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March 22, 2011

“Supersize It” Syndrome

Haddad sitting close to Winyamaro's withers. His loin is free to respond to her request for impulsion and engagement. Photo by Susan J. Stickle.

The information in this blog will probably be my most important life contribution to the contemporary world of dressage. Be warned, my opinion comes from a school of traditional riding. It works for me, and I have witnessed it work over and over and over again, at clinics all over the world. If you study the information in this blog and look at the previous blogs called “About the Saddle”, “About the Saddle Part 2” and “GRFS,” you will have all the simple secrets to my success.

Dear Rita,

Unlike the world of fast food, where you get more for your money if you “Supersize it!” the same is not necessarily true about saddles. Having just returned from a short clinic tour in the USA, I think it is my duty to tell my fellow Americans what I have already told many riders across Europe: “Stop the Insanity!” When it comes to dressage saddles—don’t supersize it!

Here are some facts that need to be visited:

1)   If a little knee roll helps you a little bit, a big knee roll will not necessarily help you more.

2)   Your saddle should not distribute your weight evenly over your horses back.

3)   Lengthened and broadened panels do not make your horse’s back more comfortable.

4)   A short girth restricts shoulder/front leg freedom.

5)   When you engage your pelvis in the saddle, your back pockets should not come in contact with your supersized cantle.

6)   The ear, shoulder, hip, heel line that has been touted as an equitation ideal is useful in saddleseat riding, but not in dressage.

7)   Sitting on a ‘three point’ seat—pubic bone and two seat bones—is painful and wrong!

8)   In balanced riding, the rider’s knee should never be behind the horse’s center of gravity.

9)   THE RIDER HAS TO BE IN NATURAL BALANCE WITH HIS HORSE SO THAT HE CAN—THROUGH GRAVITY AND RELAXATION—LEARN TO FOLLOW AND ENCHANCE THE NATURAL MOTION OF HIS HORSE’S BACK.

1. If a little knee roll helps you a little bit, a big knee roll will not necessarily help you more.

Oh Rita, this is going to be a long night! Let’s start with No. 2 as No. 1 sends my blood pressure to the top of the charts! A knee roll should only be found on the menu of a Chinese restaurant. It has nothing to do with good riding. That will become clear if you read the following.

2. Your saddle should not distribute your weight evenly over your horses back.

Your dressage horse is not a pack animal. He is not carrying a dead weight of 150 lbs over long distances at the walk. He is an athlete in motion. He is being asked to shift his own balance more onto his hind legs than his front legs. His back and his rib cage have to swing freely in order for him to engage his loin muscles and achieve these goals.

A rider, as opposed to a pack, must use his own balance and weight to help the horse—therefore, logically, the rider must be balanced as closely as possible over the horse’s center of gravity, and he must be able to move in the saddle so that he can use his own weight and his own motion to affect the horse’s balance and movement. Your saddle should place your weight as close to the horse’s withers as possible so that your weight is balanced over the horse’s center of gravity. “Distributing the weight” over the horse’s back, especially toward the rear of the horse, reduces the effectiveness of the rider and makes the horse struggle to carry you.

3. Lengthened and broadened panels do not make your horse’s back more comfortable.

They do just the opposite. They cause pressure points at their rear border, especially when coupled with large knee rolls and thigh blocks. Large knee rolls and thigh blocks prevent the rider from getting his knee forward enough in the saddle. Because of the huge knee roll, the rider cannot get his knee over or in front of the horse’s center of gravity, so he shifts his seat toward the back of the saddle. If you use a short girth, the saddle is probably sitting too far back on your horse already (see below). Now, both saddle and rider are dangerously close to the horse’s center of motion, which is located in your horse’s loin. If you lean back on such a saddle, the panels will put pressure on the weakest part of your horse’s back—the loin.

4. A short girth restricts shoulder/front leg freedom.

A short girth has an uncomfortable buckle guard that lies just behind the horse’s elbow. It does not secure the saddle as well as a long girth. The two leather straps that are attached to it are much less comfortable than a broad, multi cord girth on the horse’s belly. Because of the buckle guard, the short girth has to be placed further back on the barrel to avoid causing pain when the horse’s foreleg is at its furthest point of backward extension. The whole saddle ends up closer to the horse’s loin because of the short girth.

“PLEASE! STUDY YOUR HORSE’S ANATOMY! He has a rib cage made up of 18 pairs of ribs. The first nine pairs of ribs attach to the front of the dorsal spine and the sternum, ending at a point just behind the withers. (Near the horse’s center of gravity!) The last nine pairs are “floating” ribs that are not attached to the sternum. They are held in place by muscle and connective tissue, and therefore do not offer as much support to the back as the first nine pairs. Your horse’s loin is completely unsupported by the rib cage.

LOGICALLY, THE FURTHER FORWARD YOU PLACE YOUR SADDLE TOWARD THE WITHERS, THE MORE ABLE YOUR HORSE IS TO CARRY YOUR WEIGHT COMFORTABLY. THE FURTHER BACK YOU PLACE THE SADDLE, THE CLOSER YOU GET TO THE WEAKEST PART OF THE BACK—THE LOIN.

The muscles of the loin also happen to be situated over the horse’s center of motion. If you would like to enhance your horse’s motion, leave this area free, do not restrict it by placing weight or the edge of an elongated panel anywhere near it.

Rita, please stop trying to sit your horse’s loins.

5. When you engage your pelvis in the saddle, your back pockets should not come in contact with your supersized cantle.

Engaging the pelvis means to tuck your seat bones under you toward the front of the saddle while squeezing the muscles of your lower back. In good riding (and assuming your horse can feel you do this through your saddle), this engagement of the pelvis has a variety of effects on the engagement and motion of your horse. In an ill fitting and badly balanced saddle, this action of your seat only puts pressure on the cantle of the saddle and succeeds in digging the extended panels into your horse’s back. I see this syndrome most often when the saddle is too small for the rider. The same saddle probably also has large knee rolls and elongated panels that extend past the cantle.

6. & 7. The ear, shoulder, hip, heel line that has been touted as an equitation ideal is useful in saddleseat riding, but not in dressage. Sitting on a “three point” seat—pubic bone and two seat bones—is painful and wrong.

In dressage, you must sit with your knee far enough forward to avoid tilting onto your pubic bone. If the knees are forced backward, 99 percent of the riders in the world are tilted onto the front of their pelvis.

You should sit relaxed on your two seat bones with your thigh and knee extended comfortably in front of you. If you pull your knee backward, you will tip onto the front of your seatbones toward the pubic bone. Your hips will lock. When you restrict the motion of your own pelvis, you also restrict the motion of your horse’s back. To avoid a chair seat and get closer to the touted line, simply bend your knee, placing your foot on the horse’s barrel. Do not pull the knee backward!

Now Rita, study the reality. How many top dressage riders present an ear, shoulder, hip, heel line in real life? The best ones almost always have their heel slightly ahead of this line. In classical Greek and Roman sculpture, you will find riders sitting in natural balance on the horse—with the knee placed well forward and the lower leg falling comfortably out the knee toward the ground. Why? Because these sculptures were created by artists who studied anatomy, and this is how a human skeleton best fits an equine skeleton. It’s natural interspecies physiology.

8. In balanced riding, the rider’s knee should never be behind the horse’s center of gravity.

 If the knee is behind the center of gravity, the whole rider is behind the center of gravity. Balance is lost, and the horse struggles to carry your weight when you are placed backward toward his center of motion in the area of his loin. Placing the knee behind a large knee roll on a saddle that sits too far back on the horse immediately takes the rider out of natural balance.

The resultant straighter leg position from a large knee block, constricts the natural motion of the rider’s pelvis and usually results in the motion of the horse’s back being absorbed by the upper back or neck of the sitting rider, rather than their pelvis and lower back. Riders in these types of saddles cannot move their pelvis freely. They grip with their knees, force their heels down and clamp their lower legs on the horse’s barrel. This whole combination serves to block the natural motion of their pelvis AND the horse’s back and rib cage. It also locks the rider into a rigid position on a moving horse and results in back, neck, hip and knee pain in riders who are struggling to sit the trot. Imagine what your horse is feeling.

9. THE RIDER HAS TO BE IN NATURAL BALANCE WITH HIS HORSE SO THAT HE CAN—THROUGH GRAVITY AND RELAXATION—LEARN TO FOLLOW AND ENCHANCE THE NATURAL MOTION OF HIS HORSE’S BACK.

This is otherwise known as properly sitting the trot. It is almost impossible in an ill-conceived saddle design. If you are riding in a supersized saddle, don’t be surprised that your horse does not move freely forward like he did when you bought him. He can’t do this if you strap a rigid tree on his back with extended panels that dig into his back because the supersized knee roll you are using has pushed you behind his center of gravity and forced you to sit on your supersized cantle, which has in turn placed too much pressure on the back of the panels and caused a pressure point.

What’s more, you can’t learn to feel and follow the natural motion of your horse’s back because you are not only sitting on the wrong part of it, the saddle you are using is cloaking it with extra layers of leather and gel.

Rita, don’t supersize it! Buy a close contact saddle with a flexible tree that is properly balanced with the sweet spot of its seat as close to the horse’s center of gravity as possible. Strap it on with a long, cord girth. (Made of 100 percent nylon—cotton and mohair cause chafing.) Learn to feel the natural movement of your horse’s back. Use your seat to follow, enhance and amplify your horse’s impulsion and movement!

I’m Catherine Haddad, and I am sayin’ it like it is, with flamesuit on, from Vechta, Germany.

Training Tip of the Day: Study the anatomy of the horse and use logic in choosing a saddle design. Don’t follow trends unless they make sense to you.

InternationalDressage.com

 

QH_dressage
3 years 30 weeks ago
Saddle fit for rider
I had the same problem that Vanessa Adams did--very long thigh, though I am medium height. Also, I am not the most physically flexible person. I now own 2 Stubben Tristan Specials and feel more... Read More
VAdams
3 years 31 weeks ago
Balanced Riding - Long Thigh
Dear Catherine, I would like to "Thank You" for this well thought out blog.  I have been trying to ride dressage for the past 17 years and always feel like I am fighting the saddle.  I have... Read More

Comments

apollotops
3 years 35 weeks ago

She's telling the truth people

Years ago I was saddle shopping and struggling to find my balance in every trendy saddle out there.  I was complaining at the saddle shop about how the blocks were in my way and they showed me an old stubben tristan Schultheis model.  And praise the lord, I was home. I have been flying up the levels ever since. I later found you here and on dressagetainingonline. Learning the method behind the saddle design has been huge for me.  I thank you for that! Who knew my 'average' moving thoroughbred really is an expressive mover after all.

goldenrow
3 years 35 weeks ago

Thank You!

Thank  you for putting into words where I have been unsuccessful! This blog is being posted in my barn today. Clients wonder why the horse moves different when I ride them in my saddles (Tristan Schulteis) versus theirs. You have explained it rather well. Thanks!

jeannine neubauer
3 years 35 weeks ago

Supersize It Blog - Hands

A question:  To go along with the myth of straight line riding (ear/shoulder/hip/back of calf):  do the thumbs really have to be "up?"  The feature picture does not show you riding that way - it seems so unnatural to keep the thumbs up all the time and is a continuous problem for me (senior citizen and still learning).  Love your blog info - it so makes sense!!!  

Catherine Haddad
3 years 35 weeks ago

Dear Jeannine,  I do think

Dear Jeannine,  I do think that the hands look better when carried with the thumb up, however, what I find more important is that a rider maintains both a rotational and forward/back elasticity in the lower arms at all times.  By rotational, I mean that you should be able to make the motion of twisting a doorknob with your lower arm without effecting your contact on the reins.  You should also be able to give your elbows slightly toward the bit without greatly changing contact.

Because rotational flexibility is important, there will be some instances when the knuckles are up.  Catherine

 

jeannine neubauer
3 years 35 weeks ago

Hands

Thank you Ma'am.  I very much appreciate your explanation.  J.

anvilmountain
3 years 35 weeks ago

Supersize it

I starting my riding career with a well used Stubben Siegfried then earned enough to get a new Stubben Tristan, the women instructing me at the time was a student of Lillian Whitmack Roy. After purchasing the Tristan, the first thing my instructor did was open up the panels and remove about a third of the flocking in the saddle; this shortened the breaking time and allowed me to put my leg wherever the instructor asked. There was only one other saddle that I ever felt was as useful - a cutback Kieffer that received the same treatment as the Tristan. If I did that today I think everyone would freak. Anyway, nothing replaces the time needed to learn dressage correctly and no shortcut (saddle) will replace the feel of the horse between your hands and legs. Thanks for Anatomy 101. P.S. There was an Amish harness shop in Blue Ball, PA that use to have a ton of used Tristans, upstairs, for reasonable prices, don't know if it is still there but it's a scenic drive.

neVar
3 years 35 weeks ago

Agree with quite a few of your points

But not all of them.  Catherine- my name is Krystl and i'm a Qualified Saddle fitter with the society of Master saddlers. 

 

1- If a saddle is properly fit- the panels at the rear (yes even ones who extend past the cantle) shouldn't be putting pressure spots there.  If they are- it's not correctly fit. 

2- the TREE distributes your weight across the saddle length- the panel is the buffer that absorbs pressure between the tree and the horse.  YEs we want the horse to be able to feel us.  Bigger panels aren't always about getting more buffer between horse and rider- but are about balancing the saddle front to back so the rider can ride in balance.  Allowing the horse to do it's job. 

2- Where the saddle should be properly placed puts the TREE of the saddle (not the front of the saddle bu the TREE) about 2" behind the scapula.  This is because as we all know the scapula rotates back as the horse extends the foreleg.  The tree being the most rigid peice of the saddle doesn't need to be on or jabbing into the shoulder blade. the saddle however shouldn't be further back then this.  So now we have riders not shoving it up on the shoulder blades- but do find riders placing it too far back. 

3- agree the saddle should NEVER be behind the T18.  the panels must not extend past that.  On a shorter backed horse this often means finding a saddle with upswept panels or a small enough seat. 

4- Saddles will only put pressure at the BACK of the panels if the saddle either a- doesn't fit correctly b- isn't balanced or c- has a rider riding off her seat pockets on the cantle all the time. 

5- YEs short girths need to fit properly.  The girth should end with in 1-2 inches of the flap- it should not be down by the elbow by any means.  It's a common problem we run into!

6- AGREE the heel doesn't line up with the BUTT- i was always taught hip as in HIP BONE.  which is at the front of your pelvis. 

7- agree- some knee rolls are darn big.  some too big for many people.  but also a lot of people who like to call themselves dressage riders are lower level riders who ride a couple times a week.  And often on horses who are way to good of movers for them.  Lets give them a bit of help so the horse doesn't suffer more :)

 

SAddle fit itself is an art.  Good fitters (and i'd like to think i'm included in that group) Spend 3-5 years apprenticing before becoming a fitter.  Like instructors there are theories that are different and many roads to rome and you need to find what works for you.  There are some facts however which have been proven scientifically.  The SMS does research using computer imaging to help prove or disprove a lot of beliefs when it comes to saddle fit. 

 

Cheers

Krystl

neVar
3 years 35 weeks ago

Agree with quite a few of your points

But not all of them.  Catherine- my name is Krystl and i'm a Qualified Saddle fitter with the society of Master saddlers. 

 

1- If a saddle is properly fit- the panels at the rear (yes even ones who extend past the cantle) shouldn't be putting pressure spots there.  If they are- it's not correctly fit. 

2- the TREE distributes your weight across the saddle length- the panel is the buffer that absorbs pressure between the tree and the horse.  YEs we want the horse to be able to feel us.  Bigger panels aren't always about getting more buffer between horse and rider- but are about balancing the saddle front to back so the rider can ride in balance.  Allowing the horse to do it's job. 

2- Where the saddle should be properly placed puts the TREE of the saddle (not the front of the saddle bu the TREE) about 2" behind the scapula.  This is because as we all know the scapula rotates back as the horse extends the foreleg.  The tree being the most rigid peice of the saddle doesn't need to be on or jabbing into the shoulder blade. the saddle however shouldn't be further back then this.  So now we have riders not shoving it up on the shoulder blades- but do find riders placing it too far back. 

3- agree the saddle should NEVER be behind the T18.  the panels must not extend past that.  On a shorter backed horse this often means finding a saddle with upswept panels or a small enough seat. 

4- Saddles will only put pressure at the BACK of the panels if the saddle either a- doesn't fit correctly b- isn't balanced or c- has a rider riding off her seat pockets on the cantle all the time. 

5- YEs short girths need to fit properly.  The girth should end with in 1-2 inches of the flap- it should not be down by the elbow by any means.  It's a common problem we run into!

6- AGREE the heel doesn't line up with the BUTT- i was always taught hip as in HIP BONE.  which is at the front of your pelvis. 

7- agree- some knee rolls are darn big.  some too big for many people.  but also a lot of people who like to call themselves dressage riders are lower level riders who ride a couple times a week.  And often on horses who are way to good of movers for them.  Lets give them a bit of help so the horse doesn't suffer more :)

 

SAddle fit itself is an art.  Good fitters (and i'd like to think i'm included in that group) Spend 3-5 years apprenticing before becoming a fitter.  Like instructors there are theories that are different and many roads to rome and you need to find what works for you.  There are some facts however which have been proven scientifically.  The SMS does research using computer imaging to help prove or disprove a lot of beliefs when it comes to saddle fit. 

 

Cheers

Krystl

skimmy
3 years 35 weeks ago

I agree!

Dressage saddles have become huge, like big easy chairs.  Coupled with thick sheepskin and gel pads, the whole saddling process I have seen on some is more like readying a horse for combat!   There is so much saddle and padding enveloping the rider that i cannot imagine that the riders are able to give subtle seat cues or truly feel the back of the horse.

The only thing  in your article that I question is the use of long girths/short billets.  Does this not create bulk under the upper leg.  I am getting ready to order a new saddle and will consider short billets but worry about the bulk.

Catherine Haddad
3 years 35 weeks ago

Sandra,  If your saddle is

Sandra,  If your saddle is designed for use with a long girth, like mine is, and you use the proper length of girth, the buckles will rest exactly behind your knee and not interfere with any part of your leg.  C.

skimmy
3 years 35 weeks ago

Thanks Catherine, I am

Thanks Catherine, I am actually getting ready to order a Genesis Deiuxe and have been mulling about the short billets option.  I am told that I will never be able to resell the saddle, but hopefully I wont have to.  Where would I order a long cord girth?

Catherine Haddad
3 years 35 weeks ago

You can order a long, cord

You can order a long, cord girth from Stuebben.  100% nylon is the best.  C.

Nancy Nicholson. Ph. D.
3 years 34 weeks ago

Saddle and its placement blog

There are problems with the horse skeleton labels in your blog of 22 March 2011. Mobility of various regions of the horse's spine have been measured and the results published. These are direct measurements of activity in the living equine spine (this means that they are not guesses) that would help your understanding of its functional anatomy. In your blog you should also take account of bending in the thoracic spine (see articles below), as well as range of motion and activity at the lumbar/sacral joint. One of your comments discusses flexible trees for saddles, but it is not clearly connected to the diagram of the skeleton with motion regions documented in the scientific veterinary literature. You are a prominent rider and writer and information presented needs to be as correct as is feasible for your audience. Please read as much of this material as you can when you have time from your busy schedule:

Peham, C., Frey, A., Licka, T.,and Scheidl, M. 2001. Evaluation of the EMG activity of the long back muscle during induced back movements at stance. Equine Veterinary Journal Supplement 33: 165-168.

Faber, M. Johnston, C., Schamhardt, H., Van Weeren, R., Roepstorff, I. &mBarneveld, A. 2000. Basic three-dimensional kinematics of the vertebral columnof horses walking on a treadmill. American Journal of Veterinary Research 61(4): 399-406.

Faber, M. Johnston, C., Schamhardt, H., Van Weeren, R., Roepstorff, I. & Barneveld, A. 2001. Basic three-dimensional kinematics of the vertebral column of horses trotting on a treadmill. American Journal of Veterinary Research 62(5):757-764.

Faber, M. Johnston, C., Schamhardt, H., Van Weeren, R., Roepstorff, I. & Barneveld, A. 2001. Three-dimensional kinematics of the equine spine during canter. Equine Veterinary Journal Supplement 33: 145-149.

Additional information in:

Haussler, K. K., Bertram, J. E. A., Gellman, K. and Hermanson, J. W. 2001. Segmental in vivo vertebral kinematics at the walk, trot and canter: a preliminary study. Equine Veterinary Journal Supplement 33: 160-164.

 

ToriRuttan
3 years 35 weeks ago

Cord girth

Hi Catherine!

Thank you for sharing! Although after reading this and watching your Stubben saddle videos I'm kind of kicking myself for buying something else very recently.... :-)

 Do you think there would be any benefit for those of us with long billets to using a "short" cord girth over the bulkier leather ones?

Thanks

 Tori

Catherine Haddad
3 years 35 weeks ago

Tori, I would stick with the

Tori, I would stick with the girth that is made for your saddle.  To ride comfortably with a long girth, you need a special flap and billet construction.  If your saddle is not originally designed this way, you will only screw things up by shortening your billets and adding a long girth.  Catherine

SBrentnall
3 years 35 weeks ago

It all depends on the rider conformation

I've ridden in every kind of dressage saddle over the last 30 years and I simply can't ride in something that's too flat and doesn't have enough knee roll. I have a hip problem, as do several women I know, and one hip has significantly less movement than the other. On a flat saddle, the stiff side simply slides around rather than hinging and moving fluidly. Whereas if I have a kneel roll to stop that side sliding too far, it forces my hip to stretch a little more.

Yes, I know you'll probably hate he use of the word "force," but I'm talking about MY body, not my horse's. And my horse clearly appreciates the change in my position, since he moves much more freely forward and with far more swing than in a flatter saddle.

(Btw, all saddles were custom saddles properly fitted to me and my horse.)

judy grand champ
3 years 35 weeks ago

Leg position

This is the first year I've had regular acces on TV to high-level dressage and have been asking myself about leg position - so glad you've raised it! I wish I had seen this and earlier blogs before buying my dressage saddle last year. Hopefully I can change in a few months time, finances permitting, but I'm clinicking with you in a couple of weeks so apologies in advance for the saddle ...

Cardinal
3 years 35 weeks ago

supersize it

Catherine,

I have read this blog entry with interest and although you have made numerous good points, I have to question the the line you wrote about the equine skeleton, in which you said that the last 9 pairs of ribs are floating and are not attached to the spine.

This is completely false. ALL of the horse's ribs are attached to the spine, and they are also attached to the sternum, unlike the last two ribs in a human which are also attached to the spine, but not attached to the sternum.

There are no floating ribs in the horse.

I am also confused regarding your comments about saddleseat riding. Saddleseat riding, as it is practiced today, no longer emphasizes the rider having a ear, shoulder, hip, heel alignment, but has instead continued to place the rider further and further back in the saddle, with the seats of many modern cutback saddles now almost positioned into the lumbar region of the horse, and the rider sitting in a severe chair seat, requiring them to pinch inward with the knee for grip in order to rise in trot. This also requires the rider to turn the toes out and pull the entire calf off of the horse. They then rise far enough out of the saddle(throwing the weight forward which will then throw the horse forward) to be standing straight up out of the stirrups. The severely bent knee from the extreme chair seat positioning of the saddle and it's placement way behind the shoulder has gained fashion because of the extreme action and upheaded look it creates.

Catherine Haddad
3 years 35 weeks ago

Dear Dawn,  You are correct

Dear Dawn,  You are correct that all the ribs are connected to the spine.  The floating ribs are not connected to the sternum, as are the other nine pairs.  That was my error in the orginal draft of this blog.  It has been corrected since then.  I apologize for my hasty publication  and lack of proof reading.  

The fact remains that the last nine pairs of ribs do not support the horse's spine as well as the first 9 pairs.  Horses are built to carry weight close to their withers.

As for saddleseat riding, I haven't done it in over 30 years and we don't have it here in Europe so please forgive me if I am behind the times about this sport.  But your description of the current saddleseat seat, does actually adhere to what I was taught 30 years ago.  

Best regards, Catherine

 

VAdams
3 years 31 weeks ago

Balanced Riding - Long Thigh

Dear Catherine,

I would like to "Thank You" for this well thought out blog.  I have been trying to ride dressage for the past 17 years and always feel like I am fighting the saddle.  I have a very long thigh and most saddle fitters that have tried to fit me just look at the seat size and not the rest of my anatomy.  Since reading your blog, I now know exactly my problem.  I need a saddle with a more forward flap and no knee roll to let me knee move into the proper riding position.  I am currently riding is an older Passier GG, 18.5 inch.  I love the saddle, but I find my knee is over the roll everytime I feel like my horse is moving more freely!  Ugh!  Thanks so much for putting into words what I have felt all these years!  When are you coming to live and teach in the USA?  I would love to have you come to my farm in Kentucky for clinics.  Good Luck showing this year!  Please keep giving us your educational and insightful thoughts! 

Best Regards,

Vanessa Adams

QH_dressage
3 years 30 weeks ago

Saddle fit for rider

I had the same problem that Vanessa Adams did--very long thigh, though I am medium height. Also, I am not the most physically flexible person. I now own 2 Stubben Tristan Specials and feel more secure with no knee rolls than I ever did in my saddle with them. It took a long while, but after riding my new Western saddle for a while and being in balance, I finally realized that my first dressage saddle was balanced all wrong for me in addition to forcing me into a pose my hips and lower back were not meant to be in. It was a relief to understand that it wasn't only my own physical limitations preventing me from developing a good, balanced seat with proper alignment of shoulder, hip, heel.

I think saddle fit for riders is not well understood or addressed. My trainer didn't understand that I COULDN'T physically align myself in the old saddle, and that I COULDN'T keep myself from tipping forward. Then I got the Tristans :) and it was a revelation to us both. I am a better rider for having them and have gained a lot of confidence in my ability.

Thank God for Tristan Specials!

My trainer and I are looking forward to auditing a Catherine Haddad clinic in June here in Colorado.

 

 

 

 

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