Equine professionals share the Saddlefit 4 Life® vision and dedication to improve the health and welfare of horses and riders. Saddlefit 4 Life® works cooperatively with equine professionals to facilitate opportunities for industry collaboration and education through wisdom exchange, symposia, workshops, clinics, lectures and demonstrations.

Saddlefit 4 Life® offers continuing education programs geared to veterinarians, REMT’s, chiropractors, physiotherapists, trainers, farriers, saddle fitters and retailers customized for specific training requirements. Professionals may apply for Equine Ergonomist internships and certification.

We recognize the challenges faced by trainers and coaches.  The rider’s expectation is that that your broad range of knowledge will provide much needed guidance in all aspects of equine training and care. Educated consumers are increasingly aware of ongoing innovation in equine technology and the myriad of products and services. Riders look to their trainer as a valuable resource for information and help. Trainers also face ongoing risks for their business – cancelled lessons and reduced income – from rider concerns such as sore backs, lame horses and behavioural issues.

Veterinarians are called upon for their expertise regarding common concerns in the equine industry – muscle definition and atrophy, hock and stifle injection, S.I joint issues, kissing spine, spondylosis and undiagnosed lameness. Research and technology has made tremendous advances in the last decade – equine MRI’s, fiber optic cameras, thermography, and computerized saddle pads to find solutions to previously undiagnosed and unresolved lameness issues. Saddlefit 4 Life® programs cover principles of saddle fit and issues not taught in vet school with information and techniques to shortening the diagnostic process.

Saddlefit 4 Life® provides farriers an understanding of saddle construction, saddle fitting principles and equine issues caused by ill-fitting saddles. This information needs to be considered when shoeing to balance the horse and for educating their clients about the importance of saddle fit.

Riders look to saddle fitters for ongoing saddle maintenance and also for advice about suspected or known saddle fit issues. Riders need to be comfortably positioned and supported to promote giving of ‘aids’ while promoting movement. Female riders commonly experience but rarely mention ongoing issues: back, hip and pelvic discomfort and pain, recurring bladder infections, collapsing at the hip into a chair seat, knees and toes turning out, feeling ‘behind’ or ‘in front of’ the motion, legs swinging, feeling ‘pulled apart’ through the hips, struggling to achieve shoulder, hips heels position, discomfort and pressure in the pelvic area (sitting on soft tissue). All of these issues may be attributed by riding in a ‘male’ saddle.

The horse may be exhibiting signs of poor saddle fit (stumbling, head tossing, white spots, bucking, bad behaviour, stepping short). With so many types and brands of saddles available today, it is difficult to know how many and what interrelating factors affecting fit may be at play (saddle type, size, tree composition, adjustability, horse conformation, age, weight and balance of rider, fit in motion). Unless you are a saddle maker it is increasingly difficult to help riders determine the issues and find solutions to improve and maintain saddle fit on an ongoing basis. Regardless of your training, you have seen challenging fit situations, and horses suffering from the effects of ill- fitting saddles. Your life’s work is to provide the best fit solution for horses, and this involves saddle fit checking and maintenance on a regular basis.

We invite you to explore opportunities with Saddlefit 4 Life®. You will be able to service your clients the most innovative system in the industry that was developed for the well-being of the horse.

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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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