Rider sizing is usually determined during your initial talks with the rider and trainer at the store. Have the rider sit in a saddle that is sitting properly on a sturdy saddle stand. The general rule of thumb is to be able to fit one hand sideways behind the rider to the cantle. This can vary depending on the rider’s personal preference. Some people like to feel more cradled and prefer a smaller seat size. Some people prefer more length behind them so they can push back to get further behind the motion when driving a horse forward.
Flap size can also be a personal choice. When the knee is in its normal riding position, it should not go over the front of the flap and the flap should not go further than a third of the way down the calf. Obviously, in dressage, the leg is in a straighter and longer position. In some other disciplines, like eventing, the riders often ride shorter in a little more protective position. This depends on the discipline you are riding as well as personal preference. Most of the saddles we sell have different flap sizes available.
Rider balance has a tremendous amount to do with the performance of a competition saddle. The stirrup bar has to be in exactly the right spot under that particular rider’s center of gravity to prevent the rider from fighting with the saddle to maintain position.
For instance, if the stirrup bar is too far in front of where the rider sits, the rider’s base will be behind their leg position. This will cause them to feel as if they are trying to ride up hill. When that happens, their shoulder has to come forward to accommodate this awkward “behind the motion” feel. We often see this with shorter riders and small children.
On the other hand, if the distance of the stirrup bar is too short from the rider’s base, the opposite will happen. The rider will feel as if they are falling forward over their leg. They will have an awkward feel and subsequently, a bad position. All of this shows up in flat work but is amplified when jumping.
The relationship between the stirrup bar and the center of the rider’s body weight is hard to measure. Generally, the best way to figure out what is best is by trial and error when you go to their barn for a fitting.
Good luck with your saddle trials and if there is any way we can further assist you, with please don’t hesitate to ask!
If you have questions regarding saddle fitting, please contact our saddle fitting experts. We offer saddle fitting services to customers around our retail store locations in Gladstone, NJ, New Canaan, CT, North Salem, NY, Saugerties, NY, Wellington, FL, and at many “A” Rated horse shows on the East coast! If you are not local to our retail stores or mobile locations, please call us at 1-800-524-0136 or email us and we will gladly assist you in properly evaluating and fitting your saddle.
Not sure which saddle is right for you and your horse? We’ve developed a demo saddle trial program to help you answer this question!
Whether you are in the market for a new saddle or looking for the perfect used saddle, we know the process can feel like a daunting task. We’re here to help make your saddle buying experience more efficient, more enjoyable and to ensure you get exactly what you want. If, at any time, you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-800-524-0136 or send us an email and we will respond within one business day.