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Profile on : Alexa Frye, Regional Client Services Manager - Schleese Saddlery

Profile on : Alexa Frye, Regional Client Services Manager - Schleese Saddlery

How much of your day/week is related to horses? I am happy to be able to say that the vast majority of my week, both professional and personal, is related to horses. When I’m not traveling to barns for my job as a Regional Client Services Manager for Schleese Saddlery, I am working from home and spending most of my free time riding my own horse. What is it exactly that you do? I am a Regional Client Services Manager for Schleese Saddlery. I travel to different territories on regularly scheduled Saddle Fit Clinics. We provide saddle fitting services to new clients seeking an optimally fitting saddle for horse and rider and to our existing clients in need of routine saddle fitting adjustments...

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Baroque Horse Talks to Gerd Heuschmann [DVM]

Baroque Horse Talks to Gerd Heuschmann [DVM]

Baroque Horse Magazine had the pleasure to talk to Dr. Gerd Heushmann, a veterinarian and a classical rider from Germany. Dr. Heuschmann was a key person in bringing to light to dangers and harm of riding horses in Rollkur and was apart of the big 2010 meeting of the FEI in regards to it. He is well-known in the dressage community and admired for being able to speak his mind in what he sees as incorrect and damaging training methods commonly employed by riders and trainers involved in competition today.

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Why Do I Experience Constant Low Back Pain When I Ride?

Why Do I Experience Constant Low Back Pain When I Ride?

The first thing I should know is if you are a woman, and what saddle you are riding in. But let me answer generically – riding should not be causing you pain anywhere. If you are experiencing pain – especially in the lower back, it could be that you are riding in a gender-inappropriate saddle (which usually means women riding in saddles that have been made for men – which most of them quite frankly still are!). Although many men may also have issues with back pain, they are usually stoic and pretty much keep quiet about it. We know many riders who suffer with back issues...

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Are You Riding in a Saddle Made for a Man?

Are You Riding in a Saddle Made for a Man?

This month’s Q&A has spurred me to delve into this topic in a little more detail, as it is an issue that we have often heard from our clients (who are admittedly, mostly women!) Anatomy is a crucial factor in saddle fit, as is gender. Men usually have an easier time finding a saddle that fits, as saddles have traditionally been built by men, for men. Most women have an inherent conformational disadvantage (the center axis of the pelvis prevents women from balancing only on their seat bones). With a saddle designed for the female anatomy (and exercises and muscular development), women can achieve a similar position on horseback to the male. The female pelvis has a shorter tailbone and hip articulation angled to the side vs. the male pelvis with a longer tailbone and straighter hip articulation, allowing his leg to hang straight down...

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Kissing Spine & Hunter's Bump - Poor riding and poor saddle fit can contribute to equine back injuries.

Kissing Spine & Hunter's Bump - Poor riding and poor saddle fit can contribute to equine back injuries.

As was mentioned in a recent article in California Riding Magazine (Nov. 2016) concerning gullet channel width, the issue of kissing spine is something that is of concern to many riders – and is very closely related to this saddle fit issue. I have recently come across an inordinate amount of horses where this issue occurred and was, of course, not helped – indeed exacerbated – by poorly fitting saddles. There are still differing opinions as to whether kissing spines is a disease with predilection already present at birth, or whether it is caused by “something” (poor saddle fit, poor riding, etc.) during the course of the horse’s life. Dr. Carol Vischer, a DVM in New York, with whom I work occasionally, (and who has kindly written an insert for my book Suffering in Silence) has done extensive research and come to the conclusion that kissing spine is a disease that some horses are just prone to, but whatever you believe – the fact is that it can definitely be caused and impacted by poor riding and bad saddle fit...

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How Do You Know If Your Horse is Happy?

How Do You Know If Your Horse is Happy?

A horse is not able to lie, to ‘act’ like he’s feeling comfortable, happy, or relaxed when he’s not. Watch for the feedback your horse gives you and it’s easy to see what his state of mind is. We all know the usual signs; the eyes, the ears, the tail. In nature, the horse – a ‘flight’ animal – can run full out at a moment’s notice. There is no necessity for the thought process “Okay, I’m being chased by a wolf, I’m going to have to run fast in about 3 seconds, so perhaps I should warm up a bit so that I can go full tilt”. By that time, the horse would be lunch. You know your horse better than anyone – instinctively, you know immediately when something is amiss,

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Saddle Fit - Dust Patterns and Sweat Marks

Saddle Fit - Dust Patterns and Sweat Marks

One of the most misunderstood indicators of saddle fit - GOOD or BAD - are the sweat or dust marks left behind after a ride and when the pad has been removed. Logic dictates that the dust pattern on your pad and the sweat marks on your horse should ideally look somewhat like the photo (see article). The most dirt is accumulated where the most movement is: in the front shoulder moving back and forth and in the back, where the back moves up and down. The quick explanation is that no dirt should show where the saddle hardly touches, such as the gullet or at the transition between sweat flap and panel. The white triangle under the front part of the saddle also indicates a good position and fit, because in this area the saddle should sit the most quietly without movement, since this is where most of your weight sits; i.e. no dirt accumulation and no movement...

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No Scale? - No Problem - Easy Ways to Evaluate your Horse's Weight and Condition

No Scale? - No Problem - Easy Ways to Evaluate your Horse's Weight and Condition

There have been a number of articles appearing in various publications recently about rider fitness and how to get back in shape if you’ve taken the winter off. Of course, gettng your horse back in shape is part of the equation, but how do you even know how fit or out-of-shape he is? What is the ideal weight or condition that your horse should be in? ...

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Saddle Fit and Custom Saddles

Saddle Fit and Custom Saddles

What does ‘custom’ really mean? What does ‘quality’ entail? The concept of ‘custom saddles’ really needs to be defined, as it there is so much more to a custom saddle than just a type. The concept of a truly ‘bespoke’ product should be honoured — when a saddle is described as ‘custom’, it really should be just that, and we will clarify the difference here. Simply purchasing a saddle that may have been ‘customized’ to fit your horse with a narrow, medium, or wide tree and panel flocking that has been somewhat moved around to accommodate the horse’s back shape does not a custom product make. Neither does your determination of seat size (anywhere from 16" to maybe 19") with special colour combinations and bling or leather types of your choice. There is nothing truly custom about these superficial choices. These are personalized options that absolutely will be according to your tastes and requests, however, true customization begins inside the saddle with the tree itself. For a truly custom saddle, the considerations (particularly for a Dressage saddle) need to go beyond those mentioned above to include: Twist ...

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The Nine Points of Saddle Fit - Part III of III

The Nine Points of Saddle Fit - Part III of III

Points 7-9: Many of us are familiar with the term “short-backed” to describe a horse, but even a horse with a back that appears to be of normal length may actually have a very short saddle support area. The length of the saddle support area will determine how long the panels must be. Breeds that commonly have a short saddle-support area are Friesians; Baroque type horses such as Andalusians, Lusitanos, PREs, and Lippizaners; Arabians; and more and more frequently, “modern-type” Warmbloods. One common saddle fitting issue here is that the saddle panels are often too long for their backs...

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I met Jochen Schleese in 2007 at Dressage at Devon, where I showed my Oldenburg Stallion "Diamunde" in the 5 y/o FEI Horse Competition and in the Breed Show. I immediately loved the idea of the saddle being adjustable to both horse and rider, but was otherwise not too fond of having to spend what seemed to be a small fortune for a new saddle (I had only owned my stallion for one year, and had bought him his 3rd saddle already). Jochen persisted and we met the day after my competition finished. After a wonderfully informative fitting and lecture it was time to ride my horse in this new saddle. No saddle pad, crowded, crazy warmup arena at Devon, and 10 minutes into the whole thing people were watching a 5 y/o stallion playing with his newfound back and shoulder freedom and a rider smiling from one ear to the other. So, only one regret: I should have bought the saddle before my FEI competition. And this was only the start of a very wonderful relationship with Jochen and the Schleese company. Together, we now have developed a new saddle called the "Elegancia" for the short-backed Iberian and modern Warmblood Sporthorse. Boy, wait until you try this one! I have yet to feel this much freedom in my horses' backs!!!  And to come back to the "small fortune" idea: Yes, I feel fortunate to ride in a Schleese saddle, my horses are happy and sound, and I have saved more money and time than I can tell you! So, look at the big picture: You are investing in your and your horses' health!  

— Petra Wilder - Spellbound Farms Inc., FL

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