Big horse, small girl

This topic contains 7 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Joan Fry 3 years, 7 months ago.

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  • rlueders Original Poster rlueders
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 24

    So, hi! I have a 16.3hh WB mare who I adore to pieces. The only problem is that I am 5’1″ and I’ve been having trouble with figuring out my stirrup situation.

    When the stirrups are at a good length for me, my heel is not in a good position on my horse’s side and she often has trouble feeling or responding to my cues. My trainer suggested I try dropping my stirrup a hole, which I did today, but I felt like I was reaching too much for my stirrups and had trouble keeping weight in them throughout my ride, but my heel was positioned better on my mare’s side and she was much more responsive to my cues.

    So, I’m struggling to decide what I should do in my situation. The longer length works for her and not me, and the shorter length works for me but not her. Any ideas on how to make it work for both of us?

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 477

    Does the saddle fit YOU correctly? Not talking just stirrup length, also referring to position of hips/thigh/knee, the distance between seat bone and stirrup bar (chair seat? perching?). In recent years saddle fit on the horse has come to brighter light. Folks are taking it much more seriously and rightly so! Even more recently, and to perhaps a more discerning eye yet (and equally critical IMO), saddle has to fit RIDER just as well. Might want to try a few different saddles (brands) for your own research and development. Often it is the location of the stirrup BAR that is the deciding factour in rider fit.

    As much as 16.3 is taller and 5’1 is shorter, unless the horse is built like a 1600 lb sausage and looking like a beer keg with legs, you should be able to ride correctly in your equitation without excessive effort against your tack. The right saddle fit for BOTH can secure this.

    So, and : )

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    rlueders Original Poster rlueders
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 24

    Actually, she does kind of look like a beer keg with legs! She is super drafty looking and she very, very wide and heavy. I had a saddle fitter come out and we had to get our saddle specially fitted for both her and I because nothing store bought would fit her well. Admittedly, I do not know a whole lot about saddle fitting myself, but we have tried several saddles that all seem to have the same problem for us, regardless of saddle type and size. Maybe I’ve just been really unlucky with the fitters I’ve worked with over the past few months, but if that is the case, I’m not sure how to remedy that situation as I’ve seen most of the saddle fitters in my area.

    Unfortunately, saddle fitters are few and far between in my neck of the woods! Thanks for the response! I’ll try and find a saddle fitter around here that has experience in working with draft horses. While my mate isn’t a draft, she’s shaped like one.

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 477

    Not sure where you are so this might be of little help to you but there are draft outfitters in New England you might be able to at least consult with. La Salle’s, in Rhode Island is a harness shop, well reputed and might be able to lead you in a more helpful direction. Also might want to chat with the folks at Smith-Worthington, in Connecticut, they have been saddling riders and horses since G.Washington, no lie! See if you can contact other drafties (and crosses ), too, as I am sure they, that ride, have had similar if not same issues. If nothing else, you might get useful information from them if not an actual product. There IS an answer for you, I am just not sure where it lies.

    Check out Duette saddlery.. these saddles are made with the broad shouldered, wide loaded beasties in mind that don’t typically fit under a standard range of N, M, or even W saddle trees. Treeless saddles are also an option but I am not a fan due to the lack of form maintenance and shifting on the average. I have known some treeless saddles to cause significant back problems in several (not ALL) different instances. They have their place, just not sure where that is, either.

    I apologize sincerely if I offended you and your girl with my beer keg with legs reference, I certainly didn’t mean to. It is considered and used as a term of endearment in my yard : ) Specifically our own Percheron/QH mare at 1450-1500 lbs tho just 15.2, so…. I hear ya on the bulk aspect : ) She rides in a Duette, BTW…. her owner is a bit taller than you tho..

    The bottom line is where you are short and she is round. Rounder than you are short apparently. Really be particular where the stirrup bars are in relation to the deepest part of the seat: how far forward or back they are from the deep spot. That distance is directly related to how the saddle will fit YOU. Length of thigh is your primary concern in fitting.

    Good luck with this, seriously. Of all the issues we face, if paying attention, saddle fitting, for horse AND rider, is my least favourite nightmare. Wish I could be more helpful to you!

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    rlueders Original Poster rlueders
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 24

    Oh no! You didn’t offend me at all! (: I found it pretty funny! She’s a wonderful girl and everything I want in a horse, we just are a weird fit together.

    I appreciate all of the suggestions you gave. I got in contact with a few draft riders on a forum and they are helping me figure out who I should get in touch with as well as different saddle brand possibilities that cater to the big and round community. I’ll also peek at the Duette saddles that you suggested. I’ve never heard of the brand, but I’m willing to try anything to find a solution that is great for both my horse and I.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    I had a similar issue several horses ago, and what helped me was to punch extra holes (halfway between those pre-punched) in the leathers. You might also try riding without stirrups (in a ring!) to lengthen your leg – not literally, but to a longer stretch that is also comfortable for you and your horse.

    It is never the horse's fault

    scad_MFA scad_MFA
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    I just posted in your supplements post…seems we have a lot in common! I am 5’2″ with a 16.3+++ gelding who is just BIG. He is gorgeous, but he has a big barrel and I struggle with the same thing you do.

    I’ve got a 18″ Butet – B2 saddle. They were made for the bigger warmbloods. Not sure they are still making that saddle, but you can find them. It fits both of us really well.

    I have changed stirrup length so many times it makes my head spin! One thing I did recently was to change my stirrups from the regular metal stirrups to the Herm Springer bendable stirrup and I found that has really loosened up my lower leg to stretch down and gave me more mobility in the ankle, which helped to get around him more and deeper in the tack.

    Not sure what your equitation training is and how you sit around your horse, as I just changed trainers in the past year and he has been helping me to adjust my hip angle and thigh and knee position and giving me more control and freedom and power in my lower leg – it has made a huge difference in how I am to power the big guy around a course.

    Keep at it my friend! It CAN be done!! It is a matter of finding your balance and center of gravity in the center of yourself and your saddle and your horse. Perhaps it is a saddle change. Perhaps it is a stirrup change. Perhaps it is just lots of time in the tack to build strength and endurance and fitness and good leg position – I know that is what it took for me. I have days that I feel like I am driving a bus with my legs.

    Just know you are not alone! And you will be a fantastic team!

    Never forget why you started.

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    What an interesting quandary! I’m taller than you are, but my new horse is a 16.3+++ ASB of the old style, meaning big. Big bones, big, sturdy joints, big barrel. The first time I got on him, everybody said, “Your stirrups are too long!” I dunno about that…. from my point of view, what usually happens is that I get lazy. I know I need to stretch my thighs in order to lengthen my entire leg–I just don’t take the time to do it, since I’m a recreational rider and don’t compete. For me, the best way to lengthen my legs is to ride without stirrups for a few minutes, concentrating on re-positioning (lowering) my thighs before I head out to the trail. I don’t post and rarely canter–just sit to a nice, consistent trot. You seem committed and determined, and I’m sure you and your horse will do just fine.

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