Why are Barefoot saddles horse-friendly?
How you sit on your horse is not only determined by the shape of your horse's back, but also by how the saddle fits and last not but least, the rider’s seat. It is common knowledge that only a relaxed horse can become supple and step under. Relaxation is an important step training a horse, if not THE most important step!
Relaxation is the first step - and every experienced trainer will agree – towards suppleness.
Relaxation, however, requires two factors:
1. Mental relaxation
2. Physical relaxation
A tense horse which cannot relax under its saddle is never supple. Without this, the next stages in training – bending inward, contact, stepping under, collection - will be impossible to reach.
Horses often snort in satisfaction when they are ridden with a Barefoot saddle for the first time - a sure sign of relaxation and well-being, encouraging and increasing receptiveness for riding aids in the absence of negative influence from tension or pressure.
Horses notice the change immediately, and, as the shoulder relaxes, the head will automatically move downwards. In the absence of any pressure from the saddle, the back will arch upwards, allowing unrestricted movement. The horse begins to step under its hindquarters because its back can move naturally without being restricted by the saddle.
When being ridden, a horse's back is constantly in motion and its form permanently changes according to the degree of collection, and how much it bends or steps under.
Due to its anatomy, a horse’s back will automatically sag more and show a more pronounced depression as soon as it starts walking with its head raised. The horse pushes its back away. The vertebral bodies are then too close together, limiting blood circulation and preventing suppleness and bending.
If, instead, a horse’s motion is forward downwards with its head low, this curve changes; its back is bent upwards and the spine stretches upwards in an arch. As it happens for biomechanical reasons, this process can be observed in every single horse or pony; it is caused by the long neck band/back band, which connects the occipital bone to the lumbar vertebrae, acting in combination with the back and abdominal muscles. The resulting "height difference" of the horse's back is clearly visible and, depending on the horse, can often be in excess of 5 cm.