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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Equine Professional

"This needs to be taught at the German National Riding School. Every Bereiter and Reitlehrer needs to hear this. This is the first saddle fit system that I've seen that I cannot criticize."

— Hannes Mueller, Instructor at the German National Riding School

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