Can the shape of the horse impact hip soreness?

Older re-rider here. Will a slab sided horse be more comfortable for a desk jockey that gets hip pain after riding? Looking at 2 horses. One pretty round, one built more slab-sided like a TB. Buying off video due to COVID. Thanks!

So if you get hip pain, what is the shape of the horse that does this? My thinking is that the slab sided would put less stress on hips, but the comfort of the gaits may also play a role.

I would imagine a slab sided horse might be more comfortable for you since it allows your legs to hang down a little straighter. That said, I would also imagine a big mover would cause more pain than a horse that travels fairly flat, so I’d take that into consideration as well. If the slab-sided horse is going to toss you out of the tack with every stride, he might not be such a great fit for you.

I’d also consider getting fitted by a professional saddler if you haven’t already. We always think about fitting the saddle to the horse and what impact a poor fit has on their movement and comfort, but riders tend to brush over the same effects that it can have on themselves. A wide horse with a well fitted saddle (for both of you) may end up being more comfortable than a narrow horse with a saddle that doesn’t fit you (and even more so if it doesn’t fit the horse either).


I would say the actual width of the horse matters more. I’ve ridden watermelons that were not as wide as a shark finned big bodied horse. It may depend on why you get hip pain that will help you decide.

This is an interesting question! My (now retired) TB is much narrower than my WB, but I always found my back pain to be worse with the TB. They are both big horses and big movers but my WB is much rounder and bouncier in his movement and definitely more comfortable. I have very narrow hips and a bad back and the way the horse moves, rather than its shape, seems to play a larger role for me in terms of what I find least painful. On the other hand, when my TB was really working over his back he was WAY more comfortable for me than if he was at all inverted.

I guess that doesn’t help as much since you are buying off video, but more suspension and lightness over the ground tend to correlate to feel for me. I know a lot of people say big-moving horses with a lot of suspension aren’t as comfortable, but I think that might be linked more to the rider’s stability and core strength (i.e if they are getting bounced around) than the movement itself.

It will depend on the conformation of the horse, your pelvis, and the saddle.

1 Like

A fascinating question. I would say my hip hurts more when I ride my wider horse (a TB, but he’s big and round) but I’m more effective as a rider. My hip hurts less when I ride a narrower horse, but I fight with my body position more and feel less effective. I should add, I have not just right hip pain but less flexibility on that side. I’m using the same saddle. I also have long legs, and I do like a full bodied horse, as opposed to having my ankles dangling down, as is often the case on a narrower horse.

My wider horses bother my hip more than the narrow ones. Also I am pretty sure my more severe hip Pain stemmed from riding in a saddle that didn’t fit my horse and caused me to overcompensate to one side.

I have garbage hips, and it’s the shape of the tree that makes the biggest difference. A narrow twist is vital.


As an aside/tangent, I’m a reasonably fit woman in my mid-40’s & coach yoga/rider biomechanics as a sideline business. While I worked in a desk jockey type job in my 20’s, subsequent jobs have been up & moving. Took a temp job proctoring at a local high school. Omg. The level of hip disfunction resulting from just 4 days of sitting down for 6 hours + busy week with kids’ schedules & not getting around to my usual mobility/strengthening routines. :scream::scream:

Only if you need it. That would cripple me. A clever saddler can make the difference. Wide horse/narrow pelvis or narrow horse/wide pelvis.

I find that the wider the horse, the more pain I am in after I ride. However, if I really need to grip with my thighs more than usual, that goes out the window and it doesn’t matter what shape horse I am on.

I actually rode a skinner TB in college where I thought my hips were going to pop out of my sockets after every ride, but now a few years later I notice that the wider the horse the more pain I am in generally.

I was just about to say this. I think the most comfortable shape is a ‘medium tree’ horse because the really narrow ones make you grip with your inner thighs more.

I have found that the shape of the horse does not usually affect my hips much.

BUT short, upright pasterns will get my hips hurting every time, even on easy gaited horses.

A horse with a lot of motion in their back is not that great for me either. In this category the last TWH I rode in my Pegasus Butterfly saddle (which allows long sloping shoulders to move the saddle a lot) made my hips hurt worse than they had in years.

1 Like

It is a lot more than just the width of the horse to take in to consideration. I have a wide mare (really really wide) and I never have had an issue. I have a slab side gelding and it took me about 4 months NOT to hurt in my hips and lower back after riding. He apparently throws his hips around (I’m prob not saying that right). He’s a big mover but my trainer describes it (he owns a relative of my gelding and says she rides the same) that when his hind end moves up youre kind of thrown up. I thought it was my saddle hurting me.

It depends on why your hips are sore. I had surgery this year for dual labral tears. Before the surgery, riding any horse, but particularly wide horses, was a problem. Now, I can get my leg underneath me and a wide horse may not be an issue. However, my gelding, though quite slab sided, requires a TON of strength and coordination to ride straight. That does make my hips sore, but in a muscular way vs. the ligament & bone on bone pain I had with the tears. It is really a your mileage may vary depending on the dysfunction in your body kind of thing.