Saddle Fit - Dust Patterns and Sweat Marks

Saddle Fit - Dust Patterns and Sweat Marks

One of the most misunderstood indicators of saddle fit - GOOD or BAD - are the sweat or dust marks left behind after a ride and when the pad has been removed. Logic dictates that the dust pattern on your pad and the sweat marks on your horse should ideally look somewhat like the photo (see article). The most dirt is accumulated where the most movement is: in the front shoulder moving back and forth and in the back, where the back moves up and down. The quick explanation is that no dirt should show where the saddle hardly touches, such as the gullet or at the transition between sweat flap and panel. The white triangle under the front part of the saddle also indicates a good position and fit, because in this area the saddle should sit the most quietly without movement, since this is where most of your weight sits; i.e. no dirt accumulation and no movement...

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No Scale? - No Problem - Easy Ways to Evaluate your Horse's Weight and Condition

No Scale? - No Problem - Easy Ways to Evaluate your Horse's Weight and Condition

There have been a number of articles appearing in various publications recently about rider fitness and how to get back in shape if you’ve taken the winter off. Of course, gettng your horse back in shape is part of the equation, but how do you even know how fit or out-of-shape he is? What is the ideal weight or condition that your horse should be in? ...

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Saddle Fit and Custom Saddles

Saddle Fit and Custom Saddles

What does ‘custom’ really mean? What does ‘quality’ entail? The concept of ‘custom saddles’ really needs to be defined, as it there is so much more to a custom saddle than just a type. The concept of a truly ‘bespoke’ product should be honoured — when a saddle is described as ‘custom’, it really should be just that, and we will clarify the difference here. Simply purchasing a saddle that may have been ‘customized’ to fit your horse with a narrow, medium, or wide tree and panel flocking that has been somewhat moved around to accommodate the horse’s back shape does not a custom product make. Neither does your determination of seat size (anywhere from 16" to maybe 19") with special colour combinations and bling or leather types of your choice. There is nothing truly custom about these superficial choices. These are personalized options that absolutely will be according to your tastes and requests, however, true customization begins inside the saddle with the tree itself. For a truly custom saddle, the considerations (particularly for a Dressage saddle) need to go beyond those mentioned above to include: Twist ...

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The Nine Points of Saddle Fit - Part III of III

The Nine Points of Saddle Fit - Part III of III

Points 7-9: Many of us are familiar with the term “short-backed” to describe a horse, but even a horse with a back that appears to be of normal length may actually have a very short saddle support area. The length of the saddle support area will determine how long the panels must be. Breeds that commonly have a short saddle-support area are Friesians; Baroque type horses such as Andalusians, Lusitanos, PREs, and Lippizaners; Arabians; and more and more frequently, “modern-type” Warmbloods. One common saddle fitting issue here is that the saddle panels are often too long for their backs...

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Can the Saddle Fitter Help?

Can the Saddle Fitter Help?

Saddle fitting is a term with various meanings. As the interface between horse and rider, the saddle should allow the rider to sit and balance comfortably (in a gender correct saddle) in order to give proper aids without clamping the thighs, relying on hands, or being unbalanced on the back. The saddle needs to provide freedom of movement without restriction so the back muscles come up, move freely and accommodate the horse’s changing conformation. Sometimes saddle fitting is analogous to buying shoes – selecting which are comfortable, perhaps adding orthotics or inserts to ‘improve’ the fit. With a non-adjustable saddle (wood or plastic tree), the saddle fitter assesses whether a narrow, medium or wide tree provides the ‘best’ (not necessarily optimal) fit. Improvements are made through ...

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30 Years of Schleese - History of saddle maker and fitter illustrates company's leadership in an evolving field.

30 Years of Schleese - History of saddle maker and fitter illustrates company's leadership in an evolving field.

We have been blessed. Truly blessed – the statistics state that most businesses barely last the first five years of their existence, and here we are, celebrating 30 years of achievement and success. Although initially it was just Jochen and myself, over the past four decades we have grown globally to employ over 100 people worldwide – supporting 100 families. We have our wonderful and loyal clients to thank; we have our skilled and dedicated staff to thank. But we also have publications such as California Riding Magazine to thank for working with us and being willing to showcase what it is that we do – for the eighth year now. A lot has changed since we first opened shop in our little 100 square-foot workshop in the quarantine zone of the World Dressage Championships locale – held for the first time outside of Europe in 1986. The Pracht family (including Olympians Eva Maria Pracht – daughter of Josef Neckermann, the first ever World Dressage Champion in 1966 – and her daughter Martina) were instrumental in allowing us to establish ourselves in Canada. Although Jochen had been recently certified as the youngest ever master saddler in Europe at the time (1985), and was a successful internationally qualified event rider, coming over to North America was probably the luckiest decision we could have made...

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Swapping Dressage and Jumping Saddles - Is it Okay?

Swapping Dressage and Jumping Saddles - Is it Okay?

The question was put to me recently whether or not it was harmful to jump in your dressage saddle or ride dressage in your jumping saddle. Theoretically at least—presuming that these are not necessarily regular activities but rather just occasional ones—there should be no problem and there are no long-term ramifications. However, if you plan to make a particular discipline a regular activity, there are many good reasons to choose a saddle specific to that discipline, both for your benefit and your horse’s. Understanding the Differences ...

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How Can I Tell if My Horse in in Pain because of the Saddle?

How Can I Tell if My Horse in in Pain because of the Saddle?

The physical signs of saddle fit trauma are more easily apparent than the psychological signs. Signs that your horse is in pain include head tossing, bucking, stumbling, tongue issues, rearing, and resistance. White hair, dry spots, and muscle atrophy are also visual effects resulting from poor saddle fit. Each of these manifestations has as its origin an issue in a saddle that has not been fitted properly to the horse – either the gullet channel is too narrow, the tree points and gullet plate are not roomy enough at the withers, and the angle ...

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What Exactly is Muscle Atrophy and How Does it Differ from Muscle Definition?

What Exactly is Muscle Atrophy and How Does it Differ from Muscle Definition?

When a muscle has been trained for more than it would have normally developed naturally, and then not used for a while, it will naturally ‘atrophy’ back to its normal shape. It takes four times longer to develop a muscle than it does to lose muscle, which is why illness resulting in bed rest can have such a drastic effect on your muscles. Muscle atrophy also occurs when an unbalanced saddle puts too much pressure on a particular muscle, and the horse tries to avoid this pressure. He goes into ‘defensive mode’ by contracting the muscle in the area (as well as the surrounding muscles) and can even alter his gaits. Under the point of pressure where circulation is impacted (thus reducing nutrients and oxygen to the affected area) the muscle ...

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Saddle Fit and "the Old Folks"

Saddle Fit and "the Old Folks"

I’d like to introduce you to my oldest equine friend. He was a 48 year old (as confirmed by the vet!) thoroughbred X, living in FLA and no longer ridden, although he was active until just a few years ago. His name was Lucky (which he truly was!) and in human years he was apparently the equivalent of 96 years old (based on the calculation that apparently one horse year = 2 human years). I was gratified to see that his owner’s diligence in always using a properly fitting saddle on him paid off with regards to protecting him against long term back damage, lameness, and other physiological problems but unfortunately he passed away just his week – died peacefully in his sleep. He always used to watch me when I adjusted the saddles for our clients at his barn. He ran free all around the farm and made sure everything was in order. He did the due diligence for the other members of his herd and watched that I didn’t make any mistakes. This horse seemed to approve when we fitted saddles, which brings tears to my eyes. I find horses very spiritual beings; very intuitive – and they seem to know when ...

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We applaud Jochen’s tireless efforts in researching, studying, compiling and now sharing this information worldwide. We are proud to have him on our world class Advisory Panel, incorporating his invaluable teachings into our comprehensive curriculum of horse health and management to benefit the horse.

— Derry McCormick, Director of Administrative Affairs, The Equine Sciences Academy

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