as a kid, you didnt need these adult verbal instructions. So tho your question is whether it is the saddle or old age? I suggest that it is a bit of both.
I would also add a note, that I have not often ridden in a treeless saddle. I ride bareback or in a treed saddle and the tree raises one off the back of the horse, thus probably reducing the spread required between the rider's hips. And a further note that I am a RS rider so have ridden in dozens of GP saddles. It is the knee rolls that are the problem.,
 
Nov 7, 2014
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#3
Hi interesting comments. I actually got stuck getting of this saddle hacking out this morning in the wet. Pony is a saint and waited patiently for me to crank myself of to open a Bridle patch gate. In the ride picture I am on the saddle the fitter took back, she though it’s seat was too short and the knee rolls were in the wrong place so I tipped more forward. I am capable of sitting more right, just not in that saddle. I have attached a picture in a similar pose for comparison of me on the Ray saddle in which I have fortunately kept. The Fylde is very flat which gives little support for jumping and cross country which is why I purchased another saddle as I nearly shot out the back door jumping out of a river riding on it.
 

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Kite_Rider

Cantering cabbage!
May 18, 2009
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#4
I don't have any useful advice I'm afraid, but just wanted to say what a gorgeous pony you have, I almost bought a little fell pony when I was looking but being 5 ft 6 he was just a tiny bit too small for me.
 

Jessey

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
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#5
Ive ridden quite a bit of distance, though I'm only 37 I have long standing back problems from an accident when I was 9 and breaking it about 7years ago and fibromyalgia so stiffness and muscle pain are big issues for me. I dislike deep seated saddles or those with knee/thigh rolls or narrow twists. I have a very flat, plain dressage saddle with quite a wide twist, I've done 9 hours in that saddle and got off like I'd done 2. I find anything that 'supports' is really more forcing me into a position which then makes me sore, even if it only forces me by a mm or two it's enough for my body to fight it and get sore.
If your hips don't hurt in the flyde but do in the new saddle I'd say it's down to the saddle. It is worth trying tweaking stirrup length and type as that can effect your lower back and hips, I spent all summer with grumbly hips only to find after a reflock I needed to go up a hole to cure the problem (same me, same horse, same saddle, same leathers etc.) no clue what changed but something had!
 
Nov 7, 2014
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#6
Hi thank you Kite Rider for the nice comments. She is a poppet.

Jessey I took of my endurance stirrups and put normal ones back on and hips were not as bad. I’m going to try the same route in the fylde next week.

Feel a bit desperate as she goes so well in new saddle and it costs quite a few pennies.
 
Likes: Jessey