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Saddle Fitting and Performance

According to Jo S. Hockenhull, PhD, of the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Bristol, England, the most prevalent problem was shying (50%), followed by walking off while being mounted (46%), and leaning on the bit (45%), which may be attributed simply to poor riding practices. More dangerous behaviours such as bucking, rearing and bolting were rare. One encouraging number from this study was that 88% of the riders had consulted with a professional to check their saddle's fit, with 61% having it rechecked annually. Just how much influence does a poorly-fitted saddle have on a horse’s performance? Jochen Schleese of Newmarket, ON, who became the youngest Certified Master Saddler in Europe in 1984 at the age of 22, had already crafted over 1,000 saddles before he watched a video of a horse galloping on a treadmill. Seeing how the saddle was interfering with the shoulder was a…

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