The challenge to get the right fit for horse and rider is what drives me daily to
Anatomically shaped bridles
My name is Liesbeth, 35 years old and a passionate horse person since I was a little girl. Horses and their well being have been always very important to me. I used to dream about building a partnership with a horse where pain does not exist and gymnastic exercises are freely offered and where the horse and rider have fun together. In reality, after 25 years around and into horses of which 15 years intensely in the professional horse sport, I’ve seen a lot… mainly there are so many horses out there pleasing their riders under not so desirable circumstances, performing on high level in ill fitting tack.
So when the opportunity came up to learn more about saddles and saddle fitting on a dynamic moving horse, I quickly decided to enroll to Master Saddle Fitting Consultant. The education have enlarged my knowledge on saddles and their fit in combination with the rider, in combination with the years of experience, I can determine quickly where and what should and can be changed for each combination to obtain more synergy. The challenge to get the right fit for horse and rider is what drives me daily to .
The moment I turned 18, I bought my own horse, and our journey is still growing strong ever since and through him I learned to listen and understand horses more and more. I started with my young horse from a natural horsemanship approach. We focused on connection and communication, riding bit-less and bareback, and understanding body language and horse expressions.
In 2008 I decided I wanted to learn the real deal and left to Spain to work on a gigantic horse breeding farm, not knowing I wasn’t going to come back ever! From this moment onward my horse career got more professional and I started to get eager to always learn more.
Together with my life partner (an International ***** showjumper, coach and very knowledgeable horseman) we lived 4 years in the Middle East, Bahrain, and periods in Qatar and the UAE. Training and riding in competitions like The Arab League, Longiness Tour and GCT. After this period we moved to Morocco and we began to build our own business; TIBO Equestrian (2013).
In 2017 we decided we wanted to locate ourselves in Spain and build up our own facilities from scratch. Now 2020 we’ve build our own paradise in Alzira, Spain. A stable area with 10 horseboxes, with individual outdoor paddocks connected to the stalls. An arena 30x60m silica with mirco fibres and most importantly grass meadows and paddocks for the horses in Spain!
All my life I have been passionate about horses. The power, grace and kindness of these beautiful creatures caught me. The study for Qualified Saddle Fitter (MSFC) was the missing link in understanding and reading the expressions horses give while riding, and it thought me a great deal about how they communicate with us. As long as we learn to listen to them!
Continuously finding the balance between top sport and horse’s well-being keeps challenging me. It motivates me that with minor changes (in the way we tack up or differences in the saddle we use) the outcome can be huge! I strive to search for a perfect fit and make horse and rider both happier athletes!
Step by step method
How your anatomical bridle should fit.
A Qualified Saddle Fitter is able to determine whether there is a right saddle fit between saddle and horse for that particular rider involved. You have to keep in mind those 3 very important influences and to create the best combination for all players to optimize their performance.
Your horse is your companion/ partner and friend and as they are unable to speak in words what they like and don’t like it’s sometimes difficult to determine what could be done to a combination to optimize their performance level. If you listen carefully to understand your horse you will prevent your horse from having pain or discomfort while being ridden.
Problems caused by an ill-fitting saddle can be expressed by horses through 3 types of issues:
Training related problems
Saddle fitting consult
Let your horse and saddle get checked out by a qualified saddle fitter if any of the above mentioned problems occur as soon as possible !
Why should I call a saddle fitter? To check the state of your your current saddle, to evaluate the current body development of your horse and to determine before you start training your horse the circumstances are optimal for you as well as your horse. A saddle fitter is able to make minor adjustments if necessary to ensure a better fit or to advice you what to look for in a future saddle.
I give feedback and advice throughout the session, all questions and doubts can be asked. My approach is very transparent and open, therefore the client has a broader insight into saddle fitting and what to look for by themselves at the end of the session.
During a saddle fitting consult the horse will be thoroughly checked as well as the current used saddle.
The health history of the horse and stable management will be discussed. Confirmation and visual abnormalities of the horse will be described. Short palpation of the horse on the areas which are relevant to the saddle fit / bridle and bit fit and a template of the horse’s back will be made to see if there are asymmetric points. A general health condition score will be given to the horse. Also the bio-mechanics of the horse will be studied shortly, to understand what the horse does in movement and how this will affect the stability of the saddle. If possible, I like to see the horse tacked up and ridden. A saddle consult takes up to an hour or 1.5h.
(In case the rider wants to test ride some of the saddles that I bring with me, the consult most of the time expands with 1 hour more.)
Costs are € 90,- per consultation per horse (test riding included)
Important information: For the saddle fitting consult we need a dry and safe place to work, with enough light to be able to investigate your horse and the saddles.
Calculate approximately 1,5 to 2 hours for the first consult and in case a new saddle is purchased this new saddle should be checked on overall fit again within 12 weeks after purchase or 20 hours of intensive workout. Because the wool filling will position itself and therefor the balance could be slightly changed and therefor be adjusted and corrected.
We advice to let a certified Master Saddle Fitter check out your saddle and the horses back at least 1 time a year, and in case you have a young horse we prefer to check the fit of the saddle at least 2 times a year, to prevent riding with an ill-fitting saddle and to make sure you don’t harm the horse’s back. Better safe than sorry.
Signs of Poor Saddle Fit
If your saddle does not fit, you should expect to find these signs:
- There are recent white hairs under the saddle
- The horse has swelling, bumps, or edema on the back after being ridden
- Sweat under the saddle is uneven, either within the pattern, or patterns are different left to right when combined with other signs (sweat alone is not a good indicator of saddle fit)
- The horse is grouchy during grooming, and/or actively resistant at saddling
- The horse won’t stand still to be mounted
- The horse lags or bolts – overreacting to the aids, or not responding at all
- Transitions are resistant and hollow, and may be accompanied by tail swishing
- The horse refuses jumps regularly or runs off or bucks upon landing
- The horse takes mincing steps or won’t go forward down hill
- The horse is hollow in the back while under saddle
- The girth must be tightened excessively to keep the saddle in place
- The horse is resistant to increased training
- The horse travels crooked
- The horse stumbles or drags his toes excessively
Many “behavior” or “training” issues are actually caused by poor saddle fit!
Signs of Good Saddle Fit
If your saddle fits, you should expect to find the following signs, assuming your horse is sound and properly bitted, training has been systematic and appropriate for the demands on the horse, teeth and feet have proper maintenance, and you, the rider, have basic balance and good riding position:.
- The horse is free of pain in the back when subjected to expert palpation of the dorsal spinous processes, the heads of the rib cage, and the muscles which lie underneath the saddle.
- The horse moves freely downhill, exhibiting shoulder freedom
- The horse calmly accepts grooming, saddling and girthing up
- Sweat patterns under the saddle are even from left to right and there are no dry patches smaller than 3 ” in diameter
- There are no ruffled hairs, emerging areas of white hair, or sores under the saddle
- The rider is comfortable in all areas of seat, crotch, and inner thigh
- The rider’s leg falls naturally and comfortably out of the hip socket and down the horse’s side
- The saddle design and model are proper for the rider’s size and discipline
- The saddle is balanced both front to back and laterally, which requires riding to check this
- The saddle accommodates, but does not lock in, any asymmetries in the horse
- The saddle’s panels have generous width to maximize the weight bearing surface, and this entire surface is in contact with the horse’s back
- The saddle covers the entire weight-bearing area, from behind the scapula to the last true rib, and from just below the spinous processes to the top of the rib cage
- The gullet of the saddle is properly adjusted both in front AND the rear to fit and not impinge on the wither, the breadth of spine and the spinous proesses
- Tree angles are correct and there is clearance for the wither and shoulder
- Pressures under the saddle are as even as possible; pressure testing of some sort to verify this is recommended