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POINT OF VIEW


ever, just that—tools. They provide information about the fit situation at a given moment. Unless you have someone who knows what to do with this information to provide you a solution to your issue, it has little value. Many people can tell you what’s visually wrong with


M


your saddle. There are very few who can analyse the data to actually tell you why you are having the issue you are. For example, most saddle fitters will take a look at your horse and measure his withers size and shape using a flex- ible wire curve. This is the minimum measurement you should expect during a saddle fitting session. This does not, however, tell you much more about the horse’s three- dimensional back shape (size and length of the saddle support area) and really only works to determine whether you need a narrow, medium or wide tree in most saddle brands. Several of the tools available can be subjectively ma-


nipulated so that in the wrong hands they become a mar- keting tool to show you exactly what the technician wants you to see. Thermography is one of these tools; it can pro- vide a very pretty picture filled with lots of colors but the interpretation is open to error unless you have someone well-trained in the use of the instrument. Computerized saddle pads to measure pressure points—integrating sen- sors in every square inch of the pad which are linked to a


any tools have been developed over the years to assist in the assessment of saddle fit, and some of the latest are really interesting. They are, how-


Jochen Schleese, CMS, CSFT, CSE


How Technological Advances are Changing the Way We Fit Saddles


The Arc Device (or “lobster claw”) also measures the angulation all along the back.


computer readout—are also not without fault, as pressure will change according to the gait and rider balance. One of the newest tools on the market is the Horse- Shape laser, a unique device, which reads the three-di- mensional shape of the horse’s back within seconds and transmits this information to a computer for analysis. It is best used when a full custom saddle is being made to ac- commodate a particular horse’s back, but also allows the horse owner the option of getting a ‘cut-out’ form of the horse’s shape which clearly allows comparisons of chang- ing conformation over time. There are a couple of other devices available commer-


The HorseShape laser captures the 3-dimensional back shape with a computer printout that can be compared over time as the horse changes.


cially (primarily in Europe at this point) to ascertain the shape of the horse’s back, but they can be somewhat con- voluted and unwieldy with several kinks to be worked out before they are acceptable for general use. There is a device approved by the Association of Sad- dlers and Harness Makers in Germany called the BVFR which determines the horse’s topline. But since this device always needs to be used in conjunction with another device to also determine the actual shape of the saddle support area, it too can be a bit complicated to use accurately. For most saddle


evaluations we do,


The Topographer by Equi Scan is also used to measure the 3-D back shape but some- what awkward in its usage.


Warmbloods Today 67


Michelle J Powell


Michelle J Powell


Michelle J Powell


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