I hope this email finds you and your horses doing well. It is that time of the year again when I share Susan Harris' guidelines of how hot is too hot to ride. Click here for the guidleiines. I'd say we are pretty darn close this weekend.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE ? Saddle Tree Width vs Saddle Tree Angle
First, I want to warn all of you that the following information can be depressing and I want to assure everyone that is riding in a Schleese saddle, that the tree points are longer and curved back to help protect the shoulder cartilage.
The saddle's tree width needs to be wide enough to allow the saddle to set on the belly of the muscles distributing the weight of the rider without interrupting the blood or oxygen supply. The easiest way to check your saddle width is to look at the balance of the saddle. Too wide will set too low in front and often also does not have enough wither clearance. A saddle that is too narrow in the tree usually sets too high in front and has way too much wither clearance.
Then, the tree angle also must match the angle of the shoulder so that the shoulder can pass up through the front of the saddle with every step. The easiest way to see if your horse's shoulder angle and tree angle match is with 2 sticks.
In this picture, the tree width is good but, the tree angle does not match. They are too close or narrow together at the top and farther away or too wide bottom. The stick on the left shows the angle of the tree. If you lift the flap of your saddle, you will sometimes see the tree point coming down into a leather pocket. It usually matches the piping on the front of the flap. The stick on the right is laid on the horse's shoulder. The sticks should be parallel. Note that;
NO super soft cushy saddle pad can make up for a metal gullet plate or western wooden tree that does not match the shoulder angle.
The jumping horse needs to have room for both shoulders under the front of the saddle at the same time!
Some saddles slide back while riding. This can happen for a variety of reasons,. But, if the saddle moves back because the shoulders don't have enough room and then we put a strap around the horse's neck to force the saddle to stay in place, we are pulling the metal gullet plate right into the shoulder cartilage.
The horse in the Horse Dissection Clinic we attended in May was an eventer. She was 30 years old when she died and had not been ridden for the past 15 years. She had damage to her left front shoulder cartilage, side bone and ring bone on her left front foot. The ring bone and side bone was likely caused by compensating for the painful shoulder damaged by the saddle over 15 years ago.
As many of you know, we are struggling here with the hay harvest while both of our regular work schedules continue to be very busy. The Princess Pistol Annie continues to be a sponge for my time and is growing into a beautiful young lady. Well, young lady is thinking positive. She is a pistol! The good news is, I have squeezed in some western dressage with Nicholas and some good quality Grandma time with Gentry.
As always, thank you for reading the enewsletters, sharing it with your friends and for all the testimonials and referrals. I sincerely appreciate each and every one.
TTYS & God Bless!
Terry Peiper, CSE
Saddlefit 4 Life Certified Saddle Ergonomist
Fit Right Saddle Solutions
Buck N Horse Hollow
6 Buck Dr.
Carlisle PA 17015
Terry Peiper has been "Helping Horses With Their People" in south central PA for over 35 years by training horses and riders. In addition to being an accredited Richard Shrake Resistance Free ® Trainer/Instructor, she is certified by the American Riding Instructors Association (ARIA) and the International Society of Rider Biomechanics. She has more than 45 years horse showing experience in several different disciplines, as well as several years of fox hunting and open show judging experience. You could say she has been there and done that.
Studying saddle ergonomics started out as just another way for Terry to help her students however, it quickly took over her life when she discovered that her own horse, Easy had a condition called kissing spine which was likely caused by many years of riding in poor fitting saddles. “I can’t go back and undo what I have done but I can spread the word about proper saddle fit to prevent other horses from needless suffering” says Terry.
Recognizing the huge need for proper saddle fit, Terry joined the Saddlefit 4 Life professionals and started the FIT RIGHT SADDLE SOLUTIONS. She passionately pursues her mission to educate as many riders as possible of the importance of proper saddle fit, how it affects the horse’s performance, behavior and ultimately the health of horse and rider.
For riders searching for solutions, she proudly offers Thin Line shimmable saddle pads, Schleese dressage and hunt seat saddles and Specialized endurance, trail and western saddles. All the saddles can be adapted to fit the horse as it develops or fitted to another horse by changing the tree width, angle and horizontal panel contact. Terry recommends saddle fit evaluations every 6 months.
Saddle fit evaluations/consultations, lectures, adjustable saddle sales/service and riding lessons are available at Buck N Horse Hollow in Carlisle PA or within a 120 mile radius (south central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland areas)