Contact information:

Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

November 14, 2010

You who ride english some questions.

Yes, I'm asking for advice, should I tune up the theme from Rocky? Decided to give my english saddle another try. Don't know if it will work out for me, but if I can get comfortable with it, I won't have to sock down $1345 for a Eurolight, and can totally trick it out to be very functional, take some lessons, and be money ahead.

So I tromp out into the first c-c-c-cold day of November, dragging the pretty little Wintec VSD out to the horse trailer. Phebes looks at me and tips her ears back and forth. I can read her pretty good and think...this is gonna be fun, I see it already. Put the saddle down, pick up the leadrope and halter and step under the electric fence. Phebe's head goes straight up, her tail goes up, and it is catch me if you can "na na na na na NA!" I'm not feeling particularly well as I had an inner ear (balance disorder thing) episode last night and was medicated to the wazoo all night. Still a little off today, functioning, but really not in the mood for remedial training 101. So I throw up a divider gate to trap the little snot in the front lot, and proceded to making the game not quite so much fun for her. Eventually I get her haltered AND NO COOKIE FOR YOU! Visions of the trades I could make on a very fine gaited mule (if I could find someone remotely stupid enough to make the swap) and thoughts of strapping her deer antlers on and sending her out into the woods (today is opening season on deer hunting in Indiana) all go through my head. I curse a few times (which is meaningless and useless), and take her to the round pen for episode 511 of remedial training. It is forty degrees and I'm stripping off clothes to my shirt sleeves, and she's worked up a good sweat and looking at me with two eyes instead of that far away weird look in her eyes we started with. Her little vacation was not a good thing. But I was talking about the english saddle yes? So I put the wool skito on her, sit the saddle on her kind of forward, and shimmy it back to find where it wants to sit. Attach the new girth to it, and tighten that up. The saddles attached well and I can still get my hand under the girth. It looks level where before it wanted to tip forward. Phebes has turned into a chubby monkey so that may have helped the fit or maybe I had the saddle to far back the first time I tried it. At any rate, it looks level. The Wintec is not interfering with her shoulder as my hand slips clear. Girthed up I can get my hand along the tree, it is snug, but I can get under there. I ground mount. Saddle stays in place. I feel a little forward onto the front of my crotch (the issue I had before). Doug suggests raising the stirrups to find when and where I'll tip back onto my seat bones. Stirrups come up about three inches, and I'm back. We walk around the oval pen for awhile to try and get the feel of it. We post the trot a little bit and I feel very ungainly kind of wobble like the weebles from the 70's. Now the questions.

Knee blocks? I have them, they are industrial velcroed on. Where exactly is the proper placement of knee blocks? I would assume at the knees, but do they hug right at the knee, go a little below, at what kind of angle? Can you tell I have zero experience at this?

Length of the leg or how much bend? To keep a good seat and good balance how much bend in the leg? Now I am talking about posting the trot over long distance, not a half hour of arena work.

I can feel a slight lump under my leg I think at the flap, not sure if it is the flap itself yet or the place where the leathers attach under there. Over the long haul that would bother me, what to do about that?

Phebes seemed very perplexed by this new turn of events, probably because I was in "weeble mode." (and she was very unhappy with being caught)

I'm going to give this thing a try as long as it does not involve any kind of pain from chafing etc. and see if I can find my balance and security. It seems so different from being seated in a western saddle. Not sure if that is good or bad, but that is the current goal in process. ~E.G.


  1. I ride in a close contact English saddle. I just did a 50 in it yesterday. I haven't put my endurance stirrups on it yet (for god knows what reason). I don't have a seat saver. I JUST got a saddle back (I used to cram everything in my chaps, but my ride card would get destroyed that way). I haven't had any problems. The saddle doesn't bother my horse. I just have a Fleeceworks full pad for events. I wear comfortable breeches and nothing rubs. I drop my stirrups to two holes longer than 'dressage length' and it does wonders for me. I'd condition with your stirrups at normal English length to gain security, then drop them a few holes into the actual event. I've been told the endurance stirrups make all the difference in the world, and I believe it. O... and I don't have knee blocks. I feel like they just get in the way.

  2. I Ride english, never rode anything else! As Far as knee blocks i still have mine in the original "manufactured" position on the saddle and will snap a pic when i get to the barn next week.

    Regarding the length of the leg, it really does depend on the horse and rider. On one horse i rode at the five day ride he was so hot and forward i had to have my stirrups hiked so high i looked like a jockey out their! The next day i was on a calm horse who could just lope for 50 miles and never miss a beat so i had my stirrups a little on the long side so i could drop my heels, lean back a bit and just canter for the next 50 miles.

    The Lump you are probably feeling is the leathers, with wintecs you have to make sure everything is just the right way with the leathers.

    Good Luck

  3. We've had our second try today with the Wintec. Let's say ground mounting without a breast collar isn't the brightest idea in the world. So I put the saddle back on (as in it slipped sideways), and climbed up on the fence rail and mounted that way. We got the posting trot going pretty well, but I'm having to ride with my stirrups pretty darned short to stay on my seat bones. In my western I've always ridden kind of forward and the seat doesn't have that rise which I'm working at not getting up against. Session 2 worked much better than the try this morning, so maybe....with enough repetition I'll get it. Reckon I have all winter to try and sort it out. Phebes doesn't know quite what to make of it. It takes 15 pounds off of her back. My SKITO has inserts, wonder if I should keep them in or take them out? I also have to ride her long enough one day to deterimine if she will have any dry spots from the saddle tree. We have the widest gullet they make in it.
    Maybe put my merino wool covers on the leathers? Still a lump, but a soft lump. ~E.G.

  4. If it's the leathers making a lump, they make ones with no buckles. They have a loop in the end and just slip onto the bar. I forget what they're called... but any decent tack store should have them.