Key advantages that a fully flexible SMART saddle can offer:
Why does the fully flexible SMART saddle system work?
Having used a flexible saddle since 2000 for training and competing, SMART™ saddle designer, Dr Anne Bondi, observed problems that had previously considered “normal” began to disappear.
Case study research projects run with vets, physiotherapists, colleges and equine welfare organisations have provided a wealth of valuable information on the benefits of long-term use of the SMART™ saddle system. Important feedback, not just from professional trainers and top competition riders, but also from a huge range of owner riders, amateurs, and hobby riders ensures that the saddle range has been developed to further enhance the performance benefits for both horse and rider.
Common observations when using the SMART™ saddle include:
- • Without restriction, the forehand frees up and horses can more readily find their natural balance, moving more uphill and straighter.
- • Young horses improve confidence and older horse become happier.
- • A change and improvement in ridden work with a more forward approach; more forward thinking, confident, calm, willing, able to concentrate, and less spooky, resistant, defensive, evasive, naughty etc.
- • Physical changes as a result of this: improved musculature and more power, elasticity and expression.
“As a rider, trainer and riding coach the more the SMART™ saddles evolve the easier life gets with regard to solving individual issues for both horse and rider.” Tim Downes, FBHS,
When studying a direct comparison with a range of horse and rider combinations working in a traditional treed saddle and a SMART™ saddle, results showed the flexible SMART saddle to be consistently improving performance:
- • Less lateral deviation in the hind limbs - indicating straighter posture and improved engagement.
- • A smaller range of vertical movement between the hock and point of buttock indicating improved engagement.
- • The neck was longer in all paces and a lower head carriage was seen in walk, indicating improved back action, stride length and posture.
- • Both saddles and riders sat straighter on the horses’ backs, with a marked decrease in lateral deviation to the left.
- • All horses improved their overall way of going, becoming happier and more willing. Freedom in the shoulder produces more expression in the movement
Jumping in a SMART™ saddle produced similarly dramatic results –
- • Calmer, cleaner jumping, with improved technique.
- • Horses are able to use their shoulders better.
- • Cleaner landing technique.
- • They don’t tire as quickly and can concentrate longer.
- • In fast work, horses that had previously been thought to have a poor natural gallop learned to lower and flatten the frame and significantly developed the stride length.
Confident jumping in a SMART™ Jump saddle
The UK made SMART™ saddle
- • The first fully flexible saddle to be designed specifically as a professional rider’s tool.
- • Absolutely no rigid parts to cause injury and is completely flexible.
- • Allowed for use in all disciplines under FEI and national governing body rules.
- • Patented design with horse welfare at the forefront
A well developed back – an 8-year-old eventer that has only ever worn a SMART™ saddle
The fully flexible SMART™ saddle design:
- • Does not set out to provide even distribution of weight, but to protect the back from pressure and trauma by using a unique layering system
- • Flexes with the movement of the horse’s back thus reducing peak pressure
- • Disperses the stirrup and girthing pressure throughout the length of the saddle instead of localising it
- • Uses an external fitting and balancing system to ensure optimum fit and even contact without spinal pressure
- • Available in a range of styles for all disciplines
- • Backing young horses is much easier as they don’t seem to mind the girth. Even if they do tighten against it initially, there are no tree points to tighten back into them, which can lead to freezing or bucking.
- • The fully flexible saddle can be fitted to any horse, regardless of conformation problems.
- • Horses tire less quickly, both physically and mentally.
- • The stride is freer and therefore longer - this has wide ranging implications across all equestrian disciplines.
- • Problem horses can benefit - those with cold-backed syndrome, kissing spines and other back conditions.
- • Many so-called behavioural problems resolve.
- • Even where historic saddle damage has caused muscle atrophy, when tree use is discontinued, there can be considerable regeneration, particularly in younger horses.
- • In remedial and rehabilitation work, it is possible for the trainer to feel subtle gait irregularities; this is also extremely useful in the early diagnosis of lameness.
In the clinical evaluation of back-related problems, The SMART™ saddle is useful as a diagnostic tool and can be usefully employed to eliminate the saddle as a possible source of pain.
“It has been my experience that some horses with back pain benefit tremendously by the use of The SMART saddle. Clinical assessment of a horse with a performance related problem working in a flexible SMART saddle helps me to determine if such a saddle might benefit the horse long term, although this may take several days assessment to determine” (Dr. SJ Dyson 2006)
Important safety considerations:
- • Fitting the SMART™ saddle, although different from traditional saddle fitting, is an easy concept to adapt to, making it straightforward for anyone to use without fear of causing damage to the horse.
- • If the horse should roll or fall on the deformable SMART™ saddle, he will not injure himself with it.
- • Should the horse fall and trap the rider underneath, the saddle will not cause additional injury to the rider.
Safety considerations for riders, horses and saddles – the flexible saddle caused no damage
The rider benefits:
- • A particular bonus is the positioning of the stirrup bars which are not restricted to being placed on the tree points, but are positioned for optimum rider balance, making a tremendous difference to comfort and security. Riders are able to adopt a correct position more easily, and also to self-correct.
- • There is no concussion or push from a rigid frame, making it exceptionally good for riders’ backs too.
- • Because the horse can more clearly feel the rider and his slightest position changes, he is able to respond more easily to subtle aids.
- • Similarly, the rider can feel the movement in the horse’s back, helping in the precision of those aids.
- • The firm but flexible seat allows the rider to spend extended periods in the saddle without seat bone ache.
"I have ridden in a SMART™ saddle since 2003. Every horse, without exception, has performed better than in a traditional saddle. I believe that if we wish to ride horses, we have a moral duty to make them as comfortable as possible, not only to achieve the best performance from them but also to promote their general wellbeing. SMART™ saddles make this possible." Daniel Hammond BHSI, International Dressage Trainer
Teachers and trainer benefit:
- • Instead of spending valuable time working through tension, the trainer can focus on the positive progression of the quality of the work.
- • The rider becomes easier to teach as he can now concentrate more easily on the harmony of the work, becoming more able to respond to the trainer.
- • Without many of the issues of rider position and balance, the rider can be taught effective use of the aids.
Efficient and cost-effective:
- • The rider only needs one saddle, because it can be fitted to any horse.
- • No re-flocking, expensive tree repairs or rigid parts to cause wear.
- • Being extremely lightweight makes it easy to carry and to lift, especially onto big horses.