Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ladies of Comfortable Porportions

I drifted off to sleep last night dreaming of a 24” off side saddle… and that if such a gem were to surface, I would have the cash sitting around to purchase it’s rareness. Ha! Don't be fooled! If I found it, I’d charge it! In a heartbeat.

I also drifted off with these elusive questions rattling about in my head…
Would half an inch of seat even make a difference?

When I save the thousand plus dollars difference between these scarce 23” saddles and my own 22.5” will it be worth it? Should I give up on the old masters and buy a less expensive 23" Elan to try?

Why do they use the word “generous” when describing a piddling 13” wide seat? Are they trying to be insulting?

Does the flatness of the seat make a difference?

Will I just have to sit in it to find out?

Why does it have to be my right knee that hurts all the time? Couldn’t it be the left that just hangs there? Why is it aching now just thinking about it?

What if my seat bones fit my saddle just fine, but the size of my caboose will always make me look like a saddle measuring moron?

Why does it seem like I gain 10 pounds every time I have a birthday with a zero in it? And if that is really true, why do I weigh less now than when I graduated college?

How can I gain back a whole pound by adding 3 ounces of salad dressing and a chick pea to my usual salad? OK, it was more than one. Chick pea that is.

Is it possible I am getting taller?

What if I were truly tall and fat instead of tallish and plumpish? Would I never be able to ride aside? Where are the tall side saddle riders? Are they hoarding the larger saddles?

Was it some cruel twist of fate which made the bathroom scale crack?

Yes, I broke the bathroom scale! My husband just shakes his head and says “I can’t believe you cracked it.” Yeah, neither can I. The good news is it now reads consistently 10 pounds lighter. I haven’t had the heart to throw it out yet even though I know it’s not true.

I think I may have gained some insight on the old (1890 and earlier) standards of measurement which say I should fit into a 20" seat. Of course, my upright head is a modern shape, and so is impossible to measure this way for a comparison. But it makes much more sense now.


On a positive and progressive note, I’m working on my saddle pads.

Not that the dressage pads are really lacking in anything. I just love the shape of a side saddle. Don’t you?


  1. I *have* to come up with a suitable and politically correct response to this excellent post. It's the second part I'm finding hard !

  2. The photo with the ruler shows the UK way of measuring a side saddle (England tends to lag behind in everything, even shoe sizes are measured the old way which is why I take a size 8 instead of a 10!!).

    I can't imagine you taking a 20" (UK measurements) seat though. I'm 5'9" and considered "obese" by weight charts (lol) and 17 1/2" is plenty big enough. The biggest I've seen is 18 1/2"- 19" and that was a massive seated saddle (both length and width wise!!). That was at the tack shop where I got my off-side saddle from.

    Side Saddle Heaven has two 23" saddles, a Knoud and a Martin & Martin, did you see them?

    Pretals which were made in the 1970's often had 23" and 24" seats (US measurements).

  3. Jason... shush. I guess I've been relegated to weighing myself on the feed scale.

    That measurement illustration came from William Kerr's Riding for Ladies 1891. My upright pommel is one of the sloped ones. If I had a slim, older style pommel, my guess is that my saddle would measure a little under 20".

    I am 5' 8.5" and my BMI is just over the tipping point of overweight by one point. I do have fairly long legs instead of having my height in my torso so that could be a contributing factor.

    Yes, I have the two Side Saddle Heaven 23"ers on radar. I thought somewhere over the past few months I saw a 24" seat, but where ever it was, it's gone now. I've measured my own saddle a dozen times to make sure I'm not stupid or something, and it is 22.5" (from the front of the upright) by just over 13"

  4. Hmm, it seems you have longer legs than me even though your only 1/2" shorter! LOl, I feel stumpy now :)

    What is the length from the cutback pommel to cantle (UK measurement)? I'm on a side saddle searching mission so if I come across a big 'un, I can let you know. If I get to go back to that tack shop where I got my off-side from, I can measure that really big seated saddle for you. That was a Mayhew.

    What tree fitting do you need?

    I seem to remember a 24" side saddle around too, I think it was a girl named Melody in VA who was selling it. It was a Pretal but I don't think she's selling it anymore.

  5. I've seen a couple saddles with very generous seats but they weren't for sale. I'll keep my eyes out too! I think you'll have better luck looking down in the US or UK, sidesaddles are few & far between up here.
    Talk to Linda at the Sidesaddlery too, she's really really good at helping people find what they need.

  6. Ahhh yes, now I've found it. It was the Pretal at Side Saddlery that was withdrawn from consignment.

    We'll all just have to keep our ears to the ground. I'll take a photo of my saddle with a tape on it so you can see for yourself on the UK measurement.

  7. I feel your pain, I am 5'9" and over 200 lbs ( I am what I like to refer to as "comfortably curvy"). I haven't gained or lost a significant amount of weight in over a decade, no matter what I tried. I have a 22" Elan on hold at the moment, between my measurement from the back of my knee to the back of my bum being 23" and my horse being a kind of odd shape, I have had hell finding anything even close that I can remotely afford. None of the vintage saddles would fit the horse, wheres the large seated ones would fit me fine. I can deal with the seat being a smidgen small for me, as long as the horse is comfortable.

  8. Having seen the photos in your posts I have a hard time believing that you need a 23". There are so many factors involved in saddle fit other than seat length and width. I know it's a pain, but the best thing you can do is arrange for a professional sidesaddle fitting. Yes, it means hauling your horse for hours, but that is something that I do yearly for reflocking even though it involves extra expenses for motels and stabling. But if you end up buying a saddle that doesn't work you've spent far more; I wouldn't be in a hurry to purchase another saddle unless you're certain it will fit you both.

    I'd stay away from Elans; the quality has really suffered in the past few years and these days they're hit or miss.

  9. I am 5'8" and my sidesaddle is a 21". It could have ideally been another inch longer, a 22" would have been much more comfortable BUT my mare is only little and as it is I worry I am too far over her loin.

    I had a 22" Elan which was comfy & workable but the quality of it nearly made me cry, especially when I waited for so long for it to come from the States... I did wonder what the quality of them is like these days (I got mine about 6 yrs ago) a local girl has just ordered one and I would hate to see her as disappointed as I was.

  10. Tell me this...would you pay good money for any other saddle that was Pakistani made? I saw an Elan that a sidesaddler had split down the center with a bandsaw so you could see right down to the tree. I couldn't believe how terrible the construction was. And don't get me started on the quality of the leather.

    I read this yesterday on the net, "There's no such thing as a good cheap saddle or a cheap good saddle."

    I'm afraid that sentiment is true pertaining to all aspects of horse owning.

  11. Sometimes though Robin you get stuck between a rock and a hard place :( There are very few sidesaddles available in New Zealand, and when I was looking the few I found were usually in appalling condition (and we have no saddlers to restore them) and very narrow.
    Unfortunately the sidesaddle community is not very obliging here and they will not lend or loan out sidesaddles, so if you want to "have a go" you have to find a cheap starter sidesaddle. My Elan got me going, fitted me & my horse and confirmed I had the sidesaddle disease! lol Then I saved up my pennies for my current sidesaddle.
    My long term goal is the win the lottery and go shoppin at Leila's favourite tack shop and take arm loads of sidesaddles back to NZ... :)

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  13. Let's try this without the typos...

    Besides padding and fit to the horse, I'm sure both my position and posture are affecting how the seat size works for me. I need to learn to straighten (and strengthen) my lower back. Every saddle I've ever owned, I've sat on the back edge and let my pelvis tip back. A clinician I saw back before my teen years would have called it not a "chair seat", but a "toilet seat".

    When I referred to this saddle as a "starter saddle" both the seller and the saddle had a bird... are you reading this Kathie and Lillian?

    Buying a saddle, sight unseen, from thousands of miles away, having not sat in a side saddle for lo these many years (as in 25) is bound to start you on the far end of the learning curve. Which, I fully accept. It's a process.

  14. I hope you read new comments on old posts...
    I found the woman selling the Pretal. it's still for sale. She also has a 23" M&M for sale. I found her on the ISSO facebook page. She's emailing me pictures of both, if you'd like me to forward them on to you I can. you can probably get my email from this comment, but I'll post it discretely (damn bots!) lexwells AT gmail DOT com.
    Good luck on your saddle search, I've just started.