Archive for June, 2013

How riding lessons affect saddle fit.

Last week, after about 3 weeks of not riding, I went to the barn after work. The Morgan/Arab mare I’ve been using had suffered an injury and was recuperating for about 3 weeks with only light ground work. This was the first time I rode her after her injury. I was alone and somewhat apprehensive about riding her. Was she OK? Would she object to my weight on the saddle?  This very sensitive and well behaved horse allowed me to mount but she had trouble rounding up and relaxing her back. I was also tense…she probably sensed my anxiety. At the end of my ride, I examined the sweat marks on the saddle pad. It showed some serious bridging — lots of pressure at the cantle and pommel with little or no pressure in between. I knew that we needed to address saddle fit for her, as she had probably changed shape in the weeks following her injury.

The next day I had my regularly scheduled lesson. Same horse, same rider, same saddle and a clean saddle pad. My instructor (Deb Moynihan of Irish Acres Farm in Bolton, CT) worked with me to release the tension that I carried in my shoulders and hips and corrected my position. As my riding improved,  the mare began to release the tension on her back and began to round up.  By the end of the lesson, she was reaching forward to the bit and moving in a steady, beautiful trot. After un-tacking, I examined the saddle pad. What a difference! It was evenly marked with sweat. It looked like the saddle had been refitted between rides….but it hadn’t.

Conclusion:  Riding correctly is extremely important to proper saddle fit and riding lessons actually affect saddle fit. Even experienced riders tend to get sloppy and fall into old habits. Everyone needs a brush up from time to time. Your horse will appreciate the calm, steady and strong rider that you will become.