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‘Tis the season for buying young horses. Along with bringing the new prospect home come questions of when to start the youngster, and whether it makes sense to invest in a custom saddle. First, I will clarify the term “custom saddle.” I believe that true adjustability in a saddle is more important than whether it is “custom.” An adjustable saddle can be changed to accommodate the horse’s conformation as the horse matures, and that saddle is a worthwhile investment. Otherwise, you will likely have to buy several saddles over the course of your horse’s lifetime to make sure the fit remains optimal.

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In the report “Ten years of major equestrian injury: are we addressing functional outcomes?” published in the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Trauma Management & Outcomes, lead author Jill Ball and a team of health professionals with the University of Calgary, the Foothills Medical Centre and the Calgary Health Region explored the outcomes of severe and serious equestrian injuries.

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The Horse Habit located at Kemble, Ontario, was established 29 years ago by Ellen O’Reilly, with the mission “To bring quality equipment to the horse and their human.”

Schleese Saddlery Service Ltd. recognizes that custom saddle design and fitting must be accomplished with the health of both horse and rider in mind. More specifically, as the female saddle specialists Schleese designs their infinitely adjustable saddles for the female physiology, creating life changing comfort and responsiveness.

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From their base in Sheridan, Wyoming, in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains, Tom Balding Bits & Spurs ships high quality hand crafted riding equipment around the world. Their products are endorsed by professional riders and trainers including Andrea Fappani, Phil Rapp, and Shawn Flarida.

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By Jochen Schleese - Q: I ride a Thoroughbred with a moderately roached (convex or round) back. How should I determine if my saddle fits correctly? A: The nine main points of saddle fit are absolutely common to all saddles and all horses – if you want to determine whether and how well your saddle fits, these points should be considered, and each of these points has video instruction on our website at www.saddlesforwomen.com.

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Q: I frequently see half pads being used under saddles, made of either gel, memory foam, or leather. Do you think these pads are necessary or is a properly fitted saddle sufficient to cushion a horse’s back? A: There is an old wisdom that a well-fitting saddle should not need anything underneath it, save perhaps a thin cotton pad to protect the saddle from the horse’s sweat.

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