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Heidi Pichotta is an independent saddle fitter. She does not sell saddles, she fits saddles. Heidi obtained her training from master saddlers and western saddle makers. She is one of few independent saddle fitters in the country. Heidi works with companies and large-scale tack shops to ensure her clients find the best fit possible for their horses.
Heidi offers saddle fitting and re-flocking. Due to the fact that Heidi is also a therapist (human and equine), she is able to identify issues that are often completely missed when assessing the dynamics of the horse and rider. There is a great deal that goes into achieving an optimal fit, and the more we ask of our horse, the more important it is we give them the best fit possible. Although, doesn't every horse deserve that?
How do you ensure you get the most for your money?
Not sure if your saddle is fitting?
- Do NOT rush. If you call a representative and you want a saddle today, they will sell you a saddle today. Guaranteed! However, it may not be the saddle that best suits you and your horse's needs.
- Try before you buy. Always try a prospective saddle for at least 7 rides before purchasing it.
- Be realistic. If you prefer a narrow twist seat but you ride a horse that is built like a barrel, please realize you are going to have to make some compromises for the well being of your horse.
- Do not fall victim to an enticing ad campaign. Never buy the brand of the moment simply because everyone you know has one. If it sounds too good to be true, it typically is.
- Check qualifications. A saddle fitter and a saddle representative are not necessarily one in the same! There are many well-qualified saddle reps; however, keep in mind their goal is to sell you one of their saddles. Some representatives have extensive training and are adequately qualified while others merely have a crash course from the saddle company(s) they work for.
- There is no substitute for wool flocked panels. Panels filled with anything other than wool are not adjustable. Saddles need to be flocked at least once or twice a year, depending on usage. This allows for optimal customization, versatility, and fit.
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, it may be time to have your saddle fit evaluated by a qualified professional!
- Are you struggling with your position? This is one of the easiest ways to judge if the fit is working. If it doesn't fit, you will not be able to achieve proper position.
- Is the bottom of the saddle pad evenly dirty or are there clean spots in some areas while other areas are heavily soiled or hairy? If a horse has had previous muscle damage, it will not sweat in that area. For this reason, I refer to the dirt pattern rather than the sweat pattern. Some pads will cause excess sweating as well providing for a "false read."
- Does your horse's back appear dropped? If you are not sure, try doing a belly lift. If you have no response OR if the back lifts more than a half of an inch, it's most likely sore. When the muscles do not fire at all and you do not get any reaction, that is not desirable. Additionally, it is also not desirable if they are over reactive and/or the back has to lift up more than a half of an inch to achieve the look of a "healthy" back.
- Does your horse exhibit pain responses? Such as yawning, teeth grinding, tail swishing, moving away from the saddle, stomping, etc.
- Does your horse have hollow/atrophied areas along his back?
- Is your horse holding its breath during workouts?