A History of Excellence - How One Saddle Make is Improving the Industry through Education and Innovation

A History of Excellence - How One Saddle Make is Improving the Industry through Education and Innovation

Most equestrians are familiar with the Schleese name; for years it’s been synonymous with comfortable, quality saddles. But how did Jochen Schleese, the youngest German master saddler ever to be certified in Europe, end up launching his international vision from North America? It all started when he was invited to Toronto in 1986 to be the Official Saddler for the World Dressage Championships. A former international three-day event rider, Schleese understood the saddle from a rider’s point of view as well as how it should be made. Following on that success, Jochen worked with the Canadian government to develop an authorized apprenticeship for saddlers and saddle fitters. In 1996 he received an international patent for the innovative AdapTree® saddle tree, one of few fully adjustable trees on the market (adaptable both in gullet angle and in gullet width) to provide a custom fit, while accommodating the horse through all stages of development.

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Saddle Fit for the Rider

Saddle Fit for the Rider

Question: My hips and lower back ache after every ride and I think it might be my saddle. I had the saddle fitted to my horse but how can I tell if it fits me, too? Answer: You are correct to wonder if your pain might be coming from your saddle. Aches such as yours are very common in women equestrians because they are often riding in saddles that have been built for men. Because a woman’s pelvis is different from a man’s, women riding in a “male” saddle may face back, knee, hip, and pelvic pain and experience difficulty maintaining proper position and posture in the saddle...

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Girl Talk – 5 Keys to Comfort for Female Riders

Girl Talk – 5 Keys to Comfort for Female Riders

Did you know women have different requirements than men when it comes to saddle fit? Here are five keys to comfort for female riders: There are several important elements to consider in determining the proper saddle fit especially for women – which is 85% of Schleese’s market – and makes us the only female saddle specialist in the world! Our saddle fitters all have a comprehensive understanding of equine biomechanics ...

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A Tale of Two Saddles

A Tale of Two Saddles

I recently went out to recheck the fit of one of our saddles that a client bought for her horse as part of her usual annual maintenance cycle, and what I experienced there truly troubled me to the point that I had to write about it. Bad saddle fit and ignorance can really do damage to a horse - physically and mentally. AT FIRST GLANCE. The owner and the trainer were both not present (this is an important point - during a saddle fit evaluation it is actually crucial that these key players should be there - first of all to determine any 'unusual' circumstances and secondly to be part of the analytic exercise to establish proper fit)...

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Symptomatic Lameness - Part I

Symptomatic Lameness - Part I

If you have an equine patient whose lameness isn’t responding well to treatment, consider how the fit of his saddle might be contributing to the problem. With complex physiological issues, veterinarians may recommend treatments to alleviate symptoms. The horse benefits greatly when the health care team works together, combining knowledge to understand underlying factors. This series discusses concepts to assist professionals in the diagnostic process. When issues of symptomatic lameness are addressed (often in the right hind leg), and logical treatments no longer work, then injections, anti-inflammatory creams, or chiropractic adjustments at the SI joint are often selected. Observations of horse and rider in various gaits reveal many other causes of lameness – including saddle fit.

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The Battle of the Sexes - in Saddle Fit!

The Battle of the Sexes - in Saddle Fit!

Q-flexion, hip joint articulation, saddle seat twist versus seat width, biomechanics, and the all-important "ps": (pubic symphysis). If you're in the market for a new saddle, there is some updated thinking on how that saddle will complement your body and affect your riding ability...

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Facing the Right Way? Saddle tree points - direction, angle and width - critically impact equine scapular health!

Facing the Right Way? Saddle tree points - direction, angle and width - critically impact equine scapular health!

With complex physiological issues, veterinarians may recommend treatments to alleviate symptoms. The horse benefits greatly when the health care team works together, combining knowledge to understand underlying factors. This series discusses concepts to assist professionals in the diagnostic process. Tree points are either forward facing, straight (perpendicular to the ground) or rear facing. Forward facing tree points cause proven detrimental effects to shoulder health. MRIs and fiber optic cameras have shown the cartilage chipping that can occur as scapulae rotate upwards-backwards. Every time the foreleg is extended (during trot, gallop, simultaneously when jumping), tree points will hit the scapulae, potentially causing damage at the skeletal level...

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Founder of Schleese and Saddlefit 4 Life® now offers equine ergonomics courses in addition to his diagnostic saddle fit evaluations in his mission to protect horse and rider.

Founder of Schleese and Saddlefit 4 Life® now offers equine ergonomics courses in addition to his diagnostic saddle fit evaluations in his mission to protect horse and rider.

In the never ending endeavor of being the "female saddle specialists," Schleese Saddlery founder Jochen Schleese and his team at Schleese Saddlery have become experts in many related subjects. Much of what they do is aimed at helping riders and horses find answers to questions and issues they are experiencing - using Saddlefit 4 Life® principles and systems to protect horse and rider from long term damage....

Read more about Founder of Schleese and Saddlefit 4 Life® now offers equine ergonomics courses in addition to his diagnostic saddle fit evaluations in his mission to protect horse and rider. Download the PDF version of Founder of Schleese and Saddlefit 4 Life® now offers equine ergonomics courses in addition to his diagnostic saddle fit evaluations in his mission to protect horse and rider.
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Testimonials

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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