Giving Back: Adventures with the Horses of S.A.F.E. (Save a Forgotten Equine)

My love affair with the horse has instilled in me a profound desire to facilitate the harmony between equine and human, wherever I can.  Since so many troubles can begin, or are exacerbated by, ill-fitting saddlery, it calls to question just how many horses are given up as unrideable simply because they’re experiencing pain.  How many “trouble” horses wind up at auction because their bodies are hurting?  So when an organization like S.A.F.E. (Save a Forgotten Equine) takes horses that have experienced trauma, both physical and mental, and works to rehabilitate them so that they may find loving, forever homes, I jump at the chance to give back.  I emailed Allison, volunteer coordinator, and offered my services.

On Saturday, March 19th, I met with the ladies and horses of S.A.F.E.  I was impressed with the quality of care and the attention given to each horse; the patience and love that Jamie, Allison, Sara, and the rest of the S.A.F.E. crew provide.  Each horse is treated as an individual, and it is obvious to me that the ladies at S.A.F.E. have taken the time to get to know each one intimately.

Annie Oatley

Annie Oatley, a lovely Standardbred mare up for adoption.

I looked at four of their horses: Dexter, Annie Oatley, Zanadu, and Deeds.  All horses were unique in their conformation and demeanor, and all had stories to tell.  I looked at each horse, doing my “thing”: templates, back assessment, watching them move, etc.  I was pleased to find that there were some reasonably fitting saddles that just need a little T.L.C. (vis a vis reflocking).  None of the horses’ backs were sore, and all moved quite well and were happy with the minor temporary adjustments that we made.

I’m so thrilled that I was given the opportunity to lend my knowledge and expertise to these well-deserving horses, and I look forward to our upcoming benefit saddle fitting class/clinic to be held in the near future.  Keep your eyes open for dates!  It will be a great way to learn more about saddle fit and will help fund the extraordinary efforts of the ladies at S.A.F.E.!

Below are some photos to peruse.  We had a great time! 🙂

Copyright 2011, Anderson Equine Saddle Fitting Services, LLC

  1. #1 by Crystal on March 23, 2011 - 9:37 pm

    What do you think of treeless saddles?

    • #2 by Anderson Equine Saddle Fitting Services on March 23, 2011 - 11:35 pm

      One of the problems with treeless saddles has to do with the lack of a gullet, or “channel.” This causes the saddle to rest entirely on the spine and can impinge upon the spinous processes. The lack of adequate spinal clearance can also overheat the spine, and in some cases can cause edema. This is, to my knowledge, temporary. The only other disadvantage I would imagine would result from the saddle being too flexible. If there is no rigidity of the saddle structure, the stability of the rider is compromised, and that can interfere with the horse’s motion. And as I found out the hard way, lameness issues can result.

      There’s actually an interesting study conducted by the Society of Master Saddlers on the subject, located here: http://www.yourhorse.co.uk/Your-Horse-News/Search-Results/Gear-news/April-08/No-advantage-to-treeless-saddles
      The Society of Master Saddlers is the only organization in the world that has a system of regulation and governance with regard to its saddle makers and saddle fitters. They are overseen by the Worshipful Company of Saddlers, which has been around since the 1300’s. If anyone’s to be trusted when it comes to saddle fit, it’s these guys. 🙂

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