Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, DVM

Saddlefit 4 Life®  Partner shares our Passion to Protect Horses!

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Trained as a Bereiter (Master Trainer), Dr. Gerd Heuschmann is an equine veterinarian based at the Warendorf Veterinary clinic associated with the German National Riding School. A respected international lecturer, Heuschmann educates equestrians on how to make the sport better for the horse. A true horse lover and voice for the horse, Dr. Heuschmann boldly speaks about the damaging effects of incorrect training methods (especially hyperflexion!) employed by many competitive riders and trainers today.

In 2008 Dr. Heuschmann studied Jochen Schleese’s Saddlefit 4 Life® system, and was certified as a [Saddlefit 4 Life® Professional] providing diagnostic assessment of suspected saddle fit issues. Jochen Schleese has taught with Dr. Heuschmann at the German National Riding School, training Bereiter and Reitlehrer on saddle fit principles and assessment, as well as at clinics all over North America.

Heuschmann speaks about the saddle as the interface between horse and rider, and damaging effects of poorly fitting saddles:

“The saddle is the connection between horse and rider and plays a massive role in this partnership. A poorly fitting saddle cannot result in optimum performance even with an excellent rider. The saddle size impacts the longissimus dorsi of the horse’s back. Saddles do fit better than they did even 20 years ago but there are still many poorly fitted saddles and there is a lot of room for improvement. The industry simply requires better education, such as Saddlefit 4 Life® is giving.”

Author of “Finger in der Wunde” (Germany Oct. 2006) translated as “Tug of War – Classical versus “Modern Dressage” link (Sept. 2007), as well as “The Balancing Act” (2012) Heuschmann explains why Classical Training Methods are necessary and beneficial to the horse, and how incorrect “Modern” riding negatively affects horses’ health. Comparing both classical and “modern” training methods, Dr. Heuschmann believes the horse’s body tells us whether our riding is “building the horse up” or wearing it down and tearing it apart.” His documentary [“If Horses Could Speak”] link 2008, shows the damaging effects of poor training methods on the functional anatomy and bio-mechanics of the horse, and features several experts in the industry with their commentary, including Jochen Schleese.

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Together with Klaus Balkenhol and other prominent dressage experts, Dr. Heuschmann is a founding member of “Xenophon,” an organization dedicated to “fighting hard against serious mistakes in equestrian sport” www.xenophon-classical-riding.org.

Dr. Heuschmann writes on the [functional anatomy of the horse]:

http://www.schleese.com/FunctionalAnatomyOfTheHorseTheBack

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Testimonials

ask_watlter_bookI have known Jochen as a talented rider and master of his trade since 1986. It is easy to recognize how much Jochen Schleese cares about the comfort and well-being of the horse. Many rider errors have their origins in poorly fitted saddles—to either horse or rider. Too many times these issues are simply ignored and that is why I cannot thank Jochen enough for bringing them to our attention in his book, which every rider who loves his horse should own. He uses illustrations and descriptions not only to discuss what a saddle should look like and that it should fit, but also how it should be fit to individual horses. Only then can the animal carry the unaccustomed weight of a rider and the saddle without pain.  The horse is not really made to carry any weight on its back – which is the second most sensitive spot after its mouth.  It really only becomes possible to do so after its back has been properly strengthened and trained to do so using specific training and gymnastic exercises. All of this was taken into consideration by Jochen during his many years of training and studying with his master in Germany, and later as a master saddler himself while establishing his business in his chosen land [Canada]. Especially Jochen’s experience as a successful competitor in 3-day eventing allowed him to observe and feel the necessity for freedom of movement required under saddle in all three gaits.  His own training had taught him that only a correct seat will facilitate the right aids to the horse. What happens when the rider is even only slightly out of balance?  This is where the saddle comes into the picture: one often sees the rider react by holding his head somewhat to the left or the right. This is the first mistake in the seat; from this he may collapse at the same hip and shift his weight to the other side to compensate. This will of course put more pressure on one side of the horse’s back. Then the rider pulls more on the opposite rein, the whole other side comes higher, and so forth. The result of such seemingly inconsequential errors in position that may go unnoticed or uncorrected for years may be a crooked saddle. It will not fit the horse properly any longer and secondly continue to place the rider in an incorrect seat. One shouldn’t underestimate the frequency or speed with which this crookedness and unevenness can happen. Many rider errors have their origin in poorly fitted saddles to either horse or rider.walter Too many times these issues are simply ignored and that is why I cannot thank Jochen enough for bringing them to our attention in his book ‘Suffering in Silence’. Every rider who loves his horse should own this book. Jochen discusses what to look for in a saddle and how to ensure it will not cause your horse any pain. Horses did not ask to be ridden, which is why it is so important to Jochen that he protect our four-legged partners from poor saddle fit. He is ensured a measure of gratitude from all horses for making their lives bearable and comfortable with properly fitting saddles. I thank him on behalf of riders everywhere, and also his wife Sabine who played just as big a role in the writing of ‘Suffering in Silence’. Jochen teaches discuss what a saddle should look like and that it should fit, but also how it should be fit to individual horses. Only then can the animal carry the unaccustomed weight of a rider and the saddle without pain.

— Walter A. Zettl, Olympic Level Dressage Coach, Professional Trainer Extraordinaire, Clinician and Author of Dressage in Harmony and The Circle of Trust

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