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groundseat question and diagnosis

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Can you all help with groundseat construction?  I have made 4 saddles for myself (3, seats below) and my wife, and am about to make one for a lady friend.  Here are two questions:  

1.  Can you explain how to shape different groundseats for men and woman?  

2.  Can you look at the wear patterns on three saddles I've made for myself (pictured below) and tell me if I might need to shape a man's (mine, anyway) seat differently?  Seems they all have worn about the same.  Looks like my seat bones have bridged the middle of the seat, leaving an unworn spot.  Maybe the top middle needs to be more rounded?  The low spot of the seat from the side in all was carved to be in front to the edge of the cantle.  I do feel it in my seat bones if I ride for many hours.  First two saddles were made on Buster Welch trees, the third is an Oregon Wade.  (Those spur tracks on #2 are the result of horse, jeep, and two motorcycles meeting on a forest road.  No one hurt - except my pride, especially when my partner said I used to be able to ride quick unexpected spooks like that.  Time marches on!).  

Thanks.  --John




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It’s my opinion and experience that you can build gender specific seats but you don’t have to.   While it’s true that men can get along with a seat conformation that women won’t tolerate, a seat that accommodates women can also work nicely for most men and may actually improve their riding posture.  Men’s pelvises generally rest closer to the cantle and as a result men are more forgiving than women as to the height and location of the seat rise.   My seats are characterized by closeness to the horse, a low rise, a pocket (low point in profile) that is more elongated forward, full and fairly flat between the bases of the cantle, and as narrow as the tree allows over the stirrup leathers.   I use 5 patterns or profile cards to guide the shape of my groundseats while ensuring symmetry and consistency.  If requested I can tweak that base shape to fit the client’s riding style and preference. 

In the photos I attached, the first photo is of the longitudinal pattern or profile card in a nearly complete groundseat.  The 3 transverse cards ( lower right in the second photo) are placed where the vertical lines are drawn on the longitudinal card.  The first, most forward line on the card is at the back of the stirrup leather slot.  The card furthest left in photo two is for cantle dish.

I'm not sure how much we can tell from the wear patterns shown in your photos.  The human body asserts the most pressure under the only skeletal contact in the seat which is our sit bones (ischial tuberosity). The rest of our anatomy that contacts the saddle seat is soft tissue.  Being "soft" tissue, it may not leave a lasting impression on the saddle but it sure can be uncomfortable.  You can see the sit bone locations in your photos but not where the soft tissue may or may not have uncomfortable levels of pressure.  Men's sit bones are typically spaced a bit closer together and will rest about 1" further back in the seat than a woman's.  A pocket (low point in the seat) that is too close to the cantle and/or rises too quickly toward the fork, will not provide a woman with enough room for their crotch.  I usually establish the lowest point of the seat about 3 1/2" behind the stirrup leathers and, as stated above, that pocket is quite elongated.

Cary Schwarz has a pretty good DVD that discusses groundseat construction and shape.



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Thanks for the full reply.  Lots of good info. I like the template  idea.  I use them for lots of other things, so not sure why I didn't think of it. I'll check out the Cary Schwarz video. --John

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