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The rider’s seat size can effect saddle fit. If the seat size is too big or too small, the rider’s weight will not be distributed evenly and could result in a decreased level of saddle fit. How one determines seat size depends upon who one talks to. There is an old saying: “Ask 10 horseman the same question and you will get 11 different answers”.
A better way is with the rider sitting the saddle: their seat resting comfortably against the cantle, their feet under them in the traditional straight line from the shoulder - hip - heel position stand up in the stirrups without using the horn. The rider should have no problem standing up without any assistance if centered. If the seat is too small, the rider will tilt forward. If the seat is too large, the rider will be forced back into the cantle.
These results are caused by the stirrup leathers. As stirrup leathers pass over the bars of the tree they act as a pivot point. If the center of the rider is forward of the pivot point the rider’s torso will tilt forward and the feet and legs will move backwards.
If the rider’s center is back of the pivot point the rider’s feet and legs will move forward and the rider’s seat will be forced into the cantle.
Therefore, technically, if the rider is sitting in the saddle with their seat resting comfortably against the cantle and can stand up in the stirrups without assistance the seat size is correct.
The rider needs a seat that is also comfortable. The seat size may be correct but if it is not comfortable for the rider, the result is a negative fit. It the responsibility of the saddle maker to design, build, and shape the seat where the rider is both comfortable and centered.
It has be observed that riders have a tendency to ride a saddle with a larger seat. The reason for this is unclear, but there are indicators. Some of the “rules of thumb” and charts will result in a larger seat than is correct for the rider. Some riders prefer their feet and legs out in front as if they were sitting in a chair. Others feel more secure when pivot effect pushes them back into the cantle and they are braced in the saddle.
The final decision is up to the rider with the understanding that and if the seat size selected is too small or too large for the rider the level of positive saddle fit may be decreased.
Also, please follow the charts and tables that use the rider’s height and weight to determine seat size.
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