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stabilize your saddle through the tree, never through a substance,” he states emphatically.

Addressing Asymmetry Many people believe that saddles should be designed and fit symmetrically on the horse. In fact, there is no medical proof that symmetrical saddles are better. However, the research that Danny was involved with in Holland actually proves that the assymetrical fit of the saddle is far more symmetrical in terms of weight distribution across the horse’s back and ribcage. The adjustable fit technology that Danny uses, and has

proven for the past twenty years, can truly be fitted to any horse because it addresses the issue of fitting a horse’s asymmetries. If we think about the anatomy of a horse logically, he says, fitting a saddle asymmetrically makes perfect sense since all horses, just like humans, are built asymmetrically. A traditional wooden tree can never truly fit a horse because it can’t be adjusted to fit the asymmetry of the withers. Because the shoulders of a horse are not symmetrical,

Danny explains that the horse will carry one shoulder more forward than the other, resulting in less muscling on one shoulder and less muscle mass over the ribcage on one side. Eighty percent of horses are right shoulder forward, meaning it is steeper, and their left side is relaxed back more and rounder, broader. Fifteen percent of horses are left shoulder forward, making that side steeper and more “hollow,” with their right shoulder broader. “Only five percent of horses are equal and symmetrical,”

says Danny. Out of the 60,000 horses that Danny has fit, he’s only seen maybe ten horses that were truly symmetrical! Therefore you need to have the ability to adjust the gullet

plate to the asymmetry of the horse. Also it is good to change the length of the tree points so that they are correctly positioned on the muscles of the horse that are meant for carrying weight.

Common Misconceptions In 2009, the University of New Mexico conducted research on saddle fit. They took 180 wooden tree saddles of all different makes and models. They tested them using a thin saddle pad and also tested them gradually increasing the thickness of the saddle pad. The fit was analyzed over a computerized compression pad. The research found 180 saddles that still did not fit. They also discovered that the thicker the pad, the worse the saddle fit. Danny responds, “If your shoes are too tight and pinching your foot and I give you a thicker sock or an insole, is that going to make the shoe fit better? Saddle pads don’t fix problems. They never have; they never will. If you have a properly fitted saddle, you should be able to ride your horse with no saddle pad and never hurt your horse.” Something that Danny hears all the time in the industry

is, “I have this one saddle and I put it on every horse I own and it fits beautifully.” Danny’s response to this statement is: “Go stand in a group of people and look around. How many of those people can fit into your pants or your shoes?” This brings us back to the concept of adjustability.

 Above: Research has proven adding pads does not improve saddle fit.  Right: A perfect example of a symmetrical saddle incorrectly fitting an asymmetrical horse. The two photos show that the right side is dry and lower than the left side, which signifies that the saddle is falling to the right and the panel on the left is closer to the top of the withers than the right. So the pattern is not equal and the dry spot is not equal or the same.

Warmbloods Today 57

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