It’s no secret that saddle slipping is a safety concern, but even a little slippage affects your aids. And if you’re competing in equitation finals, subtle and effective aids are what win championships.
“Saddle slip is a known problem, which we are becoming more aware of within the the general equestrian population,” says Lorna Cameron, PhD, of Sparsholt College in the UK. Cameron presented the recent research on behalf of lead researcher Russell Guire, a PhD candidate at the Royal Veterinary College and a researcher at Centaur Biomechanics in Warwickshire, both in the United Kingdom, at the 2016 International Society for Equitation Science conference. “It affects rider balance, the horse’s back shape, and equine locomotion. We’ve now confirmed that it also affects rider biomechanics, and this can have significant effects on how we ride and how we communicate our aids.”
All the no stirrup work in the world won’t help you if your saddle is putting you in the wrong position. A saddle that is too far forward will interfere with the horse’s shoulder movement. It will prohibit him from jumping freely through his back and shoulders and could cost you rubs or rails. A saddle that is too far back can put the rider behind the horse’s motion. A saddle that’s either too far forward or back can also make the rider’s leg hit in an uncomfortable or very sensitive part of the horse’s body.
There are a couple things you can do to keep your saddle in place.
1. Invest in a good saddle fitter. Are you leasing a horse for finals? If so, there’s a good chance your saddle wasn’t made specifically for that horse. Having a saddle fitter come out (or do a quick evaluation at the show) might be helpful. Nobody is going to buy a brand new saddle for a horse they’re riding for a short and finite amount of time, but a good saddle fitter may have useful suggestions such as shims or a half pad to make your saddle fit your finals horse better.
2. Try an anatomically correct girth. There are several girths on the market designed specifically to keep saddles from slipping forward or back that won’t interfere with your horse’s movement.
3. Use a no-slip pad. There are several rubber or rubber-esque no-slip pads available, but if you want something that’s breathable and will keep your saddle right where you put it, try our Secure™ Hunter Pads.
Finals are a stressful time of year and you’ve worked so hard to qualify… Don’t let saddle slipping dash your finals dreams!