Tl;dr: I rode for less than 10 minutes in a dressage saddle that was painful, and got so nauseous and dizzy that I had to dismount and sit on the ground for a while.
Bear with me, everyone; I am not kidding.
I’ve been out of the saddle, more or less, since the start of the year. My mare has been retired. The only riding I have done has been in my saddle – a few short rides on my mare before I retired her, and a couple of trail rides on a friend’s horse that my saddle fits well.
Said saddle is a “dressagey” trail saddle – a Black Country Celeste with custom flaps to fit me and my leg peculiarities. I am curvy and short, have one very tight hip, short femurs, long shinbones, and I am seriously “over at the knees” for lack of a better description – part of the reason I quit dressage is that I am not built for it. My saddle has short flaps set a bit forward, and small velcro blocks instead of the regular Celeste’s set block, which poked my thigh and left a bruise. I am aware that this saddle does not put me in an ideal dressage position but I honestly don’t care. It allows me to be comfortable.
I have ridden in other saddles, and adapted more or less.
Anyway… my BO offered me a ride on one of her horses, hippotherapy basically as all my issues have become worse since I stopped riding regularly. We used the horse’s saddle (actually a loaner of similar until his is delivered), which is a “big block deep seat” dressage saddle. I will say up front that the seat is a little small for me – By femur length I should be riding in a 16 inch saddle, but mine is an 18.
My initial reaction was owwwwwwww. The big blocks put one’s legs in a very straight position under the hips. There is not a lot of play. BO led me around while we worked on “breathing” into my legs and lower back. My hips started to loosen a bit, but lower back was a struggle.
Then I started to feel icky. It was early enough in the morning to be not hot yet and I was well hydrated. First a little nauseous. Then a little faint. I asked the BO to stop and we started to work on straightening my alignment but I felt so awful and dizzy that I just had to dismount. Sat on the mounting block, put my head between my knees, moved to the ground, and about 5 minutes later I was fine.
So is this a thing" Was it the saddle, or am I making things up in my head? I’ve ridden in “uncomfortable” saddles but this was … different. Should I try again?
(On said leg conformation: had I been born in 1984 rather than 1964, I probably would have had several surgeries done on my hips and legs as a baby or toddler. I’m starting to think about hip replacements, at least for the right leg, though probably would delay it until after my mare passes on, because I’m really enjoying her as a retired horse… I take her for walks and she’s just a joy.)