I suffer from mild scoliosis and spondylosis and in the last few years, my lower back has become increasingly sore when I ride in my jump saddle. I do better with my dressage saddle, but I would like to get back into jumping again and was hoping someone here would have some suggestions on saddles. It seems to me that the wider and more flat seats don’t aggravate my back as much, but I am hesitant to shell out a ton of money on a new saddle in case it doesn’t work. Has anyone else dealt with this and if so, what saddle did you find that worked for you?
For me, of the balance of the saddle isn’t right, my back suffers. I recently started riding my new horse in my Voltaire, which was so much better than the Crosby I borrowed while my horse lost weight. The Voltaire rep checked the fit and suggested I add a lift pad to the rear of the saddle, and it made a huge difference. So maybe check that the cantle sits a touch higher than the pommel.
One other idea is to try a saddle that shares some similarities with your dressage saddle, like has a deeper seat.
I don’t have any diagnosed back issues like you do, just a sensitive lower back. I have to stretch every morning before I do anything. But riding in a more balanced and cushy saddle definitely helps.
I’d try a half size bigger seat than your current jump saddle
Not to be a smartass here, but yes I did, and the one that worked for me is the one that actually fit both my body and my horse’s body. Both those variables will be different for you, so there’s no use telling you what worked for me. Yes, it did work.
A couple of variables that might impact the way you use your back in the saddle:
- width of the twist. This changes the angle at which the top of your femur meets your hip. For some people, a twist that is too wide or too narrow for your body can put pressure on the low back.
- cut of the flap, especially in relation to the working center. This, and the placement of the blocks, impact where your leg falls under your body. Get this right and you’re in alignment. Get this wrong and you spend the entire ride arguing with your saddle. And your back hurts.
- seat size. This is not only about the size of your backside but also about the length of the working center. When presented with too short a working center for the shape and size of the pelvis, many of us tilt forward onto the front of the pelvis to compensate, which makes it hard to use your abs… which puts strain on the lower back.
- stirrup length. Same idea, changing the angle here can make it harder to use the core.
I also can’t overstate that fit of the horse enables fit of the rider. For instance, if the saddle is pommel high on the horse you’ll be compensating with your whole body to get out of a backseat balance.
If you don’t already know your preferences in the human fit variables I mentioned upthread and have other saddles in the tack room to borrow, sit in as many as you possibly can to start to understand what your body likes and doesn’t like about a saddle. From there, if you can come back with what you find comfortable and what your horse needs, I bet this community of amateur saddle fitters can make some suggestions for equipment that could suit you both.
I have half a size bigger, which makes me wonder if that might be part of the problem.
Thank you for taking the time to respond in such detail! I probably should have been more specific from the get-go, the saddle is custom-fitted to my horse and he seems happy with it. I was happy with the saddle too until I had a kid. Something changed, and it wasn’t the saddle. =(. I have tried a couple of different saddles but haven’t found one that worked for me. I think you hit the nail on the head with the alignment. My core strength and abs are still missing which also doesn’t help the situation. I will take a closer look at all your suggestions and I’ll probably bring out a saddle fitter to help me problem solve and find a saddle that works for us both!
Thank you! =) I think I’ll bring out a saddle fitter and start problem solving. These responses give me hope that I’ll be able to find a solution!
Try a thinline seat saver + pad under the saddle while you work on your core strength. They really do absorb shock and if you liked the saddle before you might still like it once you are 100% fitness again.
I was going to suggest this as I can feel the difference when riding with a thinline pad.
I also have low back issues and do better in a dressage seat. I think I found that it was more how I was using my body than where a saddle was putting me. The closed hip angle (and especially cantering in a half seat) encourages me to over-arch my back and load all of my torso weight into that low back area. If I ride in a more vertical position -regardless of saddle- it counteracts that. So it’s really about finding a saddle that allows that. I’d look at A/P saddles, and/or ones with a wider twist, to avoid the clothespin action.
And if you haven’t explored it already, regular PT with a good therapist was life-changing for me.
I’ve heard a thinline pad helps a lot with back pain.
I love my Stubben portos elite with wool flocking and i have ridden in them all - horses love the flex shoulder tree and move much more freely - I have a terrible back and neck and jump a lot and have two of these saddles now- The french saddles all use the same tree that tends to interfere with a big sloping shoulder IMO which makes for a choppier ride, and the saddles are very comfortable as well
posting so i can save this thread
I don’t have any suggestions for saddle, but I will throw a rec out there for the acavallo seat savers. I am a chiropractors nightmare, mostly stemming from trauma from dislocated hips as a youth. The acavallo seat saver makes a marked difference in my comfort. As you regain your core strength, you will likely become more comfortable, too.
These are amazing. So much better than any other seat saver I’ve ever tried. A tack store sent me two to try and I found the gel out one to be amazing, while the gel in is more appropriate when you don’t want to be more obvious.
I’ll be the one dissenting opinion on the Thinline - personally I HATE it. I find it dulls the feel too much without actually offering any shock absorption that I can feel pain wise. Instead, I love the Invictus pad (after trying Ogilvy, Thinline, Mattes, gel pads, combination pads etc) and find it makes a noticeable difference in my comfort. My suggestion is to borrow or pick up one very discounted/ used to try before committing to any of the pads. They are all expensive and a personal preference.
As far as the saddle goes - I’ll echo that a well fitting to you saddle is what is important over brand/ specific models. I have a CWD03 1L that I ordered because of my back issues. I find a flat seat (however my dressage saddle is fairly deep), narrow twist saddle that allows me to get and keep my legs under me is important (which is why the baby horse who doesn’t fit the CWD got a Beval Natural). Interestingly, I also found lifting the rear of the saddle to be helpful. I still have some issues as I constantly neglect my core muscles/ stretching and have a desk job but at least am still able to jump and ride.
Not a saddle but I also found my FreeJumps to be helpful in placing my leg in a good spot and in absorbing some of the landing (or bucking and playing) all of which lowering the amount of back pain I have after riding. It is very, very noticeable when I ride without my “special” back pain items - even in the Beval Natural with composite stirrups and a sheepskin pad on baby horse I am pretty sore after vs no soreness in the CWD/ FreeJump/ Invictus setup.