For the rider to maintain her balance in stirrups, the stirrup leather must be perpendicular when the rider’s leg is in the correct position. Thanks to variations in human anatomy, (such as the rider having a long thigh in proportion to the calf) the average stirrup bar can often be too far forward, so that the rider’s foot is always pushing out in front of her.
Here’s an inexpensive method of creating an adjustable (forward or back) stirrup ‘bar’ position. This will allow you to adjust the stirrup position on the saddle according to each student’s needs. (Requires a professional saddle maker).
Using this device for about 15 years with a lesson program of 150 to 200 adults and children, we were able to make every rider comfortable, correct and secure on her stirrups both when posting and when in half seat.
Note: if you’re still assigning school saddles to the horse rather than the student, please read more about the importance of saddle fit in Gincy’s column in the Winter 2015 issue of Riding Instructor Magazine.
First, the saddle is prepared by separating the panels (the underside of the saddle) from the tree (the upper side).This is a fairly simple operation. [See footnote for more on saddle construction.] Then a piece of strong webbing is passed over the tree under the billet webbing (Fig 1)
Next, a 1 1/8” stirrup leather buckle from which the tongue has been removed (Fig.2) is firmly attached to the new webbing so that the buckle lies slightly below the billet webbing, between the second and third billets and underneath them.(Fig.3) It should be loose enough to be moved back or forward to lie under either billet. Finally the panels are reattached to the tree.
To use the fitting, the appropriate billet for the rider’s need (more or less back) is passed through the upper half of the buckle, so that the lower half of the buckle lies on top of the billet (Fig. 4).
The stirrup leather is then laced through this half (Fig. 5). Note that there is no safety release, so safety stirrups should always be used on this bar.
Using this device gives the rider three positions for the stirrup, each about 1 inch apart: one on the stirrup bar itself, one with the buckle device on the middle billet, and one with the buckle device on the back billet.
Footnote: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_saddle; and scroll down to see an illustration of the deconstructed saddle