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Saddle Fit and Industry Education

Saddle Fit and Industry Education

A recent article in the Journal of Veterinary Science concerning the repeatability of 20 Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) Qualified Saddle Fitters observations of static saddle fit outlines the lack of cohesiveness in the methodology of assessing saddle fit. The SMS has committed to overhauling their entire saddle fitting curriculum within the next year or two – recognizing the fact that a) saddle making does not equal saddle fitting and b) their saddle fitting training is somewhat remedial in its ramifications. Further work is definitely necessary to standardize the criteria of what is saddle fit and how should saddles be fitted – and perhaps to develop a common language that is accepted throughout the industry...

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Saddle Fit and the Heavier Rider

Saddle Fit and the Heavier Rider

Modern saddle construction results in more and more back issues, partially because of the fact that people are getting heavier (larger). The question about saddle fit is not necessarily limited to heavier riders – all riders and all horses can and will benefit from a correctly fitted saddle! However, heavier riders bring with them a whole different set of challenges (by heavier riders, I am referring to women who are 180+ pounds, and men who are 250+ pounds). When a heavier rider chooses a horse, it should really be a key criterion to have a horse with a large enough saddle support area/weight bearing surface to accommodate a bigger saddle which will fit this rider’s conformational needs. (Think large warmblood type rather than thoroughbred!). We had a case many years ago where a very heavy female rider (I would guess 250+ pounds) was riding a very thin thoroughbred she had gotten from the racetrack...

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Many Horses But Not So Many Saddles - Saddle Solutions?

Many Horses But Not So Many Saddles - Saddle Solutions?

I am a trainer with lots of horses to ride but I cannot afford a saddle for each horse. I start a lot of young horses – some of which will presumably leave within a year or two. How do I manage to do right by all these animals (and for myself) by ensuring I have and use a saddle which works for me and works for all of them? Obviously, ideally, it would be great to have a saddle that has been made and fi􀄴ed for each horse’s conformation, but the reality is that this will seldom be the case. So, you get a saddle that fits you absolutely wonderfully, is comfortable, works with your anatomical requirements (male or female), and makes sure that at the very least you won’t let any discomfort from the rider’s end translate down to the horse. That’s the first step. Then, you have it fitted to the largest horse you have because it’s always easier to fill in the gaps and make it fit for horses with narrower shoulders, lower withers, etc. (just like it’s easier to fit shoes that are too large with insoles and extra socks; the other way really doesn’t work that well.)

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Bad Horse! Really? How About "Bad Rider!" or "Bad Saddle!" or maybe even "Bad Genes!"

Bad Horse! Really? How About "Bad Rider!" or "Bad Saddle!" or maybe even "Bad Genes!"

Most people will agree with the statement “horses do not make conscious decisions to behave badly.” Horses react to outside stimuli—either a poorly fitting saddle or an incompetent or untrained rider can cause all kinds of unwanted behaviors. How and where a rider’s weight is carried can make a huge difference, and dangerous horses can quickly be created when aids are misunderstood or mishandled. Sometimes horses will develop resistant or evasive behaviors because the handler does not know how to get what he is asking for, but remember that this does not make a “bad horse”—it’s simply a horse behaving badly. Some of the strategic behavior horses have adopted could be interpreted as stereotypical, but these behaviors are not vices, as vices would infer that the horse is somehow at fault....

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Saddle Fit and Girth Choices - the two go hand in hand!

Saddle Fit and Girth Choices - the two go hand in hand!

The girth is the most important saddle accessory because it directly affects saddle fit and how it feels to your horse. There are many different types, lengths and versions of girths available. In this article, we look at the factors to consider when finding and fitting a girth that will work for your horse...

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Saddle Fit and the Heavier Rider

Saddle Fit and the Heavier Rider

I don’t think anyone will argue the fact that all riders and all horses benefit from a correctly fitted saddle! However, heavier riders bring with them a whole different set of challenges by heavier riders, I am referring to any rider who is around 200 pounds). When a heavier rider chooses a horse, it should really be a key criterion to have a horse with a large enough saddle support area/weight bearing surface to accommodate a bigger saddle which will fit this rider’s conformational needs.(Think Friesian rather than Arab)...

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Why Don't We See More Boys Riding Dressage?

Why Don't We See More Boys Riding Dressage?

It’s always interesting to take a few moments when I’m working at a horse show to check out the competition. I mean the real competition- the riders who have trained long and hard and are now showing off their skills in the ring. Especially in dressage shows, but also at the lower level hunter/jumper shows – it is almost painfully obvious how few boys there are riding and competing!...But let’s examine the question a little closer concerning why boys specifically generally don’t ride. Beyond the ‘peer pressure’ issue of it not necessarily being a ‘macho’ sport, perhaps there are other reasons at play; issues that have to do with my favorite subject: saddle fit!

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Saddle Fit: English vs. Western - What are the Differences?

Saddle Fit: English vs. Western - What are the Differences?

When mankind began riding horses, and saddles were developed to help keep riders astride their mounts, the original purpose of the saddle was to support the horse in his job. Saddles were designed to accommodate the demands placed on horses during activities such as combat, transportation, and sport. And since riding in long skirts was not practical and it was unbecoming for women to straddle a horse, side-saddles were created to allow women to ride. Recent years have seen a change in saddles from mainly functional to often fashionable (featuring bling, silver, etc.). More recently, as the general demographic of riders changed to primarily women, gender considerations have been incorporated into the mix of saddle design for both English and Western disciplines...

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Saddle Fit and Technology - How Technological Advances are Changing the Way Saddles are Fitted

Saddle Fit and Technology - How Technological Advances are Changing the Way Saddles are Fitted

Many tools have been developed over the years to assist in the diagnosis of saddle fit, however, as ‘sexy’ as they are, they are just that – tools – providing information that exemplifies the situation at a given moment. Unless you have someone that actually knows what to do with this information to provide you a solution to your issue, it’s pretty much without value. Many people can tell you what’s visually wrong with your saddle but there are very few who can analyze the data to actually tell you why you are having the issue you are.

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A couple of years ago I was desperate for a new dressage saddle. I had done absolutely everything else for my very difficult Holsteiner mare, GG, and a new saddle was the very last thing to try to make a difference. I happened upon Jochen and his amazing saddles completely by accident. I would move Heaven and Earth to get one for my mare. I purchased a Wave for GG, and had it fitted. I knew after a few rides that we were on the right track. After a couple of years and many saddle adjustments, GG was becoming the horse I always dreamed about. I was ready to start jumping her. I knew that only a Schleese saddle would be good enough for GG. After an exhaustive search, we located a close contact Ventura saddle. It needed a bit of work before it would be suitable for GG. I shipped the saddle to Canada from Texas so it could be customized. I waited patiently for my saddle to arrive back. I am so very happy to say that GG likes it! She loves the air panels and is cantering and jumping like the hunter I knew she could be. Her wonderful Wave saddle has now been fitted to my TB gelding and he is moving better than he ever has before. Without Schleese, my horses were ok. With Schleese my horses are rock stars. Thanks to everyone at Schleese for helping I realize my dreams with two very challenging horses.    

— Jennifer Fulton - Aledo, TX

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