The Myths of Saddle Fitting – Helping Horses one Saddle at a Time!

June 3, 2019 | by Emma Lewis and Marley Woolley, BBRM Equine Management students

Schleese’s passion in life is to help prevent long term back damage for horse and rider, arising from poor saddle fit

Jochen Schleese, Master Saddle Fitter

Many riders think that their saddles fit properly, but do they really? There is a lot more to saddle fitting than people think. Jochen Schleese, founder of Schleese Saddlery Service Ltd. and Saddlefit4Life Inc., works with his team of global experts to provide excellent service and custom saddle solutions for riders and horses with accompanying education. He was formerly an internationally- ranked three-day event rider on the German Young Riders Team. After his competition horse became lame due to an ill-fitting saddle, Schleese devoted his life to saddle fitting. In 1985, he became the youngest Certified Master Saddler ever in Germany, and after emigrating to Canada, developed the first 3-year certification program to train saddle makers in Ontario.

Schleese discovered that many female riders are faced with problems from riding in saddles made by men, for men. Schleese Saddlery began building saddles and is the world leader in infinitely adjustable gender appropriate saddles. Schleese provides a wide range of saddles for multiple disciplines including dressage, jumping, eventing, endurance, and pony saddles for the English discipline, and has also recently introduced adjustable Western saddles. Each saddle offers numerous innovative options needed for optimal saddle fit, as well as interchangeable male/female ground seats in the Western line. While the top of the saddle is made to fit for the rider, the bottom of the saddle should be fit to the horse and Schleese’s new Bi-Nate™ line of saddles with pressure reducing panels has made this statement a main focus. Schleese has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Discovery Channel “How it’s Made” and is the winner of numerous business and equine industry awards.

schleese drawing
Schleese demonstrating the finer points of saddle fitting

The educational branch of Schleese’s business is Saddlefit4Life™. S4L offers certification courses on saddle fit evaluation and analysis on five continents and is the only saddle fitting academy requiring regular re-certification. Schleese’s best-selling book “Suffering in Silence: The Saddle Fit Link to Physical and Psychological Trauma in Horses” is the basis for its curriculum, and Jochen’s goal is that one day Saddlefit4Life will become the common language for saddle fitters worldwide. Schleese’s passion in life is to prevent both horse and rider from long term back damage resulting from poorly fitting saddles.

Schleese is a featured presenter during the practical day of the 15th annual International Society for Equitation Science conference being held in Guelph, ON from August 19-21. Using a combination of lecture and demonstration, Schleese will illustrate the 9 points of saddle fit and give the attendees tools to be able to assess saddle fit on their own horse.

Don’t miss this demonstration along with an engaging lineup of high calibre presentations. Registration is now open for the 15th annual ISES conference. For all the details and links to registration and accommodations, visit the Equitation Science website or the Horse Portal.


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