Saddle Fitting Certification

Has anyone done one of the saddlefitting certification from Saddlefit4life or Schleese or another one? I’m interested in learning more - even if it’s just to be able to flock my own saddles. Thx! :slight_smile:

I have seen the results of these programs, ie the brand reps let loose on ammies with more money than sense. I would not go to Schleese to learn saddle fitting. They also have some peculiar ideas that run contrary to real saddle fitting training.

There are two aspects to saddle fitting.

One is being able to evaluate saddle fit for horse and rider, choose or reject saddles, understand shimming, and understand the work of a master saddle fitter. This level of knowledge is accessible to any intelligent ammie or trainer with horse and riding experience.

The second aspect of saddle fit is being able to work with leather and create a professional result. In order to reflock a saddle you have to be able to remove the entire panel, replace the wool, and sew it all up again. Other tasks might be replacing or moving billets, or repairs.

It would be fantastic to have the basic crafty talent and patience to do that work, but it’s a real skill that is going to take time to perfect. I know I don’t have the patience to darn a sock nicely.

As far as tweaking saddle fit by stuffing wool in the panel gap with a long hook, I’ve seen newbies try that on their own and make rather a mess of it. I understand how it’s done but I fear making lumps.

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Thx so much for the info.

If you are in the US, Hastilow runs an SMS course. Pre-Covid, it was 4 in-person days I believe. I’m not sure when the next one would be.

Flocking is probably one of the more challenging aspects of adjusting; I wouldn’t expect to learn it in a few hours and be set to go forever.

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Check these out;
https://www.mastersaddlers.co.uk/courses?category=Fitting%20Courses

Are there any independent bodies that certify saddle fitters? Or are they all driven by completion of their proprietary courses?

See above. There is also a course in North Carolina with options designed for ammies as well as pros that gets good reviews on COTH. The name escapes me. Someone will probably trot up here soon and name him :slight_smile:

Ah, thanks. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between an organization with genuine authority and expertise and one that’s strategically named to seem that way but is in fact a bit of a self-serving racket.

There is very few good places to learn saddle fitting. If it is just to do your own horses, it is probably not worth it. I will admit, it took me a few years to get really good at flocking. It looks really easy, but it is not and it is something you need to practice a lot to get it right. Plus you need to know where to add or more often take wool out to make the saddle fit well which is another skill set. With flocking my general rule is less is more. Even now I sometimes muck it up and have to fix my mistakes and I have been a professional saddle fitter for 8 plus years.

Most saddle fitting training schools are brand training in disguised and basically how to sell their saddles. Master Saddlers association , Saddle fit for Life ect. You do have a few for profit schools like Mike Scott’s.

The SMS is good, but it is expensive and any good school is going to take a lot of time. It took me 4 years and and estimated 80K in educational expenses and travel to get my qualification. However I do have a college degree out of it.

The SMS is still the only independent certified courses in the world and not profit driven.

You can read about my journey with the SMS here: http://www.thesaddlefits.com/QSF_Blog_final_1.pdf

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The option you are thinking about in NC may actually be Mike Scott, The Saddle Guy, in Camden, SC. He’s a good fitter and is certified by the Master Saddler Association. He still teaches classes.
[Www.saddle guy.com](http://Www.saddle guy.com)

I think Mike might be retiring.

I think that is true…Mike is slowing down. He still has workshops on his website for the time being.

Mike is still teaching, though I believe his classes starting this year are all full. Better get on the waiting list for next year soon if you are serious!