At SMART Saddles, we understand just how critical it is that the saddle is correctly balanced and suitably sized for the rider, as well as the horse. There are both short- and long-term consequences attributable to riding out of balance, ranging from lack of synchrony between horse and rider, to loss of performance and, not unusually, injury to horse and/or rider. Issues can manifest both physically, as well as behaviourally, and oftentimes the saddle’s role is overlooked. Despite a rider’s best efforts to improve their position, without a well-balanced saddle, they will be fighting a losing battle
“The SMART™ Elite Dressage Saddle is probably one of the most comfortable saddles I have ever sat in. I love that I can make little tweaks to help my position on the horse. Where it is flexible, I can get a really good feeling of what is going on underneath me, and it gives such a close feeling to the horse”. Rafaella Bailey, SMART Abassador.
Seasonal weight fluctuations and the effect on saddle fit and balance
Horses are constantly changing shape; this not only affects saddle fit, but saddle balance and how the horse carries the rider.
Whilst there are limitations with a traditional saddle, constructed around a rigid frame that cannot intrinsically accommodate any changes, the fully flexible SMART™ saddle system provides an ongoing solution. All SMART™ saddles are made of high density yet fully flexible materials, with sufficient stiffness to ensure that they offer support to horse and rider whilst accommodating dynamic changes in back shape. Unique FLEXTech™ technology affords SMART™ saddle owners the freedom to address fit or balance adjustments as soon as they become perceptible.
When is a saddle out of balance?
A well-balanced saddle should encourage the rider to adopt a classical position of shoulder-hip-heel alignment, with minimal effort.
Pictured: SMART Advisor, Daniel Hammond, balanced to allow a classical dressage position in his SMART™ Dressage saddle.
Perhaps most importantly, the rider should be able to sit on the saddle in ‘pelvic neutral’, without tipping forwards or backwards, changing the centre of gravity and causing the rider to compensate with their lower leg and/or upper body. Whilst there are variations between the ‘ideal’ position according to discipline, the necessity of a ‘pelvic neutral’ position is consistent across the board.
Above images: Captured using XSens inertial sensors, provided by the Saddle Research Trust, illustrate pelvic rotations of the rider.
The SMART™ Easy-Fit System
There are two golden rules to fitting a SMART™ Saddle:
Changing the fit or balance of a SMART™ saddle is quick and easy and can be done either by yourself or by one of our network of trained SMART™ Advisors.
Our wide range of external SMART™ Balance Pads (examples pictured below) are designed to be positioned underneath your SMART™ saddle to provide additional lift or support where it is required. Thanks to FLEXTech™ technology, which flexes independently throughout, balance can be adjusted for the rider, without affecting the fit for the horse.
SMART™ Saddle Sizing
SMART™ saddles are sized according to rider height and weight, and thanks once again to their flexible structure, can then be fitted to any horse that rider is suitably sized to ride.
It is often possible for multiple riders to share the same SMART™ saddle, within reason, thanks to our interchangeable knee block system, to provide more support for a shorter leg length or allow more room for a longer leg length.
Pictured: Tim Downes, FBHS competing in his SMART Elite Dressage saddle.
With a full range of saddles to suit both professional and leisure riders alike, there is a SMART™ saddle for everyone. The SMART™ saddle system enables you to choose your preferred saddle style, whether that’s a GP, Dressage, Jump, VSD or Show, in a wide range of sizes to fit tiny tots to tall adults. SMART™ saddles are approved for all FEI disciplines.
Book your SMART™ saddle Test ride today!
SMART Saddles offer a home consultation and rental service, enabling you to try a range of SMART™ saddles under the expert guidance of one of our trained SMART Advisors. Throughout the consultation, you will feel for yourself the difference a correctly fitted and balanced SMART™ saddle can make for you and your horse. Our try-before-you-buy rental service enables you to test the saddle in your own time before committing to purchase.
Pictured: 7-year-old event horse, Edison, in the Osberton International Horse Trials Young Horse Championships, ridden in all three phases in SMART™ saddles.