The one piece of tack I changed which dramatically transformed my riding posture

By , July 4, 2015 10:03 am

After a number of cowboy Irish saddle fitters sold me a saddle that didn’t fit my horse and made him sore, or checked an existing saddle I had and confirmed it was fine (and it also made my horse sore!) I’ve temporarily given up riding with saddles. I’m not riding in anything that hurts or pinches my horse.

But what to do in the meantime?

Isi Brenner, the wonderful horse trainer who came over from Germany to teach this May, suggested I could try a bareback pad from a German brand called Grandeur.

I used have a bareback pad a while back, made by best friend I think, but I didn’t really use it much or find it massively useful.

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However, I started to google these grandeur bareback pads. The pictures made them look INSANELY comfortable. If they were even half as comfy as they looked it’d be pretty amazing. My German friend Chris in our Irish Horsemanship facebook group, confirmed that she also had one and it was super comfy and the horse moved very well in it. As she was looking to buy a new one, we did a deal and soon I had a Grandeur pad heading in the post in my direction!

At this stage I want to share with you a few things my horse was doing while I rode in the badly fitting saddles. I should have known it was the saddle but stupidly I trusted the saddles fitters (neither of who were actually qualified saddle fitters – but just sold saddles as their business) so I thought the reason was due to something else.

1) Ozzie was moving at the mounting block.
2) Ozzie was not happy being girthed and there was a bit of foot stamping
3) I was getting an OK walk, but Ozzie didn’t ever offer to really walk out, like I see him do in the paddock when he wants to go somewhere.
4) Every time I went to trot his body tensed up and his head went up.
5) At halt, when I was about to dismount, he got super worried head went up, ears back and worried, as to dismount I was putting my hand and some of my weight on the front of the saddle where it was too narrow and hurting him. (gghhrrr!!!)

Anyway, after we figured out the saddle problem, Oz got 2 weeks off and two physio visits and was fine after this again.

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So the bareback pad arrived. It looked and felt insanely good. But what would my lovely horse think of it?

I put it on as is, with no stirrups about 7 weeks ago, and off I went. I also had a pad I can use for underneath it as well if needs be. He was happy!! After 7 weeks here is the update:

1) Ozzie is not moving at the mounting block.
2) Ozzie has no issues with the girth and the foot stamping is gone
3) I’m getting his huge walk again 🙂
4) He is offering to go from walk to trot on his own. He’s never done this as far as I can remember, and he’s totally relaxed offering this!!
5) Dismount I think he still remembers the discomfort. So for now I swing my leg over his withers and that works fine.

So my goal was to have something my horse was comfortable in, and that definitely worked.

As a bonus, it is sooooo much more comfortable than most saddles I’ve sat in. I did have a lovely saddle (one that was great for me but didn’t fit Ozzie), so it is definitely comparable in terms of being as nice to ride in.

But here’s the surprise I didn’t expect.

It has also made a big difference in my position.

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1) I’m pretty sure my body is more relaxed. I can feel a lot more of Ozzie movement which is really nice and helps me to get in time with his feet.

2) I’ve done a good bit of sitting trot in it. I test out my position in trot. If I’m very tense I tend to bounce around in trot (as I’ve no stirrups). So I experimented with what I can do with my body to bounce less. What seems to work is a slower trot (lol!), making my legs long, and putting my toes up. Getting my legs to go longer also seems to automatically stretch my back vertebrae so my back is longer and taller as well.

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That was all fine and I was happy my horse was happy, and I had a thought in the back of my mind that trotting without stirrups, while not being restricted by a saddle which jams up my body, can’t be a bad thing.

Last weekend we had a clinic with one of the worlds best horsemen, Steve Halfpenny. On the last day, we were getting to do some nice ridden work, and my lovely friend Mandy videod a few minutes of me riding. I had never seen footage of me riding in the bareback pad before. I watched the video last night and nearly fell over.

My posture – which has been the mostly the same for the last 30 odd years in various Irish hunting / GP type saddles – with my seat slightly back and my legs out the front – has totally changed for the better.

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I still have a little more work to do, but check out my position in these few photos….. who knew riding in a super comfy Grandeur bareback pad for a few weeks could affect my posture this much?

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I totally love these pads. If you are in the same situation like me, and have a saddle that is causing pain and you need to stop using, absolutely its worth having a look at these pads.

Next to my horse, its probably the best horse product I’ve ever bought, both for me and my horse.

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