Very tall riders and saddle size

Saddle fit for riders is all over the place. One manufacturer’s 17-inch fits like another’s 16.5, and then we have the matter of myriad flap configurations.

Saddle shopping to replace one that never fit me in the first place, I’m curious about 18-imch (and bigger!) seats. It occurs to me just now that seat size doesn’t accommodate merely the butt, but also the femur. If you’re very tall, are you in an 18? And if you’re in an 18, do you also have extra-long and forward flaps?

In other words, tall riders, tell me about your saddle.

I have an 18.5” Bruno. It’s a Partition with a 6A flap. I’m 5’10”.

ETA: from what I understand, the Partition seat runs a bit small so is probably more like an 18” in other saddles. It’s a long, forward flap.

There’s no universal measurement for saddles since the “dot” isn’t in a universal place, and even if it was, simply measuring from there to the middle of the cantle doesn’t take into account or flat or deep the seat is, and even in deeper seats it matters if it’s a curvy U, or a U with a flatter middle.

Seats accommodate the butt firstly. For a given flap forwardness, you can go a seat larger to give you a bit more room to sit a bit farther back, but the middle of the seat has to be flatter, not curvier, to do that or you’ll be fighting the curve, unless the middle of the curve puts you back far enough already.

Your height is almost irrelevant, since 2 5’10" people can have very different inseams. It’s the hip to knee length that matters. I’m 5’5" and have not once needed any sort of forward flap, but I have a few shorter friends who fit the same size seat, but need a forward flap because they’re all legs.

And worse, 2 different saddles with the same seat size and shape, can have different degrees of forwardness a their “regular”

It all means - you just have to sit in them. If there’s a specific make and model of saddle that you know doesn’t work for you, and why, then someone might be able to make another suggestion base on the physical differences.


Generally, you go 1/2-1 size larger in a Dressage saddle than a CC saddle, mostly because most Dressage saddles tend to have a deeper seat. They may be flatter, or curvier, which affects things, but that 1/2-1" difference is a starting point if you’re new to looking.

I believer that’s also why the Partition seat runs “small”… it’s a deeper seat for a jumping saddle.

The depth of the seat also affects what size you need, you will typically have a little more room in the same size flatter seat than a deeper seat.

Much of my height is from hip to knee, so I’ve always had an 18.5 or 19 inch saddle depending on the seat depth and brand, and I’ve always had to have an extra-forward flap. That’s the only configuration that gives me both the ability to sit in the sweet spot and have room for my knee on the flap.

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I’m a long-legged 5’11" (okay, okay, maybe 6’) with a 35 inch inseam. I’m also built like a stick figure. I ride in a 17.5 Tad Coffin A5 with a forward flap. My knee still rests along/ almost over the front of the flap. It works perfectly for me. I have never liked riding in a larger size as I feel like the seat on an 18 is too big- kind of like wearing shoes that are a size too large.

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I’m 5’11 also ride in a 17.5, and the fit is the same as BrownMare and Amberley mentioned above, and I prefer it for the same reasons. (And my current guy is pretty short-coupled to boot, so add that into the equation.)

I can usually get by with one notch longer, and one notch more forward. (So, a 3A in a french-type saddle or whatever the equivalent might be.) I have quite a long femur, but my legs aren’t that long overall (inseam is about 33.5).

Suffice to say that I think you just have to try various!

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I am not very tall, but I have a 36” inseam. I always thought I had to ride in an extra forward flap to accommodate my femur, but I ride more comfortably with a longer stirrup and a more regular forward flap. I ride in a 17.5”.

I am not “very tall”- I am 5’7", but for my height, my legs are disproportionately long. They are about equally long from hip to knee as knee to ankle.

It’s really about the saddle’s particular geometry- length and postion of working center, its relationship to the stirrup bar, its relationship to the position of the blocks if there are any, the width of the twist respective to your hips, etc. I am currently in an 18" saddle. A 17.5" is my best size in this particular half-deep seat- the 18" is a little big for me. But I was looking used, and the flap configuration that works best for me was easier to find in an 18" than a 17.5" because apparently most of the people who like my flap dimensions are tall guys. :slight_smile: I have a long, extra-forward flap with the most forward point a little lower down on the flap to accommodate a long femur. In Devoucoux markup, this is 3AAB. In a flatter seat, or with the working center a little further back, I don’t need the same degree of forward cut.


I wouldn’t consider myself overly tall but I am very long legged. At 5’10" I was very comfortable in my 18 inch Stubben with a forward flap for the 30 years I owned it. I still regret ever selling it.

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Very useful, everyone. Thanks for your tips.

I came across a 12-inch pony saddle and I can’t handle it. I want to pop it in my mouth and eat it. Ridiculously cute.


If you have long legs, look at stirrup bar placement and a slightly smaller seat than usual. Bigger seats can result in a chair seat, because the bars end up further forward, away from where your leg starts, and that can make it hard to get in 2 point, and eventually make your back really sore (ask me how I know…)

I tried dozens of saddles and the only one that didn’t kill me was a Voltaire Stuttgart a size smaller than usual (17”), with a 3AAA flap (x,x forward) so my knee wasn’t over the front edge.


Agree with @Xanthoria, that the distance between the stirrup bar and the deepest part of the seat is key, and if it is too far you will have problems. I’ll go the other direction and say that if the seat is too small your feet will be too much underneath you so you will have a tendency to tip forward when in 2-point because the distance between the stirrup bar and the deepest part of the seat is not enough.

Therefore, you have to figure out what seat size gives you the best balance first and only then do you consider where the flap needs to be.

And just to give you another set of data points, I am 6’, my dressage saddle is a 17.5" and I prefer an 18.5" jump saddle with a long (not forward) flap, completely opposite the “usual” trend of riding in a jump saddle smaller than your dressage saddle.


It never occurred to me that stirrup-bar placement had any sort of role in this. It’s also quite interesting that some of us may be around the same height, with similar shapes, and yet SO MUCH ELSE is at play. I read recently about how less-than-ideal twist width can really gum up everything.

Can’t wait to hit Rick’s to sit in this, that and the other thing.


Oh @Amberley now you are really going to make people give up on saddle shopping! Yes, it is very complicated to get it 100% right, and research into rider fit has up until very recently been horribly neglected so there are no accepted rules to teach saddle fit students, so saddle fitters (by and large) are not even aware that they should consider such things.
Ergox2 saddles out of Sweden is changing this. They DO consider the size (length and width) of the rider’s pelvis, the height of the pubic bone (which indicates the height of the pommel) the angle and length of the femoral heads (so how your thigh bone attaches to your pelvis) and more when making saddle fit recommendations.
I was so excited about all of it that I travelled to Sweden to learn more and I now have some Ergox2 demos. I’m still early in the learning process so I haven’t even put it on my website (though that will be changing very soon). I think that the Ergox2 founder, Maria Hallring, will cause a sea change in how rider fit is approached across the industry.


Looking at saddles I’ve seen anything from 13.5” to 16” qualify as an extra-long flap. And I’ve looked at extra-forward flaps that are SO forward, they’re in another area code.

I’m in the same boat.

I tend to prefer a 17.5-18 depending on how flat the seat is, and a low forward flap for my weird femur.

@Amberley you are highlighting the problem my mom is having. The twist in her saddle is not quite the right geometry for her body. We are having trouble articulating exactly how. She knows that my sister’s saddle, which is nominally the same tree and human configuration, feels better. But we can’t figure out how to measure the problem parts to figure out what to look for!

Wow, @Amberley. For the first time I understand the twist’s purpose. Cheers.