A four part series… by Letitia Glenn
All saddles are not created equal.
Our Natural Horseman Saddles team has spent more than 20 years on a focused mission: Researching what attributes a saddle must have in order to offer freedom and comfort to ridden horses. It became clear early on that this was a complex subject to simplify. Among other discoveries, we learned most saddles on the market simply were not WIDE and flat enough to accommodate the dynamic and changing body of a horse in motion. Solutions were challenging to find. But we did!
Most saddle makers build saddles to fit stationary horses. It’s easy to measure that shape. But from the moment a horse takes a first step, its torso becomes an ever-changing set of dimensions. How in the world to measure that!?!? It took several years, a series of developed/tested prototypes and an enormous variety of horses to know for certain we’d created saddles enabling comfort and efficient movement. At last, we had designed our SMARTFLX foundation.
This unique and innovative saddle tree provides the shape, space and flexibility for horses to move unimpeded while supporting/distributing rider weight. You can read more about our SMARTFLX foundations here.
The next part of the puzzle: How could we ensure individual horses were receiving the perfect fit? After all, no two horses are the same. Breed, age, types/stages of training and discipline each have influences on the shape a saddle must “welcome” if a horse is to be truly accommodated by equipment. And… Guess what?
They can change week to week. Month to month.
We realized we needed to devise an “interface system” between the horse’s body and the underside of the saddle to incorporate such shape differences. The saddle pad plays a big part…but when “customized” just enough via shims, it becomes the cushion that magic carpet rides are made of!
Tapered foam shims in just the right shape, placed in just the right position in the pad become the keys to success.
These tweaks to perfection are surprisingly easy to employ with our system.
Does your saddle allow for the lifting, broadening and snaking of your horse’s back in motion? Our SMARTFLX trees do. They’re shaped larger than the horse’s standing body. They “welcome” what the body will become when in motion.
Stay tuned for our 2nd article in this series – ‘Principles of shimming’ where we look at PRINCIPLE 1 – SHOULDER RANGE OF MOTION. Protecting it is a mandatory priority for you for your horse.
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