“Bring your leg back!!”
Whether you’re a rider or coach, you’ve probably heard this being yelled across a riding ring (or have been the one yelling it).
But, did you know that this ‘leg-forward’/chair seat phenomenon is not caused by lack of skill or poor posture on behalf of the rider?
Chair seat, leg forward are symptoms of a poor saddle fit to the rider. With a huge majority of saddles manufactured today designed for males, it’s no wonder that when women sit in them, they simply cannot achieve alignment.
Imagine sitting on a rooftop – as a male, you’re able to shift your bits left or right to prevent them from getting squished. A woman, however, cannot. So why, with such a huge demographic of female riders are saddles still being made with the wide twist, narrow seat, narrow seam and “rooftop” foaming?
No woman wants to ride around on a saddle that presses against the pubic symphysis or provides no support for her seat bones due to the seat being too narrow (which is ideal for men). So, in order for women to get comfortable in a male saddle she much shift backwards to:
A. Alleviate pressure on the sensitive groin region
B. Seek a wider part of the seat that will be able to support her seat bones which are wider than those of a male.
C. Seek out a wider seam area so as to not have it dig into the ischial tuberosity (underwear line).
D. Allow her to sit on her actual seat bones and not on the sensitive region of the crotch.
However, this shifting back causes numerous other issues such as:
1. Leg pulled forward by the stirrup bar (most of which are too short for women).
2. Chair position which places excess pressure on the lumbar region of the horse.
3. Inability to have a pliable seat as the shoulder-hips-heel alignment is missing.
One way some women try to cope is the roll the pelvis backwards, but this can have devastating effects on the rider. Many studies show that the physiological damage to a rider from being so out of alignment is quite substantial.
A. Slipped discs or herniated discs
B. Urinary tract infections
C. Kidney infections
D. Hip pain
E. Knee pain
F. Slouched position
While the shoulder-hip-heel alignment may be achieved, the riders back is no longer relaxed and they are contorted in a way that again prevents a pliable seat.