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The Right Hunt Seat Saddle

There are many hunt seat saddles on the market today in all different shapes and sizes and there are many features of each saddle that need to be considered. This article will help you choose which saddle will be the right fit for you and your horse.

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The primary goal is to find a saddle that helps the rider to relax into the correct position while allowing the horse to move fluidly and comfortably while he is working.   It must be the right size AND shape for both you and your horse for your rides to be happy, fun, and productive.

Let’s start by making sure the leather on the saddle is quality leather properly tanned.  A soft, pliable, and grippy feel will allow the rider to sink into place and stay there without having to squeeze her legs to hold on to a hard, slippery surface. The proper feel to the leather promotes relaxation and confidence in the rider. When the rider sits on the saddle (on a secure saddle rack) she should sit directly in the middle of the seat right behind the pommel and place four fingers between the back of her seat and the back most part of the saddle.  This will determine the correct size of seat for this rider.  Buying a saddle slightly bigger for a child to grow into is ok, but it will offer less stability for the rider and might upset the balance if the rider does not easily stay in the correct place on the seat.  The width of the saddle directly under the rider is called the twist and this is personal preference as to whether the rider fits better on a wide or narrow twist.  The flaps will usually be set forward in a jumping saddle to allow for a bent knee, so the rider’s knee should reach the knee pad of the saddle when in the stirrup. A longer flap is sometimes needed for a very long leg.

Underneath the leather seen on the outside of the saddle is a hard structure called the tree that holds the saddle in it’s shape.  The size of the tree determines the width of the saddle across the horse’s back and the size of seat the rider sits on.  A lot of horses like Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses fit in a medium tree but the broader breeds such as the popular warmbloods are wider in the back and shoulders and need a wide tree to work in comfort. The shape of the tree is just as important as the width because it must match the horse’s shape of withers and shoulders. When the horse is crosstied place the saddle on his back with no pads so the saddle will sit with it’s pommel (front-top part) over the horse’s withers and the lower part of the tree reaches down on either side to support it on the back.  The shape should not be so narrow at the base that it digs into the horse’s flesh at the shoulder, but it should support the saddle so that it sits above the horse’s withers so that you can easily slide two fingers in between the withers and the pommel.  If it is too narrow at the top and touches the sides of the withers it will cause the horse alot of discomfort and he will not be able to do his job well so you must make sure there is room for the withers underneath and on either side of the front of the saddle.

The next criteria is the shape and thickness of the padding under the tree called the flocking.  Most flocking was made of wool but there is now very high quality foams produced that give excellent support and hold their shape well. The purpose of the flocking is to give some flexibility to the structure of the saddle on the horse’s back to allow for freedom of movement.  Also remember even though you will be placing the saddle on top of your horse’s back while he is standing still, when you ride the saddle will be tight against his back when you tighten the girth and then there will be more pressure when you sit on it.  A medium thickness of flocking is a good rule of thumb because thin flocking doesn’t allow the horse as much movement of the muscles in his back and thick flocking (more than an inch under the pommel and more than two under the cantle) may squeeze the horse and/or lift the saddle too far above the horse.  The term “close contact saddle” is used to describe a saddle built to sit in the shape of the back allowing the rider to feel her horse better.

Now we come to a very important part of the correct fit of a saddle and that is balance.  Neither the pommel or cantle of the saddle should be too high or too low when you place it on your horse. The lowest part of the seat should be in the middle so that that is where the center of balance is.  This will enable the rider to sit neither too far forward or too far back.  The flocking should be the shape of your horse’s back so that the center of balance remains stable and you cannot rock the saddle forward and back on your horse.  A well built saddle will have a gradual slope of flocking on the underside sloping towards the backbone with a wide channel so as not to pinch the spine or the row of muscles on either side of it.  When you are placing the saddle on your horse’s back to fit it, stand behind the horse, making sure he knows you’re there and keeping your hand on him, look to make sure you can see daylight from the back of the saddle through to the front so there is no part of the saddle touching near his spine or squeezing his muscles around it.

You should always ride in your saddle to determine it’s comfort for horse and rider.  Does your horse have a happy expression and is willing to go forward readily with this saddle on? Does his back feel soft or can you feel his muscles tighten under your seat?  Is his head down to stretch his spine or is he carrying it up to shorten and tighten his back?  Now, is it easy to keep your legs still while riding or do you feel like the saddle doesn’t provide a natural place for them to be?  Do you feel like you are throwing your body forward to be able to post with your horse, which means the saddle is pushing your balance too far back, and can you easily carry your body in two-point position or do you struggle to stay in place?  Remember the saddle is there to help you ride correctly in a stable, balanced position and to provide your horse with comfort and ease of motion for happy, fun, and productive rides!

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Stirrup Leathers

Stirrup leathers attach the stirrups to the saddle so they must be strong and durable above all else. A stirrup leather that is weak, has rotting stitching, or is cracking from age or being dried out is extremely dangerous.  When horse and rider are traveling at least a third of the rider’s weight should be in each stirrup and even more force comes down on the stirrups when landing off of a jump.  When the rider is in two-point position her legs should not be gripping the saddle or the horse’s body to stay off of the seat, so again the stirrups and leathers bare the rider’s weight.

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Traditionally a stirrup leather is made of a thick, wide piece of leather that loops through the stirrup and the stirrup bars just below the seat of the saddle.  The loop is held in place with a sturdy buckle stitched onto the end of the leather with various holes to adjust the length of the loop to the rider’s leg.

One should always buy the best quality stirrup leather with the best quality hardware that works into their budget. This is not the place to sacrifice quality for price!  Stirrup leathers can be found in different widths and that is more reliant on personal preference, but the narrower the leather, the more susceptible to compromising wear it will be.  A narrower leather with multiple layers is a good choice if you prefer that width.Also available is a layer of nylon reinforcement between two thinner layers of leather to make it stronger and eliminate the eventual stretching of one or both leathers that can occur over time and use with leather alone.

If you are using older stirrup leathers or buying used leathers you must make sure that the buckle has NO rust on it at all, as that weakens the metal and can cause breakage when you’re riding.  Also, the stitching must be regular, tight, and in excellent condition before considering use of the leathers.There are stirrup “leathers” available in synthetic materials but there is a bit less elasticity and pliability to them.  They may also possibly cause marks on a leather saddle in some cases.

WEBBERS are stirrup leathers that do not form a loop through the stirrup bar of the saddle, but hang from it with a single piece of leather (or synthetic material) and offer a smaller loop around just the stirrup.  On the stirrup loop there is a hook and eye type adjustment rather than a buckle. These leathers give a much more streamline feel to the rider’s upper leg as there is only one thickness of leather directly under the leg instead of three thicknesses with the heavy buckle.

These are mostly used by dressage riders because of their special need for closeness and contact with their seats and because of their longer stirrup lengths than hunt seat riders.  Their stirrups also don’t need to take the force of the rider’s weight when landing off of a jump, where a heavier duty traditional buckle system is preferred.

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Stirrup Irons

Fillis Stirrup Irons Double jointed

Traditional stirrups look like an arched loop of metal attached on either side to a flat piece where the foot would lay.  However there now are more options with more rider advantages to be offered.

There are various stirrup pads available starting from a simple layer of rubber to go under the rider’s foot, to emery-board-like surfaces on top of the rubber, to actual metal gratings under the foot to offer the utmost in foot stability.  These are all a matter of personal preferrence with consideration to the demands of your riding expectations.  Also to be considered is the fact that a harsher stirrup pad surface can cause more wear to the soles of your boots

Hinged stirrups that offer a swiveling action for the foot are available for riders preferring more foot and ankle mobility.  This can be a great benefit to the rider’s ankle and knee joints as it allows more rocking motion to the foot without causing the leg to move.

Some riders prefer another feature of the stirrup where the top of the stirrup remains parallel to the horse’s side and the foot rest is swiveled sideways so that it lays perpendicular to the side of the horse.  This offers the rider greater comfort from the twisting effect of the stirrup leather with a traditional stirrup.  These can also add ease to finding the stirrup with your foot if your foot comes out during your ride.

The weight of the stirrup itself can be important, in that a heavier iron will not only be stronger, but will remain more stable in relation to your horse’s motion.

The strength and quality of materials in your stirrup is of main concern when purchasing this item.  The safety of the rider is as dependent on the quality of her stirrup as much as it is on the stirrup leathers. If you are using old stirrup irons that have any rust do not use them!  It has been the writer’s experience to see a low quality, rusty stirrup break under a rider’s foot on landing from a jump, causing a complete lack of balance and security leading to a nasty fall.  The stirrup iron is a weight-bearing instrument that needs to be the best quality within your budget.

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Horse Riding Helmets – Which One Is Right For You?

Welcome to Horse Riding Clothing and Saddle! New rider? Got questions? Learn the basics of horse riding clothing and equipment with our free online tutorials. Or, if you just want to start shopping and saving right away, compare and find the best prices on horse riding clothing and gear at our Horse Riding Clothing and Saddle shop. And, hey, thanks for visiting!

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For a new rider, horse riding helmets can be confusing.
There’s never just one, is there?  Like everything else related to horse riding clothing, there are many different kinds of horse riding helmets. There are even some horse riding hats.
Some helmets are sleek and dark and covered in velvet; some are bright and colorful and look like bicycle helmets; some have visors, some look like cowboy hats, and only a few are allowed in the show ring.

So which horse riding helmet do YOU need?
The answer to that question depends on what kind of riding you’ll be doing. Are you riding English? Western? Showing? Schooling? What event? I can’t answer any of those questions for you — even with my super-duper psychic abilities — so that means it’s time to get interactive!
Follow the steps below to find the right helmet for your head.

English riding is a style that is both elegant and powerful.  From the delicate control of dressage and equitation, to the mastery of strength and will that is jumping, English riding is classic and beautiful in the European tradition. If you ride English, choose English Riding Helmets or English Riding Hats below.

Elegance and safety? English riding helmets have both.
If you like the traditional look and feel of the English riding style, then you’ll love the classic silhouette of the English riding helmet. And if not having a debilitating head injury is something you appreciate, you’ll also appreciate the English helmet’s strength and protection.
Of course, there are several different kinds of English horse riding helmets, including two kinds of show helmets — modern and classic — and a colorful array of schooling helmets.
So, which English riding helmet do YOU need?
As you can probably guess, the answer to that question will depend — this time on where you’re riding and why.  If you’re showing at an equestrian event in front of judges, you’ll need a show helmet.  If you’re lesson riding, a schooling helmet is a better choice. Which style and color are right for you? Well, that brings us to decision time again…

Choose an English horse riding helmet from a category below…

Show Helmets are pretty much what they sound like: helmets you wear to shows. They’re more formal looking than other horse riding helmets, but will still protect your noggin in a fall (or kick). If you plan to ride in front of judges for Hunter, Jumper, or Dressage, you’ll need a show helmet.

Classic Show Helmets
(for Dressage, Hunter, Jumper, Eventing)

Classic show helmets are what most people picture when thinking of equestrian events.Modeled after the English hunt cap (which is basically just a velvet hat that offers no actual protection), classic helmets are darkly colored — usually black — and either covered in velvet or given a finish (or cloth cover) that resembles velvet. Unlike hunt caps, show helmets actually do protect your head, usually have some form of ventilation hidden under the surface, and strap on for a tight fit. Click the classic show helmet to learn more…
Modern Show Helmets
(for Dressage, Hunter, Jumper, Eventing)

Modern show helmets are sleeker, more abstract versions of the classic hunt cap look. They also owe some of their atheletic appearance to the shape of the polo helmet.  Still darkly colored — generally black or dark gray — modern helmets often forgo the traditional velvet cover for a matte, sometimes textured finish. Many of them also feature a central, highly visible ventilation stripe which helps to keep the rider’s head extra cool, but also contributes to the nickname “skunk helmets.” If you like this look as much as I do, click the modern show helmet…

Schooling Helmets are what you wear when lesson riding. They’ll protect your head like show helmets, but are far more casual-looking and thus inappropriate for show riding. The good news? School helmets are way cheaper and you can wear them in tons of fun colors, allowing you to really express your own barn rat style.
Schooling Helmets
(for learning Dressage, Hunter, Jumper, and general riding)

When riding for lessons or while practicing, riders have the option to wear schooling helmets. Though they protect your head the same as show helmets, schooling helmets are way more informal and way less expensive. This means not only can you express your personal style with one of the many fun colors available, you can also save your much more expensive show helmet from all the wear, tear, dust, and dirt of daily or weekly lessons.  Unless you have money to burn and your favorite color is black, you’ll want to pick up a schooling helmet.
NOTE: Even though schooling helmets look a bit like bicycle helmets, they’re very different. A bicycle helmet WILL NOT protect you from the sort of forces and damages you are likely to experience in a horse riding accident, so please make sure you purchase a proper, ASTM/SEI certified helmet that’s made specifically for horse riding.

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Horse Riding Clothing for Beginners – What Do You REALLY Need?

It’s no secret that horse riding clothing is expensive.

Picture2Just ask any new rider — or new rider’s parents — when they’re suddenly confronted with a long list of “necessary” apparel and equipment. With all those funny names, mysterious purposes, and frightening prices, it’s enough to make a person want to ditch the barn and take up turtle racing instead.

But don’t give up on the ponies just yet!  I’m going to let you in on a little secret the tack shops don’t want you to know:

You don’t need all that stuff.

In fact, if you’re a beginning rider, buying all the equipment they want to sell you is exactly what you don’t want to do (unless you like wasting your money). The problem: As a beginner, how do you know what gear you actually need?

That, dear newbie, is why I’m about to reveal to you the even bigger secret. The most secret of the secrets. Are you ready for it? Here it is:

You only need three pieces of horse riding clothing.

1.Horse Riding Boots
Picture3Whether you’re brand new to the sport or a professional equestrian, horse riding boots are an absolute necessity.  Unlike sneakers or other non-riding shoes, riding boots are specially designed to help keep the rider’s foot from slipping through the stirrup and becoming caught; a potentially deadly situation.

The bad news is that boots tend to be among the most expensive pieces of horse riding apparel, and choosing the wrong ones can be a very costly mistake. The good news? If you’re a beginner, there are only two types you need to know about: Tall boots and short boots.

Tall boots end just below the knee, help protect the rider’s legs from severe chafing, and are the type generally worn in shows.  They’re stiffer than short boots, less comfortable, and much more expensive. If you’re a beginner who’s not yet competing, or you’re a child who’s feet are still growing, stay away from tall boots. You don’t need them, and buying them would be a complete waste of your money.

Short boots — also known as paddock boots or jodhpur boots — end just above the ankle, are much more comfortable than tall boots, and much less expensive.  They’re too informal to be worn for shows (unless you’re under 12, in which case the rules are different), but if you’re not showing yet, they’re perfect for schooling or pleasure riding. For a beginner, short boots are definitely the way to go.

2. Horse Riding Breeches
Picture4Breeches are special, tight-fitting pants that allow easy movement without the chafing a rider might otherwise experience with regular, everyday jeans or slacks. While jeans are acceptable for lesson riding, their seams — which typically run right along all the contact points between a rider’s legs and the horse — can cause extra abrasive friction, sometimes resulting in scarring of the legs.  Breeches, on the other hand, have specially constructed seams which are usually padded at the main contact points, reducing the friction, protecting the rider’s legs, and, often, providing extra grip.

Although many fashionable barn rats like to buy lots and lots of breeches in various cuts and colors, you don’t have to.  To get the most bang for your buck, get yourself a pair of breeches in beige; that’s the traditional color for wearing in shows, and will allow your pants to do double-duty: schooling AND showing. You’re welcome.

3. Horse Riding Helmets
Picture5Without a doubt, the most important and necessary piece of horse riding equipment is the helmet. Horse riding is a very physical sport, and, like any physical sport, it carries with it the risk of injury.  Some injuries — particularly head injuries resulting from a fall or a kick — are potentially very serious, and could result in permanent disability. Or even worse.  The horse riding helmet, however, is designed to help protect the rider’s head in case of unfortunate accident.

 

There are two main types of helmet in the horse riding world that you need to know about: the schooling helmet and the show helmet.

The schooling helmet — which looks a lot like a bicycle helmet — is a more informal piece of equipment appropriate for use during riding lessons and non-event riding activities. They’re light, comfortable, and, if you’re not going to be riding in shows, the only helmet you’ll need for a while.

A show helmet — which is the traditional black, sometimes velvet-covered, horse riding hat — is a more formal piece of equestrian gear. If you’re going to be riding in any kind of show or riding event, you’ll need one of these. If you’re not at this level yet, save your money.

Whichever horse riding helmet you need, don’t skimp; buy a good one.  Find a helmet that’s labeled “ASTM/SEI certified” (which means that it’s been properly tested for safety), make sure to wear it snugly, and keep the strap fastened. When you can still feed yourself and breathe without assistance, you’ll thank me.

And basically, that’s it.  As a beginning rider, you really don’t need any more than those three pieces of horse riding clothing. Sure, if you’re looking for a little more protection for your hands or torso, you might consider adding some horse riding gloves or body armor to your ensemble, but, until your skills advance enough for you to start showing, everything else is money better saved.

Happy riding!

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Do Your Horse Saddle Bags have The Right Accessories?

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Choosing a saddle bag depends on your prevalence. In part you may need to carry quite some amount of luggage therefore size, in part style, in part price and in part material. You might consider these horse saddle bags features important guide when deciding on the product you what. These bags are famous for their stylish back carriage. Saddle bag’s specifications include leather strings that will allow you fasten to your back and move on. If there is a bag that will give you convenient when moving about and carrying small luggage, saddle bags including horse saddle bags for western will do.

Horse saddle bags have string accessories. You choose these accessories to suit your body size and fit the bag comfortably. Although not all saddle bags have ties, most may or may not have. The good thing with these bags and ties is that, you can put them on if you want. This is easy to do since you just go to your saddle bags store and purchase an accessory you want. Different saddle bags have different specifications with different strings and strings. You can go ahead and find accessories to customize your bag for your comfort.

On the other hand, if you can’t find a convenient way to attach ties or strings to your saddle bags, you can have your local Leather work service provider fix it for you. A saddle repair technician will help you put something uncomfortable in your bag in the correct place. Of course, if some saddle bags have holes and parts to put other accessories. If they don’t have, you can have a saddle repair person add them. The most important thing is to make your saddle bag as comfortable as you can.

Are you concerned about how much it will cost you to keep any of the horse saddle bags? Horse saddle bags are easier to keep. Especially if you have or if you’re going for a leather saddle bag, then you know you will keep them for a long time. Although some may require strings or ties at sometime, that will only depend on whether they are necessary or not. Otherwise, you will find horse saddlebags including saddle bags for western easier and cheap to maintain. Wait until you have the leather saddle bags and all. With them count having quality and long lasting bags with the only maintenance being dusting and cleaning.

The main and common troubles that horse saddles for western bags owners face are usually how to attach them. These bags come with various accessories to give you different attachment and saddles in your back. If you currently don’t have the right accessories, you can visit your nearest saddle shop and buy what you need. You still go ahead and customize the same. The thing is getting the bag to the point you want and that is why saddle bags are backpack favorite for many people. When purchasing you may need to take time and buy a bag that will give you the most out of it and of course, something will like having.

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Buying a Horse Saddle

How the Wrong Saddle Can Affect Your Ride

The aids you use to communicate to your horse work in two distinct stages.  You would first add some pressure with your legs, seat, or hands ( or a combination thereof in the case of experienced riders) and as the horse gives you the response you are asking him for, you would quickly release that pressure to let the horse know that he is doing what you want.  That is his reward.  A horse learns to work with his rider with consistency of this sequence.  From the horse’s point of view, he feels a particular pressure from his rider and his job is to figure out from his experience which response from him it is that you are asking for. The only fair consequence to his correct response is relief from the pressure since he fulfilled his obligation to his rider.

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When you are riding a horse in a saddle that constantly causes uncomfortable pressure on a horse’s back, withers, and/or shoulders that horse feels that pain consistently throughout the whole ride.  No matter what he does for his rider there is no relief for him until the ride is over and the saddle is removed.  You can imagine the unwillingness to work and resentment this might cause in a horse.  Unwillingness to go forward, stopping at jumps, running off, bucking, and spooking all can be caused by this unyielding discomfort of a wrongly fitted saddle.  The horse may even get blamed and reprimanded for this bad behavior when it was the only way the horse knew how to communicate his discomfort to his rider.  There are many horses in this situation who are very stoic and withstand the discomfort, never exhibiting any of these behaviors.  But over the months and years their backs and shoulders become stiffer and their strides become shorter.  Their overall movement came become less athletic because of the constant tension in their muscles from the discomfort.

Your saddle fit can also affect the rider’s ability to ride properly and effectively.  A well made saddle’s center of balance is in the middle of the seat, where the rider’s center of balance should be.  When the saddle fits too low on the withers, it not only hurts the horse’s withers, but it shifts the center of balance forward.  This tips the rider forward, causing her body to grip onto her knees and try to hold her weight back where the body can feel it belongs.  It can also cause a too quick snapping back of the upper body upon landing from a jump.  The saddle that is two narrow at the withers not only pinches the withers on the sides, but lifts the front of the saddle up, shifting the balance backward.  This causes the rider’s weight to be thrown back which can send her legs forward along with her upper body in her effort to compensate for the imbalance.  This also transfers back to the horse in that his sensitive back muscles are being overloaded with the rider’s unbalanced weight.

Saddle Padding

The padding you place under the saddle should be a soft, dense material of medium thickness made from material such as cotton to absorb moisture from the horse’s back while he is working.  It should be even thickness with no ridges or seams to dig into the back or withers.  The saddle fitting faults previously discussed, if mild, can be helped with certain padding added to the main pad.  A pommel pad may help to raise a too-low saddle from the withers, but it also adds material on top of the withers so it might not relieve the withers pressure as you would think.  Raising the cantle up with an extra pad behind can help the rider stay forward with a saddle that is too narrow or high at the withers, but unless the cantle is low at a minor degree, that cantle pad may put more pressure on the withers by shifting the weight forward.

A well made saddle is balanced on the seat in relation to it’s balance on the horse’s back.  So if it sits correctly on the horse, it will be balanced correctly for the rider.  Conversely, any imbalance will not only cause discomfort to the horse, but to the rider as well, creating an unbalanced seat to ride with.  Both cause horse and rider to compensate for imbalance and discomfort, leading to roadblocks for learning and growing.