Forced to retire his competitive horse in due to lameness

“Pirat was my partner in many successful three-day event competitions in Europe. By 1984, it was already too late, as signs of Pirat’s increasing lameness put an all too early end to his career – his eyes began to lose their shine. Though I was surrounded by German Team professionals, no one could pinpoint the source of the lameness. I searched for answers conferring with professionals to confirm the diagnosis — irreparable cartilage damage of his scapula.

Although at the time I was an apprentice saddler, I had no clue that it was the saddle that had caused him all this pain and lameness. Years later I later understood how the construction of his saddle caused the lameness. With every step, Pirat’s shoulders were hit by forward facing tree points, the too narrow gullet impacted the spinal processes, ligaments, and nerves along his back, with the gullet plate likely pinching and impeding his wither muscle as he tried to jump and move. I had followed the advice of experts, but the result was a ‘textbook case’ of torture for my poor horse. My horse had suffered from an ill-fitting saddle. I will never forget nor forgive myself for this. Because of him, I want to help as many horses as possible avoid the same fate. I founded Saddlefit 4 Life and wrote “Suffering in Silence” – in dedication to my horse Pirat”.

 

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As quoted in the Certified Horsemanship Association February Monthly Newsletter "I recently attended a nine day intensive saddle fitting course conducted by Jochen Schleese. Jochen and his wife, Sabine, have attended two of CHA's International conferences.  I was intrigued by his demos on how saddles are made differently for men and women. This year in Amarillo, he went into more detail about fitting saddles properly to horses to prevent serious injury.  He is passionate about helping horses and by offering this course to professionals in the horse industry, we can do our part in having healthy horses and educated riders. This 3-day course event covered how saddles [may] cause injury and how little has been done in the last 100 years to prevent these injuries.  By educating professionals who deal with horses on a daily basis on how to properly evaluate a saddle fit can go a long way in making horses healthy.  by teaching an 80 Point Evaluation, taking into account, the shoulder angles, wither shape, saddle support area and making sure critical pressure points are not impinged on by the saddle is just a small segment of this course.  The Schleese's passion for helping horses is much the same as CHA's mission statement for riding instructors.  It is for the good of the horse.  Taking these courses reminded me of my certification week to become a CHA instructor.  A huge highlight of my life with horses."  Check our Saddlefit4life.com and the book "Suffering in Silence."

— Lori Maciulewicz - Regional Director for Region 6

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