For the good of the horse and rider
Welcome to LM Saddles
For the good of the horse and rider
LM Saddles was founded by Lavinia Mitchell following her many years working as a Holistic Saddle-Fitter. This involved a great deal of learning and continuously highlighted the ways saddles can make such a difference to the wellbeing of our horses. Since then LM Saddles have evolved greatly into a network of holistic saddle consultants across the UK and into Europe.
LM Consultants assist horse owners in resolving the many varied saddle related problems they may be experiencing with their horses. It is clear to us that to best way to help owners help their horses is to take a holistic approach, going beyond the saddle fit.
We see saddling as a vitally important part an overall picture. At LM Saddles we happily work in conjunction with many Vets, Equine Therapists, Trainers and other Equine Professionals that are assisting with the horse.
We Share A Passion For Horses
We are happy to discuss and arrange Saddle Fitting Clinics for your riding club, RDA group, pony club, or college.
Each LM Consultant has undertaken comprehensive training in saddle-fitting and remedial saddle-fitting. As we work in a holistic way this covers an understanding of Equine Biomechanics and anatomy in relation to saddle-fitting. Muscle development and body posture. Equine behaviour and communication. Basic nutrition. Hoof health and care. Rider Biomechanics and common rider ‘patterns’. Unless otherwise stated, Consultants are fully trained in saddle reflocking by David May at The Cumbria School of Saddlery or SMS.
Prior to qualifying, many practical hours are spent shadowing Lavinia, Jemma and other experienced LM Consultants, assisting at their appointments. Case studies are also undertaken and assessed. Training and development of horse and riders biomechanics and dissections are attended. CPD days and courses are an requirement to remain an approved LM Consultants
Each consultant has a keen interest in the horses well-being and will take a holistic overview of the whole horse when assessing any saddle related issues.
We share the ideals and passion that LM Saddles are known for and between all our consultants have access to an extensive pool of knowledge. This includes Equine Behaviour. Classical training for horse and rider. Rehabilitation programmes. Natural horsemanship training for horse and rider. Barefoot Hoof Care. Equine Nutrition. Equine Bowen Therapy and Equine Science. Equine Touch and Cranial Sacral Therapy. Human and Equine Reiki. Human and Equine Meditation.
All our consultants are happy to arrange a private or group consultations, and will work closely with you and your horse offering support and advice.
Would you like to arrange a saddle consultation?
The consultation procedure is designed to help you gather information, tools and learn more about saddle design, fitting and also the importance of a holistic approach and influences of saddle fitting. Your Consultant will assess your horse and the suitability of the design and fit of your current saddle. During the consultation you will have the opportunity to ride in the LM saddles and will have any suitable shimming systems explained to you. You will be able to discuss any concerns that you have with your horse that may or may not be saddle related. The aim is to help you and your horse by sharing the information and experience that we have gained over the years.
If you would now like to arrange a saddling consultation, please click this link to submit your request.
We are happy to discuss and arrange Saddle Fitting Clinics or demonstrations for private groups, riding club, RDA group, pony club, or colleges. We enjoy sharing our passion and help the wider horse public.
If you would like to host a Saddling Clinic or demo, please contact the office on 01704 333 840 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you ever wondered if your saddle could feel better for you and your horse?
Are you curious to see if your horse could move differently?
Have you always wanted to try a Dressage Saddle or a Jumping saddle?
If so, then this is an ideal opportunity for you and your horse to come and try a selection of saddles in a friendly, no pressure environment. Why not get together with your friends and make it a fun and informative day out.
All horses have a natural laterality and will be left or right side dominant. For some horses, unnatural patterns of movement, poor muscle development and unusual postures exist. The cause may have been accident, illness, poor training methods and ill fitting saddles. Sometimes the horse is capable of sorting the problems out as soon as the saddle has been changed or refitted. However, some will benefit from the additional support of a vet, chiropractor, osteopath, Bowen therapist, Massage therapist or other Equine Body work. If appropriate, we will discuss this with you during the consultation.
It is important that the shape and size of your saddle is correct and comfortable for you, too. Because of the influence that we as riders have upon our horses it is also very important to take the rider(s) into account. We find that it can often be very helpful to discuss any rider bio-mechanic issues that may arise during your consultation.
For example, a riders proprioception* can lead the rider to believe the saddle is ‘crooked’. (*the ability to sense the position and location and orientation and movement of the body and its parts).
Please remember that in the UK you are currently required to obtain veterinary permission to have most therapists work with your horse.
The consultation procedure is designed to help you gather information and learn more about saddle design and fitting. The aim is to help you and your horse by sharing this information and using the experience that we have gained over the years.
We believe that the relationship between owner and saddle consultant is equally as important as that which you have with your other equestrian professionals: farrier, hoof care specialist, trainer, vet, dentist, and other health care practitioners. Because of this we offer a full follow-up service including remedial saddling help, regular saddle checks, flocking alterations, and as much help and assistance as you might need in order to achieve and maintain the best results for you and your horse.
Whilst it should be emphasised that a saddle alone cannot be expected to solve all equine and rider problems, many owners report very positive changes. Horses that had previously suffered from unsoundness, poor performance, behavioural and emotional problems, and general ill health, have shown excellent results.
The combination of the saddle design and the system of fitting that we use is designed to minimise the negative impact that saddles often have on the horse’s biomechanical “correctness”, efficiency, and comfort. This creates the potential for better performance, with less physical stress on the limbs, joints, and feet.
The following topics are covered during the consultation:
At LM Saddles we take a rounded sympathetic and holistic approach to the ‘fitting’ of saddles.
These are some of the factors that we like to take into consideration when meeting a horse
All of the above can be influenced by the design and fit of a saddle.
Often, a horse will come to a new home with problems inherited from its past experiences. Where saddling is concerned, it is always possible that a horse will have been fitted in saddles that have never been truly comfortable from the first day that he or she was backed.
Where muscle wastage and posture problems exist, it is still a common practise for a new saddle to be fitted to the contours of the incorrect shape of the horses back. This can compound the problem and does not help the horse in the long term.
Our approach is to work with the horse taking into account what changes are likely to occur over time, and then saddling in a way that will encourage those positive changes to happen.
Some key points that we look for in every fitting are:
Once this is understood it is easy to see why a saddle fitted snugly to a static back has the ability to interfere with the bio-mechanically correct movement for a ridden horse by:
This wither tracing is an example of a group of horses that have been used in a dissertation to show the change in muscle bulk in the back of a horse when exercised.
The experiment was carried out over three days:
Day 1 – Lunged on both reins with no saddle
Day 2 – Lunged on both reins wearing current saddle and numnah
Day 3 – Lunged on both reins wearing LM Saddle and Shim pad
Each exercise period was preceded by a back measurement of the static horse and the lifted back of the static horse. You can clearly see how after exercise with no saddle there is a small increase in the muscle, but not as much as when exercised in the wider fitting LM saddle and shim system. What shows very clearly is the compression of the back muscles when the horse is wearing its own saddle.
This perfectly illustrates how a horse with muscle atrophy will remain the same when its saddle is fitted to its existing shape, and how that muscle can develop and recover when a remedial fitting process is used.
We accommodate the moving horse by selecting the saddle tree which mirrors the width of the horse’s wider lifted back, not the horse’s static or dropped back. The important point to understand when using this system is that it involves fitting the saddle in conjunction with a *shim wither pad, saddle pad, numnah or half-pad.
(Note: If you are unfamiliar with the term ‘shim’, it refers to shaped pieces of soft foam padding which are inserted into purpose made pads and numnahs that are designed with a row of shim pockets on each side) – View our Shim Systems.
This creates a soft but supportive interface between horse and its saddle. The shims can compress and allow room for the back to lift and widen. If the horse hollows or drops its back, the pad still cushions the back and shoulder area.
For many horses with well-developed backs, they may only use a slim shim just behind each shoulder under the widest part of the saddle, at the front.
When working with a horse who has muscle atrophy, muscle asymmetry and/or compromised posture we will take a remedial approach to the saddle fitting. This still means selecting a saddle tree width that more closely reflects the width/shape of the horse once its muscles are no longer wasted. It involves using extra layers of shims to support the saddle where most needed. This will be where the horse’s muscle is lacking, where there is muscle asymmetry or where the posture of the back is dropped. The extra shims form a yielding but more supportive layer between the back of the horse and the saddle. The number of shim layers used can be increased or decreased as the horse and saddle require*. (*It is important that the saddle remains balanced front to back with the lowest, flattest point of the seat being in the middle). We will advise on this in detail once we have established the needs of the individual requirements of each horse and rider.
In remedial fitting the extra layers of shims are used as a means to an end. As the back profile and musculature of the horse improves, the shims can be reduced accordingly.
NOTE. The aim is not to try and remove all of the shims! As described above, we (and most horses) would like the saddle always to be a little wider than the static back; hence we would expect the front of the saddle to remain shimmed even when the horses is more developed.
At the end of a fitting our check list is:
It is important that these points are monitored and maintained as the horse’s shape starts changing. It is something that we talk through with owners & riders who care for, work with and saddle the horse on a daily basis.
You may also find it interesting to read this excerpt from “Animal Management”, prepared in the Veterinary Department for General Staff, War Office (1908). Here is a short sample of the text:
Panels have been made of felt (numnah) and fitted to the side bars; by themselves they are insufficient protection to the back. They must be used with a blanket, and are then useful. Strips of numnah of varying lengths may be usefully employed in making a saddle fit; two, three, or more layers may be cut out, kept together by a stitch or two and bound to the side bar. This will again be referred to in dealing with sore backs, for which purpose strips of Numnah are of the greatest value.
A blanket beneath the saddle is a most admirable method of protection. It does not lend itself like a panel to graduated variations of thickness, but on the other hand, it can be dealt with by a person without any instruction in the trade of a saddler, and the changes he can effect by altering the method of folding may be brought about in a few minutes.
A good thick blanket is economy, a thin blanket an abomination; a good blanket folds, a thin blanket wrinkles; a good blanket saves a back from bruising, and lasts some time; a thin blanket has a short life, and is never satisfactory when horses are losing condition.
The great recommendation of a blanket is that so many useful adjustments may be made by alterations in its folding when a back becomes worn or injured, and this will even be the chief recommendation of a blanket under a military saddle. In fact, a blanket is the only means of immediately replacing artificially the amount of flesh a horse loses, and so enables us not only to prevent the ribs from becoming bruised through the whole weight of the rider being brought closer to the body, but also to keep the arches of the saddle clear of the spine. We must not forget that every ounce of flesh lost on the back brings the saddle nearer to the delicate parts below, and increases enormously the liability to injury.