Starting A Young Horse With A Barefoot Saddle
During the initial phase of a young horse's training it is very important for the saddle to be flexible and adapt itself to the horse’s shape, as the whole body - including the horse's back - is reshaped in this process. A constricting saddle can lead to muscle hardening during this time. The result, typical depressions to the left and right of the withers, are sadly quite common. Unfortunately, many "professionals" will also argue that the saddle area is formed during the breaking in phase - catastrophically this phrase is often used to describe musculature atrophy in the saddle area.
This does not have to be the case. It is possible to develop strong trapezius muscles under a saddle and at the same time avoid these typical “hollows” – we experience this when horses are trained with our flexible saddle system. They do not form a "typical saddle area", but build up muscles instead.
The Barefoot is therefore very suitable for riding in young horses, because it distributes the rider's weight in a completely differently way to a saddle with a tree. The rider sits in the barefoot between two moulded parts, which are inserted into "pockets" in the saddle. Because these pre-formed parts are made of flexible plastic and do not carry any of the rider’s weight, they can move with the horse without restricting its movement.
As a result, the Barefoot may be saddled over the horse's shoulder, because the scapula (shoulder blade) is free to move underneath the saddle and the musculature will not be constricted. This saddle position allows the rider to sit directly above the horse's centre of gravity, enabling young horses to balance their own weight and that of the rider more easily.
Since the Barefoot saddle is completely flexible, it can adapt itself to the horse's back, even if the horse shape changes considerably. Horses’ shapes change very noticeably during the breaking in stage – muscles are built up, fat pads disappear... As a result, a conventional saddle will no longer fit, even if it is adapted - but the Barefoot can 'grow' with the horse.
Horses feel comfortable under the light Barefoot right from the start because their movement is not restricted.