These are the facts. The majority of riders today are women, and the majority of saddles on the market are designed for men by men.
Sitting correctly and comfortably, persons carry their weight on both seat bones. The male and female pelvis needs to be positioned differently when sitting straight with an erect spinal column, given the variations in their spinal columns and pelvic structure. In order for the female rider to bring her spinal column into a fully erect position she has to tilt her pelvis more forward which displaces her balance point (centre of gravity) causing her to sit on her pubic bone with her crotch area rubbing on the front of the saddle. In this position the female rider often has little support under her tailbone or from her gluteus muscles. In order to escape the ‘pain’ in her crotch area from rubbing the pubic symphysis on the pommel area, she will collapse at the hip to find support under her butt, and position her balance point further back in the saddle. This causes further following of her back, changing the natural shock absorbing ability of her spinal column in the lumbar area.
The balance point (horizontal axis) in the female pelvis is much farther forward than the balance point in the male pelvis; a woman’s tailbone is much shorter (given the need for room in the birth canal). Lacking this natural support at the back of the pelvis, female riders will fall back in the saddle (if it not correctly fitted). The ‘chair seat’ is often the result of leaning back to find support under the gluteal muscles (which are usually positioned higher than those of a man). Her legs will shoot forward as in a pendulum which impedes her ability to give the horse the proper aids through her thighs, because they are out of alignment. This bent position and altered balance to the rear makes it difficult to properly develop and use the abdominals when riding. Without sufficient strength in the core muscles the rider female riders may find it difficult to sit in a balanced position, to give the correct aids and use her body’s natural shock absorbing capabilities in the spine, joints, hips and knees. Women who continually ride in this position because of a badly fitted saddle will suffer from back pain and possibly slipped discs especially in the lower back.
Ladies, there is a solution – ride in a saddle made for a woman!
Video courtesy of Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA). Buy DVD at: http://cha-ahse.org/store/categories/Books%2C_Videos_and_Posters/Videos/?sort=featured&page=1
Author of ‘Suffering in Silence – The Saddle fit Link to Physical and Psychological Trauma in Horses’ (2013) Jochen Schleese teaches riders and professionals to recognize saddle fit issues in Saddlefit 4 Life lectures and seminars. We help you find answers in a personal 80 point Saddle Fit Diagnostic Evaluation.