The Saddle-Fit Link to Physical and Psychological Trauma in Horses (198 pages)

EXPLORING THE PAINFUL TRUTH

Humans and horses have been joined for thousands of years, and for much of that time, one thing has served as the primary point of physical contact between them — the saddle.

However, for many horses and many riders, the saddle has been no less than a refined means of torture.  Horses have long suffered from tree points impeding the movement of their shoulder blades; too narrow gullet channels damaging the muscles and nerves along the vertebrae; and too long panels putting harmful pressure on the reflex point in the loin area.  Male riders saddle up despite the riding-related pain and the potential for serious side effects, such as impotence, while female riders endure a backache, slipped discs, and bladder infections, to name just a few common issues.

We must ask ourselves: How much better could we ride and how much better could our horses perform if our saddles fit optimally?

If they accommodated the horse’s unique conformation and natural asymmetry?  If they were built for the differing anatomy of men and women?

The answers to all these questions are right here, right now, in this book.  Master saddler and saddle ergonomist Jochen Schleese is committed to finding new ways to ensure the health, comfort, and performance of horses and their riders.

Forwards written by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, DVM author of ‘Tug of War’: Classical Versus Modern Dressage and ‘The Balancing Act’; Walter A. Zettl – also know as WAZ, one of the world’s most accomplished and revered masters of classical dressage and sought after clinician and coach, German dressage rider and Olympic-level dressage horse trainer; and Andrea Koslik a physiotherapist and instructor of Rider Biomechanics at the German National Riding School in Warendorf.

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Book Reviews

In this extract from his book Suffering in Silence, the saddle-fit link to physical and psychological trauma in horses (J A Allen, £19.99), Jochen Schleese considers commercial dilemmas facing the saddle industry…

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“This book is lovely! It’s surprisingly very in depth and covers way more than I expected, from saddle pads, girths, riders’ and horses’ imbalances, muscular conformation, as well as saddle fit and much, much more. This book is a very easy read with tons of pictures and diagrams to help explain each point. Every page if full of ‘ah ha’ moments. Schleese has obviously dedicated his life to the study of saddle making and fit and his passion and knowledge shines through in this book. If you are a rider please take the time to get educated about saddle fit by reading this book or invest in having a saddle fitter look at how your saddle fits you and your horse. Saddle fit is such an important piece of the puzzle to making a happy, healthy horse and therefore happy rider. The only down fall is there is not any information on Western saddle fit but I think one can apply many of the English saddle fit principles in this book to Western saddles. Thank you Jochen Schleese for writing this book!”

Liz

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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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