Why Template? What can it tell you as the owner?
Saddle fitting the whole horse is not just words its absolutely vital! It really is what makes the difference in understanding the success of the saddle performing for the horse and rider.
As part of this whole picture, templating the horse is a sure way of telling us what is going on for this horse. Every time I see the horse I template it. Any of the horses that I work with, from just backed babies to Grand Prix horses tell me a story through the consistent analysis of their back.
As a saddler I am privileged to be able to template and therefore see a true insight into how that horse is developing. I template mostly two areas consistently the shoulders and the back just behind the scapula. So what does the template tell me and why is it so vital to study them?
* If it's a new horse I've not seen before, firstly the template can tell me if the horse is working over its back correctly. Big holes behind the scapula or muscle wastage through out the whole back tells me about blood flow to the area.
* When I template the horse I am looking at 14 areas within the saddle support area noting how this may affect the saddle fit. These include areas such as wither shape, shoulder shape and position, muscular build, asymmetry, any pain or tightness, back length and shape. I also then study the whole conformation.
* If this horse is a regular client all of my templates are filed until the next visit - the template can tell me if something has changed for this horse over that time and how drastically. Most horses when I first start working with them show an uneven muscle development in the saddle area - mostly due to an ill fitting saddle or a saddle that does not allow the horse or rider to work correctly. Through a change in saddle I nearly always see an improved template within 4 weeks, that's if the rest of the horses needs are also being correctly met.
* Through my evaluation of the whole horse - and templating being key, I can identify a change in how the horse is moving. I can advise on the changes, and its strengths and weaknesses with regards to supporting training needs.
* I use my template to think about how this horse will likely be moving under saddle before assessing
* After the evaluation and templating the horse static, I will then assess the horse in motion. All of the details of gait abnormalities and weaknesses being logged along with the template so this whole picture can be assessed on every visit. I can also use my gait analysis camera system if needed to assess what the eye can't capture.
* During the Dynamic Assessment as well as assessing the horses movement I am assessing how that rider is influencing the balance and ability of the horse. My template can also highlight the affects of a crooked rider. It can also identify likely saddle slip.
* If during my dynamic assessment I am aware of crookedness in the horse or rider I will again go back to my template to see how it relates.
* As a saddle fitter working to fit the whole horse and rider I then build a plan with the rider, owner, trainer, vet, equine body worker, human physio to correct the problems. My template is a reference point through-out all of the changes we are making to ensure we are on the right track. Assessing correct muscle development as well as assessing improved performance - logging all the information as we go.
Each horse becomes a whole picture project and the template tells the story of their life from start to finish - thats throughout all of the horses changes in their lives from baby steps to piaffe, passage and canter pirouettes, yard moves, nutritional changes to coach and rider changes . I love that - I think its pretty cool!! .
Thanks for reading please get in-touch with any questions you may have