Well they have been building saddles to put you in position A less a few layers of leather since the beginning of horsemanship. All you have to do is look at the Nuno clips and you will see it used to be common practice. You bring up a good topic though and that is how we are drawing conclusions by seeing things done incorrectly. For instance some have drawn the conclusion that treed saddles are bad but they should have realized that is that there are just a lot of saddles with bad trees. Some have concluded that bits are bad but they should have concluded that there are a lot of poorly designed bits in untrained hands.
I'm not real familier with Caprilli but my understanding is that he was a proponent of a forward seat but I imagine his theories were subject to the confusions of his time as all ours are.
Fascinating discussion, David - thanks for starting this. Regrettably I could not play your video clip but there are a couple of questions that have been on my mind from the start.
The horse in the still photos appears to have a somewhat downhill build which I think would inevitably cause the rider to end up in position A if riding bareback. Would this also happen if the horse had a level back or uphill build?
Are we talking about a saddle that would suit the greater proportion of the horse-owning public who are not able to induce their horses to lift their neckbase and back? Or are we assuming the horse will be ridden with a raised back for most of the time? Either way I think there will be a difference in where the rider finds that 'still' spot. Or does that factor not impact on saddle design?
Was there any special reason for the rider in the photos to be sitting in a chair (brida) position? On that basis I chose position B but if the rider had been sitting with ankles aligned with hips/shoulders then I think I would have gone for position A. Riding bareback chair style, I'm thinking there would be much more weight directly borne on pointy seatbones rather than distributed more evenly on thighs as the major weightcarrier - would this make the horse more uncomfortable for position C due to less muscular padding, i.e. past the end of the thoracic trapezius? I'd be interested to know if the horse reacted the same way to the 3 positions with a saddle.
I Just joined a few days ago, and find the discussion interesting. SO, I'll add my opinion if that's OK. I've been a saddle fitter for 15 years, so I'll leave it up to the moderators to decide if they want to leave my opinions up or delete them..
In my opinion:
Because of this horses anatomy (withers, Back/loin and Rib cage), if ridden bare back, the persons butt will end up be somewhere between A & B .... but if this particular horse is saddled, then I vote B for the correct butt position over this horses back.
As far as riding bareback in general:.. the horses rib cage is going to determine where you sit -regardless of where you WANT to sit. If the horses rib cage is well sprung- the anatomy will force your leg (and butt) more forward. If the horse is slab or flat ribbed.. then you may have more of a choice to sit further back and actually be able to stay there.
On a saddled horse:
Anatomy (withers, back/loin) , and especially Rib cage anatomy is also very important for deciding the correct *Rigging position*. Rigging position is just as important as tree fit, and it will determine where the saddle settles, or ends up - regardless of where you WANT it.
If the rigging position is too far back on a saddle who's tree fits, the saddle will still creep forward as the girth seeks the natural girth groove... and the saddle will end up too far forward. If the horse has low withers, it could end up really far forward.. and if the horse has high withers- then the withers and shoulders may stop it from moving forward (but it could jam the withers or shoulders). In some cases I've seen some people who use the tail (with a crupper) to hold the saddle back. (This really isn't recommended)
The horses anatomy determines where the rigging position should be - but alot of low end (western) saddles don't give options for the position.
You bring up some critical issues.
First of all I want to remind everyone that the subject is where to sit to sit not how to sit. Secondly in the photos above our purpose in the experiment was to explore how it felt to sit in different positions. One of our questions was how much does the shape effect position. So Liz on her part just tried to sit as the situation called for not how she knew she was supposed to sit. There was no motion involved in the sample shots so in each case she was where she was because she placed herself there with no influence of movement. After I took the pictures she further explored the positions with movement. As far as we know this horse had never been ridden bare back and it was the first time it had a bosal on. In the A position she asked for a turn on the haunches and got it with no hesitation. She then went to the B position and had to ask repeated times before the horse responded. So we learned a lot from our experiment but think how much more we could all learn if everyone else on the list repeated this for themselves and reported back. Pictures would be wonderful but to even just know how the positions made you feel would broaden all our perspectives on saddle fitting. As always though put your safety first.
Would this also happen if the horse had a level back or uphill build?
This is a major issue missing from the saddle fit debate. The saddle should be orientated directly opposite the horse’s orientation. What is happening in the market place is that there is a focus on width not shape so everyone is making saddles wide which in turn gives the saddle a downhill orientation which just means it will fall further before it causes pressure. So from this we learn that one of the fundamental criteria for any saddle is that it creates a level platform for the pelvis (Jineta thinking).
Are we talking about a saddle that would suit the greater proportion of the horse-owning public who are not able to induce their horses to lift their neckbase and back?
Maybe if they had a properly designed saddle and a fundamental understanding of horsemanship this wouldn’t be considered such a difficult task. You’re talking baby basics here. There is a fundamental base of knowledge that any person should have before they get on a horses back. I will agree that at this point in time many are not getting the instruction they need and I include the horse in this.
Or are we assuming the horse will be ridden with a raised back for most of the time?
In my opinion I have to assume the rider has basic skills or as a designer I will be designing to pathologies not healthy conformations. Morally this puts me in position of refusing orders and directing my customers in the proper direction of the help they need. There is currently a saddle fitting system that is gaining ground that is based on designing to pathologies. On one hand I see the practicality and on the other I feel that if someone is passing themselves off as a professional saddle maker that they should have enough of a grasp of anatomy to know the difference between a healthy back and a pathological back. This to me is what makes a saddle maker a saddle maker and not just an upholsterer.
Or does that factor not impact on saddle design? Same as above.
Was there any special reason for the rider in the photos to be sitting in a chair (brida) position?
Refer to the opening answer. Here again I would urge everyone to go and sit in different positions and see ho wit feels. Another side note on the rider over a several decade show career she never lost a bareback riding competition. Her secret was a hunk of foam stuffed the front of her pants. Yet another clue as to why we want to ride with a saddle.
I.e. past the end of the thoracic trapezius?
Fist let me say that I am currently in physical therapy to get my thoracic trapezius to release so I can regain the movement of my scapula so this subject is very personal to me. Here again we need to change our thinking to shape rather than width. If you go look at the thread Two fundamental questions of saddle fit and look at the pictures Adam posted you will see he has marked the edge of where the Thoracic trapezius goes into the body with a hunk of tape. This is the forward limit of the weight bearing area. You will also see he is designing the saddle to set further forward than that line. He understands that it is ok for a plane to fly over his house but he doesn’t want it to fly in to his house. The trick here is to create funnel type shape in the front of the saddle so it will allow for the movement As you look at Adams design ask yourself how critical the rigging is going to be to keep the weight back off the trapezius?
I'd be interested to know if the horse reacted the same way to the 3 positions with a saddle.
Great notion! Unfortunately, to get an accurate assessment as to just the effect of the position you would have to have three different shaped trees so the shape of the tree was matching the shape of the horse in the different positions or you would have the effect of a poorly fitting tree effecting the result.
Hello. Monte Foreman, years ago designed a saddle for atheletic and speed events. He didn't use jinta or breida terms. The saddle featured bulkless rigging, flat seat, and forward hung stirrups. This allows the legs to hang in the "rider's groove" (where the legs naturally go when riding bareback) and when leaning forward or standing, the rider's legs are supporting them, not getting behind them. So, it would just depend on what the rider wanted....to ride like a Comanche on the warpath or a knight wanting to run someone through with a lance.
One of the wonderful things about shareing perspectives is that by doing so we expand the thinking on a subject. My perspective as designer and maker differs from yours in regard to the rigging.
From the perspective of a saddle fitter everything you said in regards to rigging is accurate with in your experience, because with in your experience you have no control over the elements that could shift the reality. From my perspective I know if I change the saddles orientation the issue of the rigging pulling the saddle forward will go away in most cases.
Monte Foreman is another excellent example from the past of a proponent of the forward seat. Unfortunately, he is also a good example of what happens when trainers try to design saddles. Although much of the thinking was good the flaw was that he tried to accomplish the forward seat by placing the rider’s legs further forward instead getting the seat itself forward. This causes the rider to use their legs improperly (refer to the recent thread Core strength and iliacus for a great explanation). This move on his part made the rigging feel very bulky so he teamed up with Slim Fallis who invented the bulk less rigging. I have found this rigging to be extremely hard on horses and unnecessary if the rider is positioned correctly they will not feel bulk under their leg. Despite major design flaws these saddle have a cult like following to this day.
David - As you will have easily seen, I know zilch about making saddles, so thank you for your thorough reply.
Today I followed your suggestion and experimented with one of my own horses, trying to replicate the 3 positions in the still photos to see what it felt like. This horse also has not been ridden bareback (at least not in the 11 years with me), has not previously been ridden in just a halter and has not been in regular work for the last 18 months. He is a TB with a high wither, prominent ridgeline to his spine and is built for sprinting with a strong downhill orientation despite the level withers/croup. He is deep and wide through the ribs. It's as close as I can get to your experiment. Here's what happened.
I scrambled aboard and started at position A with no thought about any particular body alignment, just let my legs dangle where they would. Both completely relaxed, we walked a small circle and did a turn on the hauches in each direction for each of the 3 positions. My dear old horse did everything asked of him instantly with no difference between the 3 rider positions, but we have known each other very well for a long time so perhaps this is not a good comparison. I could not detect any difference in his posture or opinion between the 3 positions.
Position A - This was where I felt most stable and would have been comfortable if I'd had Liz's hunk of foam. Didn't have a mirror or any other way of checking, but felt like my legs were closer to jineta style, hanging longer beneath me. Less weight on seatbones, more on thighs.
Position B - This also was comfortable but a little less stable than A and my legs felt a little more forward.
Position C - Felt rather precarious here, rolling around a bit. More weight on seatbones, legs even further forward. Glad to leave this position.
How wonderful that you actually tried it!!!
The horse Liz was on is in for training so it is a new relationship. It has me wondering just how much they fill in for our lack of clarity once they figure out what we are trying to get them to do.
I was able to get out tonight and ride bareback in all three positions.
I used my brother's old Arab cross gelding who is often ridden bareback.
"A" is definitely where I always ride bareback at. It was secure and I felt very "stuck" to the horse, it was easy to become "one" with him. The horse seemed to like it just fine and understood what I was asking him to do, he moved freely.
"B" was the position I only ever used to jump bareback, I would slip back a little to get my knees up a bit to be able to get onto my thighs to jump.
It was not secure just sitting normally though and the horse didn't seem to like it as much. He also respond to my requests in a different way. And his movement seemed a bit different.
"C" was ridiculous and the horse did not like it.His movement seemed heavy. It was very unsecured and the horse responded in a completely different way in "c" than in "A". His turn on the haunch turned into more of a bottle spin.
I grew up ridding bareback in position "A" and still do occasionally ride bareback. I don't find it uncomfortable at all, I don't feel like I move very much either, maybe that is why it's comfortable for me? I sit slightly on/snugged up against the whithers, depending on the horses conformation. I ride in "A" on horses that have low whithers or high sharp whithers and both is comfortable.
I'll post pics of two different horses and the three different positions if you want. Do you want them at a halt or in motion?
I would park my tractor at the well supported end of the bridge, the left side or nearest the horses whithers. In my opinion lifting the base of the neck would strengthen the horses ability to support our added weight and would be most effective when our weight was nearest it and not further out from it toward the less well supported area of the back.
This little test has answered allot of questions for me.