“How to slow down the rushing horse”; “How to ride the stumble out of your horse”; “How to make your horse go forward”. These indicators might be a result of rider error and addressed with solutions to change rider behaviour, or a vet might be called to administer pharmaceuticals to address issues. Before resorting to expensive veterinary or ‘neuro-scientific’ treatments, consider investing in a diagnostic evaluation of your saddle fit using a qualified saddle fitter who understands equine biomechanics, anatomy and the ramifications of an ill-fitting saddle. ” Negative and unwanted horse ‘behaviors’ may be caused by a poorly fitting saddle impacting reflex points causing instinctive reactions, rather than conscious behaviors. Let’s not forget horses were never meant to be ridden – it’s an artificial relationship; thousands of years of domestication have not eradicated instinct nor reflex!
Many people (including researchers with doctorates) agree that ‘horses do not consciously behave badly’. They react to outside stimuli – a poorly fitting saddle or an incompetent or untrained rider can cause these kinds of ‘ behaviors.’ How and where a rider’s weight is carried can make a huge difference. A dangerous horse can quickly be created when aids are misunderstood or mishandled.
If the saddle puts pressure on the reflex points along the spine because of a gullet channel which is too narrow, or twists during movement because of natural asymmetry, the horse will reflexively lower its back to escape the pressure/pain. The goal to have the horse engage its back or bring it up during riding is unachievable. The forward impulse and momentum is lost, defensive behavior from the horse and not going on the bit, and a rider out of balance are just some of the other ramifications. This results in a frustrating experience for both horse and rider. The horse would like to respond to the aids the rider gives him, but pressure on his reflex points inhibits his ability to do so. Think about your knee reflex: even if the doctor told you to try to refrain from kicking when he taps your patella, you would kick anyway despite your conscious effort not to. A saddle consistently putting pressure on the horse’s reflex points will result in negative behaviors, and may eventually be damaging to the horse. Jochen demonstrates key reflex points in this video.
Jochen Schleese, Certified Master Saddler and Saddle Ergonomist developed the Saddlefit 4 Life 80 point diagnostic evaluation to help you and your horse achieve optimal saddle fit! Book a Saddlefit 4 Life Educational event for your group!