SADDLE FITTING

Saddle fitting is a sadly overlooked and greatly needed area of horsemanship. We want our equine companions to enjoy being ridden and not suffer from something that can be remedied and keep future issues from arising.

Recently a study was conducted on saddle fit by New Mexico State University. It is One of the first of its kind and long overdue. While I agree with many of its point there are a few that I do not agree with.

As a practicing saddle fitter in Oregon I would like to make a couple of comments to this article: I agree that roping and barrel saddles have more fitting issues, and due to the fact that I am a saddle fitter I can provide several of the reason why:

 

1) more defined/higher withers have more bridging problems with factory made saddles due to the trees they are built on.

2) the rigging placement is FF and this rigging position places the pressure on the shoulders (for several reasons).

3) In both barrel racing and roping the rider leans forward or is up out of the pocket which adds pressure to the shoulders.

 

Barrel saddles have many of the same problems as roping saddles with fitting. The largest being the higher withered horses.

However, the 2nd factor in the barrel industry is that this discipline has several accomplished barrel racers promoting the concept that "wider is better" and that is such a serious mis-conception that it exasperates me! Wider does NOTa fix ill fit.

My next issue with this article is that I disagree that thinner padding offers any solution at all. A thicker pad IS better. More padding makes the point of impact softer and in my work as a saddle fitter I have proven this to be true repeatedly over the years.

A thinner pad allows the saddle to cause dramatically more impact trauma to the horse.

Therefore in closing, I am pleased that they are now studying this very serious issue to our equine companions. This will give weight and merit to the seriousness of the saddle fit issues that have been on going for generations.

It is NOT ok to ignore it. It is not ok to hold onto the cowboy ideal that they are horses and they should just learn to deal with it or get their ass kicked!

Enough is enough!

Proper saddle fitting education should be taught to every horse owner, and it is my desire to continue to teach so that it spreads across our nation as a FOUNDATION for owning a horse.

 

http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-news/2010/07/29/western-saddle-fit.aspx

I have been training horses and developing the communication between horses and their owners since 1985, and fitting saddles since 2006, and the horses are my classroom. I offer Saddle fitting services and teach techniques at equine events, equine clubs, and private sessions. Clinics are conducted throughout the year here at Painted Hills Ranch that I co-own with my husband Michael. We were high school sweet hearts and married in 1979.

 

As an equine trainer I have seen the emotional and physical damages that a poorly fitted saddle can do to a horse. The emotional rehabilitation is often the most difficult area to correct in those that have suffered over a long period of time and have developed self protecting habits. Due to these reoccurring concerns in  my training horses I decided to study the complex and controversial issue of saddle fitting to become a qualified saddle fitter that has developed proven methods that can be taught to horse owners. The suffering must end!

 

Together, we can all do our part in becoming better educated about saddle fitting. There are many myths to dispel and it is my  passionate endeavor to improve the comfort and performance of the horses I love and have dedicated my life’s work to. 

 Some saddle complications are quite simple to fix, while others are very complicated. You as an an owner will not be able to resolve it alone.

Either way, I can make this process considerably less frustrating and less time consuming. I can get your horse and saddle back on track so you can ride without worry and pursue your dreams.

 

 

 

CUSTOM SADDLE FITTING PRICES:

HAUL IN TO PAINTED HILLS RANCH: $125.00

OFF SITE FITTING FEE: $150.00 plus mileage.

MILEAGE FEE TO YOUR BARN:  $1.50 per mile 1 way

ONLINE SADDLE FIT OPTION:  $250.00 includes the 1st mailing of tree forms if you are wanting a custom  tree to send to your choice of saddle maker or you are ordering a Right Fit Custom saddle.

But if you are saddle shopping in stores or used saddles I will remain with you as a consultant to analyze every saddle you are interested in until you secure a proper fitting saddle for your horse. 

LIMITED CONSULT:    $50.00. 30 minutes diagnostics  for the purpose of: saddle or pad design assistance. 

Trouble shooting current issues. Reassurance that your saddle fits and your current pad is functioning properly. Equine Anatomy analysis. Personal Saddle Fitting education. 

( Extremely successful service across the nation)

We can set up a date and time for the service you have chosen and payment can be made in one of two ways:

1. PayPal

 

2. Send a personal check to: Juli Ulm

                                                 41235 Baptist Church Rd.

                                                 Lebanon, OR 97355

What you receive from  consult:

I am a full capability saddle fitter. Each fitting has its own flow of education and end result because each client and horse requires something a little different than someone else.

The Variables:

If you need to know why  & where your saddle doesn't fit~  I can teach you how to feel underneath & teach you how to correct it- if its correctable.

If you are tired of the frustrations of trying to get a premade saddle to fit  and want me to build custom saddle on the correct tree. I can do that for you. 

If you want to keep your saddle and desire to purchase one of my amazing saddle pads to help with that~ I can design one to ease your horses discomfort

If you are saddle shopping and want to avoid the pitfall of repetetive purchase of bad fitting saddles. I can often recommend the correct brands to search for.

Let me start off by saying that there is no such thing as the perfectly fitting saddle over the life of a horse.

A horse’s conformation changes throughout its life, and even throughout the year as their exercise level and nutrition varies.

Buying a saddle to precisely fit a horse for this moment in time often results in a poorly fitting saddle at a later date- because you quit looking and assessing- your brain moves on because its considered the job done!

That's a problem when your horse gains 50lbs or begins to age- or comes out of training and begins to stand around and lose muscle tone. or go into training and gain it!

The good news is that it’s not necessary to have the “perfect” saddle for a horse to have a comfortable fit.

Is that surprizing to you? Read on to learn why:

Fortunately, we have excellent choice of saddle pads these days that take up the slack!!  M personal Favorite is, of course, The "Right Fit" Saddle pad. It took me a year to design it to perform as I intended.

However we do need to get the saddl to fit as close as possible. Proper saddle fit isn't an exact science. You can begin by searching for a well-built saddle designed for the physical type of the horse you ride. Be leary of fiberglass and polymer trees, they tend to warp and twist over time and you wont know it. I see these saddles come in often with a dropped bar or twist in the tree and this undetected problem can cause alot of stress and pain to your horse.

The basics of a properly fitting western saddle are: The pommel should comfortably clear a horse’s withers by 2-3 fingers stacked vertically when placed on top of the unpadded withers, the bars should be wide enough to set on the back 1/4 of the shoulder so as to allow for free movement of the scapulas to pass under the front lip of the leather and slide comfortably back under the pommel without pinching or severe pressure to trap the free movement of the shoulder, the bar angles need to match the ribs and also the loin angle and the length should not extend past the ovaries and kidneys.

The saddle tree and leather need to be the proper length and depth so as not to cause injury or restriction of movement, the bar angle and shape needs to parallel the angles of the shoulders and ribs and mirror the shape of the horses back, and be properly padded to either create or maintain front to back and left to right balance in order to provide good weight distribution while the horse is in motion

 

That's proper saddle fit.

 

If you ride horses of different breeds or significantly different sizes, then you'll need to invest in multiple saddles- or a "Right Fit" saddle pad that can be customized quickly to allow your saddle to fit each horse you ride.

The goal of proper saddle fit is to identify a saddle that fits both participants - the horse and the rider.

But which is the most important of the two?

Without question, fitting the horse IS the primary goal. But if either horse or rider are uncomfortable pain can transfer either direction. Therefore the saddle must not cause the horse pain, or trap its movement and also mustn't cause the rider to brace from discomfort.

The saddle needs to "snow shoe" the riders weight evenly over the horses topline without setting too deeply in the center under the rider so as to enable the horse to carry the weight comfortably..allowing the shoulders to move freely, not rub the withers, meanwhile staying clear of cranial nerve#11 located just behind the shoulder and also stay clear of vertibrae #18 in the loin and not bruise the kidneys and/or ovaries, not interfere with the elbow and the Deltoid muscle... (you can see how the complications have already begun!)

Saddle fit isn't an exact science. It takes some savvy to determine whether or not you have a good fit. And each horse responds uniquely to all the different pressures they experience under the saddle. And THAT  little factor right there quite often confuses even the savviest of saddle fitter!

 

Consult a qualified saddle fitter for diagnosis. Your horse will thank you!

 

 

The insignificant amount of money you might spend is a pittance to what you WILL spend later if you don't get a diagnosis!

You will need a variety of thin to heavy weight navaho blankets or under liners of different thicknesses to accommodate  the seasonal  and physical changes your horse goes thru, as well as the different horses you ride with one saddle.

This horse has a well rounded  convex shoulder

but the saddle tree has a painful  opposing concave shape.

Side view of same type of  saddle interferrance.

Good fit 

I am also available for club, expos,  and large group saddle fitting education seminars

     "Audience Audit Only" Clinic: 

1/2 Day  Basic Saddle Fitting: : $500.00  

 This clinic lightly covers it all~Basic 101 saddle fit, saddle pad expectations and capability,  plus  shim do's & don'ts, also visual skits to disprove commonly accepted saddle fitting "Myths". 

This clinic is to provide the audience with the necessary facts & proof to enable them to grasp the seriousness of the effects of poor saddle fit short term and long term. 

(I will respond to Limited number of questions during Clinic)

Plus travel charge of $1.50 per mile.

 

                         "HANDS ON" Clinics: 

                    (LIMIT 15 STUDENTS)

                                (1/2 Day  (4-5 hours)

Basic Saddle Fitting 101: $500.00 

Plus travel charge of $1.50 per mile.

Understanding Basic Shimming 101: $500.00

Plus travel charge of $1.50 per mile.

 

This clinic is most effective when there are less than 10 students. Otherwise I cannot get thru the material  & respond to all student questions.

                                    Full Day Clinics

 Saddle Fitting 101( 9-10 hours) : $850.00

Plus travel charge of $1.50 per mile.

 2nd Level Education(follows 101) Full day: $850.00

Recaps 101 education as a refresher in the am and advances in the afternoon.

Plus travel charge of $1.50 per mile.

 Advanced Level 2 day ~ Detecting physical & emotional damages in the horse, Saddle Pad Capability to correct and the Do's & Don'ts, plus shim Do's & Don'ts : $1200.00

12-14 hours education.  broke up into 2-6/7 hour days

This class is only taught after the 101 and 2nd level education has been received.

*This class is for those who desire to  begin the practice of saddle fit. (trainers benefit enormously)

Plus travel charge of $1.50 per mile.

     

Call so we can discuss the size of your group and the targeted information your group would like to become better educated on.

Juli @ (541) 619-0790

 The  # of demo horses and assistants  I will need depend upon how many students I will be instructing.

You are responsible for:

Securing the location and any pmt required to use the facility, participant rates, All advertizing and flyers,  and collecting pmt from your participants, and you will provide demo horses and their saddles and 1 person to assist me for the day. 

Final pmt for my services to your group will be collected upon my arrival on the day of the clinic.

I will arrive in a timely manner to:

Set up area and sound equipment, direct and educate assistants in their duties for the day, review the horses and saddles that are to be used in my demonstrations, and I will hand out pamphlets and instruct for your clinic. 

Juli Ulm

41235 Baptist Church Dr.

Lebanon Or 97355

Home:(541)258-3344 or cell:(541)619-0790

THE CONCEPTS I TEACH YOU WILL  BENEFIT YOUR ALL OF YOUR HORSES FOR A LIFETIME!

MY SOLE PURPOSE IN THIS HEARTFELT MISSION IS THE KNOWLEDGE THAT I HAVE HELPED THESE NOBLE ANIMALS BE MORE COMFORTABLE PERFORMING THEIR DUTIES AS RIDING COMPANIONS!

This type consult is for those of you who are saddle shopping. I will stay with you as an advisor. I will assess and advise on every saddle you send to me until you have purchased  a proper fitting saddle.  This consult is also for those of you who  want to order a custom saddle and live long distance and cannot haul to me here in Oregon. This fee includes 1st shipment of  fitting forms & saddle trees for the purpose of ordering a custom "Right Fit" saddle or if you need a custom saddle tree made to send to your saddle maker. You are required to take pictures and videos of each tree so I can determine fit. Go to "Required Pictures"  page on Menu & read instructions form that pops up when you click on the red button. There is no time limit with this level of service.

This very handy service is used Nationwide to help owners with saddle & pad issues. Its a "little bite" that provides BIG results. Invest as many times as necessary to get the education you need to help your horse be comfortable under saddle. 

This service is for folks who are wanting to keep their saddle but realize that it doesn't fit and are having padding issues and need assistance when ordering a "Right Fit" pad. Such as: deciding what shims are required or simply what thickness is needed to make the saddle fit better.

Each time I assist folks they gain knowledge on Saddle Fitting- no matter what level of service they invest in. 

Several types of Bad fits

Notice the Different angle on the pommel. The one on Right will cause pinching and a dry spot that you might misunderstand and think your saddle is too narrow. 

There is a difference btw wide gullet vs wide angle. So Don't get caught up in the word play of those promoting "wider is better" concept...or those who merely shave a different angle on the same gullet width and call it "wider". 

Both saddles too wide. Difference? Left has more bar flare and has more contour/rocker so makes sufficient contact with the ribs to allow it to remain balanced and level. The saddle on the right is too strait front to back for this geldings bodily contour, therefore is sinking in front because it has the extra width to allow the front bar paddles to sink all the way down on the shoulders but it has not quite  settled onto the ribs as there is still a gap over the ribs and it has slid backwards in its effort to gain more surface contact. This will be extremely painful to this gelding...where as the saddle on the left will not be. This is a perfect example that "wider is not better". There MUST be correct fit in the bar angles and rock front to back as well!!!

The picture to the right is what the saddle on the right above looks like when you are seated.

The education you receive if you choose to invest in a Consult or Clinic  will bless you & your horses for the remainder of your lives.