· Does your leg hang comfortably and loosely straight down?
· Is the saddle comfortable for you between your upper inner thighs (this is where the twist is) or do you feel ‘pulled apart’ in this area (soreness in the hips?)
· Can you feel your seat bones?
· Are the stirrup bars in the correct position to allow you to achieve the shoulder-hip-heel straight line?
· Is your knee comfortably placed on the flap or is it angled outward?
· Is there flap visible behind your leg when you are in the stirrups?
· Can you perform a pelvic tilt (forwards and backwards movement) comfortably without pain at your pubic symphysis or in the crotch area?
· Do the thigh/knee rolls impede movement at the hips, knees, or ankle? Are they too long, big or small? Do they support you or are they in the way?
· Can you post comfortably?
· Is there enough room in front and behind your pelvis so that during posting you don’t hit your pubic bone and during sitting trot you are not thrown out of the saddle at the cantle area?
· Is the saddle flap long enough so your boot top doesn’t catch on it?
· Is the seat seam uncomfortable and noticeable?
· Are you in balance during the walk? Do you have enough support from the saddle to be able to sit properly in position while the horse is walking?
Once you have answered these questions for yourself and feel comfortable in the saddle, then it is probably a good choice. If you still have questions, your saddle fitter should be able to help you! This video compares the anatomy and positions of a male and female rider in a male saddle; note the challenges of a woman riding in a ‘male style’ saddle.
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.