New to horse riding - hard time adjusting to mostly female group

Hey everyone,

I’m a 21 year old guy who recently moved to a new town and wanted to try to get into horse back riding.

There’s a group nearby that has lessons but I’m noticing it’s almost all women, which is fine for the most part, but I’ve been having some “man specific” comfort issues with the saddle that is awkward to talk to the female trainers (all of the trainers are women).

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Welcome! Here is an older thread that may help. If not, ask your question, we don’t embarrass easily and someone will probably have an answer.

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As riding instructors, we learned to bring that up ourselves, how to be comfortable, men and women.
If a male student had problems and was shy, we had a male instructor handy.
Maybe ask your instructors directly?

I know the first a friend trainer used to recommend for comfort was to “go commando”, only jeans and see if that helped.

Another one; Question for male riders

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People have already steered you to some good threads, but I wanted to say welcome to horses! They will change your life… and while it is true in some disciplines that women outnumber men, I am sure you’ll find an awesome community in your new town regardless of gender! Horse people can be crazy… but for the most part, horse people are good people.

I am a female, but I do believe that advice regarding your comfort in your attire and in the saddle may depend on if you are riding English vs Western. I agree don’t be shy to ask. Your female trainers likely know male riders or trainers with tips they may steer you to if they do not have answers themselves.

In the meantime, have fun and giddy up!

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Western or English saddle? And what are the best and worst gaits for you?

Testicles or penis or perineum or anal discomfort? Anything bruised or bleeding?

And what are you wearing? Boxers or briefs? Jeans or riding breeches?

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From what I’ve picked up from posts from new male riders who do group lessons at an established stables–usually the saddles these poor men are put into are TOO SMALL.

So ASK if the stable has 17.5", 18" or up saddles that will fit the horses you will end up riding (I am assuming a barn teaching hunt seat or dressage.)

From what I’ve read even a half inch too small can cause painful problems that are only curable with a bigger saddle.

The only other solution, and it is a temporary solution, is to learn how to get into a 2-point position so your seat is not in the saddle, and then stay up in 2-point the entire ride (that is what I used to do with too small saddles, I am a woman.) This can get tiring and it can cause sore gripping muscles with beginning riders.

If you ever get to despairing just remember that most women did not ride astride until the beginning of the last century. EVERY cavalryman learned how to ride without extreme pain, you can do it too!

I sort of doubt female instructors will get too embarrassed about your question. I would be willing to bet that these women have done the messy task of cleaning off a male horse’s penis, reaching up deep into the sheath, several times in their lives. After doing that a few times female instructors just do not get embarrassed by male specific questions, they have literally seen it all.

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If you do feel slightly outnumbered, there are equestrian disciplines where men are far more frequent or even dominant such as Eventing, Polo, Foxhunting, Mounted Skill at Arms, Mounted Shooting etc so never fear…

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Almost forgot. As a starter you could consider buying a gel seat cover that you could move from saddle to saddle. I have one that I use for long trail rides that really helps. For me trail rides are worse on the privates than foxhunting, maybe the adrenaline, or maybe the time in 2 point or posting.

I have to share this story. My wife, who has been riding longer than me, had an epiphany at age 60-something while folding laundry when she finally realized why men’s briefs are called “jockey shorts.”

I have one of these.
:

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And by the way, since cavalry riders were mentioned and in case someone has not seen a McClellan cavalry saddle. This is a 1904 model McClellan. Observe the seat opening; it must of been a bit like riding on a toilet seat…
mcc1 mcc2 mcc4 mcc3

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This will not be an awkward topic for your trainer. Chances are it’s come up before – and if they don’t know the answer, they will direct you to someone who does. This is not at all a question to be ashamed of.

My SO (and other male friends who I’ve been privileged enough to have this convo with) report it’s best to wear snug briefs and pull your jewels out and forward so they are ahead of your seatbones and not in peril of being landed upon.

It will take experimenting and every single person’s anatomy is different. What works for you may not work for other men – try playing around and see what works best.

Welcome to horses!

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Add to that, many (most?) Western disciplines! Although, I always love to see diversity of all types in the hunter-jumper rings (so please don’t be put off if that is where your interest lies!).

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In addition to everything else people have suggested, the size or twist of the saddle might be a factor. I’m a woman who has ridden for years, but recently started riding a pony that made me…very uncomfortable. Let’s just say I yelped in the shower. At first I thought it was just that the horse was green, and I wasn’t coping with her issues well, but we tried a different saddle (that also fit the pony), and all the discomfort evaporated. If the horse can be ridden in a different saddle, you might want to give that a go.

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I clearly remember the worst yelping I ever did, after a ride on a friend’s horse in their saddle, was the peeing, not the showering. Ouch!! :open_mouth:

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Oh yes, that was bad too! That saddle was getting ground right in there.

I’m a small person, so they just had me ride in a kid’s saddle, and while it fit visually, it did not REALLY fit.

I’m not very knowledgeable re: human anatomy and saddle design, but obviously a man’s pelvis is shaped differently from a woman’s, and I wonder if the discomfort many men have might be linked to that, in part.

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To put your mind at rest, many horse folks tend to be down to earth. Full-volume conversations about squashed man-parts, bouncing boobs, sweat, dirt, rashes, peeing/pooping while out trail-riding or while cleaning stalls, routinely handling anatomy bits of the horse not usually mentioned in polite company… all normal.

It’s good that horses are so beautiful, because sometimes the peripheral stuff about them is more… real. :slight_smile:

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Hah thank you! I’m wondering how I start the squashed man-parts conversation with a woman more than twice my age!

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Just a suggestion:

“Do you have a saddle with a bigger (longer) seat? I am having BIG problems with the saddle being too small.”

Her imagination should be able to fill in the embarrassing gaps.

Women also have difficulties with too small saddles, especially if they are pregnant and running into the pommel of the saddle with the pubic bone gets rather painful.

Another suggestion is to ask if she has any “pancake” saddles. Deep seats can lead to crushed everything if the seat is too small for the rider’s conformation. The “pancake” saddles do not cause as many problems with this, though they can still be painful if the seat is not long enough. At least you would not be welded into the saddle and not able to move your seat around enough for some degree of comfort.

A “pancake” saddle is a lot flatter than a deep seated saddle.

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when you say smaller saddle, are you talking about the width or the length of it? I’m having issues bumping into the pommel too.

I am talking about the length of it. We measure saddle length from the nail head on the side of the pommel toward the top to the center back edge of the cantle.

With me, a 5’3 1/2" female with long thighs, I need a 17" saddle, a 16.5" saddle runs my pubic bone into the pommel, a 17.5" saddle is a little bit too big for me, and an 18" saddle puts me into a chair seat position (like I am sitting back in a chair) and it is harder for me to go with the forward motion of the horse. With some saddles, even if the seat fits, I need a more forward flap, otherwise my knees end up on top of the knee rolls. This is all with jumping saddles.

I have more problems with the AP (All purpose) saddles and the GP (general purpose) saddles because often there is not enough room for the length of my thigh. I do own a dressage saddle (17.5") and I had to rip out the knee rolls because my knees went over them and floated in the air, without the knee rolls my knee still goes beyond the front edge of the the flap but I can handle it a lot better since the length of my thigh can stay against the saddle flap. I also took off the knee rolls of my GP saddles (velcroed in) for the same reason, the front ligaments of my hips HURT.

As you can tell from the above fitting a saddle to a rider can often be challenging, then you have the problems of fitting the saddle to the horse’s back.

And another thing, just because at 5’3.5" I NEED a 17" jumping saddle does not mean that a 6’ tall man cannot fit in THAT saddle, though a 17.5" or 18" saddle may be more comfortable for him.

As for specific saddles, ask if they have an older Crosby jumping saddle that is 17" or bigger (you probably need bigger), the pommel will interfere with you less. Pancake saddles can help a lot with your specific problems.

My story–my first pregnancy I rode in my 18" extra forward flaps rather deep seated Stubben Siegfried and it did my pubic bone in big time. My next pregnancy I used my 17" Crosby saddle with regular length flaps and I had no problems at all because the Crosby is a flatter saddle than the Stubben Siegfried and I had zero problems with running into the pommel even though the saddle’s seat was 1" shorter.

Just remember when you talk to your older riding teacher–she has probably heard it all, she definitely knows what men look like down there, and she will probably be sympathetic. I’m 70 years old and I would have zero problems talking with a younger male about this in person. I seriously doubt she would feel embarrassed at all.

Good luck. We are all on your side about this. We KNOW how miserable a too small saddle can be.

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