This one’s for the ladies! And only the ladies.
Scheese Saddlery has introduced the world’s first Western saddle designed specifically for women.
The Devin, the premier Western Trail/Pleasure Saddle in the new Schleese Western Saddle line, is ergonomically designed for female physiology and adjustable to accommodate the biomechanics of the horse in motion.
“In a world that has historically had a ‘one size fits all’ mentality, saddles have traditionally been built for men,” explains Founder Jochen Schleese. “Because a woman’s pelvis is different from a man’s, riding in a ‘male’ saddle can cause women to experience back, knee, hip, and pelvic pain as well as difficulty maintaining proper position and posture in the saddle.”
Schleese, already an established female saddle specialist in dressage and jumping, created the Devin to ensure maximum comfort and performance for Western female riders.
Here’s how it’s different:
The Devin is narrower in the seat at the front of the saddle.
A woman’s hip bones are articulated at the hip joint differently than a man’s.
“Female thighs tend to angle outward at the hip and inward at the knee (known as “Q flexion”), so a woman carries more weight on her upper inner thigh than a man does. Women also typically have more flesh between the upper inner thighs than men,” explains Schleese.
“If the area of the saddle between the thighs is too wide, it can feel like a woman’s hips are being pulled apart and push her leg forward, which forces the knee and toe to turn out. Not only does this make it difficult to achieve a straight line from shoulders to hips to heels, it puts extra pressure on the hip joints, which can be painful.”
The seat of the Devin is narrower in the area between the thighs than traditional western saddles to be more comfortable for the female physique and allow for proper alignment.
“Because a woman’s pelvis is different from a man’s, riding in a ‘male’ saddle can cause women to experience back, knee, hip, and pelvic pain as well as difficulty maintaining proper position and posture in the saddle.”
The seat of the Devin is wider in the back.
The position of the seat bones differs for men and women, as well.
“A man’s seat bones are much closer together and the distance between them is much smaller, therefore he comfortably fits the seat of most saddles,” continues Schleese.
“The seat bones of a female pelvis are spaced much farther apart. For a saddle to fit a woman comfortably, the distance between the seams on the seat should be wide enough to allow the seat bones to sit on the padding. If the seat is too narrow, you’ll feel as though you’re sitting on a ridge and your seat bones will fall off the edge of the seat.”
The Devin has a wider seat width at the rear of the saddle to more comfortably accommodate a woman’s seat bones.
The Devin has an adjustable seat balance.
Pelvic tilt is also affected by the saddle model and balance. Depending on how a woman is built in the pelvis, some riders require a more forward seat balance point on the saddle, while others prefer a more centered or more rear balance.
“The size and shape of a woman’s buttocks will determine her ideal seat balance point. A woman with a smaller buttocks will often need a more forward balance point to sit comfortably in the saddle, whereas a woman with a larger buttocks will feel tipped forward,” he says.
“Seat balance point can be affected by how the horse is built, too. If, for example, the horse is very uphill, it might throw the rider back in the saddle, so they may want a more forward balance and vice versa.”
Traditional western saddles typically have a flat seat. The Devin accommodates a woman’s seat balance preference with interchangeable seat inserts that can be switched out by the rider to suit the horse and/or the ride.
“For instance, if you’re going on a long trail ride, you can double up on the foam inserts for added comfort,” says Schleese.
The Devin has adjustable stirrup bars.
The ratio of the length of the upper leg to the length of the lower leg determines the position and/or length of the stirrup bar. Again, gender comes into play here.
“Most women have a longer upper leg than lower leg. The stirrup bar acts like a fulcrum and the stirrup leather like a pendulum,” says Schleese.
“With a normally positioned stirrup bar, a woman’s leg will usually end up being too far forward because the leg falls according to its centre of gravity. Therefore, many women require extended stirrup bars to ensure that the leg hangs in the correct position.”
The Devin’s stirrup bars have three levels of adjustment to achieve proper shoulder, hip and heel alignment, regardless of a woman’s leg measurement.
The Devin has a lightweight design.
Unlike traditional western saddles, which can weigh upwards of 40 pounds, the Devin is only about 26 pounds (12kg). This too is customized to Schleese’s female clientele.
“A big part of our market is the 50+ adult amateur woman. The lightweight design simply makes it easier to tack up and is more comfortable for the horse on long rides,” says Schleese.
Proceeds from the Devin go to a good cause.
The Devin was named for Devin Grace Franktze, a 14-year-old rider and a dear member of the Schleese’ extended family who lost her life suddenly in a tragic car accident. A percentage of every SWS Devin western riding saddle goes to The Devin Grace Scholarship Fund to help others experience the joy and satisfaction that she felt while riding the trails.
To learn more about the Devin and Schleese’s female-centric saddle designs, visit schleese.com.
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