English saddles contact the horse through panels on the underside of the saddle. The panels of the saddle should conform to the shape of the horse's back, providing a broad, soft area of contact between the horse and rider. One analogy would be to think of the panel like the insole of your athletic shoe. The insole should conform to the foot, providing cushion and comfort.
Panels may be filled with a variety of material. Most commonly English saddle panels are filled with wool or foam. Felt may also be incorporated. New technologies include polymer panels and air bags for cushioning. High quality wool is an ideal fill material because of its softness and adjustability. A newly soft-flocked wool saddle will conform to your horse to provide a “custom” fit. Other panel materials will work well with some horses, but fit becomes even more imperative with less moldable panel materials. Foam tends to retain its shape from horse to horse, making it quite durable, but less conforming, and not easily adjustable.
Reflocking refers to the addition to or replacement of wool to the panels of an English saddle.
Reflocking of a saddle (partial):
Partial reflocking entails adjusting or adding flocking to a saddle, generally without taking the saddle apart. This is typically done during a saddle fitting session. Most saddles come with pre-cut flocking holes. Flocking should be adjusted for your horse when a saddle already fits the horse well, as it will not alter the shape of the saddle; this is dictated by the saddle tree or the panel shape.
A complete reflock involves disassembling the saddle, removing the old flocking (foam or wool), and replacing it with new material. This is generally done in a saddler's workshop. Wool flocked saddles will periodically require complete reflocking, as over time, wool may become compressed and hard, uncomfortable, and/or lumpy. High quality wool flocking which is replaced skillfully is less likely to become lumpy.
Our Guide for a perfect fitting, the Computerized saddle scan:
The pressure pad consists of a thin, contoured and waterproof material. It adjusts to the horse’s back pressure free and guarantees an accurate reading. The pressure pad material is disinfected after each use to avoid the transfer of fungus or other skin bacteria.
Horse and rider are recorded in a video parallel to the pressure scan of the saddle. In order to determine a general fit of the saddle the pressure scans are done on the right and left rein.
Every saddle will have 'on and off' pressure points during a scan - these are not bothering the horse. What creates a long term problem for the horse's well being is if there is pressure in particular area at all times (these areas are then displayed in red).
The approx 1 min. (each direction) in motion pressure scan video can be seen immediately after it has been recorded. The computer will calculate the average pressure of each individual sensor during this particular ride. A graphic image is displayed with various different colors:
- Blue corresponds to the least pressure
- Green and yellow are still acceptable
- Red means that the horse is experiencing a constant pressure under this particular spot of the saddle
Click here to learn more about our in-motion, computerized saddle scanning.