Practice. Mounting block.
And now, for the stupid topic of the day... how on earth do you condition yourself to hoist a heavy western saddle onto a horse?
To make a long story short, I am only 5'4 and really small all around. My normal riding mare is 15.1hh and I have the hardest time saddling her up with my western saddle. Granted, it weighs like 40lbs. It's a Les Ertman roping saddle and I love it and don't want to get rid of it in favor of a lighter saddle. It fits Vegas like a glove and is seriously comfortable. I'm attached to that chunk of leather. Normally, I ride English and those saddles weigh nothing... but I've found that my Western saddle is a little nicer to my back (nearly broke it a few years ago and it's never been the same). I have wretched shoulders from another accident, and hoisting a heavy saddle onto my nearly pony-sized mare is just a struggle. Sometimes, I find someone at the barn who will lift it for me, but I don't want to depend on other people.
What can I do to help build up strength in my shoulders so I can do it easier? I've also considered building a larger platform/stepping stool type thing. I have a hard time hoisting the saddle up higher than my shoulders and if I had a bit extra height, it might be easier to do. I can carry the saddle around just fine, it's just the lifting it above my shoulders that's the issue.
Practice. Mounting block.
I have issues with my elbow and shoulder, when I have to harness the mares, who are 17.2H, and I am no short woman, I have a 2 step stool I use, it helps get me in a taller position and easier on me all around. Could you do something like that? Or a heavy duty mounting block, use that to have that extra height to be able to lift and set your saddle on your mare's back?
“Lightness is not the bit; lightness is the outcome of an athletic development and a coordination of the horse physique allowing superior body control. Lightness involves the legs, the seat, the hands and above all, the brain.” Jean Luc Cornille
I'd use a mounting block as well.
Also, look into pilates and yoga classes. I've found it's REALLY helped loosen my shoulders.
Originally Posted by ShesGoneCountry
It all must have something to do with the recent legalization of marijuana.
Before picking the saddlle up, throw the girths over the seat and hook the right stirrup over the horn. Tip the saddle toward you, eyeball placement and heft onto back carefully. I am 5'2" and this method works for me. I do use a mounting block (upturned 1/2 barrel) and that's another skill for your horse!
Thanks! I usually remove the girths from my saddles because I have horrible luck and would probably whack myself with them in the process of tacking up.
My horses all stand well beside mounting blocks, because that's the only way I can get on. However, the plastic mounting blocks at the barn are a bit unstable when it comes to hefting a saddle up there too. I was thinking of building a more solid one out of wooden pallets and leaving it by my tack shed. Or, I could just ground tie my mare beside the tack shed and use it as my extra height to heave the saddle up. She ground ties and the step up into the tack shed is about 2 feet tall... that's more than enough extra height.
I'm going to look into yoga and pilates, as well. I want to get into better shape all around and if it helps my riding, even better!
At one point, I was seriously considering teaching my horse to bow to make is easier to tack her up. haha. I might still do that, just for the sheer entertainment value in it.
Since your plastic ones are wobbly, I say pallets are the way to go! You can get them for free!
Exactly! I can just take a couple from my work, for free. Saves them the cost of having them picked up and disposed of. haha.
I too have a hard time getting my saddle onto my horse and he in only 14.3 and my saddle is only about 30 lbs. I have severe rheumatoid arthritis and my shoulders hurt something terrible at times. I have to keep my arms and shoulders in good shape all year round which is hard during winter. When I'm outside doing all sorts of things in nice weather I seem to do fine. When winter comes I don't go outside much cause when I get cold.....I hurt. This winter I found working out with my arms and shoulders with one of those stretchy band thingys is really helping me to keep the muscle tone.
If 40 pounds is too much then you need weight training! Use that saddle as a dumbell and lift every day until it's easy. Of course you may not be able to do that, so i'll second yoga. Amazing work out, and greatly tightens the core, but might not help strength buiding. If you're able and it's a good idea, work through the pain nd come out stronger!