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It can be difficult to find the right saddle for the right horse under normal circumstances.
Add into the mix rehab for PSD, changing of shape, a short space to fit a saddle big-moving shoulders and an angular rise to his jumper’s-bump – it was all going on with my 16.3 ISH Jonny!
Spending a lot of time understanding Jonny’s issues, his rehab program and what I needed to do to support Jonny in being the best he could possibly be going forward, lead me to read around the subject of building topline and challenge all that I knew and quite frankly didn’t know about horses!
As a riding-club allrounder, I spend a lot of my time hacking and I’d had used traditional tree-based saddles for many years, with great results for different horses.
With Jonny, however, it was more challenging to find the best fit for his shape AND for his big-moving shoulders. Saddles would seem to fit in a static situation, then migrate significantly backwards during any ridden activity. Essentially his shape and movement were causing the traditional saddle to ‘creep’ backwards and this led to him feeling sore behind the saddle and, he was rubbed badly as the saddle then pivoted as he moved.
So, what to do?
Essentially, I kept an open mind and when I read a recommendation from a lameness specialist about ‘SMART Saddles’ I chose to take a closer look.
One of the very experienced SMART Saddles Advisors, was incredibly helpful and patient both on the phone and in person – she really helped me understand how they were put together and importantly how differently they moved on a horses’ back.
I was surprised at how ‘traditional’ the SMART Saddles looked and felt when riding. What I particularly noticed, once the SMART Advisor had helped me with the best saddle-pads combination, was how balanced I felt. The saddle moved with Jonny but was no longer moving backwards out of position and it wasn’t moving me either.
With the saddle that fitted Jonny the nest (a SMART Elite Event) I could see and feel the big movement of his shoulder blades and the saddle flexing to allow that movement without being shunted backwards.
With Jonny more comfortable and his movement being facilitated – and my balance restored, this allowed us to ride together as a partnership, knowing that the saddle would stay in balance, in the best place for him to start to use his back correctly and build topline.
Fast forward 3 months and Jonny’s topline had built and changed, because of the freedom of movement, meaning he was ready for a supporting pad change under the SMART saddle – the equivalent of re-flocking.
Fast forward to 6 months after starting to use the SMART Elite Event saddle and his vet and physio report that he looks a different horse – with a vastly improved topline. I can feel that he moves more fluidly and is more balanced and willing than before.
Our journey continues to improve further on his muscle development, with the knowledge that the SMART saddle will move with him and that it will be adjustable to any change of shape as he develops, through the simple and effective pad-system.
3 months AFTER – STARTING TO DEVELOP HIS CORE AND TOPLINE
3 months AFTER - FLATWORK
3 months AFTER - JUMPING
Thea Roberts, HorseTribe Founder & SMART Customer