Although women now dominate most equestrian pursuits in the U.S., it’s taken a long time for saddle manufacturers to catch up with the gender shift.
English saddles were originally made for men to ride in the military or the hunt field. During World War I, that trend which was solidified, causing most saddles to be designed for men.
The problem is that men and women have some significant skeletal differences, particularly in regards to the shape of the pelvis. Women tend to have a pelvis shape that is wider and more shallow than the male pelvis which means that women typically have seat bones that are further apart than those of men. Women also tend to have a longer femur in relation to the their lower leg.
So, put a typical female rider in a saddle designed for a man and you have a mismatch. The seat will be too narrow, the stirrup bars will be too far forward and the rider will be fighting against the saddle to maintain her position.
The videos below are from Schleese Saddlery which has made fitting female riders one of their specialties.
Learn more about how
A female friendly saddle is a saddle that:
1) Has a seat which supports the female pelvis and gives a base to the points of the pelvis or seat bones (ischial tuberosities. The seat of the saddle meets/joins the seat bones and is firmly underneath them. In narrow twist saddles the female is sitting more on her crotch than her pelvis. She is literally teatering in the middle with no support.
2) Has a twist or waist to the seat which tapers off slowly allowing the hip joint and upper thigh to move freely.
3) Supplies the proper amount of rise to the pommel which will alleviate friction on the pubic symphasis or soft tissue area of the crotch.
4) Places the stirrup bars under the hip joint for proper biomechanical line up of the leg under the torso.
5) Provides cushioning in the seat for extra comfort and give, tender seat bones, long hours sitting and menstruation discomfort.