Saddle Fitting for Smarties

Hoop Trees, and other saddle fitting mysteries

“I am looking for a new saddle. I have warmblood who is very wide where the panels are, so I am thinking a hoop tree.” How many differences can you spot between the two trees? The term “hoop tree” is starting to come into wide use, but like the term “twist,” its technical meaning is somewhat different from the way many people use the term.  What I think you mean is a tree that is...

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The Soul of the Saddle

Patrick Keane Dressage Saddle from Advanced Saddle Fit It’s simply incredible to us Americans (or at least to me) how truly “cottage” much of the saddle industry is in the UK, where all of our saddles are made.  It’s extremely human-intensive in comparison to some of the big French, Italian, and other European saddle makers who turn out extraordinarily consistent saddles...

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Can you re-fit my saddle to my new horse?

I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know. — Mark Twain High maintenance? Moi? Several times a week, at least, I get inquiries about whether it would be possible to “re-fit” a saddle that was originally purchased for a different horse. I never know how to answer this, except to say that there is nothing black and white about fitting...

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Resistant to Research; Impervious to Logic, Part 4

To understand is to perceive patterns. Isaiah Berlin Pattern recognition is critical to a solid, enduring saddle fit solution, but sourcing the right saddle can be frustrating, as many saddles are designed primarily for rider appeal rather than optimal horse fit. Dear readers, has anyone read Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell’s well-researched and entertaining book about ultra-high achievers?  The...

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Resistant to Research; Impervious to Logic, Part 3

Sometimes the truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known. — Going Postal by Terry Pratchett Fashion trends in saddles and conventional “rules” of saddle fitting are of little use to this hard-working fellow. I spent a bit of time today doing a quick survey of equestrian bulletin boards where people ask for advice or...

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Resistant to Research; Impervious to Logic, Part 2

I don’t actually need to be able to see my own liver to grasp how important it is to me.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and venture a guess that healthy livers are pretty similar to one another, and if yours isn’t up to snuff, you won’t have to see it to know it. That is absolutely not the case with the tree inside a saddle.   As saddle fitters, we really do need to understand...

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