Thursday, October 10, 2013

Question on Saddle Fit for Riders

TCason wrote to ask these questions pertaining to Saddles. "Thanks for your site and for keeping it real and simple. I have a longhorn saddle that I bought from a friend of mine. I fear it may be too big for me as I feel like I bounce around alot. It has plastic slotted stirrups and are hard for me to get my feet into when I sit into the saddle. Can you give me a couple pointers on adjusting the saddle to see if I can make it more secure. Thanks."

I am familiar with Simco-Longhorn Saddles but I don't believe they ever came with plastic stirrups and I don't know what "slotted stirrups" are. There is nothing wrong with a Longhorn saddle, as long as it fits the horse and you.

As far as fitting you the rider, if the seat is too big for you, measured from the horn to the cantle, you will feel pretty loose in the saddle. Use a tape measure to measure from the inside of the horn where it meets the swell to the top of your cantle. I have a 32 inch waist and like a 15 inch seat. Years ago someone was trying to sell me a very nice Billy Cook 17 inch saddle and insisted that I try it out. I did and felt like a child sitting in an adults chair. I like to be able to generally place a fist between by body and the swell when I am sitting, that's about 3, maybe 4 inches. So I suggest you sit in your Longhorn saddle with your butt pushed into the base of the cantle and see how much room you have between your abdomen and the swell of the saddle. See picture at left.  This is a slick fork Wade saddle and I have get my fist between my lower abdomen and the swell/base of the horn.

The stirrups need to be adjusted so they are not to long or too short - I know that's easy to say. Too long of stirrups and you'll routinely having your feet come out of the stirrups. Too short of stirrups and you'll feel like your bouncing along. Heavier stirrups may help you keep your feet in them, providing them are adjusted right. I like 5 inch Monel Brass or steel covered wooden stirrups as they are wide and heavy.  The picture below is how I like to my adjustments.   While seated my knees are bent but not too much. When standing in the stirrups I have 4-5 inches between my butt and the base of the seat. You can use this as a guide, but some people will like their stirrups just a little longer, and some will like them just a little shorter.  Adjust your stirrups, ride in them, and adjust again as necessary is really the only way to do it.


When you say you have a hard time getting your feet into the stirrups when you mount - if you are talking about the stirrups being too narrower then you need wider stirrups. If your feet can't find the stirrups because they are laying flat against the horse then see the question, below, about training your stirrup leathers to stay twisted for easy access by your feet.

Jay wrote to ask " I have a saddle with the stirrups that are twisted out. I have been trying to figure out how to get the stirrups turned so they stay that stay that way to keep me from having to bend over and grab the stirrups so I can get my foot into it. Can you do a video or tell me how to get my stirrups turned? happy trails."

Usually stirrup leathers are turned as the saddle is being made by soaking the stirrups leathers in water, the manipulating them as needed, then using leather lacing around the turned stirrup leather to maintain that twist.

Most saddle fenders are riveted to the stirrup leather, and the adjustment buckle, usually a Blevins Buckle, is placed close enough to where the stirrup is to make it very difficult to get it (the stirrup leather turned) after the saddle is made.

Maybe your best bet will be to train your fenders and leathers to stay twisted by putting the saddle on a saddle rack, soaking the fender and stirrup leathers, then turning the stirrups and placing a 4 foot length of 2 x 4 inch board flat side down through the stirrups to keep them twisted as the leather drys.   See picture at right, you are looking at the off side from front to rear.

I am sure you have seen this before, or at least saw a saddle on a rack with a broomstick between the stirrups. The purpose is to train the fenders/leathers to stay twisted.

However. I think it works a lot better if the fenders and leathers are soaking wet and if you use a 2x4 instead of a broomstick which when placed will kinda over twist the stirrups and leathers so when the 2x4 is removed they will more assuredly stayed twisted. A small bucket of water and a horse hair brush to soak the fenders and stirrups leather works well. The picture at left is a different view of this process from the left side of the saddle from back to front.

You may have to do this wetting and drying process a couple times. And store your saddle with the 2x4 in place would probably be a good idea.  Let me know if it works for you. 

1 comment:

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