Women’s health is a wide arena of advice from health gurus, doctors, and self-proclaimed experts. Sometimes you need to research to find the right answers for yourself. Here are some resources to get you started.
Sports Bras: Finding a well-fitting sports bra can be very difficult. There are as many styles and fit as there are with regular bras. A few companies carry bras with cup sizes, but just as often your choices are S/M, M\L, L\XL.
One product that is worth considering is the BooBuddy\BooBand. This is a breast support band that sits above the top of your bra and prevents ‘The Girls’ from bouncing. It can be worn with or instead of a sports bra. The website has sizing based on your dress size. (www.theboobuddy.com)
Chafing: There are many products that help alleviate the discomfort of chafing. Before you start buying, however, check some other factors. Your underwear should be non-binding and made of wickable fabric. Your riding position should be the classic ‘straight line’ from shoulders, elbows, and heels. If you are sitting too far back or too far forward, you are putting pressure on the wrong areas. Check your saddle fit. Not just for the horse, but for you. A saddle that is too wide or too narrow, too long or too short will put you in a poor position.
If that doesn’t help, there are options. Many women swear that the Hane’s Comfort Fit men’s jockey shorts are excellent and do not bulge in any embarrassing way. Other products include: Monkey Butt, Chamois Butt, Body Glide, Gold Bond Friction Defense Stick, and the old reliable Vaseline. Beware that some of these products can stain fabric. Jellypantz sells gel-padded underwear specifically designed for women who ride. (www.jellypantz.com)
Incontinence: Leaking and dribbling is uncomfortable and embarrassing. There are many reasons why this happens, most as a result of our bodies starting to wear out. Depending on the situation, exercise, a change in lifestyle, medication, and sometimes surgery – or a combination – can resolve the problem. If you are experiencing ‘leakage,’ a visit to your primary physician is called for.
In the meantime, there are several companies that sell underpants with absorbent liners. All of the brands offer many styles and different levels of absorption.
www.knix.com – They offer panties with different levels of absorption, including very heavy as well as reusable pads.
www.ondrwear.com – was designed by a female urologist
www.shethinx.com – They made products for ‘period protection.’ However, their ‘speax’ design is for bladder leaks.
www.zorbies.com – They claim to be able to absorb more than other brands.
Large women are often uncertain about their ability to ride and what considerations they must deal with. This article is an overview of the practicalities and possibilities: https://www.equisearch.com/articles/overweightrider
When people tell you that ‘the horse does all the work,’ don’t believe it. Here’s a calorie calculator to prove how much of a workout you are getting: https://captaincalculator.com/health/calorie/calories-burned-horseback-riding-calculator/
This is from Kentucky Performance Products. Note that they even consider the calories you burn playing ‘tag’ with an uncatchable horse:
A rule of thumb for weight loss is that daily caloric intake should be between 1200-1500 calories. You should lose about 1-2 pounds per week in order to be sure you are losing weight and not muscle and water. A pound of fat equals 3000 calories. NO, muscle does not weigh more than fat. A pound is a pound, be it of feathers, lead, or manure. Muscle is more dense than fat. It takes up less space than fat. So while the number on the scale does not change, your clothes may fit better.
Body Mass Index: While the BMI is used to estimate your amount of body fat, it does not take into consideration your age, body frame, or level of activity. New research says that the chart is not a reliable source for determining the ‘best’ BMI for older women. Still, it is a valid estimate for a rough gauge of your heart health. The body mass index (BMI) is a rough guide to proper weight. But it can serve as a heads-up or indicator of your overall fitness direction. This is an easy-to-use calculator: https://bit.ly/3wd7Pcm
A height-to-waist measurement ratio is considered somewhat more accurate. Here’s a calculator to find your ratio: https://dqydj.com/body-fat-estimate-calculator/
This site also has information about other numbers and what they mean.
Perhaps the most important piece of riding equipment is your saddle. Saddle fit is as important for you as it is for your horse. Most saddles are designed for men. Women have a wider pelvis which often means its harder to find a saddle that is comfortable for both you and your horse.
This video by Rod Nikkel, a Western saddle tree maker with over 20 years of experience, is probably the best tutorial on Western saddle fit available: (Sorry about the ads…) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWoORDN8_R8
Jochen Schleese, a Master Saddle Maker, goes into great detail on proper fitting of an English saddle. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gWxMUY9f5g)
There are only a few saddle companies that have saddles designed for women.
These companies have saddles designed specifically for women:
Synergist makes custom or semi-custom trail and endurance saddles. They have a fitting kit they send you to get exact measurements. Their website includes articles explaining their differences in design and their saddle making process.
Other saddle makers with women’s saddle in their inventory include Circle Y, Billy Cook, Cashel, and Tucker. The website for the Horse Saddle Shop has a saddle fit guide, a calculator for recommending a saddle, and the option to call and talk to a saddle fitter. (https://www.horsesaddleshop.com/)
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