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

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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