Understanding why we fit the way we do.

This is a question I get asked oh so often. I like to keep it simple in my answer. I could go into the whole science, biomechanical talk but it is more understandable to keep it simple as to be honest it’s not rocket science.

My answer is we fit to the moving shape of the potential healthy back. This is because when a horse is moving “correctly” their backs are lifted and therefore wider. So, why should we fit narrow saddles????We do not fit the static shape of the horse nor do we ride standing still.

It also takes a certain eye to be able to visualise where we want a horse’s back to be in the future in terms of development. We see a lot of horses with asymmetry and atrophy, where the muscle is wasted under the saddle area.  Let me point out that this can obviously be caused by ill fitted saddles but can also be cause by injury and postural tension.

Our principles are to fit wider than the static shape and then to use shimming systems to allow for balance. This can be the balance of the horse, where there is development needed. Balance for the rider, to improve the position in the saddle and allow for their own potential asymmetries. I like to see a shimming system as a buffer or Polly filler where the needs to be support for the time it is needed to make the improvements.

But again, it is about the bigger picture. I believe it is important to share knowledge so horse owners can take responsibility and ownership in their relationships and journeys.

What does it mean by “Holistic Saddling”?

Many people get put off by the word “Holistic”, like it is some kind of “airy fairy” word that shouldn’t be used in such a professional setting. I have experienced people, including other professionals say to me they “don’t like the word holistic” or “you shouldn’t use the word, it’s too wishy washy!!” Personally, I am not scared of the word and in fact am empowered by the word and its meaning, which I have to say is very simple yet in my opinion very effective!

Holistic means “whole”, that’s it! It is looking at things outside the box and taking a dynamic approach to something……Not that scary and hocus pocus is it?! I love the philosophy meaning of holistic – “characterized by the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.”

So, what does it mean by Holistic saddling? Many clients ask me this question and I love to answer it as it gives a person the ability to start questioning things. To me this is a catalyst for change and let’s face it change can sometimes be a good thing, especially when it comes to our everyday horsemanship.

Everything we do with our horses and I mean everything influences a horse’s wellbeing, body, posture and therefore how a saddle fits. Even down to what we feed our horses. Yes, I said it, even what we feed our horses can influence the horses’ posture and performance and then will determine the fit of a saddle. The way our horses are trained, environment, foot balance, barefoot, shod, asymmetry, daily routine, body issues, mental and emotional imbalances to name a few will have an effect on how a saddle will fit and that is just on the horses side of things. Then we must mention the rider.

As holistic saddle fitters, we look at the “whole picture” and take into careful consideration every aspect of the horse and riders relationship and then use our knowledge and resources to help the horse and rider find the best solution in terms of saddle fitting. We all wish to have a perfectly harmonious partnership with our horses and to do this we believe when it comes to fitting saddles, it goes beyond the saddle fit. I believe that empowering horse owners with tools to further the relationship with their horses is so important. It’s about creating balance, balance in the horse, balance in the rider, balance in the saddle.