Certified Master Saddler, Saddlefitter and Equine Ergonomist Jochen Schleese received his initial training in saddle making from Passier and Sohn in Germany. In 1984 he was certified as the youngest master saddler ever in Europe, and was asked to come to North America from Germany in 1986 to be the Official Saddler for the World Dressage Championships held in Toronto. From his experience as a former internationally ranked 3-day event rider Jochen Schleese knows not only how a saddle should feel from a rider’s point view, but also how it should be made. In 1990 together with the Canadian government, Schleese developed the first ever authorized school for saddle makers and saddle fitters. In 1996 Schleese received an international patent for his innovative AdapTree® saddle tree.
Jochen confers regularly with industry professionals and is a guest speaker at veterinary associations, equine veterinary schools, riding instructor conferences, and teaches saddle fitting at the German National Riding School in Warendorf, Germany. He was a guest speaker at the Veterinary Conference in Sao Paulo Brazil in Sept. 2011. Jochen has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal and the Discovery Channel, and is the recipient of many industry and business awards. Schleese was the Official Saddler for the World Cup Final 2005, 2007 and 2009 in Las Vegas. He is the founder of Saddlefit4Life®, a global network of equine professionals dedicated to the comfort and protection of the horse, and a director in HIPPOH Foundation (Horse Industry Professionals Protecting our Horses). In 2008 the company won “Best of the Best” English Manufacturer of the Year from Tack’n’Togs magazine, has been featured 4x as a cover story on California Riding Magazine, as well as in articles in the German magazines St. Georg, Cavallo, and Piaffe. Jochen’s first book “The Silent Killer” is due out later this fall in German, published by WuWei Verlag, and his first commercial DVD “Beyond the 9 Points of Saddle Fitting” will be available end of September.
Why I do what I do.
"I followed the advice of experts, but the result was a 'textbook case'of torture for my poor horse!"
" Argentina was the first place I saw gauchos when I was a young boy. Although I was born in Hannover, Germany , I spent the first 7 years of my life in South America. It was here that I found my love for horses. I watched the gauchos galloping alongside my father’s car, chasing a rhea at full tilt while swinging the bolo with both hands. The magic was the feeling that horse and rider were one. From that moment on, all I wanted to do was capture this same magic. When we moved back to Germany, my wish was finally granted and I got my first horse. While following my childhood dream and seeking this magic, I fell into the trap of money, medals, and fame. Nothing came close to what I was looking for — it was all about man and the horse/machine. I lost touch with everything I was drawn to horses for in the first place. When I found my calling in my career, it was the opportunity for me to reconnect and finally recapture this magic I first felt in Argentina. I’m now able to share this worldwide with people who are searching for the same miracle where man and horse move and feel and think as one. "
"In 1984 after qualifying for the European Championships I had to retire my beautiful Hanoverian gelding for lameness, and my riding career came abruptly to an end. I wish I knew then what I have learned in the past 25 years as a Certified Master Saddler consulting with equine professionals around the world."
“After placing in German nationals in 1982 ‘Pirat’ began showing signs of lameness — which at the time I did not attribute to the saddle, since I was surrounded by experts — vets, trainers, farriers who all had a job of keeping us fit for the team. When I think of the remedial applications we used in an attempt to ward off the lameness with, including blocking, blistering, re-shoeing and all sorts of pharmaceuticals, I could cry. I know now it was simply the fact that the construction of my saddle was not in keeping with the requirements of the horse — with every step his shoulders were hit by forward facing tree points, the too narrow gullet impacted his spinal processes, ligaments, and nerves along his back, and the gullet plate likely pinched him and impeded his wither muscle as he tried to jump and move. I had followed the advice of experts, but the result was a ‘textbook case’ of torture for my poor horse.”
“As my horse had suffered from an ill fitting saddle, I am very determined to alleviate this consequence for other horses. My life long study of the detrimental effects of poor saddle fit, the horse in motion, and equine development, led me to develop Saddlefit 4 Life® in 2005 - a global network (veterinarians, trainers, physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists and saddle fitters) dedicated to protecting horse and rider from long term damage. I teach Saddlefit 4 Life® principles and system to equine professionals so they can recognize and diagnose suspected saddle fit issues, and get to the root of issues they are facing. The key saddle fit principles - stay off negative reflex points on the horse’s back, and work with the bio-mechanics of the horse in motion for complete back freedom.”
“Never again should any horse have to suffer for the ignorance of his rider, nor will a once sound horse have to be farmed out, or put down because the damage is so severe that nothing more can be done to help or change the situation. It’s all about helping the horse by improving back health and comfort. For me — the biggest thank you is when a horse begins to move freely, happily, and well in a properly fitted saddle! Often riders throw their arms around me crying with joy, because the difference is that visible and they realize how much harm they had unknowingly done riding in an ill-fitting saddle. This is my calling — teaching professionals around the world so together we can improve the well-being of horses and riders worldwide.”
Sharing expertise with equine professionals, Saddlefit 4 Life® is taught at the German National Riding School, German the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Germany, as part of their certification programs, and is accredited for USDF University credits. Saddlefit 4 professionals include Dr. Gerd Heuschmann DVM (author of ‘Tug ofLife War’ and ‘If Horses Could Speak’), Hannes Mueller (Head Instructor at the German National Riding School), Dr. Joanna Robson DVM (Recognizing the Horse in Pain and What you Can Do About It), Barbara Welter-Boeller — Director of the German Osteopathic School, and Dr. James Warson (MD specializing in riders’ health issues; author of ‘The Rider’s Pain Free Back’).
A former member of the German young rider’s Three-day Event team, Jochen Schleese graduated from Passier Saddlery in 1985 as the youngest-ever Certified Master Saddler in Germany at age 22. He came to Canada in 1986 as the Official Saddler for the World Dressage Championships. Realizing that saddlery was not an established trade in North America, Schleese registered the trade, and operates the only authorized training facility for saddlery in Ontario. Recognizing that many female riders are plagued with pain and health issues simply from riding in a male saddle (due to anatomical differences between women and men) Schleese (the manufacturing company) developed and specializes in saddle design for women. With the highest level of training, Saddlefit 4 Life® Certified Saddle Ergonomists and Independent Saddle Fitters provide on-site diagnostic saddle fit analysis, solving horse and rider issues for clients worldwide.
Jochen is a guest speaker at horse shows, trade shows and veterinary colleges. Schleese is the recipient of numerous business and trade achievement awards, and has been profiled in prestigious media including the Wall Street Journal and the Discovery Channel (“How it’s Made”). In 2005, 2007 and 2009 Schleese was the Official Saddler to the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, and is part of the educational roster at 2010 WEG.
Jochen Schleese now focuses his efforts teaching Saddlefit 4 Life® principles to educate and certify equine professionals around the world. Jochen is presently working on his first book entitled “The Silent Killer — the Painful Truth of Saddle Fitting and Why it Doesn’t Work”.