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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Do you have any hints to avoid 'saddle fitting hell' of buying a saddle?

Do you have any hints to avoid 'saddle fitting hell' of buying a saddle?

rt and a science to fitting a saddle to both horse and rider. Human and Equine anatomy are a key determinant in choosing the correct saddle. In a nutshell it has to work for both of you. A badly fitting saddle not only causes discomfort to the horse and rider, but can actually stop a horse from moving properly. The tree and panels of a saddle should be chosen for the horse; the seat and flap length for the rider – at minimum. The proper way to measure the seat size of an English saddle is ...

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Top 10 Signs of Poor Saddle Fit

Top 10 Signs of Poor Saddle Fit

It is apparently a psychological truth that people have an affinity to lists consisting of 10 points; maybe because we have 10 fingers, 10 toes, there are 10 commandments, etc. 10 is just a nice round number to work with and easy to count off. David Letterman adopted an interesting institution with his “top 10” lists on his late show. I don’t know why I actually came up with 9 signs of poor saddle fit that you can self-diagnose, but those are what they are and I couldn’t artificially inflate that number. You will see 7 or 8 points in the literature as well, but I think these lists combine some of the points of reference...

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Saddle Fit & Technology: Saddle Fit and Western Saddles

Saddle Fit & Technology: Saddle Fit and Western Saddles

Over the years I have been asked many times to address the subject of fitting western saddles and have subsequently done some presentations on this at both the Certified Horsemanship Association Conference and Western States Horse Expo in California. At each of these events i am constantly surprised at the number of people who attend my lectures and are extremely interested in the information I have to offer. Our specialty at Schleese over the past 30+ years is English saddles - and mainly dressage - but with the launch of our Devin Western Saddle with its many benefits and features it's perhaps time to put some of these thoughts down on paper...

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Top 9 Saddle Fitting Problems (with Schleese Saddlery)

Top 9 Saddle Fitting Problems (with Schleese Saddlery)

A trio of Canadian experts divulge their most common saddle fit issues and how to fix them BY NICOLE KITCHENER. Saddle fitters encounter a multitude of issues in their mission to help horses and equestrians achieve riding comfort, balance, freedom of movement, and optimal performance. But some problems emerge more frequently than others. Three of Canada’s top saddle fitters share the three fitting concerns they confront most frequently. SCHLEESE SADDLERY 1. Saddle Too Far Forward Located between the base of the withers and the last rib, the saddle support area is the only part of the horse’s back that can handle the weight of saddle and rider. But saddles are often too long for the saddle support area and, “during motion, the back movement tends to move the saddle forward onto the shoulder,”....

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Saddle Fit and Western Saddles

Saddle Fit and Western Saddles

My principle on saddle fitting - any model - is to fit the saddle to both the horse and rider and ensure he/she is sitting correctly, balanced, and comfortably. Regardless which saddle – dressage, jumping, racing, endurance, specialty saddle, or western saddle – it has to fit along the lines of these commonly accepted principles. The saddle is not to impact or deform the horse’s back and fit into the saddle support area, sit over the shoulder and damage the cartilage, impinge the spinal processes or ligaments, nor pinch and numb the nerves permanently. This is the philosophy of Saddlefit4life® - to protect horse and rider from longterm damage – regardless of the saddle. For the rider, the basics are that the back shouldn’t ache, the hips shouldn’t hurt and feel pulled apart, the knees shouldn’t bruise, and the rider should sit in proper balance to achieve riding in harmony...

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What Should I look for When Purchasing a Used Saddle?

What Should I look for When Purchasing a Used Saddle?

Generally used saddles are on the market for a number of reasons, some of which could be: • they no longer or never fit either horse or rider and are non-adjustable (which unfortunately is the case with many English saddles that have been built on a traditional English spring tree with a traditional English gullet plate); • Or they have been put aside for the next latest greatest fad or model; • Or the rider no longer rides or has changed disciplines. In any case, with a used saddle, it is usually a case of caveat emptor, especially if buying privately. If you purchase a used saddle from a reputable dealer, generally it will have been tested for soundness

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Saddle Fit for Children - Why Do So Few Boys Ride Horses?

Saddle Fit for Children - Why Do So Few Boys Ride Horses?

When we think about children and riding, we usually picture little girls and their ponies. Popular equestrian magazines with the target market of younger riders are usually focused on girls — it’s really rare to see photos in these magazines featuring boys. Later in this article I’ll discuss some of the possible reasons why boys do not usually get involved with horses from a young age, but first I want to address the importance of getting the right saddle from the get-go. Most young riders are girls, and unless they have the wonderful luxury of well-off parents who can buy them their own pony, they start riding at a riding school — hopefully an accredited one. Unfortunately, most of these riding schools are extremely limited in their funding and will use donated horses and ponies with probably donated saddles and tack...

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Saddle Fit and Saddle Trees

Saddle Fit and Saddle Trees

I often get asked about my opinion on the latest and newest saddle designs appearing on the market. I have to, of course, be very careful about what I say, lest my comments are taken ‘on the record’ and possibly get back to the manufacturer to be misconstrued as slander or defamation. This is not ever my intent, but with my 35+ years of experience and continuing relentlessness in pursuing constant professional development, I think that my opinions do hold significant merit. So without specifically mentioning any particular brand, model, or saddle design, I think one of the best ways to discuss the pros and cons of the various saddles on the market is to dig deep into the saddle – to the tree, (or lack thereof) which is the basis is for all saddles. Saddle making history shows us that...

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Profile On: Julia Dixon-Curtis, Saddle Fit Technician

Profile On: Julia Dixon-Curtis, Saddle Fit Technician

Q: How much of your day/week is related to horses? A: The awesome thing about this question is there is rarely a day that goes by let alone a week that isn’t related to horses in one way or another. I can be on the road working as a Certified Saddle fit Technician for Schleese Saddlery from early mornings till late at night. Still somehow I end up at the barn where I board my horse even if it is just for a quick brush or ride. I am also a Registered Equine Massage Therapist. When I am not fitting saddles or with my own horse, I might just be found at another barn treating a horse. Q: What is it exactly that you do? A: Being a Certified Saddle Fit Technician, my role is creating the optimal saddle fit for horse and also rider. So there are certain territories that I travel along with a client success manager...

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andrea Jochen Schleese’s experiences and ‘aha’ moments while working as a saddler are truly unique. It is truly a great honour that he shares this knowledge with us in Suffering in Silence. The use of his plaster cast method to take ‘butt imprints’ of many men and women exemplifies the sometimes circuitous route he used to achieve this level of knowledge. This methodology clearly demonstrated the differences between male and female pelvises and was integrated into saddle designs for the benefit of both. Riding is a very demanding sport, and the only one in which the athlete is dependent on the interaction of another being in order to move. As a physiotherapist and a rider myself, I can only state how important it is that finally the differences between male and female anatomy have been taken into consideration to positively impact biomechanics. The topic of saddle fit is a key consideration when I teach my course in biomechanics of the rider at the German National Riding School in Warendorf.  The rider forms the horse and the saddle forms the rider – these two statements are not mutually exclusive. I often compare the saddle to a shoe, which should be comfortable to wear – except that this ‘shoe’ needs to fit two beings (horse and rider) equally well at the same time. This leaves the saddlemaker with a huge responsibility – one which requires a good basic knowledge in human and equine anatomy. Although many of my students are not consciously aware of the anatomical differences in male and female pelvises, they are nevertheless adamant that a saddle should work well for either gender (which infers that these differences need to be taken into consideration during design). I can only expect good things to result in the sport of riding when riders, trainers, veterinarians, saddlers and physiotherapists combine their expertise and experiences for the common good of horse and rider. Only then can the saddler fulfill his role as interface between horse and rider and open the door for discourse. This in a nutshell is the philosophy of Jochen Schleese. Knee rolls are of specific interest to me personally. Through personal observation, which is substantiated by research, the opportunities for human activity and movement continue to dwindle nowadays. Children spend much of their time in inactivity, watching TV, playing games on their computers and cell phones. The result is necessary prosthetic compensation to make up for this loss in muscle development; for riders it is the addition of huge knee rolls on the saddle, which help to keep the rider in a static position while hindering movement.  A pliable seat for the rider and taking up the rhythm in motion are no longer achievable. Although at first glance it may seem that the rider is sitting properly balanced and straight, it soon becomes apparent that the rider is actually sitting stiffly but thinking that this is the way it should feel. The complementary muscle interactions are not in harmonious states of contraction and relaxation, which means that the rider cannot give the aids properly. How can she properly relay the message to the horse to achieve rhythm, suppleness, and connection – which are only the requirements from the first training scale? The rider feels cramped, experiences pain and possibly long term damage (up to and including slipped discs and torn muscles).  This is the possible result regardless which discipline you ride in – which is why the saddle should not only be correct for the rider’s gender and anatomy, but also appropriate for the riding discipline.

— Andrea Koslik, Rider and Physiotherapist

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