Thursday, January 01, 1998

Saddle Fitting & Saddletech Gauge - Robert Ferrand

The Inventor`s View of Saddletech

I have been moooozing down the trail of "saddle fitting" discussions here at the ridecamp for the past few months and I thought as the inventor of the state of the art technology, I should say a few words so people can understand what Saddletech Technology provides.

There has been some discussion of objective vs. subjective view. Subjective understanding of life can easily prove that the earth is flat, the universe revolves around the earth and a myriad of other concepts that everyone knew were perfectly obvious......but after "measurement" developed, we were able to see things in a new perspective. Measurement provides perspective. By measuring something once, so that at a later date you measure it again, permits you to quanitify the difference and learn something. This is basis of science.

Every industry in the world has developed methods of measurment, specification, verification and validation. The reason the Japanese were able to become a industrial power after WWII was that Deming developed a method of measurement and quality control that permited goods to be built to standards.

The Saddle Industry is the only industry that I am aware of that has no standards. "I feel the horse is on the forehand", "The horse is engaged", "He seems a bit off" or " I can feel the pressure under the saddle" These statement may well be correct but what was the calibration method used to know the "horse was engaged"..... Experience is always the answer

Today if the saddle does not serverely damage the horse to the extent that it is obvious to anyone... we say the saddle fits.....because it sells a lot of saddles. As one saddler told me."We make money by selling saddles that do not fit".

Look folks, saddle fit is not rocket science. All you have to do is match the shape of the saddle panels to the shape of the MOUNTED horse. With no method of measurement it is a bit like blind mans bluff, because until now there been no way to prove a saddle fits or does not fit........ a lot of saddle companys are getting rich at your know what I mean, wink wick

By way of a short background of how I got here, one of my recent inventions was a state-of-the-art hospital bed for the prevention of bedsores (Airlogic) During the course of this early research I pulled all the clilnical research on the effect of blood flow on mammalian tissue. In order to prove the superiority of the hospital bed, I built a 1000 sensor pressure transducer pad to measure the pressure between the patient and the bed. During the course of the work I got back in the saddle and went out to buy a saddle......and said "wait a minute what do you mean you do not know if the saddle fits" . I quickly understood that the same physiological problems that causes bedsores also caused saddlesores.

And Saddletech was founded in 1992. When we built the 256 sensor pressor pad and got the patent, we thought had the solution to saddle fitting problems. We quickly discovered we had a new research project. Over the following years we went all over the world and measured horses. All sorts of horses. What was interesting is that the vast majority (about 90%) of the saddles tested by me did not fit...they bridged.

I began to think that was a rather high percentage. I began to observe that everyone really fits the saddle to the horse unmounted., because you can see what you doing by lifting the flaps or skirts or you can take your little piece of baling wire or flexicurve and do something that you can call measurement and then feel a lot better. I then began to think maybe of the problem is that the back of the horse bends under the weight of the rider. So what we really need is a method of measurement that permits us to measure the shape of the unmounted horse, but then to readjust the measurement device to commpensate for the weight of the rider relative to the weight of the horse......And thus the Saddletech Gauge (patents pending) was developed in 1995.

Once we developed the Saddletech Gauge we then had two measurement systems to check against each other. The Saddletech Computer Saddle Fitting System measure interface pressure and the Saddletech Gauge measures three deminsions. By finding saddles that DO fit and then comparing those measurement against the measurements of the unmounted horse we were able to invent the Saddletech Formula (patent pending) which is a mathimatical formula that can approximate the change in the shape of the horses back due to the additional weight of the rider relative to the weight of the horse.

What differtiates Saddletech Technology from all previous methods to fit saddles is NUMBERS & REDUNDNACY. By using numbers we can know where we are 3 dimensionally andwith the second system we can double check the first system. This is a totlally new idea in the horse industry. 2 measurment systems double checking each other... WOW. Balilng wire and wooden pegs and plaster are interesting evolutionary ideas but they do not tell you the information you need. With all due respect to the flexicurve fans it is a new ball game.

If you go back to subjective feelings like "I feel the horse is on the forehand" it is just a feeling but if you measure the saddle with real numbers and then say "I feel the horse is on the forehand" and then try a new saddle with new measurments and find that the horse "Feels like he is engaged" now you have numberical shape of saddle that you know this horse will perform better in.

Subjective judgements are not bad it just important to make subjective felling valuable... you need to put it in a context.

This is how we won the America`s Cup back...yeah yeah there were lots of computers dripping off those boats, but there were also a lot of very experience sailors aboard those boats . By using the computer information and filtering it though the subjective sailing experince ...they won the race.

Saddletech Technology give everyone the power to understand saddle fitting. Power to the people. You no longer need to be at the mercy of the saddler. The Saddletech Gauge gives every rider the opportunity to check the saddle before they buy. DON`T GUESS - MEASURE For further information contact me Robert Ferrand at and get ready for the SADDLETECH.COM web site coming soon to a computer near you.

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