The English Saddle
Many of our clients ride in the English saddle. English saddles are lightweight, which makes it easier for our clients to tack up independently. The saddle is flatter and less bulky, so the client can do exercises in the saddle that involve a lot of movement. However, these saddles can also be challenging for the client because there is not as much support as a larger saddle. These saddles require more trunk strength and balance. We will almost always use stirrups with the English saddle for the additional support they provide.
The Western Saddle
The Western saddle feels more secure, with the high cantle in the back and high fork in front. An instructor would choose this saddle for clients with less trunk strength. The client may especially like the security of holding onto the horn and fork in the front of the saddle. The client’s legs will hang down longer in a Western saddle, which may be helpful for those whose legs are less flexible. This saddle may also be preferred for the above-the-knee amputee, because of the deep seat.
The Australian Stock Saddle
The Australian Stock saddle has a deeper seat than an English saddle. Some of our Australian Stock saddles have large handles attached –this encourages the rider to keep hands wide apart and enables them to stabilize their upper bodies. This saddle can also have supports and blocks placed on each side of the leg to keep the leg in place. Our Australian Stock saddles are made of synthetic material, which provides a better grip for the client (leather can be slippery!).
The Dressage Saddle
The Dressage saddle also allows the client’s legs to stretch down longer, and is for riders who have less flexibility. Proper leg position in these saddles is close to vertical. A Dressage saddle also has a deeper seat than the English saddle.
The Western Pad with Surcingle with Handle
For some clients, we don’t even use a saddle. Using a Western pad with a handled surcingle can be very beneficial. The client sits on a soft seat and their legs hang long. The large handle encourages the rider to keep hands wide apart and enables them to stabilize their upper bodies, as with the Australian Stock saddle with handle. Clients concerned about chafing from a saddle (for instance, a paraplegic client) might be more comfortable in the Western pad and surcingle. Clients with tight adductors (one of the thigh muscles) or spasticity (tightness) benefit from the horse’s warmth, and it allows movement without the bulk. The client feels much more of the horse’s movement, and it can help those clients that need a lot of sensory input. Stirrups can be used for more sensory input. Riding with just the Western pad and surcingle requires theclient to engage core muscles, and it also encourages the client to correct his/her balance and posture.
A sincere thank you to our instructors for assisting with this latest blog!