Dr. Joanna Robson, DVM, CVSMT, CMP, CVA, CSFT

Vet Teaches Riders to Recognize Equine Back Pain

Dr. Robson has dedicated her life to the compassionate understanding of the horse to eliminate equine pain and maximize performance and longevity. In her practice Dr. Joanna Robson combines traditional western veterinary medicine and horsemanship, with a holistic healing approach.  Dr. Robson works internationally to promote education about recognizing and understanding pain in horses….and teaches people what they can do about it! “The relationship of saddle-fit to equine performance is my obsession!” states Robson, a certified member of Saddlefit for Life® professionals dedicated to the science of saddle fit.

When her horse needed help healing from a back injury, Dr. Robson determined to learn everything possible about a grounded holistic approach to pain-free performance and longevity in our horses. She works to build a community of like-minded professionals, including other veterinarians, farriers, saddle-fitters, and therapists.

“More than anything I would like people to take a step back and listen to their horses.”

In her book “Recognizing the Horse in Pain… and What You Can Do About It!” (©2009; www.recognizingthehorseinpain.com ) Dr. Robson acknowledges the ongoing training she receives from Jochen Schleese. “I would like to thank Jochen Schleese of Saddlefit 4 Life. You saved my horse’s career and in doing so, shaped mine. I acknowledge that the saddle fitting material in this book is largely due to your years of experience and passion for teaching.”

The following is an excerpt of Dr. Robson’s teachings on her website: www.inspiritusequine.com and her article: “The Anatomy of Saddle Fit”

  “Too often people miss the signs of their horse’s discomfort. Short and choppy strides, loss of topline muscle, bulging shoulders, hollow-back – these are all symptoms of a horse in pain.  ‘Stall Rest and Bute’ is mistakenly the treatment when the underlying cause cannot be found, and joint injections don’t treat the underlying cause of joint instability. Too often the horse is blamed for being bad, or intentionally trying to anger its owner. We must learn to take a step back and listen to what the horse is trying to tell us. Most behavioral and training issues are merely the horse’s expression of pain” states Dr. Robson.

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For more information or articles by Dr. Robson on saddle fitting, visit: www.InspiritusEquine.com or www.sustainabledressage.net.

 

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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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