Hi Dave. Did my first endurance ride in Maine in the Specialized Saddle. It was just perfect. I did the limited distance 30 and came in first. Was very happy with the comfort.
Hi Dave. Did my first endurance ride in Maine in the Specialized Saddle. It was just perfect. I did the limited distance 30 and came in first. Was very happy with the comfort.
I just wanted to let you know that I love my new saddle. It is so comfortable and I’m sure the horses are happy with it too.
Hi!! I just wanted to thank you two and let you know how much I LOVE my new saddle! It is so wonderful. I’ve taken it out on several test drives and I am so happy.
This saddle brings the fun back to my riding,no more back pain ,the stirrup position is so balanced.
Mary DeLorry, Equine Dentist
Port Orchard W
The Trainer just cannot rave enough about the saddle, David. She agrees that it is the most comfortable saddle she has ever ever ridden, the horse moves better and attitude is better with the saddle. I will get a try at it when I go over to California next month. Janice also said that the video was such a great tool to help understand how the saddle works. She said that everyone wants info about the saddle when she rides it. Thanks again, Dave!
Susan Gibson, Editor
Trail Blazer Magazine
I received my saddle yesterday and it is in perfect condition! Thank you so much for the most cherished piece of tack I now own. I rode in it for the first time and I can’t believe how comfortable and secure it feels.
Yep, Dave, you sure make good saddles. I love mine. I’ve used it now on 3 different horses, and it’s wonderful. I’ve had my “International” model now for 3 years and the quality really shows, it’s very comfortable.
Just a note……………..my horse loves the saddle…………..moving shoulders more fluidly and less tripping! Oh…………I love it too…………no more sore seatbones after a long ride.
Rolling Seas Farm
Egg Harbor Twp, NJ
I am really happy with the saddle, it fits Scout and me both really well. I love the English Type Stirrup Leathers , they are great for my ankles. The Western Fenders on my old addle hurt my ankles no matter how I tried to get the stet to the angle of my feet.
San Angelo TX
After riding my new Trailmaster for a few weeks now, I just have to tell you what an excellent fit it is for me and my 2 very differently shaped horses. For economy I chose an un-tooled model, to replace my fancy tooled western saddles, so I was a little worried I might not be satisfied with the plain variety.However, the quality of workmanship you put into my saddle lets me appreciate how much you care about each customer. My questions and extra requests were promptly answered, and I had lots, because I chose to try all of the models in your “demo” program. It was well worth the extra time and $. I just LOVE my saddle. Thank you.
Sante Fe NM
I just wanted to let you know that I took my new saddle for a test ride yesterday and WOW! I have never had a saddle put me in such a balanced position. It was simply amazing! Also, for the first time, my boy didn’t have his chronic sore spot after our ride.Thank you so much for all your help and service!
So happy with our 2 New Specialized Saddles. After many attemps to fit my troublesome Icelandic, with all different types of saddles, the Specialized Saddle fit is perfect. Our Foxtrotter says Thanks Too!
Larry and Linda
I just wanted to let you know that I LOVE my new saddle and so does my horse. I was having behavior problems (bucking at the canter) from a horse that has always been willing and cooperative. The new saddle has brought my old horse back! We\’ve done 3 rides in it now and he has finished all with absolutely no sign of back trouble. The vet even commented as such at the last ride and he\’s my happy, cooperative guy once again. Thanks for such a great product. I think I\’m going to order another one for my young horse as well.
I just saw my saddle on your new website! It looks awesome!
Wanted any folks out there who might be “oldsters” like me – I’m 71 – and at all timid about riding to really consider one of your saddles. I danced around the “scared to ride” issue for a few years but after riding in my new Specialized saddle it’s a non event.
The second time I rode in it I was with 3 others on the trail (they were all riding in Specialized Saddles) and we came upon a rattlesnake that was too close for comfort. I was the last one in line and was able to turn my mare around and avoid going by the snake. In any other saddle I would have been terrified but, instead, felt safe and secure.
Sorry it took me so long to let you know how much I love my saddle.
We LOVE our Specialized saddles; I have a Eurolight and my husband has a Trail Master. One of our friends was interested in our saddles, so I had her over. She brought her huge leopard App whom she has had an extremely hard time fitting a saddle to. Within 5 minutes I showed her how to fit my Eurolight to her horse. She was amazed, as I have Arabians with very different confirmation from her big boy. She was already sold on the saddle, but I recommend that she sit in it, because she has to be comfortable, too. Her horse is still in “re-training”, so I pulled out my Arab gelding and quickly put the Eurolight back to fit his back, which she was amazed at also, and she mounted up. She loved it! She has MS and is very courageous and determined to not only ride, but to find a saddle that won’t hurt her horse or her. She should be ordering her saddle soon! Just wanted to let you know that you make an excellent product!
I love my International for my Icelandics. It fits both the slender and broader types. No slip and adjusting needed for either of them. Plus it is so comfy for me to sit in. I have a friend who needs a narrow twist. Is the English saddles any narrower than the International?
David and Blake,
I wanted to share with you Magic’s achievements this year using the Specialized saddle – Magic was always a great horse but since buying the Specialized he has developed into a machine!! Looking at this year alone we finished Endurance Champion overall and Reserve Champion overall in OCTRA (Ontario) Highest Mileage Horse in Ontario 8th overall in Canada; 3rd in the Northeast Heavy Weight Division; and Reserve Champion in the North America Anglo-Arab Horse Association. Magic now has 2628 Ontario Miles and 2270 AERC miles.
Magic completed 2 100’s this year; Old Dominion (Calvary) and the Ontario Provincial Championships (8th and under COC time). He completed every 50 in the top 5 and a 1st and BC and 4th and BC.
I want to thank you for such a great saddle – I can now realize Magic’s full potential!!!
First let me say the saddle has lived up to your advertisements, my horse was having lower back problems, I bought your saddle based on the information on you website. My horse no longer has the issue since getting the saddle. I train and ride endurance, I average between 20 and 35 miles/week on all types of terrain. Steep climbs and downhill as well and long sustained trots. I was never able to stand in a balanced position on a extended trot until this spring.
Diane M. Cote
I spoke with you the other day about my new saddle – which I love. I have had 5 saddles in 6 years trying to find the right fit for my Morgan mare. She’s very flat backed, with very low withers, asymmetrical shoulders. My International fits her very well and is the only saddle that does not slide forward onto her neck or roll sideways onto her barrel.
I’ve used the saddle three times now and it has done extremely well staying in place and has allowed both of us to rebuild our confidence after several unsafe and scary incidents – and a year of spooking and bolting because our other saddles moved so much during a ride.
Padding is to saddle fit as socks are to shoes. It is an integral part of the fitting dynamic. Unfortunately it is all too often ignored when a saddle or tree is being selected to fit a particular horse. Saddle pads impact all three dimensions of fit: width, arch and angle.
One of the first attempted solutions to a saddle fit problem is padding, specifically more saddle pads, but as we shall see, this often exacerbates the problem. Let’s examine closely what saddle pads do to fit by first looking at its impact on width.
When the saddle is completed, the load bearing member, or bars, are usually covered with fleece which makes any detailed visual examination of the contact and voids under the bars difficult. It is therefore logical and a long-established tradition in custom saddle making to select a tree to fit a particular horse prior to the construction of a saddle.
When the custom saddle arrives, the new owner typically uses the standard blanket and saddle pad or one of the new, thick, high-tech pads filled with air, gel or memory foam. Unfortunately the saddle no longer fits where the bare tree did on the horse’s back. Let’s assume for a moment that the total net compressed thickness of the saddle pads under the saddle is one inch. Looking at Figure A, we see that 1” measured horizontally at a 45 degree angle (the angle of the front shoulder of an average horse) measures 1-1/2″ times two (each side), now making the width where the bare tree was set 3 inches wider. Measuring the rise of 1″ of padding, measured in a vertical axis through a 45 degree angle is again 1-1/2″ and we see that the original width of the gullet (6-1/2″) now sits much higher on the horse. The point measuring 6-1/2″ accommodating the gullet of the tree now sits 1-1/2″ higher in front, changing the point of contact and pressure distribution significantly.
Now let’s look at the rise in the rear. Measuring the vertical rise created by the addition of 1″ of padding under the bars (which are now angled at 22 degrees on most trees), we see the rise created by the saddle pads is 1-1/8″. A quick calculation shows that the padding raised 3/8″ more in the front shoulder area than in the rear loin area, caused by the different angles of the horse’s body covered by the pad. When you raise the front 3/8″ more than you raise the rear, this causes the middle to be raised completely off the horse’s back, a condition known as “bridging”. Without this contact and support in the middle, pressure is concentrated where contact remains and unfortunately, this condition lies hidden under layers of padding and obscured by fleece. We are left with only the behavior cues and ultimately white hairs, together with other telltale remnants of damaged tissue and soreness to discover the problem.
Now turn our attention back to Figure B and look at the contact of the bars against the shoulder as compared to Figure A. The rise from the saddle pads has also created another problem. The slope of the shoulder here is not uniform as it was in Figure A. The shoulder is rounding off as the tree has risen and now the contact is on the lower part of the bar. Again, reduced contact means increased pressure where contact remains. Angle is now affected since the angle where the bare tree contacted the horse is no longer the same as the angle where the saddle with padding now sits.
They cushion the back and help it “breath”, letting moisture and heat dissipate, but it is essential that the padding to be used with the saddle tree is taken into account to maintain proper fit.
English saddles and some new western type saddles have approached this differently by building the padding into the basic saddle. A relatively thin pad is used under this type of saddle which does not distort the fit and serves to keep sweat from direct contact with the saddle without distorting the size and shape of the fit. Since the tree , with its built-in padding, is not covered by camouflaging fleece as in traditional western saddles, a visual inspection of the fit is much more easily achieved. The surface of the flocked panels comprising most English saddles is very convex, or curved, and does not offer a wide enough area to distribute the weight of rider and saddle, nor low enough psi (pounds per square inch) to avoid compromised blood circulation to the cutaneous and subcutaneous layers of the horse’s back.
At Specialized Saddles we have solved these problems by utilizing a system which provides a larger surface area, with the visibility of fit and built-in padding offered by an English type saddle. This is done using a patented, easy to use, adjustable fit system.
For saddle padding to be effective at one of its primary functions, that of letting the back “breath”, it must have a porous surface so air can circulate. If the pad is dirty and debris is allowed to clog the surface of the pad heat and moisture will be trapped. Regular cleaning of pads is important. Failure to do so can lead to skin problems and back problems from accumulation of heat.
Another dilemma is that open cell foams used in some pads, while allowing more surface air flow, also allow moisture and bacteria to wick into, and contaminate the pad. Closed cell foams do not have the surface air spaces ad tend to trap heat more than other more porous materials. Course weave mohair blankets and/or natural fleece provide a time proven surface that allows moisture and heat dissipation, but remember the thickness must be taken into account. Some new padding materials like those offered by Supracore or Dixie Midnight also provide for increased air circulation.
Remember to allow width for whatever padding you use when selecting (or adjusting) a saddle. Padding is an important element of saddle fit and is all too often ignored when saddle fit considerations are being made.
David Kaden is a lifelong horseman whose passion in life is helping people achieve perfect saddle fit. He travels throughout the country speaking on ways to diagnose saddle fit.
David also uses a computer pressure pad system to enable horse owners to see and understand exactly how their saddle contacts their horse and how much pressure is being applied. Pressure is shown in different colors corresponding to differing degrees of pressure. In order to remedy the problem of bad saddle fit David developed and patented the only adjustable fit system that provides adjustment of all three dimensions of saddle fit: width, arch, and angle. His company, Specialized Saddles, is one of the world’s leading producers of endurance and trail saddles.
David has articles on saddle fit published in numerous equine magazines. Articles about his saddle fitting system have been featured in such equine magazines as Equaus and The Arabian Horse magazine.
He is also the former host of Horse Trails TV show which aired on RFD TV in 2002 and 2003.
He and his wife Tracy own and operate an endurance training center near El Paso, TX. Their horses compete worldwide including the ’08 Endurance world championship in Malaysia where David was also one of the commentators for ESPN’s worldwide TV coverage of the event. David also competes in jumping and recently won reserve champion in the region 2 sport horse jumping championship in Santa Barbara, CA. He attributes his success in both disciplines to perfect saddle fit resulting in happier more willing horses.
David is a charismatic speaker and his easy going manner of communicating his saddle fit insights keeps his audiences engaged and entertained.
In the past few years, more and more people have become aware of the importance of saddle fit.
However, not as much attention has been given to fit and comfort for the rider. If the horseback experience is to be enjoyed to its fullest, a good fit for the rider is almost as important as fit for the horse.
I often talk about the three dimensions of saddle fit for the horse. Those are width, arch, and angle. Two of these, width and arch, have a lot to do with comfort for the rider also. We used our computer pressure pad system to examine saddle fit and the pressure on a rider’s seat. Some very interesting information emerged.
The arch or curve of the seat effects the total area of contact with the seat and this surface area determines the amount of pressure or PSI exerted on the riders seat. A flatter seat has less contact since the curve of riders seat is touching the saddle seat, in a shorter linear Dimension. This results in greater perceived pressure of the impression that seat is hard even if it is padded. Conversely a “deep” seat with rise in front gives more contact in the linear dimension as saddle seat matches curve of rider’s seat and thus much less pressure is experienced due to larger surface area distributing the weight. So when saddle shopping you want to get to get a deep seat, with a “pocket”, right?
Maybe, if you walk, or do sitting trots like a dressage rider, but maybe endurance riding is more your style
So when selecting a seat style you should first consider what sort of riding you are doing and how long you are in the saddle. If you like to gallop and do a positing trot over the country side for longer periods of time, like an endurance rider, the confining of a deep seat with rise in font of your crotch is going to be restrictive of the movement of the rider trying to stay balanced and centered over the stirrups at speed. This can cause some real discomfort if, as you move, you are banging the front and rear of your saddle seat.
At Specialized Saddles we offer two seat styles Trail (deeper) and Endurance (flatter) to help match the seat to the needs of the rider. Some Rise in front of seat, seems to better fit the pelvic girdle of women, and is usually more comfortable for all round recreational riding for women while some men prefer the flatter endurance seat..
Now lets consider width of the seat or so called “twist”. Clearly sitting on a barrel with you legs spread wide apart is pretty uncomfortable, however this is the position many traditional Western saddles put you in. This is party due to the thickness of the fleece, and three layers of leather you are sitting on over the western type saddle horse. The cut of the structural members of a tree, the bars and the built up of the seat also have a big impact of how quickly your legs are open when sitting on your horse.
To understand why English saddle have a narrower twist you must understand English saddle are built on Flocked panels which lift you off the horse back higher than most western type seats so by starting at an elevated height you have more room to transition to the width of your horses barrel (which ultimately will determine how wide your knees are) and thus how wide your legs will be, when sitting on your particular horse.
In designing our western and endurance saddles we have eliminated much of the bulk under your seat, and thighs, making our saddles have a narrower twist while maintaining a close contact with the horse.
Lastly the saddle seat should fit your seat and leg size and feel like your legs hang in the upward curve of saddle bars with at least 1.5 inches between front of your thigh and back of pommel.
To make sure your new saddle has the seats you want, and need, for maximum comfort, you should either ride one exactly like the one you intend to purchase,( thru the saddle makers demos), or if a friend has he same size and model, ask to borrow it. And take it on a long ride at least and hour because some discomforts don’t show up till you have been riding a while and the last thing to want is to be married to a saddle that doesn’t do its part to make your time spent riding a pleasure
English Dressage Saddles from SpecializedSaddles.com
Hank and I finished Tevis. Because of bad knees, I can not get off of him during the ride to walk. We weighed in at 244#. His back was PERFECT at the end (and all day).
Dave Kaden talks about Specialized Saddles Endurance line of custom saddles.
Just wanted to let you know how much I love my Euro light and how great it is to ride in. My horse Theatric has won every ride he entered this year and we just finished the western Maine multi-day and he won all three days I rode him, and BCd with scores of 780 each day. His time of time of 7;44 this year at FITS in the FEI 100, was phenomenal.
He has never moved, so well and I am never sore either no matter what the terrain,it’s so comfortable,and I recommend it to anyone who ask.
Just wanted to tell you I absolutely LOVE your saddle! it is the most comfortable lightest and prettiest saddle EVER!
Dave Kaden talks about Specialized Saddles and how he designed them for perfect fit. The perfect Custom Saddle.