by Jess Clawson
Many years ago when I was in grad school and couldn’t afford a horse, I played roller derby. I made terrific friends, was the fittest I’ve ever been, and wore myself out enough that I could actually sit down and get my writing done.
And then I shattered my left ankle in practice. Really shattered it. “This…couldn’t be worse,” the orthopedic surgeon said the day before he operated.
After healing and finishing grad school, I got back into eventing but had to be careful with that ankle. One too many times schooling off the bank and I’m back to not walking. An extra long jump school, a gallop day, a competition: ouch.
But interestingly (to me, anyway): my left leg is a LOT more stable than my right leg ever since I came back from my injury. I think part of that has to do with having had the entire thing put back together with plates and screws and pins and wires. My right leg feels so much less… Wolverine-like. After realizing that having some hardware installed for the sake of symmetry wasn’t a great idea, I spent extra time in the saddle trying to get my right leg to hold proper form.
Then one day I opened my email and I saw that Total Saddle Fit has taken the same ergonomic approach to the stirrup leather that they have to their girths. I knew I needed the Stability Leathers in my life. It was love at first sight, and the package was at my door within a few days.
My first impression of the leathers was great. Right out of the box, I could tell the leather was good quality and durable. I’m much more of a leather snob than I can actually afford to be, but these made me happy and I knew they would break in great.
As luck would have it, I couldn’t try them out right away. My horse was coming back from a splint and wasn’t ready to jump yet, so I let a friend try them in her jump school. She’s a beautiful rider anyway, but her leg stayed very still and she looked, well, stabillized. As you can see here, and here, and here.
When I was finally able to ride myself, I fell in love with this product. What I can tell you is: you can pry these leathers out of my cold, dead hands. They are the piece of equipment you don’t know you need until you have it. I can’t go back to normal leathers now, even the very expensive soft calfskin ones.
Here’s why: Yes, my legs felt very stable. For the first time in as long as I can remember, my right leg stayed where I wanted it without my having to fight with it. I could just stop thinking about where my right leg was and focus on other things, like not goosing poor Mo at the base of the jump and staying in a rhythm and keeping my hands up and looking at the top rail of the jump and all those other things.
What I didn’t realize until I rode in these leathers is how much they really reduced the pressure on my shins. I’m used to hopping off after a jump school or a gallop and having a weird feeling in my legs that I had attributed to fatigue but now realize was also in part having my circulation impeded by the leathers.
The Total Saddle Fit Stability Leathers are wider, thus they distribute pressure more evenly. Also, in holding the leg stable, they reduce rider fatigue from having to constantly be readjusting leg position. It’s less exhausting to stand on a stable surface than a moving one, and the stability leathers help keep the surface you’re standing on–your stirrups–where they belong.
I give these leathers five stars. They look great on my saddle, they are nice leather quality, they keep my legs in place, and they make me feel like my riding improved by leaps and bounds in one ride. Get yourself a pair–you will not regret it.
Brought to you by Summit Joint Performance:
Summit Joint Performance helps your horse feel and perform their very best. Whether your horse has an existing joint condition or you’d like to prevent problems in the future, our proprietary formulation of chondroitin sulfate promotes a healthy, thick synovial fluid, decreasing inflammation in the joints and improving the cushioning properties of the cartilage pads. This helps prevent the risk of early-onset joint pain and keep our partners feeling younger and staying competitive longer. By giving a single IM (intramuscular) injection of Summit Joint Performance® each month, we can help protect the joints that are being damaged by the activities that we (and they) love.
About the Author: Jess is a professional historian and educator who lives in northwestern Virginia. They completed their undergraduate degree in English at William & Mary, and did their masters and doctoral work at the University of Florida. Jess is an event rider with a passion for thoroughbreds, and has extensive experience in community organizing around queer identities, racial marginalization, and labor.
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