Our Mission. Our Values.
Protecting horses worldwide
Who We Are
We are dedicated to protecting horses around the world through education and partnerships.
Saddlefit 4 Life® Academy is a global collective of equine professionals who have come together to provide research and evidence based education with the goal of protecting both horse and rider from damage caused by ill-fitting and inappropriate tack. With constantly evolving demands placed on both horse and rider, our courses provide in-depth knowledge, insight and solutions to the challenges and issues within the equine world.
Our dedication to the horses and our students is what drives us to continually update our teachings based on the technological advances in diagnostic, fitting and analysis tools as well as conducting ongoing research into all areas of equine physiology and saddle fitting.
“Tradition becomes our security, and when our mind is secure it is in decay.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
Instead of blindly following tradition, we keep moving forward, opening new doors and exploring new methods and technologies driven by curiosity and a visceral need to learn, grow and educate a new generation of Certified Equine Ergonomist and Certified Saddle Ergonomist, who will be a voice for the horse and a catalyst for change.
The equine world as a whole has seen a massive shift within the last 100 years in regards to breeding, competition demands, rider demographic, saddle mass-production and overall rider “horse sense” with many riders entering into horse ownership in their late 40s to early 50s, where historically many grew up around horses their entire lives.
This shift gave rise to the common issues seen today in a staggering number of horses and riders, ranging from kissing spine (over 80% in English-ridden horses), Hunters bump, mystery lameness, shortened competition/riding careers, shorter saddle support areas, more female riders but no sex- appropriate saddles, slipped discs, and much more. Our courses and training provide the answers and solutions to the growing concerns of today’s riders, trainers, equine professionals, and owners.
For over 3 decades, Jochen has witnessed tens of thousands of horses suffer the effects of ill-fitting saddles – sore backs, resistance, chipped shoulder cartilage, and lameness. This fuels his determination to provide industry education through Saddlefit 4 Life®, combining principles of equine development, anatomy, biomechanics, behavior, overall soundness, and saddle fit to horse and rider.
Saddlefit 4 Life® has been taught since 2006 in conjunction with the German National Riding School (Warendorf), the School of Osteopathic Medicine (Germany), the German Berufsreiterverband (Professional Instructors certification courses), veterinary conferences in Brazil, in cooperation with the Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF), American Riding Instructors Association (ARIA), the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA), Equine Sciences Academy, The University of Guelph (ON Canada) and United States Dressage Federation (University Accreditation) and many other organizations and universities.
Since 2010 students and professionals worldwide have participated in Saddlefit 4 Life® seminars, courses, and internships. Over 10,000 professionals have been certified as Equine Ergonomists throughout Europe, North and South America, and Australia/New Zealand.
From 2008 onwards, Saddlefit 4 Life has partnered with saddleries who adhere to our strict methods and philosophy of fitting the horse and rider and preventing saddle-related injuries and discomfort. In addition, the saddles made by our partners undergo rigorous field testing to ensure suitability and adherence to our principles, and proudly bear the Saddlefit 4 Life name. We continue to offer our saddle-certification testing service to saddleries around the world who are interested in having their saddles carry the Saddlefit 4 Life mark of excellence.
Publications & Awards
Jochen Schleese’s instructional DVD “Beyond the 9 Points of Saddle Fitting” teaches critical principles of static and dynamic saddle fitting. Jochen authored “The Silent Killer” – the Painful Truth of Saddle Fitting and Why it Doesn’t Work” (Wu Wei Germany 2012), and “Suffering in Silence – the Saddle Fit Link to Physical and Psychological Trauma in Horses” (Trafalgar 2013) which covers key principles of equine and rider anatomy, saddle construction, saddle fit principles to horse and rider, issues caused by ill-fitting tack, challenging riders, professionals and the industry to come to work cooperatively for the improved well-being of horse and rider.