Two Major Discoveries of our 20 Year Mission.
Re-engineering traditional saddle trees was required to give ridden horses more comfort and happiness.
When we set out on a mission to purchase saddle equipment that wouldn’t get in the way of our partnerships with our horses, we never dreamed we wouldn’t be able to find it. In 2001, we decided we needed to develop our own.
Gratefully, we met some honorable, caring, skilled professionals in the saddle-making industry who were willing to stretch their minds and methods. We shared our thinking about what our horses seemed to be “telling us” about how saddles felt from their perspective. Working with Stefan Luchmann and Ed Steele over the course of several years, our many prototypes yielded an ultimate tree shape that was revolutionary. It remains our proprietary shape to this day.
We knew we’d finally earned horses’ approval when we could tick all the “good” boxes on our Horse Posture and Movement Checklist. No matter what size riding horse body (unless it was a very small pony) was carrying our saddle, we could see the signs that he/she was comfortable and moving much more efficiently while carrying a rider.
Traditional saddle trees have angles that closely mirror the slopes of the shoulder and spine while the horse is STANDING STILL. Unfortunately, these saddles do not accommodate the ever-changing shape of the HORSE IN MOTION. Muscles bulge, the back lifts and expands, the spine flexes vertically and horizontally underneath the saddle…particularly when carrying a rider. When a saddle is too snug or clamps down behind the standing scapula, your horse cannot travel as nature intended.
Every horse benefits from the right tapered foam shim in the right place no matter what saddle you ride.
Once we developed the saddle tree shape which clearly provided the supportive room horses needed, we realized our job wasn’t complete. Even our “generous” saddles would fall forward and put more pressure on the bulging shoulder muscles than was ideal.
We began experimenting with various pieces of material to prop up the saddle to relieve ANY stressful load on the shoulders. We worked with narrow “pinchy” saddles as well as our own. It took a few years to find the optimal substance and shape with the perfect amount of “support and squish” needed. AND, we discovered the critical place we needed to position them to be effective.
At last, we nailed another non-traditional prescription for the benefit of horses. Our VersaFit shims are truly magical tools capable of making a good saddle great and a less than ideal saddle much more comfortable.
For those who still may “say shim like It’s a bad thing”, we urge you to test drive your horse with at least one set of our thin shims IN THE RIGHT POSITION: You need lifting power behind the muscle bulge you’ll feel when you lift the front leg and the scapula is pulled rearward.
It’s a key to long strides and dream rides.