This weeks guest blog is from our friends over at Saddle Fit for Life.
Here at Saddle Fit for Life our mission is about keeping horses happy and healthy, and because it is about the horses we have decided to “step outside the box” of saddle manufacturers and saddle fitters. Saddle Fitters have worked endlessly to achieve perfect saddle fit and have always proclaimed “when I create a perfect fit you do not need anything else but my perfect saddle.”
If only horses were static.
It is true. On the day we deliver your custom fitted saddle everything will be perfect but there are several caveats.
What will you do while waiting for your new saddle? What happens when your horse develops different muscling or looses weight and our fitters cannot get to you for a few weeks? What will you do if you need to ride many training horses in just one saddle?
We are dedicated to the comfort of the horse and rider, and we know there are situations perfect saddle fit cannot augment. Often we see fabulous horses with a very large movement ridden by amateur riders. This is, of course, a wonderful thing and we love to see so many fantastic horses in the show ring, but these horses are notoriously difficult to sit. While the riders do need a great fitting saddle they also need additional impact or shock absorption to both keep the rider’s seat quiet and keep the horses comfortable so they can feel confident to maintain their expressive gaits, and the pro’s we work with know how important it is to never take a false step and to only work with the horses up in their backs.
These are just some of the reasons those of us at Saddle Fit for Life have decided to “step outside the box” and introduce a new pad designed to alleviate all of these problems.
I am sure we will receive much criticism for designing this shimmable half pad with ThinLine. It goes against the grain of everything saddlers have preached. But, in keeping with our mission, we must put the horses first.
We need a solution for temporary saddle fit, for horses in training, for horses with changing muscle structure, and for additional impact absorption. We need a flexible solution which can benefit riders — each those without saddle fit issues.
We have spend years researching products that would allow us to temporarily shim and provide shock absorption for the horses and riders, and we needed a product without any of the common drawbacks such as heat build-up, compression of shims or lack of durability. In our research, we discovered a company with just such a product: ThinLine.
Saddle Fit for Life has created a simple solution. What we have designed is a simple half pad with an Ultra ThinLine (breathable, shock absorbing material) sewn on top. The shim contains a pocket for placing ThinLine inserts available in several thicknesses and sizes.
Shimming for saddle fit is the best means to create temporary fit until new saddles can be delivered or while horses are busy changing shape during training and growth. Until recently there have only been a few options available to saddlers and these had their own problems.
We wanted to make sure we were providing our customers with a product that would continue to deliver benefits for horses and riders after their fitting issues were solved. Without shims, the half pad alone will benefit the horse via its shock absorption and will generate both a better seat for amateur riders and less back fatigue for professionals. Without inserts, this pad is thin enough to deliver these benefits outwith altering perfect saddle fit.
Unfortunately, saddle pad sales are made in a static environment. The sales information in the store often has little to nothing to do with what will actually happen when you are in motion.
Take for instance a runner. He wants to make contact with the track with just enough shock absorption to protect his joints and tendons, but with not enough flex to cause him to sink into the footing or provide excessive rebound so he winds up higher in the air or feeling he is stuck in the mud instead of receiving forward propulsion that allows him even productive steps. Imagine the runner running on a track and instead of hurdles he has in front of him a series of saddle pads. First the memory foam. His weight takes a moment to compress the foam then he bottoms out onto the hard surface. Next a denser foam, he springs onto it and it in turn springs him into the air reducing his traction and balance. Next, he steps on an air filled product where he feels the track not at all but is sent bounding up again compromising his footing and balance.
Now place these products in his shoes. Air works well for basketball players, they are trying to be air born. We as riders are trying to do the opposite; stay connect to our horses. Now imagine adding 2 inches of foam to the bottom of your running shoes. The foam will give and pitch with every step. The runner’s foot will roll giving him such an unstable feel he will most likely give up running in the search for safety. Unknowingly, this is what we do to our horses as we add thick layers of padding under our saddles. We create is defined as pitch and yaw.
Now try a marathon running insole. It is designed for athletes in motion. It is thin, breathable and absorbs impact rapidly without any cushion. It keeps the runners foot stable and he knows the feel of the next step will be just like the last. He can move forward with strength and confidence. ThinLine was developed by a Marathon runner!
After extensive research by Saddle Fit for Life, we decided the ThinLine product meets every saddle pad requirement regardless of breed or discipline and has NO DRAWBACKS! It is a product that augments saddle fit, it breathes, it stabilizes the rider position: something no other product has ever achieved and is there for endorsed by spinal surgeons (Jim Warson: The Riders Pain Free Back, Trafalgar Square publishing).
By helping riders sit quieter, ThinLine gives horses the trust and confidence to work with their backs up. ThinLine absorbs so much shock and equally distributes so much weight it is vended and endorsed by Veterinarians, equine chiropractors, and equine massage therapists for horses with sore or sensitive backs. Even with less than a perfectly fitting saddle we discovered the addition of the Trifecta half pad alone makes every horse move better and every rider sit better. With the ThinLine pad alone you can offer your horse and yourself additional comfort and protection of your backs. But, the best feature is the way this pad shims!
We have worked closely with ThinLine to develop an extraordinary new shimming system. Keeping with the Saddle Fit For Life philosophy the ThinLine shims are specially designed to ensure use can only help the horse and never hurt him.
We have designed very simply soft flexible shims in tow thicknesses which can be combined, moved, and readjusted quickly and easily to achieve a temporary perfect fit. All shims are specially cut on a 60 degree bevel to ensure there can be no pressure points. Shims are sticky and will stay in place once your saddle fitter has made the appropriate adjustments. Once your new saddle arrives and everything fits perfect you may continue to use your ThinLine pad without the shims for additional protection for your horse.
We would love to work with all saddle fitters and have products designed for just about every saddle, English, Western, and in between.