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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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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Jochen Schleese is truly a master in his field, with comprehensive knowledge stemming from not only his training in saddlery but also his achievements as a rider – and he uses these attributes to reach a level of excellence in this multi-faceted industry. Jochen offers an alternative to the industry. The saddle is the connection between horse and rider and plays a massive role in this partnership. Only a balanced rider not forced into position can adhere to the goals of ‘classical riding.’ The saddle trees should accommodate specific and individual requirements for female and male riders. Only a rider with a properly made and fitted saddle can give his horse the proper aids so the horse can move free.  Although there has been much improvement in the last 20 years there are still a lot of badly fitting saddles. The industry simply requires better education, such as Saddlefit 4 Life® is giving.


      Balancing_Act_Heuschmann_BookScannedImageGerd Profile Pic 150px S4L site   Horse Roll Kur - Video Icon              S4L in Germany with JS and Gerd Heuschmann       A prerequisite for harmony between horse and rider is the pairing of a healthy, mature horse with a practiced, empathetic, sensitive, and well-trained rider.  The saddle is the connection between these two totally disparate living beings: it will either bring them together or distance them - biomechanically speaking.  This makes a well-fitting saddle key to ensure commonality in motion, as well as playing a critical role in ensuring successful training for horse and rider.  It can help a rider with a good seat find harmony with the horse, but can also restrict and prevent this if it is not fit properly to both. A well-fitting saddle will quickly allow a good rider on a young horse to attain suppleness.  Still, even the best rider will find it impossible to reach harmonious movement on the horse’s back if the saddle doesn’t fit. There is only one thing that even the best fitting saddle doesn’t guarantee, however: it will never counteract the effect of an unbalanced, tense, rough, and overall poor rider. As has recently been discussed in numerous print publications, riding has become rather far removed from its former idealistic representations, especially dressage, which has been brought into a negative light by the actions of a few controversial trainers in the industry. The negative consequences for horse and rider have been and continue to be illuminated, discussed, and evaluated.  A few saddle manufacturers have reacted to the described issues and made some major design changes in their products. In my opinion, the main issue is that a rider will have difficulty in finding an independent, pliable and balanced seat if the horse is held in a position of constant tension with the rider pushing forward in the seat to go forwards while pulling on the bit.  The saddle now needs to afford the rider additional support to augment this increased and constant tension on the reins. As a result, many modern dressage saddles now have extremely deep seats with high cantles, and huge knee rolls. They allow the rider to wedge himself securely and tensely in a deep, non-pliable seat behind giant knee rolls and hang in the reins with tight hands. Many saddle manufacturers are aware of this phenomenon and yet are powerless to change it for economic and market demand reasons. As an experienced rider and certified master saddler, Jochen Schleese has taken an alternate direction with his saddle production, which orients itself towards an unencumbered rider sitting on a relaxed horse. Only such a rider – completely balanced and not forced into position with either his seat or his legs – can adhere to the goals of ‘classical riding’.  But Jochen’s philosophy of saddle fit doesn’t stop here: the trees are made to accommodate the specific and individual requirements of both male and female riders.   Only a rider with a properly made and fitted saddle can give his horse the proper aids without clamping the thighs, relying on the hands, and sitting unbalanced on its back. We all want a horse that moves freely and without restriction.  The saddle should not cause it pain or hinder its movement. This means that the back muscles need to move freely, which is furthered by a well-fitting saddle (that may also have to take any asymmetry or unevenness into consideration).  These are also parts of the equation considered by Jochen in his work.

— Gerd Heuschmann, DVM Author of Tug of War and The Balancing Act

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