Saddle fitting information and videos

Jochen Schleese trained with Passier & Son in Germany, and in 1984, he was certified as the youngest Master Saddler ever in Europe. In 1986, he was asked to be the Official Saddler for the World Dressage Championships held just north of Toronto, Canada.

His design and entrepreneurial skills since then have been recognized with many prestigious corporate awards and the company has been profiled in major media including The Wall Street Journal and on the Discovery Channel.

Jochen is widely respected in equestrian circles for his knowledge and expertise as a Certified Master Saddler (CMS) and as a businessman. A progressive developer of innovative products, Schleese received an international patent in 1996 for the AdapTree® saddle tree design which allows the saddle to be adjusted to fit as the horse grows and develops.

Jochen is a regular guest speaker at major equestrian trade fairs and events, as well as at various veterinary colleges across the US and Canada, and is widely recognized as an authority in his field. The head office is located in Holland Landing, Ontario, Canada. Schleese has been in business for over 23 years and services over 6000 horses annually.

The following pages offer fantastic saddle fitting advice, along with youtube video links to show the saddle fit in action:

  1. Balance: The center of the saddle (seat area) should be parallel to the ground while on the horse’s back. Click on the video to hear why balance is important.
  2. Wither Clearance: Clearance at the withers should be 2-3 fingers for normal withers, whereas, mutton withers will have more clearance and high withers will have less clearance. Clearance should be all around, not just at the top.
  3. Gullet Channel Width The gullet should be wide enough not to interfere with the spinal processes or musculature of the horse’s back (3-5 fingers).
  4. Full Panel Contact The panel should touch the horse’s back evenly all the way from front to back; some panels may be designed off the back end to allow the back to come up during engagement.
  5. Billet Alignment : The billets should hang perpendicular to the ground so that the girth is positioned properly and not angled either forwards or backwards. The girth will always find its position at the narrowest point of the rib cage behind the elbow.
  6. Saddle Length: The shoulder and loin areas should not carry any weight of the saddle and rider. Rider weight should be on saddle support area only.
  7. Saddle Straightness: The saddle should not fall off to one side when viewed from back or front. The tree points should be behind both scapulae (shoulder blades).
  8. Saddle Tree/Shoulder Angle: The panel tree points should be parallel to the shoulder angle to position saddle properly.
  9. Saddle Tree Width: The tree width should be wide enough for saddle to fit during the dynamic movement of the horse.

for more saddle fitting videos, visit the Scleese youtube channel

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