Riding horses in BALANCE Saddles.

There's nothing strange about a BALANCE saddle.

The first thing to say, is that BALANCE saddles are very traditional in their structure and design.   Nothing strange about them and many of you could have ridden in a BALANCE saddle and not even noticed.

BALANCE saddles can be ‘fitted’ conventionally by SMS trained saddle fitters who just wants a well-designed saddle for a well-developed Thoroughbred, or other wide breed of horse.   There are plenty of pre-owned BALANCE saddles in the world now, after 30 years of producing them, that they are not unusual to see.

The only feature the rider might be aware of when a BALANCE saddles is fitted conventionally, is that it could feel wider to sit astride than a conventional saddle in say a Medium or Medium Wide width, but then that would be the same with any make of saddle in a wider width.

What I want to address here, is the difference to the rider, when a BALANCE saddle is used as part of a Functional Saddling approach, like the BALANCE Saddling System.

Will riders notice anything different?

Functional Saddling specifically pays attention to the way the saddle has the potential to interfere with the bio-mechanics of good movement, posture and power.  The principles aim to mitigate (minimise) any negative influence to keep the saddle ‘out of the way’, while still providing the rider with enough comfort and support to be effective and balanced in their riding.

In order to keep the saddle ‘out of the way’ of the horse it has to have the combination of design features found in any/all of the BALANCE saddles, and more information about this can be found on this website.

In addition to horse friendly design, the most important feature, and the thing that makes the BALANCE approach so radically different and so effective, is the way that they are ‘fitted’ and used by the rider.

For a saddle to allow the horse to use his body as nature intended and stay healthy and comfortable, it must not fit (match) the shape of his body when he is standing at rest!

This is because the shape he is at rest is not the same shape he is during movement. Or, at least it shouldn’t be.  At rest, his frame drops into a relaxed state.

Horse at rest with back dropped into neutral posture.
Mechanics of movement (exaggerated to emphasise)

The diagrams above are courtesy of Anthony and Keren Morris of The Horse's Voice.

When he starts to move, the mechanics of natural movement include a rotation of the pelvis that pulls his spine back and up throughout its length.  This change results in measurable increase in the width of his back in the saddle area.  

This widening of the back under the saddle, is such a fundamental part of good movement that it must be respected and protected with great care.

In order for the saddle to allow for this, it must be wider than the horse’s back/body shape and never locked down into the soft tissues of the back.

The Layered and adjustable padding system that BALANCE created to allow a saddle to stay safe and comfortable whether the horse is standing or moving.

Many riders have only ever experienced the way horses move when they have had some of their natural movement dis-abled. 

They are used to the saddle being tight enough to disguise any crookedness in their own riding, because even if they are very unbalanced, the saddle will stay in place and the horse will learn to adapt.

Changing into a BALANCE saddle that is used correctly in a Functional Saddling method, requires that the rider takes responsibility for their own balance, co-ordination and skills.

The saddle will not cover poor riding ability/technique, instead, it will expose the truth of whether the rider is helping the horse to move well, or getting in the horses way.

For this reason, riders who are willing to commit to their horse by using the BALANCE Saddling System, are on a path of continued learning and improvement of their skills, which is a win-win situation if ever there was one!

Riders do not need to be experienced to ride well in a BALANCE saddle.   There are Riding Schools that work with beginner adults and Therapy Centres that work with dis-abled riders who are using BALANCE saddles to protect their horses and ponies.  So, they are not difficult to ride in.

The people who might need time to adjust are those who have only ever ridden in narrow saddles that have been made with little reference to the horse’s needs but a lot of reference to the rider’s preferences.   However, when they are willing to give themselves time to get used to a different feel, they find it hard to go back to narrow saddles.

For more information about Riding in BALANCE saddles, please go to the FAQ area of the site where you will find information about the following topics and many more.

  • Paying attention to the correct Stirrup Length in a BALANCE saddle.
  • Allowing time for the horse and rider to re-learn good movement.
  • How can I improve my balance and co-ordination when riding?

Client testimonials

  • I received my bit and I am thrilled with it!! It is for my mare, who has competed through Prix St. George but has been very hard to find a bit for. She has sharp bars, and despite every effort on my part, she has often had small bruises on the edges of her tongue.  I ride many horses and she is the only one this has happened to. I have been at a loss for what to change and how to make her comfortable. I was looking for a fairly thick bit that would be very stable in the mouth. The (BALANCE) Fulmer fits the bill and is working beautifully. It is really well designed and nicely made.

    Katie - United States

  • "The BALANCE lunge cavesson has worked wonders for my stressed, rushy, motorbike horse. Lunging used to closely resemble the wall of death!  It has changed her attitude towards her work and has relaxed,  strengthened and straightened her no end."

    Sarah - United Kingdom

  • "BALANCE, the time you continue to take for me, I am so touched. Thank you. The care and love you have for me, our horses, and horses around the world is astounding.  It takes time to  write thoughtful, caring, informative communications.  And, it is always just the right thing."

    Amy N. - United States

  • I can’t tell you how much I love my Zenith!!!  I went through 10 saddles in 6 years for my horse before I got my Zenith. Two were “custom” made for him. What a joke. I am on my 5th year with my Zenith and it is still perfect!!!  I cringe now when I see these very deep Dressage saddles with the huge thigh blocks. People ask me how I can ride in my Zenith with no thigh blocks and no deep seat. I say well now my horse is balanced and I don’t have to depend on the saddle to hold me. ☺️

    Melinda - United States

  • What can I say?  I love it!  The saddle and all of the accessories are great quality and look good but most importantly my horse is so comfortable that her stride has almost doubled, she glides round corners and works on the bridle with ease.  What a difference!

    Donna - Scotland