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TRADITION vs INNOVATION. Where do you sit?


As horse people, we often enroll in the school of ‘tradition’ when it comes to how we set about doing things. We learn from family, friends, trainers and industry leaders. Seeking new perspectives and better solutions takes courage in the face of criticism and that can be a hard road to ride…

Horse training is a wonderful example of old vs new. Some of the great forefathers of what is today described as ‘natural horsemanship’ (Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance, Buck Brannaman and others like them) steered us away from traditional horse “breaking and training”. It led many down a new and exciting path. Overpowering, dominating, fear-oriented techniques were replaced by ways of communicating WITH the nature of horses to obtain better results.

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How history Influences Today…

When it comes to saddles, the same can be said. Tradition has often been the dictator of the future. Saddle makers passed down their family business, knowledge and ideas through generations. Prestige was built simply by being part of history, not necessarily by their methodology nor how the horse felt about their products.

It’s worth noting that social media ‘influencers’ can also include blind historically-oriented assumptions. Riders who achieve awards, accolades, and popularity are often sponsored by saddle brands and their voices carry great weight. Let’s not forget that this can be based on financial transactions and not necessarily the quality of the saddles.
Shockingly, however, even veterinarians and equine professionals are often unaware of how negatively impactful saddle equipment can be to a horse’s way of going and overall health. Such lack of perception makes it even harder for buyers hungry to get unbiased/knowledgeable help.


New vs. Old…

What makes our saddles different?
They look like normal saddles in most ways…so what are we so excited about? What makes any NHS saddle a game-changer for horses?
It is deliberately NOT build to fit a stationary horse in the way other saddles do. Of course, it’s extremely comfortable for the standing horse! In fact, when a rider mounts an NHS saddle (always “custom fit” to the horse’s shape via saddle pad and shims), the horse generally strikes a good-posture pose immediately, rather than elevating his head and sinking in the center back. This is due to the well-shaped extra room underneath and a phenomenon we discovered that actually “invites” the horse to stand balanced and ready to carry a rider. Muscles and soft tissue are engaged to lift the skeleton into place in a healthy way. Ready to travel!

Check out our article on SADDLE FIT SIGN LANGUAGE to learn more about this

What tradition doesn’t allow for…

Once moving, a horse’s shoulders and back become a completely different set of shapes. The torso lifts, flattens, broadens and flexes as all four legs carry it over the ground. Shoulders bulge to extend and retract the legs while loading the front end one side at a time. Traditional saddles don’t allow for this as generously as ours do. All too often, traditional saddles are more narrow in the front than the horse’s body even before it moves. From front to back, the saddle tree is often shaped to fit the sloping downward curve of the horse’s standing posture. This creates “rock” underneath the panels and results in downward pressure on the horse’s back, causing a host of problems including higher head carriage, less efficient strides and the discomfort of restriction (at the very least).

Innovation leads to improvement…

Independent research indicates that employing our saddle system (including saddle tree sculpted at correct angles and crafted with SMARTFLX technology, plus an interface of the dynamic saddle pad and well-placed shims to ‘lift’ the saddle off the working shoulders) yields positive results far superior to normal saddle equipment. Horses are enabled to use their bodies efficiently and comfortably while riders enjoy more rhythmic, fluid, comfortable rides. This bodes extremely well for a horse’s health and happiness! Remarkably, our 2 NHS gullet sizes suit such a wide array of horses that nothing more is needed. Our system easily accommodates just about any horse in your barn and adjusts for the state of fitness, training, and general changes in condition! A money saver! YES PLEASE…

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Writtle University in the U.K. conducting research on our saddles. Everyone was BLOWN AWAY by the results…

Time will tell…

At Natural Horseman Saddles, we admit our innovative thinking has been met with skepticism by many a traditionalist. We accept and are ok with that. As horse owners, It’s hard to go against the ‘norm’. The mentor we admire, the friend we trust, the “majority rules” approach or the vocal naysayer. Horses by the thousands continue to tell us we’re on the right track and we confess proudly, their voices carry the most weight with us.

Our thousands of happy customers and their horses keep us motivated and hopeful. YES, we’d love it if every ridden horse out there could experience the comfort that 20+ years of research has developed. YES, we’d love to be the most influential saddle makers in the United States and beyond…and YES, we’d love to have a larger ready audience instinctively trusting the brand NHS. But… it takes time to make history. Innovators (where we like to sit) must be patient with the process of being met with some resistance… for a while anyway. Surely, it’s only a matter of time… Our results and research should see to that.

Join us and our community of like-minded riders/horse owners. Find out which of our saddles will fast become your favorite. Try our FREE SADDLE FIT EVALUATION and learn what your horse wishes you knew.