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The story of why I do what I dO

Argentina was the first place I saw gauchos in my youth. I was born in Germany, but spent my first 7 years in South America. Here I found my love for horses. I watched the gauchos galloping alongside our car, chasing a rhea while swinging a bolo. The magic was feeling that horse and rider were one. From then on I wanted to capture this same magic. Back in Germany my wish came true – I got my first horse. 

I fell into the money, medals, and fame trap – it became about the horse as machine. I lost touch with everything I was drawn to in the first place. My calling gave me opportunity to reconnect and recapture the original magic. I can now share this worldwide with people who search for the same miracle where man and horse as one.

After the 1982 German nationals my Hanoverian gelding began showing lameness – not attributed to the saddle, since the experts – vets, trainers, farriers – kept us fit for the team. I think of what we did to ward off the lameness: blocking, blistering, re-shoeing and pharmaceuticals – makes me cry. I know now it was my saddle not made for the horse’s requirements – with every step his shoulders were hit by forward facing tree points; the narrow gullet impacted his spinal processes, back ligaments and nerves, and the gullet plate pinched his wither muscle as he move. I followed the advice of experts, but the result was a ‘textbook case’ of torture for my horse.

I followed the advice of experts, but the result was a texbook case of torture for my horse!

In 1984 after qualifying for the Europeans I retired ‘Pirat’ for lameness, effectively ending my riding career

I wish I had known then what I have learned in the past 40+ years. I am very determined to alleviate this consequence for other horses.

Studying the effects of poor saddle fit, the horse in motion, and equine development led to founding Saddlefit 4 Life® in 2005 – a global network of equine professionals dedicated to protecting horse and rider from long term back damage caused from ill-fitting saddles. Saddlefit 4 Life®  principles and system are taught so that saddle fit issues can be recognized.

No horse should suffer for the ignorance of his rider, nor should a sound horse have to be farmed out or put down from damage so severe that nothing more can be done. We need to help the horse by improving back health and comfort.

In 1984 after qualifying for the Europeans I retired ‘Pirat’ for lameness, effectively ending my riding career

I wish I had known then what I have learned in the past 40+ years. I am very determined to alleviate this consequence for other horses.

Studying the effects of poor saddle fit, the horse in motion, and equine development led to founding Saddlefit 4 Life® in 2005 – a global network of equine professionals dedicated to protecting horse and rider from long term back damage caused from ill-fitting saddles. Saddlefit 4 Life®  principles and system are taught so that saddle fit issues can be recognized.

No horse should suffer for the ignorance of his rider, nor should a sound horse have to be farmed out or put down from damage so severe that nothing more can be done. We need to help the horse by improving back health and comfort.

NOTHING MAKES ME HAPPIER

The biggest reward is when a horse begins to move freely and well in a properly fitted saddle. Often riders throw their arms around me crying with joy, because the difference is that visible. They realize how much harm they had unknowingly done riding in an ill-fitting saddle. This is my calling – teaching professionals around the world so together we can improve the well-being of horses and riders worldwide.

Jochen Schleese's Biography

Eventer

Former member of the German young rider’s 3-Day Event team, Jochen Schleese qualified for the European Championships in 1984. Unfortunately, he had to retire his horse due to lameness, which abruptly ended his riding career. Years later, through research Jochen discovered his horse’s lameness was caused by damage to the scapular cartilage from an ill-fitting saddle. This was the catalyst for Jochen’s life-long mission to prevent saddle related damage for all horses.

Jochen Schleese - Eventing on 'Pirat'

German Certified Master Saddler

Jochen graduated from Passier in 1985 as the youngest Certified Master Saddler in Germany at the time. He came to Canada as the Official Saddler for the 1986 World Dressage Championships.  Jochen registered the trade of saddlery in North America in 1990, and operated the only authorized training facility for this trade in Ontario.  He discovered that many female riders struggle with pain and health issues from riding in saddles designed for male riders (due to pelvic and anatomical differences).  Schleese Saddlery Service (1986) is the world leader in gender correct saddles, which can be fit and adjusted according to the biomechanics of movement and the development of the horse, through personal on-site or online saddle fit evaluations.

Educator

Jochen Schleese established Saddlefit 4 Life® (2006) as an independent organization to teach saddle fit evaluation and analyses, and certify professionals in equine and saddle ergonomics. Jochen has lectured at conferences throughout the world and is a frequent clinician at trade shows and equine forums worldwide. Saddlefit 4 Life® courses are accredited by the United States Dressage Federation, the Certified Horsemanship Association and Ontario Equestrian Federation. Jochen Schleese is on the advisory board of the Equine Sciences Academy and a former education partner with the American Riding Instructor Association and Ontario Equestrian Federation.

Multiple Awards

In 2010 Jochen was part of the educational roster at WEG (World Equestrian Games), and is the recipient of numerous business and trade achievement awards. In 2014 he was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year (Chamber of Commerce) for ongoing innovation, research and development, growth, products and services, creative business initiatives, and community service.

In 2010 Jochen was part of the educational roster at WEG (World Equestrian Games), and is the recipient of numerous business and trade achievement awards. In 2014 he was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year (Chamber of Commerce) for ongoing innovation, research and development, growth, products and services, creative business initiatives, and community service.

Published Author

Jochen is author of “The Silent Killer” – the Painful Truth of Saddle Fitting and Why it Doesn’t Work” (Wu Wei Germany 2012, Kosmos 2014) and “Suffering in Silence – the Saddle Fit Link to Physical and Psychological Trauma in Horses” (Trafalgar 2013, 2015, 2017). 

Selected as the Official Saddler to the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas (2005, 2007, and 2009),  Jochen Schleese has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal and Discovery Channel (“How it’s Made”) and has written articles for over 28 equine publications.

Jochen is author of “The Silent Killer” – the Painful Truth of Saddle Fitting and Why it Doesn’t Work” (Wu Wei Germany 2012, Kosmos 2014) and “Suffering in Silence – the Saddle Fit Link to Physical and Psychological Trauma in Horses” (Trafalgar 2013, 2015, 2017). Selected as the Official Saddler to the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas (2005, 2007, and 2009),  Jochen Schleese has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal and Discovery Channel (“How it’s Made”) and has written articles for over 28 equine publications.

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