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Women & Horses by Mary D. Midkiff - horseback riding fitness techniques for women

Women & Horses, knowledge for the female equestrian; female equestrian fitness training and riding tips

Women & Horses Presentation



1. Women & Horses™ 2013

2. U.S. Female Participation in the Horse Industry

  • Overall 69%
  • English 88%
  • Western 60%
  • Trail 70%
  • All Youth 94%

3. Through my lifelong experiences with horses and horse people, and my Women & Horses™ programs all over the world, I have become certain of one thing:

Women have a special magic with horses

4. Women and horses are both social animals. There is a natural affinity between women and horses; an immediate foundation for a relationship.

5. My first book [Fitness, Performance and the Female Equestrian] was published in 1996. It remains the definitive guide for girls and women who ride horses.

6. In 2002, She Flies Without Wings: How Horses Touch A Woman’s Soul quickly became an award-winner and best seller in North America. As of 2013 it is available in 6 languages worldwide.

  • Portuguese
  • Chinese
  • Swedish
  • Dutch
  • German
  • English

7. Why Women Are Successful with Horses

  • We have a deep natural intuition
  • We naturally nurture, protect and teach
  • We speak and understand language without words
  • Our voice can be inviting and sweet to the horse
  • Our touch feels like a mother’s approval

8. .Why Women Are Successful with Horses

  • Women are constantly searching for meaningful communication
  • Women have a calming effect
  • We choose sensitivity and partnership over force and dominance

9. Why Women Are Successful with Horses

  • Our relationship with horses is one of our most cherished.
  • They feel the positive and loving energy coming from us.
  • We seek a connection.

10. Why Women Are Successful with Horses Horses are receptive when you are connected and honored to be with them.

11. Why Women Are Successful with Horses Your actions, how you are “being” with a horse, the way you do things, are much more important than the words you use.

12. Why Women Are Successful with Horses

  • Horses give us the promise and reality of unconditional love.
  • They give and expect little in return.
  • They can be like big, cuddly teddy bears who also happen to be able to run like the wind. So warm…. So Fun!!!

13. Why Women Are Successful with Horses

  • The rewards can make your day and relieve stress.
  • They thank us for good treatment and care.
  • They trust us, depend on us, relax with us.

14. All of this plus the sheer joy of riding, exercise, fresh air and interaction with other women who share the interest.

15. That’s what’s behind the magic!

16. Women & Horses™ Formula for Successful Horse Partnerships

17. Three ingredients for a successful women and horses partnership:

  1. Position and Support for Female Rider
  2. Saddle Fit for Rider and Horse
  3. The Horse for Female Riders + Saddle +

18. + Female Friendly Saddle + Correct Horse Partner = Happy Partnership

19. Women & Horses™ Formula for Successful Horse Partnerships

  1. Know your body tendencies
  2. Know when you are in and out of balance
  3. Know when your body is in and out of alignment

20. Women & Horses™ Educational Program

Saddle Fit for Rider and Horse. This is how it can work for women to ride!!!

21. Saddle Choices.

Quick History. In the past, the majority of saddles were built for men using horses for work and war. There were also female saddles madejust for women typically with a high cantle and deep seat in both astride and side saddle.

At the beginning of World War I female saddle production diminished and cavalry and ranch saddles were mass produced.

In the 1950s, horses were no longer used for war and used less and less for work. Women gained their independence through birth control and began making choices in their leisure and sport activities with horses. And breeders recognized they needed to produce horses for sport, recreation and pleasure.

Today over 80% of all horse participants are female and yet the traditional saddle trees are the predominant choice unless you buy a custom saddle.

22. This is not a female friendly saddle. Do you know why?

23. This is a traditional english saddle tree, the basis for most english saddles on themarket today. The same issues follow with western saddle trees.

1. Stirrup bars set too far forward affects the angle of the hip joint for women. The “chair seat” leg position takes the female pelvis out of balance. If she tried to stand in this position she would topple over or backward.

2. Rise from seat to pommel does not allow space for a woman’s crotch area to move freely. With this saddle she will always have friction and the desire to move her body to avoid the friction which takes her out of balance.

3. The seat area slopes off too quickly to support the seat bones and provide the hip joint and pelvis to remain in neutral position, essential for balance.

24. Knowledge of saddles and saddle trees that will support your body type in motion with effectiveness, safety and comfort; And fit the horse too.

25. When you sit in a saddle with a tree made for the female body (female-friendly) itwill automatically put you into an aligned balanced position. This is a SynergistSaddle which does the job perfectly. (The barn dog had to get into this picture!!)

26. And when you sit in a balanced saddle it can help you identify and indicate where you need some correction. The horse may have been telling you this through his or her behavior, injuries, ways of going. Now you can make corrections to yourself with help from exercises and Pilates which focus on your equal alignment. A full length mirror will help you with this as well as a good friend. Your horse will be glad you did!

Notice this rider sits slightly off to the right. Her mind is telling her she is sitting equally on each side and straight. We get into compensating patterns which our mind believes is “normal”.

27. Four female friendly saddles custom made for you and your horse by Synergist Saddles:

  • Synergist DSS Dressage
  • Synergist DSS Trail
  • Synergist Lightweight Endurance
  • Synergist Western Trail with Western Rigging

28. Rider without alignment + Saddle pitching rider forward + Horse low in front =

  • No partnership
  • Poor performance
  • Injuries

*This is me by the way back in the 80s!! No wonder I had to work so hard!!

29. The Women & Horses Formula for Partnership Success

  • Rider aligned for motion
  • Saddle supportive
  • Horse supportive

30. The Horse:

  • Horse conformation level and uphill
  • Horse comfortable and reliable
  • Horse well balanced and athletic
  • Horse willing to work with and listen to rider

31.Horse types that are difficult for most women.


  • Pitches rider forward
  • Horse becomes lame on front end

32. Level is workable. Level horses are usually pretty well balanced however they still can be…

  • Heavy to lift
  • Jarring motion in the back of human and horse

33. Horse types that are difficult for most women.

  • Heavy
  • Long backed
  • Long neck
  • Uncomfortable motion to follow

These types are beautiful to watch but for many very challenging and hard on the body over time. Lots of work!!

34. Two beautifully conformed individuals designed for the female rider.

  • Overall proportionately equal
  • Hind end to neck is uphill through the body
  • Legs are squarely placed in each “corner” of the horse
  • Neck shows flexibility and proper length for horse’s self-carriage

35. Women compensate when one, two or all three ingredients of the W&H formula doesn’t work by slumping down or arching the lower back. Both ways put her out of balance.

36. If the female rider is not properly prepared with position, saddle and horse she will easily fall off.

37. When the female rider is set up for partnership success, she (and the horse) can quickly recover from unexpected incidents.

38. Talk to Mary about what horse is the best for you!

  • Well balanced
  • Uphill
  • Athletic
  • Comfortable
  • Reliable
  • Willing

39. Women & Horses™ Partnership = Aligned rider, supportive saddle, balanced horse. Happy Horse and Happy Rider!

40. Web site: Phone: 502.552.1195

female equestrian fitness training and riding tips

Midkiff Horse Training, PO box 24395, Lexington KY 40524
Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Phone: 502-552-1195 - Fax: 502-212-9394 - Email - Contact
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