SADDLE FIT TIP #1 - BALANCE (in a series of 9 short videos)

Have you ever experienced any of these problems which may indicate saddle balance problems?
Are you struggling with your position?
Is your horse lacking in its performance?

...then you may be faced with a Saddle Balance issue. Watch this informative video for some saddle fit tips on Balance that may help you!




BALANCE: TOO HIGH IN FRONT
Do you feel you are struggling to get balanced in the saddle and are feeling tipped back? Are you struggling with getting your horse engaged or is it experiencing back issues?


If your saddle is too high off the horse's withers or too low in the back, this will cause a lot of excess uneven pressure on the horse's loins. It will not only put you in the wrong position, but it will be very difficult for your horse to engage as it will be unable to come through with its back and step underneath itself into a correctly engaged frame.


BALANCE: TOO LOW IN FRONT
Do you feel tipped forward in the saddle? Is your horse resisting?


If your saddle is too low in front, it will pinch the horse's shoulder - which is very restrictive for your horse! In this situation, your saddle may be too wide in the front or too high in the back. Not only will this cause discomfort for your horse but you will also be forcing yourself to sit in an unnatural position that may affect your riding or strain the discs in your lower back!


STEPS TO CHECK SADDLE BALANCE:

  1. Remove your saddle pad and irons. Place your saddle over the withers and slide it right back behind the shoulder blade. On a dressage saddle, the cantle should be a little higher than the pommel.
  2. Take a small round object (like a pencil) that will roll. Place it on the seat of the saddle and observe. If the saddle is balanced the pencil should rest in the center of the seat. If it rolls too far forward – the pommel is too low (cantle too high). If it rolls too far back, the saddle is too low in the cantle (pommel too high). It will be very difficult in either of these situations for both horse and rider to balance properly!


The horse will be much more comfortable in a well balanced saddle, because the weight of the rider will be distributed over a larger area. The saddle will not be driven into the shoulder or back on the loin. With correct balance the rider will be able to use the 4 curves in her back as natural ‘shock absorbers’, and she will sit balanced on their seat bones. This good posture means she will be able to lean forward and backward without the lower or upper leg swinging back and forth.

An experienced saddle fitter will be able to help diagnose suspected saddle balance issues!

Happy Riding!
Jochen Schleese, CMS


www.schleese.com

 

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Comment by Clarence on February 3, 2010 at 11:57pm
Thank you very much. Can't wait for those blogs and videos. It seems you bring a whole new dimension to saddle-fitting both the horse and rider. And you make it easily understandable so that we can check our own fitters better. You are doing the horse-world a great service. Thank you.
Comment by Jochen Schleese on February 3, 2010 at 7:29pm
I should have been a little more clear in the video. First of all, it relates of course to dressage saddles. In a dressage saddle the front of the flap lines up with the tree points, which should be placed behind the shoulder blade, as I mentioned. The 'dot' I referred to is actually the saddle nail, which in a dressage saddle will be very close to the edge of the pommel. In a jumping saddle, this 'dot' will line up with the tree point and even though the flap itself will be more forward and over the shoulder blade, the tree point should also be behind. You can orient yourself by the saddle nail ('dot'). I hope this makes sense.

The stirrup bar position is extremely important for correct fit to the rider, and I will address this in great detail in a separate blog and video when I discuss fit to the rider. What I can however tell you is that the deepest point and relative stirrup bar position is not so important as is determining the relative upper leg/lower leg proportion in the male and female rider - regardless of the discipline.
Comment by Clarence on February 2, 2010 at 9:18pm
Hi Jochen,

Thank you very much for responding. Please know that it is much appreciated! Also, I found your 9 step videos very informative and have a much better sense of what is required for a saddle to fit properly.
I asked about the showjumper fit because there is one thing I felt was very different from a dressage saddle that could cause problems. Namely, the forward flap. In one of your videos you mentioned the flap of the saddle should not inhibit the shoulder movement backwards as that could cause a lot of trouble. How does one prevent this then with the forward flap on a sj-saddle?

One last question and then I will patiently wait for your rider-fit posts: if the deepest point of the saddle is always in the middle of the saddle, is there any optimum place for the stirrup leathers to be attached? Should they be right underneath that or a tad in front of that deepest point? Or does it not really matter?

Many thanks once again,

Clarence
Comment by Jochen Schleese on February 2, 2010 at 4:17pm
Clarence - I definitely will write something about rider fit in the future, since this is the first step in ensuring you get a saddle that will work for you! (and fitting a saddle to a horse is the easy part, actually!)
I'll have to consider about fitting a showjumper saddle to a horse - the principles of position and fit for the horse are pretty much the same as for dressage, although you have less 'adjustability' to work with on most models!
Comment by Clarence on January 26, 2010 at 5:52pm
Jochen,

Thanks for the informative posts. I just watched all 9 videos about saddle-fit. I have a question though.

Is there any chance you will do a rider-fit series any time soon? As a showjumper, it seems easier to fit a saddle to a horse than to me.
Also, is there any chance you could do a video series on fitting a showjumper saddle.

Keep up the great work.

- C

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