Independent Saddle Fit Evaluations for Horse & Rider (Western, English, and Endurance)
Most lameness, kissing spines, or chronic issues can be a result of incorrect equipment. If you have ever experienced discomfort in the saddle or noticed repetitive behavioral or physical problems in your horse, the answer may be incorrect saddle fit.
Heather Wallace is a Certified Equine Ergonomist through SaddleFit4Life. A CEE is trained strictly to provide the client with independent advice based on scientific research, without affiliation to a particular brand. Her only goal is protecting your horse and you as the rider from long-term damage caused by poor saddle fit.
Start with the Horse
Equine Ergonomics is a scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and horses, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and methods to design in order to optimize equine well-being and overall performance. The horse, rider, and saddle are measured and evaluated both for static fit and dynamic fit with an 80-point inspection.
How is Equine Ergonomics different from “saddle fitting”?
Most saddle fitters are associated with a particular saddlery company or tack store. Equine Ergonomists are independent from any saddle company and use precise measurements and science to comprehensively analyze the fit of your current saddle to horse (55 points) and rider (25 points).
How do I know my horse needs an evaluation?
Young horses grow and body shape changes as they mature. More training and conditioning or lack thereof can change the shape of your horse. As a result it is ideal to check your saddle fit and make recommended adjustments at least twice yearly. For young horses that are still growing- it is recommended to check fit every three months. Signs of poor saddle fit for your horse include:
- Dry spots or rubbing of hair
- Reluctance to move forward
- Rearing or bucking
- High head and hollow back
- Sore back
- Pinned ears
- Tail swishing
- Hunter’s Bump
Read our Certified Equine Ergonomist’s personal experience with bad saddle fit on her blog, The Timid Rider or in her Horse Illustrated article, “My Saddle Is Crippling Me“.
The Rider Matters
How do I know I need an evaluation?
Just as our horses change so do you. Change in weight, discipline, and even experience can necessitate a need for saddle fit evaluation. More, most saddles are made for men so all women should have their saddles checked to make sure it fits their bodies to prevent injury and long-term damage. Some signs of poor saddle fit to the rider include:
- Pulling at the hips
- Turned out hips and feet
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Knee Pain
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Behind or in front of the motion
- Chair-seat position
- Swinging legs
What should I expect from a session?
What to Expect
A session is approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. The rider is measured in their saddle, the saddle is measured and inspected, and the horse is mapped and the saddle applied for a static analysis. Once these are complete, the rider will be asked to lunge their horse both directions at the walk, trot, and canter. Finally, the rider will be asked to tack up as they would regularly then take their horse through a series a walk, trot, and canter in a circle both directions. Once this is complete the Equine Ergonomist will inspect the saddle support area, analyze the dust/ sweat patterns, and provide a detailed report addressing your goals and concerns.
- Take the history of you, your horse and the saddle.
- Evaluate fit of 1 saddle to both horse and the rider.
- Assess the symmetry and provide a palpation evaluation of the horse.
- Dynamic evaluation of horse lunging and saddle and horse while ridden.
- Take tracings / templates/ measurements.
- Check integrity of saddle(s) (broken/twisted tree, uneven stirrup bars etc).
Very informative and thorough 🙂 definitely learned a lot!
Where do you practice?
Sessions are by appointment only. Large animals and livestock are seen at their barn or facility. Barns that are located more than 30 miles outside of Red Bank, New Jersey may be subjected to a flat barn fee based on gas mileage and travel time, which may be shared by all clients and a minimum number of horses. Please inquire for details.
Out of state travel for appointments, clinics, or demonstrations will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
How often is a saddle fit evaluation needed?
It is recommended to have you and your saddle fit evaluated every three months and at minimum twice per year. Assessments are recommended periodically during training and conditioning as these change your horse’s muscles and subsequently how the saddle fits. A recommendation will be made based on the evaluation and discussed with you at the end of the session.
What is your payment policy?
Thank you for choosing us to help your animal. Payment is required at the time of service directly to your service provider. We accept cash, check, credit card payments or Venmo.
Do I need to be present for the session?
Yes, it is necessary for the owner and rider to be present.
Scheduling– Please complete the form below to begin the consultation process. Once we have received your form, you will be contacted to schedule an appointment for the full evaluation.