Jane Savoie

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Jane Savoie and Jochen Schleese (JS and JS) – what makes their partnership so successful? One of the key ingredients of any successful pairing is a mutual respect, complementary philosophies, and genuine passion for the product. Both Jane and Jochen embody each of these prerequisites in all aspects of their being, specifically as it relates to the ultimate well-being of the horse. Savoie and Schleese have worked together for over two decades now in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Of all of the many saddle companies available on the market today; of all of the endorsement opportunities available to a well-known and internationally ranked rider such as Jane Savoie; why then did she choose Schleese to design her name brand saddle with? Jane explains, “I chose Schleese after sitting in one of their saddles when riding a student’s horse. I’m very much “the princess and the pea” when it comes to saddles. If I’m not TOTALLY comfortable, I get distracted and end up focusing on the saddle instead of the horse. (How I’m fighting it to stay in the right position, how hard or slippery it is etc.) When I sat in that saddle, I was dumbstruck at how absolutely fabulous it felt. It was, without exception, the most comfortable saddle I had ever ridden in and I wanted one!!” The result – one of Schleese’s most popular saddles “the Jane Savoie” which became a bestseller a few years ago. Some lucky clients can still find them available ‘previously loved’ on used saddle sites.  Jane is now working with the “Obrigado” model on her Friesians.

Both Jane and Jochen are primarily into education and the comfort of the horse and rider with the ultimate goal of producing happy horses that can easily do their job. Jane helps people from the instructor/trainer point of view – indeed is the marketer extraordinaire of her talents, bar none!; Jochen helps riders by giving them enough information to make educated choices when it comes to deciding what alternatives to follow with their saddles.

Jane believes in “physical therapy” types of exercises that unlock, unblock, loosen and strengthen the horse so he can become more of an athlete. Jochen uses these exercises to demonstrate the impact a poorly fitting or an incorrect saddle have on the horse’s inherent ability to perform. Obviously, both Jane and Jochen can personally reach just so many people on a one-on-one basis, so they also try to educate using alternative methods to impart their message to a larger audience. Jane is a prolific author, having written many books. She also has videos that will allow people to benefit from her methods long distance. (Jochen also has a best-selling book “Suffering in Silence: The Saddle Fit Link to Physical and Psychological Trauma in Horses” and a DVD out). Jochen educates people through clinics, seminars, lectures, and articles about what goes into proper saddle fit and design so that neither horse nor rider suffer any discomfort. Both Jane and Jochen realize the importance of maintaining their cutting edge level of knowledge and influence, and make every effort to consult with industry professionals in various fields on an ongoing basis.

There’s also an openness and transparency to what they both do. Jane has recently transferred some of her passion into her newest hobby – ballroom dancing – and is enjoying quite a bit of success on the ‘pro-am’ circuit with her instructor Clifton Sepulveda of Fred Astaire studios in West Palm Beach. Another thing she and Jochen have in common – as Jochen used to compete with his instructor back in the day!

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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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