A couple of months ago I was rapt to find a new book had been sent to me for review on Equus Education. It was Suffering in Silence by Jochen Schleese. This non fiction book looks in great depth at the link between saddle fit (or incorrect fit) and physical and psychological trauma in horses.
I need to claim a lot of ignorance in this area. My first horse was a beautiful gelding with a rather obvious sway back. I bought a starters pack for beginner riders that included a saddle, bridle and saddle pad for a couple of hundred dollars. Not surprisingly, the saddle didn’t fit! I spent a long time using various risers to try to ‘balance’ the saddle on my horse’s back. It wasn’t until a couple of years after having bought my horse that I was able to get a new saddle that was fitted to him.
On top of the sway back, he was also extremely overweight and had a very, very flat wither. The gullet plate was too narrow for Pride’s back and had to be remoulded to extra, extra wide! Twelve months after the saddle was fitted to him – and he’d lost a bit of weight! – I had it reflocked. That about sums up my efforts with regards to making sure my saddle fitted my horse. After reading Suffering in Silence I realise that I should have had the fit assessed more regularly and adjusted accordingly. I believe I would now be equipped to ask more questions and to even assess the appropriate fit myself!
Suffering in Silence is an informative, practical guide on the importance of correct saddle fit for horses – and their riders! It looks at the anatomical differences between males and females and how this affects our position in the saddle. Did you know there are saddles made specifically for women?
It also highlights various lameness issues, muscle atrophies and even behavioural issues that can all be attributed to poor saddle fit. The end result is the same: an unhappy horse.
Saddle fit is explored from the point of the horse – where it should be sitting and what it shouldn’t be touching. It is then considered from the point of the rider. This also details the differences between males and females, their leg lengths, pelvis angles and how they sit to achieve the correct shoulders, hip, heel plumbline.
This book has detailed chapters, accompanying diagrams and photos and references to research literature. Suffering in Silence is a must read for all horse owners that ride. It would be of benefit to horse health care professionals, horse riders and instructors. And in particular those who plan to make a living from saddle fitting and creation. If you’re interested in saddle fit as a career, be sure to check out SaddleFit4Life, created by Jochen Schleese. Suffering in Silence is a horse book worth adding to anyone’s collection. Just be sure to read it!