Friday, February 10, 2012

Saddle Fitting Course

Ok, folks, it's official:  I'm going to be teaching an introductory saddle fitting course starting this spring (aiming for sometime in May).

The Horse Gods and Goddesses have been tossing this up to me for quite a while now.  Seems like everywhere I go, both on the Internet and in the "real" world, I'm running into people who want to be educated about saddle fitting.  That's one of the reasons I started doing this blog, and one of the reasons I have videos in the works, but I'm hearing that people want a real, hands-on course.  Since there is a definite lack of such courses - especially here in the States, and especially courses that are open to the general public - I'm thinking my path is pretty clear.  I've discussed the idea with Mike Scott, who runs one of the only US fitting courses, and he's kindly offered input and support.  Edie is offering to let me run the course at the Pullman Family Farm in Shaftsbury, VT (formerly Trumbull Mtn. Stable).  So-o-o-o-o-o ... here goes!

This course will be modeled after the Society of Master Saddlers' Intro course; it will be comprehensive enough to give Jo(sephine) Q. Horsepublic a good handle on the basics of saddle fit and also provide a solid foundation for those who want to continue studying (with Mike, for example) and become a professional fitter. We'll cover the basics of fitting:  English saddle types and sub-types and fitting challenges particular to each, fitting options, a bit about saddle construction and foam vs. wool panels.  It will discuss equine anatomy, conformation types and fitting options for each; we'll cover taking a tracing, using the tracing as a guide to choosing a saddle, and assessing the "Heavy Seven" of saddle fitting.   We'll also cover fit for the rider and how saddle fit can affect rider position and comfort, and we'll cap things with a chance to fit some real live horses.   The course will run 2 days (weekends, most likely) and will include lunch and snacks and probably a rather large amount of take-home material.

Now, just to be perfectly clear, let me tell you what this course will NOT do:

  • It  will NOT cover flocking or saddle repair.
  • It will NOT make you qualified to fit saddles professionally.
  • It will NOT "certify" you as a fitter.
And believe me, my students will be signing an agreement stating that this is VERY clearly understood.  My plan is to offer a good foundation and basic understanding, NOT to loose minimally trained fitters on the unsuspecting horse world.  I will NOT offer professional references to people who've taken this course unless they've gone on to complete a comprehensive fitting course.  I do not want to find out that anyone has hung out a shingle based solely on what they get from this course.


That's the plan so far.  I'll post the whole course outline when it's done.  Costs TBA, but it will probably be in the $450-$500 range (and for those who have to travel to VT, there are reasonable accommodations and meals available within a 10 minute drive of the class location).  Class size will be 5 people max.

If you're interested, please e-mail me at and I'll put you on the list.  I'm hoping to offer the course more than once a year, but that will depend on demand.  And if there's anything you'd like to learn about that I haven't mentioned, please let me know!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Very Bitey." Channeling the Inner Raptor

The latest wall decoration in my office.  Because we all have those days ...

Coming soon:  Did someone say, "saddle fitting course"?!?!