Saddle Fit and The Cost of Care

Let’s face it. Riding is a very expensive pastime. Although there are some beautiful horses being practically given away for maybe a couple hundred dollars of adoption fees, the day-to-day and occasional costs can add up substantially. Although some of these may be mitigated by your personal circumstances, somebody has to cover these expenses. To name a few: food, supplements,  manure removal, facility upkeep,  boarding costs, hoof care, deworming, dental, vaccinations, Coggins, insurance, body workers, tack and equipment, tack and equipment maintenance, riding lessons, training, association fees, show entry fees, trailer(ing), stabling, accommodation for you – have I missed anything? Some of these expenses are related to working with professionals – farriers for hoof care; veterinarians for deworming, dental, vaccinations, insurance (not to mention if illnesses or injuries occur!); body work done by REMTs, physiotherapists or equine chiropractors;  instructors for riding lessons or professional training; and last – but certainly not least! – Your professional saddle fitter and/or saddler who helps maintain your equipment and ensures it continues to fit you and your horse properly.

Saddle Fit and the Cost of Equine Care
Top Left: Acupuncture treatment by Dr. Joanna Robson (photo courtesy of Dr. Joanna Robson); Top Middle: Vet giving an IM injection; Top Right: Vet administering a dental ‘Floating’ treatment;Bottom Left: Farrier nailing on a shoe; Bottom Middle: Equine Massage Therapist in action; Bottom Right: Administering of a scheduled deworming treatment. (Photos: Internet with the exception of Dr. Joanna Robson photo top left)

Occasionally despite the best efforts of your professionals, things don’t work out the way you hope for. Your vet might not be able to save a colicking horse. Your farrier might not be able to compensate for low heel/high heel syndrome, or other issues leading to possible lameness. Your trainer might not get you to the next level of competition. And your saddle fitter might not be able to make the saddle you have fit the horse properly – or make it work for you. The human reaction is to point fingers and lay blame on those we find responsible – and in some cases even go so far as to demand financial restitution for payment made.

I definitely empathize with a horse owner who ends up losing her horse and still has to pay the vet’s bills, however, that is exactly the point. Veterinarians, like all certified equine professionals (with the distinction here being those who have actually trained and received a certification as such) are deemed to be educated ‘experts’ in their fields, and as such, are entitled to command the necessary fees to do business. Would you ever think of demanding payment back from your doctor because you suffered through weeks of the flu and nothing could be done? Would you not pay your lawyer if you lost your case?

No one in any career path is in it for strictly altruistic reasons; we all need to make money to live. I would venture to guess that a) although a lawyer is paid exorbitant fees (sometimes around $800/hour!) he doesn’t necessarily win every case nor b) does a doctor cure every ill. These people still get paid, regardless of the outcome.

Such is it with your equine professionals – admittedly, not every saddle fitting that we do will be 100%; yet the time and effort spent for the analysis, evaluation, consultation, and resulting adjustment deems recognition in the form of due compensation. Many people still do not understand that they are paying for the expertise of an educated and trained opinion – and that what they do with that is entirely up to them. There is no guarantee to anyone consulting with you onsite that you will actually end up having any adjustments made, or buying a new saddle – or stop you from going to your local tack shop with the information and buying there.

Yes, occasionally you have to meet the client halfway, especially if there is a long-term relationship, but bottom line is that we all need to be compensated for services rendered – regardless of the field and what we do. Would you not agree?

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