Saddle fit evaluation: What is it and why is it necessary?

Health issues and damage caused by poor saddle fit are often simply the result of not knowing or not ever having had a professional saddle fit evaluation. A properly fitted saddle contributes to comfort, performance, well-being, safety and enjoyment of riding for horse and rider. The placement and balancing the rider’s seat bones are keys to proper position and balance for the rider, and comfort for the horse. Even a horse with a perfectly fitted saddle will never be fully protected from long term damage if the saddle is not suited to the anatomical build and gender of the rider. If you have concerns about the fit of your saddle, download our Rider Saddle Fit Checklist.

To determine the optimal saddle fit, Saddlefit 4 Life® developed the 80 Points Saddle Fit Diagnostic Evaluation – the most comprehensive analysis in the industry worldwide. The evaluation consists of 55 evaluation points to horse and 25 points to rider.


Evaluation outline

Your evaluation includes:

  • Static measurements and assessments of horse, rider and saddle
  • Dynamic analyses: saddle support area, dust pattern and riding
  • Experiencing optimal fit in a gender correct, sizing saddle adjusted to your horse
  • Detailed report addressing your goals and concerns with recommendations for achieving optimal saddle fit
  • Readjustment on site (for additional charge as appropriate)


Standards of Certification

To maintain the highest technical standards, Jochen Schleese oversees the training and certification of all Equine Ergonomists, Saddle Ergonomists, Independent Saddle Fitters and Saddle Fit Technicians. Saddlefit 4 Life® has a comprehensive saddle fitting philosophy; S4L certification programs are valued by equine professionals from many disciplines. S4L education is endorsed by the United States Dressage Federation (USDF), The Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA), the American Riding Instructors Association (ARIA), the German National Riding School, The Association of Professional Trainers – Germany (Berufsreiterverband), Equine Canada and the Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF).

Certified Saddlefit 4 Life® professionals receive the most advanced training for saddle fit assessment offered in the industry. It is the only certification program in this field which requires renewal of certification every 2 years to maintain state-of-the-art expertise. S4L ensures the highest standards of Saddlefit 4 Life® graduates, who hold a valid certification card.

Saddlefit 4 Life® diagnostics, analysis and saddle fitting services are available throughout many parts of the world. Meet our Certified Affiliates.

Contact info@schleese.com for more information or Register for a Saddle Fit Diagnostic Evaluation

Correct Diagnosis is Vital to Solving Problems!

Watch
Videos

How to Tell if Your Saddle is Hurting your Horse – Jochen Discusses Signs of Poor Saddle Fit to Horse & Rider.

Saddlefit 4 Life® Evaluation in Germany with Dr. Gerd Heuschmann and Jochen Schleese

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Equine Professional
Testimonials

The riding school where I first took lessons had "good" saddles, made by a venerable European manufacturer, so when I noticed my riding was uncomfortable, I assumed a problem with my position. Eventually though, I realized that no position was comfortable, that riding varied from unpleasant to excruciating. Nobody else seemed to have a problem, and my instructor was not a person with whom anyone discussed non-public parts of the body, so I just accepted that riding was painful. Until I rode in a friend's saddle, made by another venerab1e European manufacturer. It was an old saddle, but the moment I sat in it I was like Goldilocks in Baby Bear's chair -it was just right. Painless! Amazing! So I measured, compared, tried other saddles; then my husband made me foam blocks that I placed next to my stirrup bars to widen the saddle waist until I could buy a used saddle-shaped -like-me. If I or my instructor had had Jochen Schleese's important book “Suffering In Silence”, I would have been spared years of pain and frustration. It seems an unfortunate human tendency to take no steps toward a solution unless the ultimate solution is achievable, like the onlooker who wondered why to throw a single starfish in the sea if they couldn’t all be saved.  I can’t afford to buy custom saddles for my school horses, but there are many things I can do, with the information in Mr. Schleese's book, to make my horses and my students more comfortable. Correct diagnosis is vital to solving problems, and its information that you need to make a diagnosis, like the significance of saddle length, gullet width, equine asymmetry, billet placement, cantle angle, and many other features of the interface between rider and horse. Little, inexpensive things like foam blocks can make the difference between painful and painless for both the equines and the humans you are responsible for, if you have the information that comes from Mr. Schleese's experience, we may not be able to do everything, but we should do what we can.

— Katie Aiken, Riding Instructor Magazine Copy Editor Fall 2014

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