Foot Balance and Saddle Fit

9th December 2023

This year’s Society of Master Saddler’s Refresher course has just concluded, after a marathon 8 hours on zoom, and it was an Information packed day!

Saddle Slip was a major discussion point this year, and disturbingly is seen in around 54% of horses. Most riders think they are to blame (“I know I ride crooked …”), but research tells us that the horse is the cause in 80-85% of cases. These horses, which appear “sound” on the trot up, are typically weaker in one hind limb than the other which causes the saddle to slip – normally to the weaker side. Saddle slip is noticed more in walk and canter than trot, and will be exacerbated on a circle.

The cause of the weakness can be difficult to diagnose – could be stifle or hocks or, importantly, feet. Assymetric feet or poor foot balance is a major contributor, and can take many months and a very good farrier to rectify. Ben Benson, who works with the World Class Performance squad, gave a brilliant presentation on how assymetric and poorly balanced feet affect the posture and way of going of the horse, including saddle fit, and the ways in which foot balance can be corrected.

As a fitter, I can try help to straighten the saddle using shims, flocking or girthing options, and this is really important so that the saddle is not loading one side more than the other causing huge pressure imbalances. However to address the fundamental cause of the issue, vets, farriers and physios may also need to be involved, and a regime of strengthening exercises may be prescribed.

For further information about my saddle fitting services you can visit the website www.wills-saddlefitter or contact me on 07941 512933

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