The New Language of Saddle Fitting Worldwide

Much has been written in the last few years about the many career paths in the equestrian industry and interest in becoming a saddle fitter has increased.

There are a number of training paths available to become a fitter. Some are affiliated directly with a company where fitters are trained basically only in one product. Others are independent and offer actual certification after an examination; perhaps one of the most well-known of these is through the Society of Master Saddlers in England, which designates “Qualified Saddle Fitters” or the MSA (Master Saddler’s Association) in USA, which graduates “Certified Saddle Fitters.” In addition, there are a number of ‘schools’ around the country which touch on some of the important points of consideration in saddle fit who become saddle fitters, who then go on to work for various companies. The one problem common to most of these associations is that they are limited in what their saddle fitters can actually fit, because of the materials and construction of most English saddles. Often, fitting a saddle is limited to re-flocking only, because the tree cannot be adjusted without damaging its tensile strength; or if the gullet plate can be altered, it will usually only be adjustable in its angle, not its width.

Saddlefit 4 Life® (S4L) an independent school founded by Jochen Schleese in 2006, teaches the science and art of saddle fitting and diagnostic saddle fit evaluation all around the world, primarily to equine professionals who are looking to broaden their expertise. The philosophy and curriculum of S4L is taught at the German National Riding School, the Berufsreiterverband (Association of Professional Trainers in Germany), to veterinarians in Brazil, and is also offered for USDF University Accreditation.

Saddlefit 4 Life® is becoming the universal ‘language of saddle fitting’ worldwide. Saddlefit 4 Life® does not train and certify saddle fitters per se; it trains and certifies Equine Ergonomists and Saddle Ergonomists – steps beyond saddle fitting – with knowledge to diagnose interrelated horse and rider issues, and make recommendations for solutions to correct the problem, before they lead to more serious health issues.

Certified Equine Ergonomist (CEE) may apply to continue training to become a Saddle Ergonomist which will teach proficiency in actually making the required adjustments determined for proper saddle fit during the 80 point diagnostic evaluation of horse and rider.

Saddlefit 4 Life® is the only global network for saddle fit training which requires renewal of certification every 2 years to maintain a state-of-the-art level of knowledge, and to date, has graduated over 100 participants worldwide. S4L graduates have access to the latest technology to ensure the closest possible fit – including the recent acquisition of a laser that measures the three-dimensional shape of the horse’s back and gives the client a clear picture of how the horse has changed and grown over time between evaluations.

For full course details, please visit our Education section on this website.

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Testimonials

Jochen saved my horse - even the vet school couldn’t provide an explanation of his symptoms. Understanding how the horse dictates saddle fit added a whole new dimension to my practice and helped countless clients and their horses. Passion for true horsemanship brings us all together. Thank you to Jochen Schleese.  Jochen saved my horse’s career, and in doing so, shaped mine.  Even the vet school couldn’t provide an explanation of his symptoms. Understanding how the horse dictates saddle fit added a whole new dimension to my practice and helped countless clients and their horses.   The saddle fitting material in my book “Recognizing the Horse in Pain and What You Can Do About It” is largely due to your years of experience and passion for teaching. Passion for true horsemanship brings us all together.” My post-graduation experience of seeing numerous records filled with refills for steroids and antibiotics or frequent, needless joint injections soon left me desperately searching for a better way to practice. The ensuing experience (meeting with Certified Master Saddler Jochen Schleese) changed my life, and subsequently changed the lives of the horses I’ve been able to work with. When I met Jochen Schleese, the founder of Saddlefit 4 Life® and listened to his in-depth explanation of how saddle fit affects the horse, I had a revelation. Here was someone who could put all the pieces together for me with compassionate understanding for the horse. I will admit, when I understood how much pain I had caused my horse, and how he had continued to try to do his job for me in the face of that pain, I cried uncontrollably. Now I was armed with something different in making the decision – the knowledge of my horse’s anatomy, how it dictated proper saddle fit...and an option to correct his problems and continue to enjoy riding my horse knowing he is free of pain.”   Recognizing the Horse in Pain and What You Can Do About it - Video Icon for Website How to Use Thermography

— Joanna Robson DVM, CVSMT, CMP, CVA and Owner of Inspiritus Equine

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