I am fully converted and will never use any other saddle
I must admit that I came to BALANCE almost by accident, and as a sceptic! One of my best friends just happens to be a BALANCE Test Ride Facilitator and also my trainer. After seeing the difference they make to my horses I am fully converted and will never use any other saddle.
I have a very sensitive IDxTB mare called Mary who is a complete worrier, she tries really hard and wants to please too much at times. Although we were out competing and having fun she was just not making the progress we would have expected, we were training the BALANCE way as well as using some elements of horsemanship (taught by Sara Ussher which really helped) but it was not happening.
Having ridden in my friends BALANCE saddle it was immediately obvious where the problem was as Mary was able to take her neck down without dragging me with her, she was much less 'stressed' too!
When BALANCE needed a horse to demonstrate the difference a saddle can make at clinic in our area I agreed to take Mary. The difference in her movement and attitude was amazing; from then on we have never looked back. The saddle, a Felix GPJ 8x, was bought and she has come on so much. Her movement has changed as has her confirmation, she no longer looks like a typical long backed mare her hind legs are well under her body and her top line would put show horses to shame! She used to be on a full dose of NAF Magic calmer, now she is so much calmer she barely needs it at all!
I also use the Felix on my 26yr old horse who loves it, we recently took him to a ODE, his first outing in 8 years, and amazingly he came 6th (the dressage judge commented on what a promising horse he was!) with a double clear. People often say that it is not worth having saddles fitted for older horses, or that they can not learn new things. Winston has improved his movement significantly with the BALANCE saddle and at 26 is still jumping and running rings around us all. He is a very difficult shape to fit a saddle to as he had almost no withers and very broad shoulders, we had found it very hard to get saddles to stay put on him, they would just slip back and pinch him badly. The Felix however is fabulous and never moves.
It was not all plain sailing though, the difference in the saddle from a rider point of view is quite marked, I was very used to having large knee blocks, I had not realised how much I relied on them for my own balance and as such adjusting to jumping was interesting! I would also advise that anyone using a BALANCE saddle have a hunting or 5 point breast plate on and a professional choice girth as I did have a major hiccup with the saddle spinning under Mary. Although I now know I was too impatient and started jumping far too soon.
I would thoroughly recommend a BALANCE saddle for any horse, no matter what level you are at, they have increased my understanding of the biomechanics of horses and as such I believe I am a more caring considerate rider and that my horse is happier and healthier. They are also really comfortable – we recently had a horse for sale and everyone who rode her commented on what a gorgeous saddle she had- really good for a day’s hunting!
The support offered by the team behind BALANCE is fantastic as is the amount of knowledge they all have.
Being able to move in a powerful, balanced and engaged way, without restriction or discomfort, is every horse’s birth-right and essential in order for him to be able to carry the unnatural weight of a rider, without doing harm to himself.