Biomechanics at Mayfield Saddlery
Choosing and fitting a saddle might appear to be a simple process, but it is far from it. At Mayfield Saddlery we take into account the following interfaces:
- saddle / horse
- rider / saddle
- girth / horse
We also take into account the planned use i.e. dressage, jump or general purpose, which will affect the ideal design of saddle to be used.
With our bio-mechanical approach to saddle fitting we like to see the following:
1. In order to analyse exactly what is going on it is highly desirable to have a flat hard surface where the horse can be checked initially.
2. Then we need to see the horse perform ideally in a school / ménage. The horse performs through the different paces, and over jumps if appropriate - initially without saddle and rider. We then repeat the process with a fitted saddle, and then again with the rider on the saddle - having taken note of the size, shape and skill of the rider. We also factor in the optimum type of girth throughout these stages as well. We are working with specialists suppliers of pressure monitoring pads that can quantify the pressure impact of all parts of the saddle on the horse's back. We will be happy to demonstrate this work, particularly if your horse and/or saddle have partucarly acute problems.
3. Although the Society of Master Saddlers suggests that a well fitting saddle does not require anything under the saddle other than a protective saddle cloth, it is quite common to help the horse / saddle interface by using a numnah or gel pad, especially since most horses change shape over time. For this reason we recommend adjustable saddles wherever appropriate (that is saddles with inter-changeable gullet plates).
4. Until recently the impact of the girth on the horse's performance has not been really recognised. However research has shown that girths can severely impact the movement of the front legs and this is particularly significant for jump and event horses. Fortunately there are now special girths available (which we supply) which address these problems and horses with these new designs of girth have been shown to improve their competition results quite markedly. Please contact us for further information.
5. We stock and bring to site a range of saddles, girths and numnahs all with a view to achieving the perfect horse / saddle / girth / rider interface. It is important that the girth be considered as part of an holistic approach. This is important because horses are all different and the girth must not impede the muscle movement or impose under pressure on the thoracic region and the associated muscles - since this will affect the horses ideal / optimum performance. Imperfect girthing can give rise to internal problems as well as sub-standard performance of the horse - so it is an important element of the whole process.
5 Recognising the above our saddle fitters monitor the current published research and also engage in their own research to maximise the benefits and minimise any disbenefits of the horse / saddle / girth / rider combination.