“The more collected a horse is, the farther to the rear the center of balance is displaced.
Therefore, the rider of a gaited horse in a collected center needs to be well back from the withers to free the forehand and
put his or her weight more over the horse's quarters.” (Lew Pewterbaugh)
Fox saddles are lightweight and allow ease of communication. Since they place the rider farther behind the withers that other
English saddles and since it is so flat it provides minimum security for the rider, so a Saddle Seat rider must learn to ride
in the correct balanced position to ride in such a saddle properly. There is nothing wimpy about the Lane Fox saddle.
one takes the time to find the correct size and style of Lane Fox saddle for your individual needs it will make riding a much
happier experience for both horse and rider. The correct saddle size and style can improve the rider's position and feel by
up to two years in a single ride. This is because the rider is not fighting the saddle to find the most balanced and comfortable
position. Many a rider's problems are actually from an ill fitting saddle. So if you are having position and balance issues
it may not be your fault but the saddle's.
The correct saddle size and style for the rider will place
the legs in a balanced position underneath him. With the correct size and style of saddle with adjustable stirrup bars the
rider's legs will be placed in the balanced position so the focus can be on upper body position, strength and foot placement.
|photo by Amanda Pranger
a saddle that is too small it can push the rider onto the pommel of the saddle and to try to fix this uncomfortable position
it is common for the rider to scoot back onto the cantle. This can make the horse uncomfortable because the saddle can not
distribute the weight even throughout and will put the rider in the dreaded chair seat position. This position will make it
very difficult for the rider to balance.
the saddle size is too long it makes it difficult for the rider not to sit over the feet or the rider finds a spot that is
comfortable but will have too much saddle behind them so the saddle can not be supportive. When in between sizes it is best
to go a little too large than too small. “Think of it in the same way you would about a pair of shoes: if you wear a
size 7, you can probably wear a size 7 1/2 in some styles and you can at least move around reasonably comfortably in shoes
that are a bit too large. On the other hand, there's not much chance that you could be comfortable in a pair of too-small
shoes, under any circumstances.”(Jessica Jahiel)
sizes are measured in inches (the length between the bottom of the pommel U and the cantle). When you are seated in your saddle,
you want there to be about 3-4 inches (a hand) of space between you and the back edge of the cantle with about
3-4 inches of saddle in front of knee (much more and the saddle might be too big) because this usually places the rider comfortably
in the deepest part of the seat. The stirrup leather should hang vertically to the ground with feet placed in irons.
For a Lane Fox saddle the seat length is dependent of the
length of the thigh from the hip and should not be based on the width of the hips or size of the buttocks. Rider's with longer
legs need a larger seat size to accommodate the length of the thigh. The seat should allow you to sit in the deepest part
of the saddle and the thigh should not push the rider to the back of the saddle.
It's easy to find the saddle size that suits you. Sit somewhere
so your thigh is at a right angle to your lower leg. Using a measuring tape measure
from the hipbone to the point of your knee and use the table below as a guide to help find the correct seat size.
Upper leg length
Recommended seat size
Up to 16½" (41cms)
Up to 18½" (46cms)
Up to 20" (50cms)
20 - 21"
Up to 21½" (54cms)
Up to 23" (58cms)
21 - 22"
Up to 23" (59cms)
If the rider is switching from
another English discipline to Saddle Seat then the rider can use the English saddle size as a base if it is correctly fitted. Because the Lane Fox has the 4 inch cutback pommel it adds 4 inches to the size of
the saddle. So say the rider rides in a 17” dressage saddle then the rider
would probably be most comfortable in a 21” Lane Fox saddle. This of course
is just a base measurement and can be adjusted to the style and brand of Lane Fox saddle.
The length of the saddle
should never go behind the horse’s 18th vertebra, which is the vertebra that accompanies the last rib. These vertebrae are the weight bearing vertebrae.
Beyond these vertebrae are the lumbar vertebrae which are the weakest non-weight bearing area of the horse’s
back. To locate the 18th vertebra find the ribcage and then feel the
way up to where the ribs disappear into the body and are no longer visible from the outside.
If the ideal seat length is too long for the horse the best thing to do is go down to the biggest size that fits the
horse and make sure the saddle has adjustable stirrup bars and the flattest seat the rider can handle. This way the rider is still able to sit in a balanced position while keeping the horse comfortable.
The seat twist or waist is the
width of the saddle and the narrowest part of the seat and needs to fit the rider’s pelvic structure so the seat bones
are properly supported. This varies by age, weight and gender of the rider. If the twist is either too wide or too narrow it maybe uncomfortable, it’s hard
to balance if the seat bones keep slipping off the edge of the saddle. Some saddle
twists are more designed for one gender’s pelvic structure than the other. “Women
with round thighs tend to be most comfortable in a saddle with a narrow twist; this design creates some room on the saddle
for the thighs.”(Jessica Jahiel)
The depth of the seat is the length
of seat surface that bares the weight of the rider. A deeper seat is shorter
by design and helps hold the rider in position. The deeper the seat of the saddle
the larger saddle you will need. As the seat gets deeper, the pommel and cantle
get higher, so to fit inside the saddle you will need more length or you will be pushed up against the pommel. A deep seat may make it more difficult to change position as needed.
A seat that is too deep has the tendency to make certain riders lean forward.
In a flat seat saddle the rider is not held into position and is left to do it themselves, this allows the rider to
change position as needed.
The shape of the cantle can also
affect the feel of the seat. A square cantle gives a more spacious feel and a
round cantle gives a deeper feeling. This allows for different combinations of
seat depth and cantle shape for a more custom feel and fit.
Consider your own padding, if
you have ample padding between your seat bones and the saddle then a harder seat might be ok.
If there is little padding on your seat bones then a padded seat will be more comfortable. There can be such thing as too much seat padding since it can affect the ability to feel the horse.
Stirrup bars need to be placed
in the spot that allows the legs to hang with a vertical line from shoulders, hips, to heels, with the stirrup leathers hanging
perpendicular to the ground. If the stirrup bars are too far forward it forces
the rider into the undesired chair seat position. If the bars are too far back
it pushes the rider forward and the knee will be placed to far in front of the stirrup leathers. If the stirrups bars are in the incorrect spot it prevents proper leg aids and the correct balanced seat.
Lane Fox cutback pommel gives freedom to the horse’s shoulders and gives the withers room to prevent rubbing. The cutback can range from 3 inches (mostly on specialty Lane Fox saddles for Arabians) to 4 inches (average). The major advantage of a Lane Fox cutback pommel is that it allows the saddle to fit
a wider variety of horses.
· Items with a reputable brand name (Barnsby, Shively, Whitman, Freedman, Windsor, Blue Ribbon, Smith Worthington,
and Lovatt & Ricketts, or if you're budget isn't large Borelli's can
be quite decent for Argentine saddles), if you're unfamiliar with it, ask around. If nobody you know has heard of it, beware.
· Listings with multiple pictures that show you all angles of the saddle. You want to be able to see the billets, stirrup
bars, cantle, flaps and seat for sure. The underside isn't the most important (as far as scratches and aesthetics go) but
it's nice to be able to have a complete understanding of the product before you bid on it.
· Honesty! The longer and more detailed the description is, the better. And check the seller’s feedback to see
how products they've sold in the past have lived up to their listing descriptions.
· The lines of the saddle. You can spot a cheap saddle easily if you know what to look for. The cutback pommel should
NOT slant forward; it SHOULD be in line with the rest of the seat. The flaps SHOULDN'T be overly far forward as many of the
cheap Cutbacks on eBay are (these saddles are clearly made by people attempting to sell the same saddle to Hunt and Saddle
· Sellers that have multiples of the exact same saddle (in the same size or in many sizes) because odds are that it's
a cheaply made piece of junk.
· Items that are part of a package at an amazingly low price. If somebody is selling a brand new saddle complete with
bridle, bit, leathers, girth and irons for $300, it's TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE! You're better off paying more for a quality product.
· Sellers who flat-out admit that they don't know very much about English or Saddle Seat saddles. If they don't know
what they're talking about, you can't be sure you're bidding on something that will suit your needs.
· An item description that says the saddle can also be used for something else. I've encountered several "Lane Fox" saddles
on eBay that "could also be used for some Dressage riding" A Saddle Seat saddle and a Dressage saddle are two different things
that position the rider in completely different ways.
· Sellers that are unsure of weather the saddle they are selling has a spring tree, or if
the tree is just plain broken. You don't want to take the chance because a saddle with a broken tree can be just plain
IF IN DOUBT:
· Ask the seller all the questions you may have
· Have someone who's knowledge you trust look at the listing and ask the seller and additional questions they may have.
· If you still are unsure how you feel, DON'T BID ON IT! You're always better safe than sorry.” (eBay Guides)
author of this article does not claim to be an expert. This article’s content
is based on research, experience with the nation’s top trainers and equipment retailers.