It's Elemental - The Positive and Negative Impacts of Metal on Your Horse

It's Elemental - The Positive and Negative Impacts of Metal on Your Horse

In most instances, there are three places on your horse’s body that will be impacted by something that is either made of metal, or includes a metal part....The third place where metal is used is in the saddle – the gullet plate and spring steel are both used to give the saddle more stability and help it protect both horse and rider from long term damage – if and only if the saddle is made and fitted properly. The spring steel gives the saddle support along its length and needs to be customized to fit the rider: longer and thicker for the heavier rider, and shorter and thinner for a lighter rider. The gullet plate is only truly adjustable in some saddle brands – usually it gives stability to the saddle at the pommel to maintain the proper width of the tree over the wither area, but essentially it should be able to adjust to accommodate inherent asymmetry in this area of the horse.

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Why is the width of the saddle gullet so important? Does it really matter?

Why is the width of the saddle gullet so important? Does it really matter?

Many saddles at first glance look like they’re fitting really well, but when I turn them over, the gullet width is too narrow - maybe 1-2 fingers. A saddle with a channel or gullet that is too narrow (or too wide!) can cause permanent damage. The width of each horse’s spine will determine how wide his saddle’s gullet must be, and the width of the gullet should be the same throughout the entire length of the saddle. Some saddles may have gullets that are the appropriate width at the front, but then get progressively narrower towards the back. The horse’s spine and surrounding ligaments do not get narrower over the length of his saddle-support area, and neither should the gullet of the saddle...

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Saddle Up! Hit the Trails in Comfort

Saddle Up! Hit the Trails in Comfort

For the female rider the main point of consideration should be the choice of a gender appropriate saddle. What this simply means is that the saddle should be made to accommodate the various “vagaries” of the female anatomy. Briefly, the stirrup bars should be extended to allow the proper positioning of the leg (which in a woman is generally longer from hip to knee than from knee to ankle). This affects the center of gravity and how the leg will hang naturally in the stirrups. The seat itself should be wide enough to accommodate the seat bones – which will be wider apart than a man’s because of the birthing channel. You will want to avoid hitting the pubic symphysis

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Saddle Fit and the Female Saddle. Women riders are built differently so maybe their saddle should be as well.

Saddle Fit and the Female Saddle. Women riders are built differently so maybe their saddle should be as well.

We touched upon some of the anatomical differences between men and women in a previous article (May, 2013). Not widely understood or discussed are the challenges resulting from these differences which are faced by many female riders - back, knee, hip pain, discomfort and pain in the pelvic (crotch) area, and difficulty maintaining proper position and posture (e.g. chair seat) when riding. There is much knowledge on principles of saddle fitting to the horse, however, saddle fit to rider is not widely understood...

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My Story - Why I Do What I Do!

My Story - Why I Do What I Do!

Argentina was the first place I saw gauchos when I was a young boy. Although I was born in Hannover, Germany, I spent the first seven years of my life in South America. It was here that I discovered my love for horses. One day when we were out for a drive in the country, I watched the gauchos galloping alongside my father's car, chasing a rhea (wingless bird) at full tilt while swinging the bolo with both hands. The magic was the feeling that horse and rider were one - almost like a centaur! No reins, no obvious "riding" by the cowboys. From that moment on, all I wanted to do was capture this magic and experience this same type of harmony. After we moved back to Germany, I kept bugging my parents to buy me a horse. My wish was finally granted and I got my first pony. I began to ride obsessively and started competing in eventing. Unfortunately, the next years saw a shift in focus for me - while following my childhood dream and seeking this magic, I fell into the trap of money, medals and fame...

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Saddle Fitting and Performance - Is your saddle inhibiting your horse's movement?

Saddle Fitting and Performance - Is your saddle inhibiting your horse's movement?

Saddle Fitting and Performance - Is your saddle inhibiting your horse's movement? In a recent study of 1,326 horses in the UK, 91% of owners reported that their mounts exhibited some sort of regular behaviour problem under saddle. According to Jo S. Hockenhull, PhD, of the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Bristol, England, the most prevalent problem was shying (50%), followed by walking off while being mounted (46%), and leaning on the bit (45%), which may be attributed simply to poor riding practices. More dangerous behaviours such as bucking, rearing and bolting were rare. One encouraging number from this study was that 88% of the riders had consulted with a professional to check their saddle’s fit, with 61% having it rechecked annually.

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Symptomatic Lameness – Occasional Irreparable Damage May be Caused by Badly-Fitting Saddles

Symptomatic Lameness – Occasional Irreparable Damage May be Caused by Badly-Fitting Saddles

We have discussed several aspects of a badly fitting saddle. These include incorrectly faced tree points, too narrow gullet channels, and not enough freedom at the withers all around the pommel area. All these can lead to the symptomatic appearance of various issues that warrant calling out the veterinarian, such as persistent lameness, back pain, S-I joint issues and more. The illustrations with this article show some of the actual damage that can be caused by a culmination of one or more of these features on poorly fitting saddles. These include ...

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9 Points of Saddle Fit... and What They Mean for You and Your Horse

9 Points of Saddle Fit... and What They Mean for You and Your Horse

Saddle fit has become a huge buzzword in the equestrian industry over the last 20 years or so as saddle designs slowly evolve to better accommodate the needs of the horse. Saddle fitting is a truly comprehensive art and science that involves getting the fit right for both parts of the equation - horse and rider. For now, let's focus on saddle fit for the horse. The saddle should ideally sit in what is called the saddle support area, with the tree points behind the shoulder and no further back than the 19th lumbar vertebra (last floating rib). The location of the latter is easily determined by noting where th hairlines merge at the flank and following this up to the spine. When fitting saddle to horse, there are nine points to consider...

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Male Saddle. Female Saddle. What's the Difference?

Male Saddle. Female Saddle. What's the Difference?

Poorly fitting saddles cause poor position, discomfort, and pain for both horse and rider. Some riders seem to have had an inherent ability to ride, excelling in their discipline to become FEI riders and trainers. Others seem to have similar advantages - a good horse, natural athletic ability, discipline to train, and yet - something is missing. Over 25 years ago, several of my female clients first came to me to find solutions to issues they were experiencing as riders - repeated urinary tract infections, hip, knee and back issues and pain in the pelvic area...

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Symptomatic Lameness - Part II

Symptomatic Lameness - Part II

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. In previous issues, we have discussed several aspects of a badly fitting saddle, which can lead to symptomatic appearances of various issues. Persistent lameness, back pain and S-I joint issues are just some of these. Some of the actual damage that can be caused by a culmination of one or more features on poorly fitting saddles include cartilage shearing at the shoulder blade, pinched nerves, vertebral subluxations, and muscle atrophy, to name but a few. What exactly is muscle atrophy? ...

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The teachings of Jochen are in accordance with the work we do in French Classical Dressage, seeking to ride in lightness and suppleness. Impressive developments really become obvious with the saddle - using proper equipment significantly shortens the time to achieve goals!

— Davi Carrano: Head Trainer, Manège Sant Adelaide, Sao Paulo, Brazil at South American Veterinary Conference

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