Saddle Fitting

Teaching you how to understand saddle fit!


Susan & David Hartje

Plymouth, CA





Do you have the SYMPTOMS?

               What is your horse telling you?

Is your saddle fighting you?


Why are there so many Saddle Fit Problems?

    But I had a custom saddle made...

My horse doesn't complain, but we can't progress...

When it might Not be your saddle's fault...



Learn how to tell what fits for yourself!

Hands-on learning opportunities - Clinic Schedule

Elements of Saddle Fit

Photos needed for initial evaluation

Experience really does count in resolving saddle fit problems.


Get an Independent opinion

                  The importance of checking

Food for Thought

What our Clients say

Frequently Asked Questions

About Us

In the News

Centered Riding - Level I Instructorl




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Experience Really Does Count

In August 2007, I was priveledged to spend some time with Dr. Joyce Harman, DMV, Saddle Fit Expert, and Author of The Pain Free Back & Saddle Fit books. I spent two days exploring Advanced Saddle Fitting concepts with Dr. Harmon and Centered Riding instructor Wendy Murdoch in Virginia.

Myself and about 11 other saddle fitting professionals from accross the country gathered to advance and improve our Saddle Fit knowledge. We tested our skills with several especially hard to fit horses, and spent a good amount of time comparing what we felt and saw the horses doing in front of us to what Dr. Harmon's computerized pressure pad was showing us. Layering those two sources of information with Wendy Murdoch's astute ability to tell us what she was feeling underneath her from the horse, and we really had a 360-degree feedback loop.

This experience re-confirmed my sense that I really can see the often subtle changes that reflect what each horse is feeling about different saddles. The good news is that most of the time you don't have to use a computerized pad to see what is going on for the horse. They never lie; whereas, sometimes the computer feedback doesn't tell the entire story.

For example, we were evaluating subtle changes in padding to accommodate one horse's physical problems (see photos). We tried about 8 different shimming combinations and watched both the horse and the computerized pressure pad results. Each change produced different reactions in the horse and changed where the highest pressure was shifted on the computer screen/horse's back. The final change produced perfect saddle pressures on the computer screen. But everyone there agreed that within three steps of riding off in that shimming arrangement, the horse was clearly not happy.

Dr. Harmon stressed that even after 20 years of using the computerized pressure pad, "it is still just a tool." Some things work that we don't think should, and others we think will work, don't. Likewise, my bottom line has been to let the horses tell me if any saddle is working for them or not.

One Easy Way to check your horse's back for pain:

One of the simplest and best tips I learned from Dr. Harmon was an additional way to evaluate a horse's back for pain. Do this while your horse is standing square on flat ground with her head straight and quiet.

- Run your flat hand softly and slowly from shoulder to loin over the saddle's weight bearing surface area.

- Feel the consistency of the muscles under your hand. It should be soft and spongy and consistent the entire way.

- If there are hard spots, tightness or swelling, perhaps those muscles or tissues are working overtime.

- Know what your horse's back is normally like. And check it before and after every ride to keep track of whether your saddle is making it any worse.


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