I’d like to share with you what I recently wrote for one of the US publications I submit to, because I feel it warrants repeating. In this season of being thankful (the recent US Thanksgiving holiday, and our upcoming Christmas celebrations), let’s take a few minutes to reflect on the horses we’ve loved and learned so much from. Pirat was my partner in many successful event competitions in Europe. His career came to an early end when signs of increasing lameness appeared and his eyes began to lose their shine. He was examined by team doctors and several universities, but it was already too late to do anything. The diagnosis: irreparable cartilage damage at his scapula. At the time I was an apprentice saddler, but I had no clue it was the saddle that had caused him all of his pain and lameness. I will never forgive myself for this. We tried everything – I even blistered his shoulder in an attempt to try and heal him. It worked for about three months – during which time he got time off and just ran around with our other horses at pasture. He stayed sound for about three weeks – and then the hitch came back.
I wrote my book Suffering in Silence – the Saddle Fit Link to Physical and Psychological Trauma in Horses and dedicated it to Pirat. It’s because of him that I want to help as many horses as possible to avoid the same fate. I hope he forgave me – because I think horses have great capacities to forgive everything we put them through. I now teach these principles through Saddlefit 4 Life® (S4L) seminars all over the world – most recently in South Africa, which is our fifth continent! Many saddlery companies have systems which they follow to make their saddles and fit their saddles, but S4L is a philosophy based on scientific research to address the issues that can protect horse and rider from long term back damage caused by poorly fitting saddles – not opinion that results in commercial gain. Only S4L works together with all types of equine professionals to ensure a global language of saddle fit for the complete good of the horse.
As a token of appreciation to riders who strive to improve the lives of our beloved horses, I share my Saddle Fit Guide.
Learn how to protect yourself and your horse from discomfort and pain due to poor fitting saddles. This guide contains information on:
• Signs of Poor Saddle Fit – overview of unwanted behaviour that may be due to a poorly fitting saddle.
• Rider Saddle Fit Checklist – how to check if your saddle fits you well.
• The 9 Points of Saddle Fitting – determine if your saddle fits your horse well.
• Saddle Fit For Women – what you need to know if you’re a woman looking to buy a saddle.
• Personal On-site Evaluations – how to receive the most comprehensive analysis worldwide with our 80 point saddle fit evaluation™.
Like our Saddlefit 4 Life® Facebook Page to receive regular Fit Tips and updates.
I am thankful for equine professionals who invest in continuing education, who collaborate with other professionals to learn from each other. I am thankful for riders and owners, who regularly confer with professionals, ask questions and insist on finding answers to make educated decisions. I am thankful for publications that provide educational for riders.
Happy Holidays and Happy Riding!
~ Jochen Schleese CMS, CSFT, CSE, courtesy of Saddlefit 4 Life