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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 4:42 pm 
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I am looking for a new saddle and I have no idea wich one I should buy. This is what I want the saddle to be

It needs to be a tree saddle because I want to make long rides with it and treeless saddles aren't good for that.
I am looking for a saddle that is very good for endurance. So also a light saddle.
I don't want it to be to expensive.
I would like to hear if someone here has any experience with saddles, because each brands says their saddle is the best so it is hard to make up my mind.

Maybe a saddle that can be adapted because I will have 2 different horses to ride.

How can I make sure the saddle fits good?

Thank you.

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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 6:50 pm 
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Hey Tanya:

I'm sure people will have suggestions, but this jumped out at me:

Quote:
It needs to be a tree saddle because I want to make long rides with it and treeless saddles aren't good for that.


I've used a treeless saddle for over five years and have done any number of multiple hour trail rides with it, and everyone was happy and comfortable at the ends of our rides. I've used it on several different horses riding trails. I use a gulleted treeless -- an Ansur -- that I love but definitely was expensive. (But I can use it on any horse, so it seemed less outrageous than a treed saddle of the same price because I don't need a separate one for each horse.)

I also know a number of endurance riders (competitors) who ride in treeless saddles, which is a far more convincing response about them working for long rides, as vets are checking the horse's condition at regular points along the trail.

Here's an article by an endurance rider/saddle person who's ridden 39,000 miles treeless:
http://www.treelesssaddle.com/about.html

So I wouldn't limit myself to a treed saddle based on long periods in the saddle...

Here's one site with some comparisons between treeless saddles:
http://www.equinecompare.co.uk/docs/Buy ... lessSaddle

Hope this is helpful, and not just confusing by opening up more possibilities for you... ;)

Best,
Leigh

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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 6:59 pm 
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Hi Leigh

Well here they said that treeless saddles aren't good for long distance riding. Because with a three you divide the pressure over the entire tree. But with treeless saddles all the pressure comes to one point, the point where the stirrups are attached. So I was told that this is definetely not good for the back of your horse.
They also said that treeless is good for a small distance.
Even people who promote treeless saddles over here say they are not suitable for long trails.

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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 10:41 pm 
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Hey Tanya:

That's so interesting, because in the US, treeless saddles are being used at the highest levels of endurance competitions:

2007 Winner of Tevis Cup uses a Freeform treeless saddle:
http://freeformusa.blogspot.com/2007/07 ... h-haf.html

2004 Winner of Tevis Cup -- same guy, same saddle
http://freeformusa.blogspot.com/2006/04 ... inner.html

(If you're not familiar with the Tevis Cup, it's amazing. 100 mile endurance ride in 24 hours through incredibly tough territory -- I think these people are NUTS!!! ;) Here's a Wikipedia article about it -- check out the photo! :ieks: :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tevis_Cup)

From Barefoot Saddles website:

Quote:
I ride endurance / go on long trail rides / spend long hours mustering - is there anything I need to know? A must read for the endurance rider

The Barefoot Cheyenne, Barefoot Cherokee and the Freeform saddles are widely used for long hours in the saddle over tough terrain. Both brands of saddles have proven themselves amongst competitive endurance riders here and overseas. Both brands of saddles have been used by riders in the Tom Quilty Cup, the Shazadah, the NSW, Vic, W.A., Tassie and Qld State Championships and many other rides. The Freeform was used by the 2007 heavyweight winner of the US Tevis Cup. Yes here in Australia we had winners of rides and numerous 'best conditioned horse' too.

For endurance and CTR riders we recommend to invest in our Physio pad for high withered horses or the Equipedic pad for broader horses with low to medium size withers. Yes you can also use the standard Grandeur pad but you will need minimum 18mm of the superior inserts. The foam inserts of the Grandeur pads will need to be checked for compression regularly and replacements need to be ordered if the foam is visibly squashed anywhere, see 'saddle pads' page. Some riders also use an additional sheepskin between the Grandeur pad and the saddle. Most competitive riders own more than one therapeutic saddle pad and alternate those between legs on the rides. Many endurance riders use D Lua Park woolpad or a sheepskin under our therapeutic pads with great results. Besides needing additional layers of padding or a superior saddle pad, the endurance rider using a Barefoot saddle needs to give the horse intervals with very little or no weight in the stirrups for at least 10 minutes of every hour. This can be done in a walk or canter with your buttocks in the saddle or while you lead your horse. The weightshift of the rider allows circulation to return to areas on the horse's back under potential stress from two pointing. These changes of rider position are beneficial to your horse no matter what saddle you are using, think of shifting a backpack while hiking, yep that feels good. Endurance riders who stick to these few rules have a wonderful and trouble free time and usually go with straight A's for back condition through the vetchecks, yes also on 160km rides.

If you are a novice to horse riding please make sure you ride with enough padding and that you work on your balance. An unbalanced riding position due to untrained rider muscles or if you ride with more weight in one stirrup than the other can make horses very sore no matter what saddle you use. It is the opinion of the author that riders need to be extremely 'riding fit' and have a very good and balanced seat before they attempt any endurance rides. It is just not fair on the horses to ask top athletic performance if you can not assist the horse to achieve and maintain it. Schooling of the endurance horse to get off the forehand and to relax the back muscles while under saddle is essential to keeping your horse sound - no matter what saddle you use. You can tell who is riding their horse properly by the end of the endurance season, the horses who loose all topline instead of building it while doing massive amounts of work are not ridden in a competent way. Those riders would be well advised to get some help regarding proper training of horses under saddle and on the ground. No saddle will be able to prevent damage to the horses back if an endurance horse is not ridden properly, you create less damage with a treeless saddle but we still strongly encourage you to work on your own riding and training skills.

The Freeform saddle has superior shockabsorbtion and weight distribution, breaks from two pointing are still recommended. The Freeform is suitable for light, middle and heavy weight riders. Generally we recommend the Cheyenne and Cherokee saddle for light weight and middleweight endurance riders only, the Freeform is recommended for endurance riders up to 90kg.



Everything is carried on my back!
(By horse physiology specialist S. Ullmann)

Good riding technique as well as sound training of the horse is extremely important for the horse’s back. Here, the actual type of riding involved is irrelevant while the anatomical and physiological requirements of the horse are much more significant. In this context, the importance of using the correct equipment, especially choosing the right kind of saddle, cannot be emphasized enough.

The thoracic section of the horse’s vertebral column is not created naturally for carrying the weight of the rider. The aim of schooling must therefore be to build up the horse’s muscles so that it is able to carry our weight without suffering injury.

A horse only becomes a true riding horse when it has learnt to lift its back under saddle. If this motion sequence is hindered by a saddle that sits wrongly and is rigid or by the rider sitting too far back in the saddle (beyond T14), the horse cannot move its back properly. A rider leaning forward will discourage engagement of the hindquarters while rider's leaning behind the vertical, riding in a 'chair seat' create a 'dead weight' on their horses backs. The BAREFOOT saddles encourage the rider to sit straight which makes it easier for the horse to engage the abdominal muscles and to bring the hindquarters under. This is the best possible scenario to build and maintain the muscles needed to carry the riders weight without compromising soundness.

The BAREFOOT and Freeform saddles positions the rider over the horse’s center of gravity, thoracic vertebrae 9-13. This creates the optimum horse welfare conditions for riding. However, the BAREFOOT and FREEFORM saddles cannot replace correct riding technique and schooling!


There is also some very interesting data from Heather Moffat-- she researched pressure points from stirrups Here's a piece she wrote (I've bolded her statement about stirrup pressure):

Quote:
With reference to the article in ETN News, June issue, regarding treeless saddles, as a manufacturer of one of the leading brands, I would like to comment. Firstly, I am not at all against well fitting/made treed saddles, having been a designer of them for many years before turning to treeless. I hired the Pliance system for a month when testing my own saddles for pressure, but also took the opportunity to test most of the other treeless brands on the market, along with a number of treed saddles, most of which had been fitted by qualified fitters.

As a classical dressage trainer and remedial riding trainer first and foremost, I was especially interested in how the way in which the rider sat, and interacted with the movement of the horse, also affected the pressure and therefore, the efficacy of the saddle. I experimented with a number of different riders and horses, at varying levels of riding, and my findings were as I suspected. I could easily see how the rider was sitting, and especially the way in which they absorbed the movement of the horse, by the moving pressure patterns on the computer screen, without even having to look at the caption.

I have always taught the rider to sit deeply, but lightly, synchronising their own movement with that of the horse, producing a quiet, elegant classical seat, ideally placed to give effective but invisible aids.

The pressure patterns in both well fitting treed and treeless saddles were similar, when the rider absorbed the movement in this way, with the rider being very light ( light pressure showing up as dark blue through to slight pressure, light blue) in the saddle and an even pressure pattern. When the rider started to ‘drive’ with the seat, so often seen in the dressage arena, and the cause of the flailing lower legs and nodding heads to be seen as well!- the pressure patterns altered radically, with ripples of red, showing considerable pressure, moving from the back of the saddle to the front in both sitting trot and canter. In rising trot, when the rider came behind the movement- far more obvious in treed saddles as the stirrup bars were further forward than on the treeless saddles- the pressure on the cantle region was immense, and stopped the horse moving forwards. This was also evident when the rider tried to remain too upright in rising trot, and had to thrust the pelvis back and forth to catch up with the movement.

Treed saddles with the stirrup bars recessed to avoid them sticking into the legs of the rider, showed far more pressure under the bars, than any of the treeless makes we tested, all of which came out very favourably in the tests we carried out, when used with the recommended pads and accessories. The photo, below, shows a pony who had been ridden in a brand new, well known make of treed saddle, fitted by a qualified person, for nine months. The recessed bars had caused this lump and white mark. The owner bought one of my saddles and the second photo shows the same pony after one year in the Fhoenix.


Infuriatingly, the moving pressure patterns of the Pliance system, were unable to be stored once the months software licence ran out, with only the static patterns being left. The equipment broke down at the end of the second week of testing and had to be sent back to Germany for repair, so did not help our programme either. However, I would love to be able to afford to buy the equipment, as I think that it is invaluable to be able to prove to a rider how their bad riding affects the performance of both saddle and horse!


I researched the history of treeless saddles a couple of years ago, and found enough examples worldwide, to fill a book. They have been around since the Scythian Army, 2400 BC. I rode on a Barnsby treeless saddle as a child and had always thought that the idea of having a completely flexible saddle made a lot of sense. My own Fhoenix saddles are far more structured than other ‘treeless’ makes, in that the tree is replaced by layers of shock and pressure absorbing materials, forming a ‘SoftTree’
as we term it, and with a gullet and panels, giving the feeling of a normal twist, and a similar support and stability for the rider, yet complete flexibility and comfort for the horse.

The bottom line has to be that the modern generation of treeless saddles has been around now for ten years, and their popularity is increasing.Ten years is enough time for problems to have shown up, and there are remarkably few reports of treeless saddles causing damage, far from it.

I agree that some treeless manufacturers have been very damning of treed saddles, just as plenty of treed manufacturers have been pretty damning of treeless saddles - ‘pot calling the kettle black’, methinks!!

Some horses do not like the feel of a treeless saddle, and there are many others who clearly do go better without a rigid structure on their back. So there is room for both, and the sooner all parties work together, instead of trying to prove that ‘this is better’, or ‘that is better’, the sooner the horse will benefit!

Sincerely,

Heather Moffett


Best,
Leigh

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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 9:35 pm 
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Tanya, I hope I didn't shut down the conversation here!

I just find the differences in opinions about horse stuff endlessly fascinating. :)

I can say that in my knowledge and direct experience, treeless saddles are just dandy for the kind of riding you want to do, particularly those that have some sort of gullet, if you're worried about pressure on the spine. Most treeless saddles have some sort of design system to expand the pressure from the stirrups across the full saddle. I don't know why the folks in your area don't think this, as there is growing research/documentation that this is accurate. But, everyone has their own opinions...

All that said, if you and Ma Journee prefer a treed saddle, that's totally cool! :yes:

Again, in my experience, if you buy a good saddle that fits well (especially important with a rigid saddle, and the place that keeps me coming back to treeless because I personally think it's really hard to fit a rigid saddle to a horse that will be moving, but that's my opinion! ;) ), I think ultimately the best choice is the saddle that you and your horse are most comfortable in, whatever that saddle looks like.

The bummer is that saddles are often in the "you get what you pay for" category -- maybe folks here have some great ideas about cheap, wonderful saddles, but every cheap saddle I've ever bought has fairly quickly ended up back for sale again -- I've not had good luck with them. :huh: I've gotten to the place where I've decided it's something that I won't try and save money on -- I look for other places to do that!

Good luck in your search, though! Anybody have any brilliant ideas for a cheap, great saddle for Tanya?

:)

Leigh

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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 1:29 am 
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Hi all
Have a look at http://www.mackinderendurance.com/. I wish I had bought this saddle instead of the Ansur Excel I bought (at great expense) that I'm not really happy with.
He is a very competitive Australian Endurance rider who designed and makes these saddles. He says they aren't treeless but has a "flex foam tree" which provides the benefits of a treed saddle without the tree.
Has anyone used the new Barefoot London - the dressage style?

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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 5:20 am 
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Andi, those look really cool! The "flex foam tree" looks similar in concept to Heather Moffett's Fhoenix.

I'm so sorry that you've not been happy with your Ansur. What a bummer! :sad:

Man, I wish I had the money to take yours off your hands...I'd love to have another Ansur and I'm intrigued with the Excel...(I have a Classic).

Best,
Leigh

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PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2009 9:32 pm 
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I've ridden on a Barefoot London saddle, but that was really dressage so no long distance...

But well, what I can say about it... It fits (almost) every horse and I could really feel the difference in how freely the horse could use his shoulders. It was for a small riding school, they wanted to go treeless for many reasons, but one reason against it was that they felt that the children needed somewhat more support in their first year of riding. With the London I really felt the support (which I always feel as a bit of limitation... but I learned riding bareback so I have that with every saddle).

You could still feel very much of the movement and react on that, while sitting with somewhat more support (which I suppose some of the children will like, the other more adventurous style children will like less maybe). My only concern was that the saddle (though in size zero for the children) was still a bit long for the small ponies. So no perfect placing of the saddle.

And this was the first dressage saddle that didn't hurt my ankles or back (which usually happens). In the end I went for a barefoot Cheyenne... but the riding school has some Barefoot London and they are very font of them, so are the children.

I'm still doubting about the pressure of the stirrups on the back though. I've always learned that in trot you should go "doorzitten" (that you try to sit still in the saddle) and not 'lichrijden' (that you stand up and sit down every stride) (I'm so sorry I reallt don't know the words in English, we should get a good dictionary with all the equine terms :blush: :blush: ) because of the weight you put on one point of the horse's back. Anyone anything to say about that?

Hope any of this helps?

Oh, it doesn't fit every horse, I don't know why but last week I tried it on a new horse and it just didn't fit well... the backside went up and down while riding...

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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 12:46 am 
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Thanks for replying KDS (I'm sorry I don't know your name). I too share your concerns about the pressure of the stirrup connections on the horse's back. That was one thing I DON'T like about most treeless saddles, particularly the Cheyanne treeless which I test rode.

If you look at the MacKinder saddle and how the pressure of the stirrup bars is spread across the whole saddle (http://www.mackinderendurance.com/products.htm and scroll down most of the page), you can understand how this makes a difference. At least with a treed saddle the bars connect to the tree which spreads the pressure along the length of the saddle.
Also, I am interested that the London can tip the back up. I assume this is from the same thing.

I guess the Ansur Excel is the same. The other thing I don't like about the Ansur, is the lack of width in the underneath channel from front to back. I have had to buy a very expensive padding system to go under it which sort of defeats the purpose.

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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 9:03 am 
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Hi, my name is Kirsten :) no problem.

Hmm that Mackinder saddle looks so much better when it comes to the spreading of the pressure on the stirrups, looks much more like what I wanted to have.

Well, the horse where the back of the London lifted up was somewhat 'round' around the stomach... And quite a broad front shoulder with a small waist (Don't ask me how she got like that... that's how they got her :P) So that was something with the form of the horse combining with the saddle... I've never had it before I must say.

What I like about treeless saddles is that they actually usually fit a lot of horses and it gives them so much more freedom whilest I can feel their movements really well. But I'm really concerned about the spread of weight...

If I understand the Mackinder right it uses a flexible tree, so it can still move with your horse (like a treeless saddle) but divides the weight over a larger (even larger then a tree saddle) area to prevent from discomfort. The one thing I'm thinking about (well there are two things); is the shoulder movement as free as a treeless saddle and can you still feel your horse move in the same way as a treeless saddle?

Josepha was designing a saddle right? I'm really curious about that design! (Oh my, I don't even really own a horse, I only take care of one but I know more about saddles, bridles and natural hoof care then the common owner of a horse at our stable...)

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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 10:02 am 
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Hi Tanya,

I can recommend you the ROC-saddle.
Unfortunally I haven't one for myself (to expensive..), but everyone I speak about it is very happy with the saddle.

It is comparable with a Podium saddle, but has flexible panels.
Here you can find more information:
http://www.r-o-c.de

I found a dealer in Belgium: http://www.thbb.be/Pages/Zadels.htm

Saddles that are also recommended for endurance:
http://www.greendistance.nl/index.php?id=31

Gaston Mercier:
http://www.selles-gastonmercier.com/


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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 6:21 pm 
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Leigh wrote:
Tanya, I hope I didn't shut down the conversation here!

I just find the differences in opinions about horse stuff endlessly fascinating. :)

I can say that in my knowledge and direct experience, treeless saddles are just dandy for the kind of riding you want to do, particularly those that have some sort of gullet, if you're worried about pressure on the spine. Most treeless saddles have some sort of design system to expand the pressure from the stirrups across the full saddle. I don't know why the folks in your area don't think this, as there is growing research/documentation that this is accurate. But, everyone has their own opinions...


Good luck in your search, though! Anybody have any brilliant ideas for a cheap, great saddle for Tanya?

:)

Leigh



I am sorry Leigh, I didn't mean to keep you waiting so long!
I have done some research about the freeform saddle because I love how they look. And yes, I have found great reviews. Mostly with pleasure riders. Somehow the bigger people don't want to hear about it.
Again I have found that you people over the water are more advanced in this. We are slower here.
I think it also is the fear for the unknown here. Good things are putted aside and when somehting bad comes out it is highlighted.
I love the thinking afther the treeless saddle, a saddle that adapts to the horse his back. Sounds great for later for Journey, 2 different saddle to fit each horse is not what I (and my wallet) have in mind.

I have found a dealer in the Netherlands for Freeform. They have the possibility to try out a saddle. So I think that will be the best way to make a decision.

Thank you Leigh for not making me look black/white.

Regards

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 6:24 pm 
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KDS wrote:
I've ridden on a Barefoot London saddle, but that was really dressage so no long distance...

But well, what I can say about it... It fits (almost) every horse and I could really feel the difference in how freely the horse could use his shoulders. It was for a small riding school, they wanted to go treeless for many reasons, but one reason against it was that they felt that the children needed somewhat more support in their first year of riding. With the London I really felt the support (which I always feel as a bit of limitation... but I learned riding bareback so I have that with every saddle).

You could still feel very much of the movement and react on that, while sitting with somewhat more support (which I suppose some of the children will like, the other more adventurous style children will like less maybe). My only concern was that the saddle (though in size zero for the children) was still a bit long for the small ponies. So no perfect placing of the saddle.

And this was the first dressage saddle that didn't hurt my ankles or back (which usually happens). In the end I went for a barefoot Cheyenne... but the riding school has some Barefoot London and they are very font of them, so are the children.

I'm still doubting about the pressure of the stirrups on the back though. I've always learned that in trot you should go "doorzitten" (that you try to sit still in the saddle) and not 'lichrijden' (that you stand up and sit down every stride) (I'm so sorry I reallt don't know the words in English, we should get a good dictionary with all the equine terms :blush: :blush: ) because of the weight you put on one point of the horse's back. Anyone anything to say about that?

Hope any of this helps?

Oh, it doesn't fit every horse, I don't know why but last week I tried it on a new horse and it just didn't fit well... the backside went up and down while riding...


That is exactly what the people say over here.
That the treeless saddle is good for freedom for your horse. But they question the weight spreading...

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 6:26 pm 
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spiritofteamwork wrote:
Hi Tanya,

I can recommend you the ROC-saddle.
Unfortunally I haven't one for myself (to expensive..), but everyone I speak about it is very happy with the saddle.

It is comparable with a Podium saddle, but has flexible panels.
Here you can find more information:
http://www.r-o-c.de

I found a dealer in Belgium: http://www.thbb.be/Pages/Zadels.htm

Saddles that are also recommended for endurance:
http://www.greendistance.nl/index.php?id=31

Gaston Mercier:
http://www.selles-gastonmercier.com/


Thank you for the information.
I have found the saddles of Gaston Mercier already but found them to expensive. I want to invest in a good saddle but this is just a little to much.

I will inform also about the ROC saddles. Thank you.!

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 8:15 pm 
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Hope you find a saddle you like, Tanya!


Hey -- KDS -- I just circled back around and saw this that you wrote:
Quote:
I'm still doubting about the pressure of the stirrups on the back though. I've always learned that in trot you should go "doorzitten" (that you try to sit still in the saddle) and not 'lichrijden' (that you stand up and sit down every stride) (I'm so sorry I reallt don't know the words in English, we should get a good dictionary with all the equine terms ) because of the weight you put on one point of the horse's back. Anyone anything to say about that?


(I think "doorzitten" would translate to "sitting trot" and "lichrijden" would translate to "posting" -- but NO need for embarrassed faces!!! ;) )

Anyway, what you said caught my eye because of an article I just read in thehorse.com about rider stability and pressure load on horses' backs and they found unilaterally that posting trot or two point put the least stress on the back, and a sitting trot was the hardest on their backs.

(Makes me wonder about all of the sitting trot time in dressage, trying to get our horses' backs to round up underneath us! Hmmmmmmmmm...... :huh: )

I mentioned it in another thread, here's a link to the thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=1765&start=15

And here's a direct link to the article:
http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=14212

(You have to register as a user if you want to read the article, but I think it's well worth it -- it's free and they have some great articles on horse health.)

Best,
Leigh

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