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

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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