Saddlefit 4 Life® Educational Seminar and Course Offerings – Europe

Saddlefit 4 Life® (S4L) is a global network of equine professionals working together to protect horse and rider from long-term damage. S4L offers a variety of educational options at various locations throughout the year – including one hour on-site lectures at barns, presentations at horse shows and trade show/expos, as well as more intensive 2-Day Seminars and Certification Courses.  Saddlefit 4 Life®’s comprehensive saddle fitting philosophy and certification programs are valued by equine professionals from many disciplines and are endorsed by The United States Dressage Federation (USDF), The Certified Horsemanship Assoication (CHA), American Riding Instructors Association (ARIA), The Association of Professional Trainers – Germany (Berufsreiterverband) and the Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF).

Saddlefit 4 Life® currently offers three courses.  Course #1 is a Saddlefit 4 Life 2-Day Professionals Seminar; Course #2 is a 3-Day Equine Ergonomist Course “All About the Horse”; and Course #3 is 3-Day Equine Ergonomist Course “All About the Horse & Rider”.


S4L Academy - Revised August 25, 2016 - two colours-lalign


Basic Equine Ergonomics according to the Saddlefit 4 Life® Philosophy

This course is taught by certified trainers and teaches the basics of saddle fitting. You will quickly be able to determine the saddle support area of the horse, and what design features a saddle needs to help avoid long term back damage for horse and rider, as well as how it needs to fit. More information available at

  • Historical perspectives: the changing use of horses over the years (work>>recreation)
  • Growth phases of the horse and influence on saddle fit.
  • Basic equine anatomy. Shoulder movement under the saddle, reflex points, significance of the18th thoracic vertebra
  • Repercussions of poorly fitting saddles for horse and rider.
  • Long term back damage for horses
  • Male and female human anatomical differences
  • Long term health issues for riders using incorrectly fitted saddles
  • Static and dynamic fit
  • How to measure horse and rider and use the evaluation form correctly
  • Determination of the saddle support area
  • Biomechanical analysis of horse and rider.
  • Saddle adjustability
  • Tree width and tree angle.
  • Tack and Accessories
  • Saddle fitting limitations
  • Saddle fitting limitations

Target Groups:

  • Riders
  • Horse lovers
  • Groups, organizations and riding clubs
  • Retailers, Saddlers
  • Veterinarians, Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Trainers

Prerequisite: other than a love for horses, no special prerequisites. It is recommended to have read Jochen Schleese’s book in either English or German.
Course designation:PE-G
Duration: 2-Days
Course fee:564,- €



Continuing development for Equine Ergonomics according to Saddlefit 4 Life® Philosophy
This course module goes into more detail on the following topics;
– measurements and analyses of evaluations done independently after completing Course 1

– completion and significance of static and dynamic fit analyses

– analysis of various saddle models on the horse’s back

– customer service and consultation techniques with clients

  • Review of theory from Course 1
  • Discussion of measurement results, client experiences, Q&A
  • Timed static analysis
  • Discussion of various saddle tree types commercially available
  • Health issues possibly arising from saddle tree designs not aligned with S4L
  • Innovations in saddle tree technology and design
  • Tack and accessories and their uses
  • Dynamic saddle fit
  • Watching the rider after fitting the saddle – results of fit
  • Dust analysis of horse’s back under saddle (w/o pad)
  • Which saddles are adjustable?

Target Groups:

  • Riders, horse lovers
  • Groups, clubs and organizations
  • Retailers and Saddlers
  • Veterinarians, phyisotherapists, osteopaths, Trainers

Prerequisites: Completed Course 1
Course designation:PE-A
Course Duration: 3 Days
Fees:846,- €


Course #3
Introduction to Equine Ergonomics – Certification as Equine Ergonomist (PE-P)


Certification as Equine Ergonomist according to Saddlefit 4 Life Philosophy

As a certified Equine Ergonomist you will be able to measure and analyse the proper saddle fit to horse and rider.


  • Practical – static and dynamic fit of saddle
  • Theoretical – written and oral questions regarding course content

Target Groups:

  • Graduates from Courses 1 and 2 (Introduction to Equine Ergonomics)


  • Successful completion of courses 1 and 2 (Introduction to Equine Ergonomics)
  • Completion of 30 independent correct evaluations for horse and rider

Certification:Saddlefit 4 Life Certificate as Equine Ergonomist
Course designation:PE-P
Course Duration: 3 Days
Fees:564,- €


Intensive Course in Saddle Ergonomics Module 1 – Saddle Ergonomist Intensive


Saddle Ergonomist – Professional Development according to Saddlefit 4 Life® philosophy
This is an internship whereby the CEE spends approximately 3 months training with a Certified Saddle Ergonomist on site working with clients..

Course content:

  • Proper saddle flocking and reflocking
  • Using saddlery tools
  • Stitching billets
  • Using the Saddlesizer™ Tree machine
  • Adjusting the saddle to fit properly
  • Client conversations/consultation and customer service
  • Business Development and public relations

You will learn how and why a saddle needs to be adjusted at least once annually as the horse’s conformation will change due to the extraneous causes outlined in the circle of influence.

Logistics and Training Schedule: as determined individually with the CSE
Training venue: as determined individually with CSE
Prerequisite: Certification as Equine Ergonomist
Duration: Approximately 3 months
Course Designation:SE-K
Fees:  3.500,- € for the three month period of training with CSE
Additional fees as required for accommodation, meals and travel expenses as determined with CSE from case to case

S4L course 1 - Charlton, NY - Oct 2015

Module 2 – Saddle Ergonomist continuing education – Stitching and Saddle Flocking – (PO)


Stitching and Flocking
After this course you will be able to properly and correctly flock a saddle panel. You will learn how to use the specialized saddlery tools required for this adjustment, and how to stitch using two needles. You will learn about the various types of saddle flocking used and why some are better than others.
Course Content

  • Proper flocking/restuffing – what do you need to know?
  • Proper use of saddlery tools
  • Flocking materials and the advantages/disadvantages of each
  • Learning how to flock and restuff properly – the correct techniques
  • Stitching billets and other minor repairs

Target Groups:

  • Certified Saddle Ergonomists or Saddle Ergonomist candidates

Training schedule: Every month based on demand and appointments
Prerequisite: Certification as Equine Ergonomist

Course designation:PO
Fees:150,- €

Schleese International, Europa Zentrale Köln
Eupener Straße 150 , 50933 Köln


TIM McGrath - Quality Control Manager - RGB Jochen---Working-on-Saddle-Historic---cropped

Module 3 – Saddle Ergonomist continuing education – Working with the Saddlesizer™ Tree machine (BEM)


Working with the Tree machine (Taught by CSE Inge Taffijn) according to Saddlefit 4 Life® philosophy
This additional training will allow you to sell and fit specially adjustable saddles to your clients, and build ongoing relationships as you continue to fit ergonomically to horse and rider. You will learn how to use the Saddlesizer tree machine to adjust gullet plates asymmetrically to accommodate the horse’s conformation exactly. You will ensure that the saddle fits at the wither and at the shoulder by adjusting it properly using the tree machine.

Target Group:

  • Certified Equine Ergonomists

Schedule:  one day seminar as determined with Trainer Inge Taffijn


  • Certification as Equine Ergonomist including proof of independent evaluations done with approx. 30 horse and rider combinations.
  • Minimum amount of internship hours spent working with CSE

Course Designation:BEM
Fees:250,- €

Reitstall Gut Burghof
Hauptstraße 7, 505859 Köln



Saddle Ergonomist Certification – (SE-F)


Certification process for saddle ergonomists according to Saddlefit 4 Life® philosophy
With this certification as a Saddle Ergonomist you have the ability to not only perform a saddle fit evaluation and measure horse and rider, but also to properly adjust and fit saddles ergonomically over the life of the horse. You will be able to offer your clients specially adjustable saddles with a comprehensive service relationship to ensure protection from long term back damage for horse and rider. This is a unique selling proposition which will elevate you from conventional ‚saddle fitters‘.

  • Practical – including static and dynamic evaluation and fit of the saddle
  • Theoretical – written and oral questions concerning saddle fit and saddlery

Target Groups:

  • Certified Equine Ergonomists

Dates:TBD depending on demand and level of training of CEEs.Two days with maximum 4 candidates for testing.

  • Confirmation of completion of internship with CSE as well as having completed ca. 39 independent evaluations

Course designation:SE-F
Fees:390,- €



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Equine Professional

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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