Muscle Atrophy and the Saddle Fit Connection

Muscle Atrophy and the Saddle Fit Connection

Muscle atrophy is usually something we see happening in old people—and old horses. Muscles waste away from simple aging and lack of use. Sadly, rescue horses who have suffered starvation usually show signs of muscle atrophy, regardless of their age. In short, muscle atrophy is a decrease in muscle strength because of a decrease in muscle mass or the amount/number of muscle fibers. Atrophy can be partial or complete, causing varying levels of weakness. When atrophy occurs in the aging process, it’s referred to as sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is defined as an age-related loss of skeletal muscle, resulting in frailty. It is often partnered with osteoporosis, a loss of bone density that is similarly associated with aging. But age isn’t the only cause. If your horse is laid up due to injury and his regular exercise comes to a grinding halt, you can expect his muscles to atrophy to a degree. But what if your horse isn’t old, hasn’t been on stall rest and you are exercising him diligently on a regular basis, yet you notice his muscles diminishing?

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Aufgesattelt (Tacked Up) - alles rund um den Sattel (All Around the Saddle)

Aufgesattelt – alles rund um den Sattel. Der Sattel – die direkte Verbindung zwischen Reiter und Pferd. Wer beim Sattel aufs falsche Pferd setzt, der macht einen folgenschweren Fehler. Denn ein Sattel ist nicht nur eine hochwertige Anschaffung für lange Zeit, er ist auch ein entscheidendes Verbindungsglied zwischen Reiter und Pferd. In dieser Eigenschaft muss er zwei großen Ansprüchen Genüge leisten: Er muss zum einen dem Pferd optimal passen und zum anderen auch dem Reiter ein gutes Gefühl vermitteln. PSJ-Fachautorin Jessica Kaup hat sich mit dem Thema auseinandergesetzt und einige Experten dazu befragt.

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Saddle Fit and Industry Education

Saddle Fit and Industry Education

A recent article in the Journal of Veterinary Science concerning the repeatability of 20 Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) Qualified Saddle Fitters observations of static saddle fit outlines the lack of cohesiveness in the methodology of assessing saddle fit. The SMS has committed to overhauling their entire saddle fitting curriculum within the next year or two – recognizing the fact that a) saddle making does not equal saddle fitting and b) their saddle fitting training is somewhat remedial in its ramifications. Further work is definitely necessary to standardize the criteria of what is saddle fit and how should saddles be fitted – and perhaps to develop a common language that is accepted throughout the industry...

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Many Horses But Not So Many Saddles - Saddle Solutions?

Many Horses But Not So Many Saddles - Saddle Solutions?

I am a trainer with lots of horses to ride but I cannot afford a saddle for each horse. I start a lot of young horses – some of which will presumably leave within a year or two. How do I manage to do right by all these animals (and for myself) by ensuring I have and use a saddle which works for me and works for all of them? Obviously, ideally, it would be great to have a saddle that has been made and fi􀄴ed for each horse’s conformation, but the reality is that this will seldom be the case. So, you get a saddle that fits you absolutely wonderfully, is comfortable, works with your anatomical requirements (male or female), and makes sure that at the very least you won’t let any discomfort from the rider’s end translate down to the horse. That’s the first step. Then, you have it fitted to the largest horse you have because it’s always easier to fill in the gaps and make it fit for horses with narrower shoulders, lower withers, etc. (just like it’s easier to fit shoes that are too large with insoles and extra socks; the other way really doesn’t work that well.)

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Bad Horse! Really? How About "Bad Rider!" or "Bad Saddle!" or maybe even "Bad Genes!"

Bad Horse! Really? How About "Bad Rider!" or "Bad Saddle!" or maybe even "Bad Genes!"

Most people will agree with the statement “horses do not make conscious decisions to behave badly.” Horses react to outside stimuli—either a poorly fitting saddle or an incompetent or untrained rider can cause all kinds of unwanted behaviors. How and where a rider’s weight is carried can make a huge difference, and dangerous horses can quickly be created when aids are misunderstood or mishandled. Sometimes horses will develop resistant or evasive behaviors because the handler does not know how to get what he is asking for, but remember that this does not make a “bad horse”—it’s simply a horse behaving badly. Some of the strategic behavior horses have adopted could be interpreted as stereotypical, but these behaviors are not vices, as vices would infer that the horse is somehow at fault....

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Saddle Fit and Girth Choices - the two go hand in hand!

Saddle Fit and Girth Choices - the two go hand in hand!

The girth is the most important saddle accessory because it directly affects saddle fit and how it feels to your horse. There are many different types, lengths and versions of girths available. In this article, we look at the factors to consider when finding and fitting a girth that will work for your horse...

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Why Don't We See More Boys Riding Dressage?

Why Don't We See More Boys Riding Dressage?

It’s always interesting to take a few moments when I’m working at a horse show to check out the competition. I mean the real competition- the riders who have trained long and hard and are now showing off their skills in the ring. Especially in dressage shows, but also at the lower level hunter/jumper shows – it is almost painfully obvious how few boys there are riding and competing!...But let’s examine the question a little closer concerning why boys specifically generally don’t ride. Beyond the ‘peer pressure’ issue of it not necessarily being a ‘macho’ sport, perhaps there are other reasons at play; issues that have to do with my favorite subject: saddle fit!

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Saddle Fit: English vs. Western - What are the Differences?

Saddle Fit: English vs. Western - What are the Differences?

When mankind began riding horses, and saddles were developed to help keep riders astride their mounts, the original purpose of the saddle was to support the horse in his job. Saddles were designed to accommodate the demands placed on horses during activities such as combat, transportation, and sport. And since riding in long skirts was not practical and it was unbecoming for women to straddle a horse, side-saddles were created to allow women to ride. Recent years have seen a change in saddles from mainly functional to often fashionable (featuring bling, silver, etc.). More recently, as the general demographic of riders changed to primarily women, gender considerations have been incorporated into the mix of saddle design for both English and Western disciplines...

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Saddle Fit and Technology - How Technological Advances are Changing the Way Saddles are Fitted

Saddle Fit and Technology - How Technological Advances are Changing the Way Saddles are Fitted

Many tools have been developed over the years to assist in the diagnosis of saddle fit, however, as ‘sexy’ as they are, they are just that – tools – providing information that exemplifies the situation at a given moment. Unless you have someone that actually knows what to do with this information to provide you a solution to your issue, it’s pretty much without value. Many people can tell you what’s visually wrong with your saddle but there are very few who can analyze the data to actually tell you why you are having the issue you are.

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Testimonials

As quoted in the Certified Horsemanship Association February Monthly Newsletter "I recently attended a nine day intensive saddle fitting course conducted by Jochen Schleese. Jochen and his wife, Sabine, have attended two of CHA's International conferences.  I was intrigued by his demos on how saddles are made differently for men and women. This year in Amarillo, he went into more detail about fitting saddles properly to horses to prevent serious injury.  He is passionate about helping horses and by offering this course to professionals in the horse industry, we can do our part in having healthy horses and educated riders. This 3-day course event covered how saddles [may] cause injury and how little has been done in the last 100 years to prevent these injuries.  By educating professionals who deal with horses on a daily basis on how to properly evaluate a saddle fit can go a long way in making horses healthy.  by teaching an 80 Point Evaluation, taking into account, the shoulder angles, wither shape, saddle support area and making sure critical pressure points are not impinged on by the saddle is just a small segment of this course.  The Schleese's passion for helping horses is much the same as CHA's mission statement for riding instructors.  It is for the good of the horse.  Taking these courses reminded me of my certification week to become a CHA instructor.  A huge highlight of my life with horses."  Check our Saddlefit4life.com and the book "Suffering in Silence."

— Lori Maciulewicz - Regional Director for Region 6

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