Dr. Rachel Heart on Animal Body Work….

RH2Many people are not familiar with the benefits that body work can have on an animal and rarely think their dog needs work if it is not in pain.  They are often surprised when after examination I find a slew of issues on a dog they consider ‘normal’.  In my practice and just wondering around in life I see very few dogs (or people ) that I consider to be normal or without some sort of structural limitation that is keeping them from being their best.  In general what we accept in an animal’s structure is rarely perfect and it is up to us body workers to be able to identify those more subtle indicators of musculoskeletal problems. The following discusses some other ways to identify problems in dogs and thereby assist you in recognizing when an animal needs work and how its treatment is progressing.

The last 10 years of my career has been doing integrated sports medicine on horses and dogs with a focus on structural alignment or animal chiropractic. I mostly work on working dogs that consist of show dogs, agility dogs, hunting dogs, hunt and field trial dogs and obedience dogs however the pet dogs have just as many, if not more issues. I have found chiropractic care to be an important component in keeping animals sound and happy and a great way to prevent injuries.  Our physical superiority is determined by how accurately aligned our bones are, how balanced our muscle development is and how readily our different parts can communicate. Breakdown of any of these areas can lead to injury or behavioral issues. Regardless of your modality every animal can be helped some.

As part of a team involving an animal athlete it is up to us to be their stewards and speak for them.  These animals will throw down their bodies and work through incredible amounts of pain. Most dogs will continue to work hard and show enthusiasm for their sport even when injured. This is why when behavioral or training issues do occur, it’s important to make sure pain is not a factor. A four legged animal has the ability to shift its body in ways that it can get the job done without physically limping. There is often a pair of limbs that are doing most of the work – you often see dogs (and race horses) pulling their hind ends along rather than pushing from the rear. I consider these to be compensatory gaits that modify the way the limbs and muscles are supposed to work. This is often a precursor to injury and may be more apparent in the pattern of muscle development than the actual gait of the animal. So how do we know if our animal is working through pain or perhaps refusing to work because of pain? Well the first step is to know what is normal.

Let’s start by saying there are not a lot of ‘normal’ animals out there so don’t be surprised if you find that most dogs do not exhibit all of these traits. Most of what I will be talking about is related to posture which refers to how you stand/sit. Any animal or person can have good posture which is different from conformation, a term more related to structure.

So how does a normal dog stand?  Free stacking or neutral posture is how a dog should stand when it is just standing there doing nothing.  I look for this posture when my dogs stop after running or playing: the front legs squarely under the dog with chest slightly raised and rear limbs out behind the dog with back flat (forelegs and hocks to the ground vertical).  A dog in a neutral posture will not require muscle to be in contraction and we should not see tight muscle development around shoulders and hips of working dogs when at rest. Many dogs that do not stand square will require muscle tension to stay upright or if a dog that is high strung and is constantly bracing against the earth it will also show tension. Most dogs do not stand neutrally and are more likely to stand with their rear limbs up under them a bit and may have front legs positioned asymmetrically. It is important that your dog has the ability to get into a neutral posture as this is the starting point for all of life’s activities.

A normal dog sit should also be square with hips tight to body and legs the same on both sides, butt should not be tucked under and the back should be flat and straight with smooth transition to base of tail. It is common to see dogs sitting to one side, sitting with hips splayed, sitting with their butts tucked under them or their chest sticking out. All of these postures are indicators of weakness or pain in the system.

Working dogs can carry a lot of tension in their jaw and neck from carrying things and also being on the left side of handler can create issues on the right side of the neck. If you look at these dogs from the front while sitting they will often have a tilt to their head (usually to the left) and the jaw (often the right) will appear higher on one side. A normal dog should be symmetrical. The jaw is an important component of the system that tells our body where it is in space and thus also has an influence on posture. Tension around the jaw, poll and upper part of neck can change a dogs way of moving and underlie an abnormal gait. Pain in this area can also create problems in training.

The posture of the dog when it stands or sits as well as head carriage are just three of many points of reference to let you know if your dog is balanced in their movement. A dog with a strong core that uses itself symmetrically will sit and stand square. Young dogs are often weak and should be encouraged to sit properly at all times to help build that strength. A dog that is sore after a competition may appear more compressed and hunched for a few days indicating body soreness. Some dogs stray far away from normal posture and sometimes have dramatic roaching or bending of their spines creating a lot of asymmetries. Most dogs fit somewhere between normal and this extreme. When you see dogs exhibiting these abnormal postures, make it your goal to figure out why rather than just accept if because it has always been that way.

Posture is one of the many ways that our dogs talk to us and a good place to start paying attention. How comfortable they are in their bodies is clear by the way they stand at rest. Core strength is shown by how they sit and also rise from sitting/laying down. A good sense of normal will help us know when musculoskeletal issues need to be considered before there is an injury. If we sense that there is weakness in the dog’s posture then perhaps the training schedule is modified to allow more time for development and conditioning.  If we see behavioral changes that coincide with postural changes then maybe pain as a source may be considered. It is important that we become aware of these more subtle shifts so we can help more animals before they get injured. Educating ourselves and our owners about what is normal is one way to identify problems before they become limiting.

About Dr. Heart:

RHDr. Heart grew up in the western suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts in a rural town called Lincoln. Due to family allergies, animals with hair were not allowed in the house. After tiring of fish and reptiles as pets, she eventually convinced her non-horsey parents to put a horse in the backyard. Taking care of her first horse “Flame” on her own was just the beginning of a life spent learning about these amazing animals.

Rachel graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec with a BSc. in Biology in 1985. She went on to Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine located in Grafton, Massachusetts, receiving her DVM in 1991. Her career since graduation has been dedicated to working with sport horses all over the United States. Ten of these years were spent working on the backside at racetracks in California, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas, Florida, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. This time was filled with opportunities to work with and learn from some of the top veterinarians and trainers in the country. In 2001 Dr Heart left the track to focus on other disciplines in the equine industry – a move motivated by the birth of her daughter Camille in 2000. She spent 6 years at a busy equine referral clinic in Illinois where she focused primarily on lameness. This move exposed her to the most advanced diagnostic and therapeutic techniques available in the sport horse industry. She was able to refine her skills in all imaging modalities and attend clinics devoted to lameness diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Heart began her training in Acupuncture at the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine in 2003 with Dr Huisheng Xie DVM, MS, PhD. She completed her certification in Veterinary Acupuncture in 2005. She is currently working on her Masters in Chinese Herbal Medicine at the Chi Institute. She obtained her certification in Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy (Also known as Animal Chiropractic) from the Healing Oasis Wellness Center in 2007 where she was trained by Pedro Rivera DVM. Rachel became certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) in 2008. She is currently completing a series of seminars on Postural Rehabilitation in Horses with Judith Shoemaker VMD and Karen Gellman DVM. She has also trained with Marvin Cain DVM (Acupuncture), Jean-Michel Boudard (Osteopathy), and Carl J. DeStephano (Applied Kinesiology/Functional Neurology).

It is the integration of this career path which has led Dr. Heart to the concepts of restorative healing. Success with cases have demonstrated the obvious synergy that occurred when problems could be treated in relationship to the rest of the animal. Each year brings more opportunities to further learn about and refine the techniques used to help the animals and their owners.

The Horse’s Prayer

The Horse’s Prayer, by Unknown

I would like to be your loyal companion
rather than your conquest.
Learn to talk to me, I will understand you
without making a mistake.
When your hand is firmly on the reins
then I will take you where you want.
Trust me as much as necessary,
my loyalty will not fail you.
Don’t be afraid of me,
I have strength to help you.
If you must fight,
take me
I will watch over you.
If you were to choose only one friend,
I would be that one.

Why Go to Animal Massage School?

Sitting down with coffee in hand at your computer, you realize that you really want to work with animals in some capacity. Actually, you decided this a while ago but now you are ready to Handmake the commitment to do some research on the topic. Working with animals…think harder…okay, you want to help them feel better. What different avenues are there to help them feel better? After exploring the possibilities you land on the one that really reels you in: massage. Having your hands on the animal, being part of the team that helps keep them happy and in good quality of life, sounds ideal. So…what now? What is involved with getting from here- sitting on my comfy couch with coffee, to running my animal massage business? Furrowing your brow at the computer, you realize being educated on the topic is probably a good idea.

Taking the plunge to begin a career in the animal massage industry can seem a bit overwhelming, whether this is your first time envisioning a career for yourself oKoar changing from one you are already pursuing. There are many different options to consider: what species do I want to work on? What schools specialize in those areas? What kind of time commitment am I willing to make? These are the questions the logical side of our brain starts firing off. On the other side of our brain we get questions like am I too old/young for this? My background was never in this subject area…what if I don’t understand it? What if I start out loving it and then decide it’s not for me?

Let’s think about the latter conversation with your brain. This industry is made up of people from all areas of the age spectrum; so long as you want to be passionate about your life and career and are excited to learn, age is just a number! The beauty of institutions that teach animal massage is that they are comprised of founders, instructors, staff, and workers that come from all backgrounds and walks of life. This means that there is going to be someone, at least one out of that whole matrix of people, that you resonate with and can easily learn from. Many people had zero background in this subject area before beginning their own journey, as is natural with anything in life. Should you decide to pursue a career in animal massage, you might realize while doing so that it isn’t the career for you. The incredible thing about an experience like that is that you know what you don’t want to do, which is just as important as the opposite! There may be something you covered in class that really resonates with you, and that’s the avenue you decide to explore instead; awesome!

Now back to what your brain was first thinking about, the more logic-based questions. In regard to what species you would like to work with, some people are very comfortable with dogs and somFritze with horses, and some prefer both. That’s a question you should be able to reason through pretty quickly, as both dogs and horses have their easy aspects and more difficult ones as far as massage is concerned.  Make a list of the pros and cons for working with a species if you are not sure about it, but remember that comfort level and skills will grow in time. This means that you may want to work with horses down the road, but while building your skillset you feel comfortable just working with dogs for the time being. Totally doable. The next question is also easy to answer, as a quick internet search will readily show you what schools are available that teach the program you are interested in. Some schools focus on one species or modality, and some have a wide range of offerings.

Deciding how much time you can commit to the education process is also key in making the decision for what school you’d like to attend. As the nature of massage is hands-on, many people opt for on-site programs where they have many opportunities during the duration of the class to have their hands on animals. The length of program varies by school, as well as when the courses are offered during the year. There are a variety of locations of schools around the country (and world), and many schools have satellite locations. Animal massage programs are designed to teach you a marketable skill, and are not typically set up like standard higher education institutions. One course may last a week, and you travel to the location of the school and stay in that area while you complete it. Many schools help students find affordable lodging nearby to make their stay easier. This can be a great option for those that are able to take a week or so off from current jobs or be away from home. It can be a way to see some areas of the country that you may have never been to before!

Newer on the horizon are schools that have seen great success in their onsite programs and are now also branching into long-distance or correspondence programs. Students might opt to do one level or class on-site, and then future classes or levels through correspondence after their confidence and skill set has begun to grow. Or there are those that are great at working on their own in a self-paced manner. Correspondence programs offer interaction with the instructors through email, webinars, videos, tutorials, video chats, and more to ensure that students studying from a distance feel as part of the school and learning process. Students are also typically able to travel to the school if they so desire for one-on-one time with an instructor.

Send an enquiry email with your questions to the schools you are interested in. They have awesome people with the answers to your questions, and answers to some you may not have thought of! They can make sure you have the most updated information on their courses so that you are able to make the best decision for you to find what is the best fit. Check out their websites and social media pages to see what other people thought of their experience at the schools.

With so much information out there, it can seem overwhelming when you are looking into attending an animal massage school. A final question that pops up is ‘do I really need to go to school for this? Can’t I just figure it out as I go?’ Great question: why attend school to become an animal massage therapist? Legality, scope of practice, and knowing what lies beneath the skin are the heavy-hitting answers

First let’s think about legality. What an animal massage therapist is legally allowed to do varies state by state. In some states only licensed veterinarians may perform massage therapy. CoriOthers allow massage therapists to work under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. Others allow for legal practicing so long as the massage therapist has obtained a certification from a recognized school. If you were practicing against the laws of your state, you could be assigned a cease-and-desist, meaning you are shut down. It is very important, therefore, to understand how the laws of your state work, and how being certified keeps you on the happy side of the law.

Scope of practice is a huge area of concern for massage therapists. This is also an area where cease-and-desists can be issued by the state veterinarian board. The term “scope of practice” means that we stay within our area of knowledge, legally and morally. Massage therapists do not treat, diagnose, prescribe, or cure illnesses. They do not replace the care of a veterinarian. This may seem very simple in concept, but the more you become immersed into the language and actions, lines may begin to blur. How you write up a report can be a breech in scope of practice. How you interact with a client, or the client’s veterinarian, can be a scope of practice issue. Going through the education process with a recognized school means that you will learn the “do’s and do not’s” for being a massage practitioner, and help you to be confident that you are staying well within your scope of practice.

Finally, knowing what lies beneath the skin may appear obvious, but the body is a very complex thing. Reputable schools offer in-depth anatomy and pathology portions of their courses so that anatomy pros and newbies alike can benefit from the modules. It is imperative to know and understand the systems beneath your hands, for it is possible to cause damage if you are unaware of the situation. Knowing when it is and is not okay to massage, based on anatomy and pathology, is something clearly learned through the education process. Also important to learn is how to interact with the client’s veterinarian when the client has certain conditions. When should I consult with their veterinarian? Is it okay to just go ahead and massage? This is an impJimmyerative part of animal massage.

So as you finish up the last bit of coffee in your mug, you look at the pad of paper or Word document where you’ve been taking notes and feel much more confident in your decision to pursue animal massage. You have locations, numbers, prices, contact information, and a much better feel about the whole process.  What’s left? Taking the reins of your life firmly in your hands and making the decision that is the absolute best for you.

Written by Callie Rulli of Skylark Animal Bodywork, LLC

Useful Science for Horse Owners

By: Kym Griffin


I am an equine behavior and welfare researcher, the reason I took this obscure and difficult career path is the same as most people in my field; because I am a horse rider, owner and lover. I want to learn as much as I can to be sure I am doing the best I can for my horse. This is why I get so disheartened when I see how badly horse research is received by the equestrian community on social media. Articles written by non-sciency and often non-horsey journalists for non-horsey readers sometimes make the study seem… well… a bit obvious for those for those who work with horses daily. ‘Why didn’t they just ask a horse person and save all that time and money!’ is a common response. With the rise of social media there is more emphasis on scientists communicating their own research, and who better than the person who understands the science and how it is relevant to the equestrian community, right? I am an avid believer in scientists learning to communicate their research and its relevance effectively. So to practice what I preach, here I try to summarise 3 studies that I find really interesting and that have direct relevance to the equestrian community. Here it goes!

Study 1: Horses prefer to walk across mats that are the colors green, red, brown or grey. Horses do not like to walk across mats that are highly contrasting or (in their vision) colorful, this includes, black, white, blue, yellow. (Hall and Cassaday, 2006)

What does this mean for horse people: What color is the flooring in your horse transport? Most rubber mats are black which makes this small, dark and scary space even more scary! Putting down shavings can be a small way to make a big difference.

Study 2: Horses don’t like to be patted! Researchers investigated the behavior of horses from video footage from the dressage at the 2012 Olympics games. They found most horses reacted by accelerating (a flight response) when the rider patted their neck (Hancock et al., 2014, ISES conference proceedings). Alternatively, scratching the horse just in front of the wither has been shown to directly reduce heart rate which is probably why we see horses mutual grooming at this area! (Feh and de Maziéres, 1993)

What does this mean for horse people: Scratch don’t pat! It can be hard after a good ride, when the adrenalin is pumping, to resist the urge to express your enthusiastic gratitude to your best team mate! But a scratch on the wither or a stroke on the neck is a much better thank you than a pat from the horse’s perspective.

Study 3: Horses look at scary or threatening objects with their left eye or sniff with their left nostril. This is because information from the left eye/nostril feed into the right hemisphere of the brain which is where information relating to negative emotions is processed. Novel objects that are neutral are explored with their right eye/nostril, the left hemisphere of the brain is involved in the categorization of novel object with neutral emotional value. Positive objects (like a bucket!) are usually explored by horses with their binocular vision which uses both eyes in order to better assess the 3D characteristics of the object, so no side is preferred. (De Boyer Des Roches et al., 2008)

What does this mean for horse people: When introducing new objects to your horse, introduce it on the right side first. If your horse is investigating an object with their left eye/nostril, be cautious! Try to soothe the horse with a wither scratch (see study 2) and soft tone of voice, don’t push them to get closer, and be prepared in case they decide to make a break for it!

About the Author:

Kym Griffin is an academic associate at Nottingham Trent University in the UK, working towards her PhD regarding sleep patterns in horses and what influence that has on performance. Originally from Australia, she started on her journey of academia by studying Zoology in her undergraduate program. Kym then went on to obtain a Master of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare from Queen’s University in Belfast, IRL. She is very active in the areas of animal behaviour and welfare, with particular focus on equine learning and training, and is an avid supporter of Equitation Science. In the past she was very involved in Pony Games, as well as eventing. Kym spent several years retraining rescue horses for rehoming and has been very involved in academia since, but she is looking forward to getting back into eventing when life permits.

The Human-Animal Bond: FREE Webinar on 1/17/16

human-animal bond


human-animal bond

The special bond that humans share with both equines and canines originated thousands of years ago. Deepening our understanding of that bond can help us to become better animal guardians as well as better animal bodyworkers.

Both dogs and horses have undergone a process of domestication, although some will argue that horses have not been domesticated, but rather, simply tamed. Regardless of this distinction, the relationship that humans share with both horses and dogs is a relationship that is deeply complex, with roots extending thousands of years. In our upcoming Human-Animal Bond webinar, we will discuss this rich history, as well as the depth of the bond we share with them today.

Register here!

This webinar will be presented by RMSAAM webinar instructor and digital media & marketing specialist, Emily Tronetti. Emily also owns Heal to Howl, a canine massage, Reiki and photography business that focuses on the human-canine bond. Emily is currently a graduate student in the Anthrozoology program at Canisius College. Anthrozoology is the study of the interactions between humans and nonhuman animals. Emily is excited to combine her anthrozoology education with the knowledge she gained in RMSAAM’s canine massage program in this brand new webinar!

Equi-Tape and the Incredible Benefits It Provides

Equi-Tape is “Kinesio Tape” for horses. It is specially designed for sticking to horse hair, and withstanding the wear and tear from our four-legged friends. The sloganEqui-Tape_Blue-150x150 of the brand is “train harder, recover quicker”, and countless times this has proven true. There are specific taping patterns that have different purposes, from assisting a muscle to increasing circulation over areas of swelling. We can break its uses down into two main categories: athletic and therapeutic.


These taping patterns are meant to allow the muscles to better do their jobs. An understanding of anatomy is important with these patterns, as it depends on what result you want that relates to where you tape. Do you want the muscle to contract or release? Does the muscle need more help in lengthening or shortening? Circulation is also increased to the area, allowing the tissue to be bathed in nutrient-rich blood. This action allows the muscle to get rid of the “bad” and bring in the “good”, which promotes healthy tissue. When the tissue is healthy, it is best able to perform its job.


These patterns of tape are meant to increase the speed of healing damaged or swollen tissue. How the tape is cut and placed has a major impact on circulation and healing. A typical pattern is comprised of many thin strips of tape. This increases the amount of surface area of skin that is lifted to allow for the dissipation of congestion, as well as creating “channels” through which the material can “flow”. As with the athletic function, circulation helps to speed the rate of healing. By bathing the area in fresh, nutrient-rich blood, healing can occur.

Why Does it Work?

When you apply Equi-Tape to the horse’s skin, think about all the anatomical parts being impacted. The hair, skin, fascia, muscles, blood system, lymphatic fascia-skinsystem, nervous system, and the materials that comprise the cellular matrixes around these systems. These seemingly separate systems in fact all intertwine together, making it so that one piece of tape can affect many layers of the body. A simple cross-section of skin and underlying tissue will reveal how all of these systems interact intimately, especially in the various areas of the body.

Many Uses

When is the tape used?

  • During training to help the muscles work better to reach their potential
  • During the rehabilitation process of an injured horse
  • Any time to support an area of the body

Some taping patterns are able to be left on for days, and some are only meant for a few hours. It’s very important to understand the result you want, and have the tape on accordingly.

How to Become Involved

You can use Equi-Tape on a couple of levels. The first is simply purchasing the
tape from a retailer; you do not need to be a glutesveterinarian or equine professional to purchase the tape. The second way is to take the certification course offered by Equi-Tape. The course is a weekend class that is offered around the world as well as throughout the year. The benefit to taking the course is that you gain a much fuller understanding of how to use the tape properly, as there are key elements for using it. For more information on Equi-Tape, classes, and more visit www.equi-tape.com.

 Written by Callie Rulli of Skylark Animal Bodywork, LLC

Equi-Tape is never a substitute for veterinary care!  

Proper Positioning of the Saddle on a Horse’s Back


As horse enthusiasts and riders, we do all we can for our horses. We research feeds and supplements, analyze hay samples, agonize over training methods and try to choose the best living situation for our trusty steeds. Stall or pasture board? Shoes or barefoot? Is it too hot or cold to ride? Is the footing OK? Will this saddle fit my horse? Some of us have even purchased custom-made saddles, or had a saddle fitter adjust a saddle for a specific horse.

All of our meticulous research and well-meaning tack purchases may still cause problems, however. An improperly placed saddle can be very uncomfortable for the horse. The saddle tree is designed to distribute the rider’s weight over a large area of the horse’s back. The tree of the saddle – the hard framework that gives the saddle structure – should always rest behind the shoulder blade. Because of the weight applied to the saddle’s tree, the tree must not impede the movement of the horse’s shoulder.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of “treeless” saddles available to riders. While these may seem like the perfect solution for that hard-to-fit horse, the lack of a tree reduces the saddle’s weight distribution area and can also decrease stability. Many treeless saddles are made with a rigid pommel and cantle, a padded seat in between and a normal English or western rigging. For the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on the placement and potential problems of regular “treed” saddles.

Since appearances can be deceiving, your hands are your best tools for checking the placement of your saddle. Many western saddles have leather “skirts” or “jockeys” that extend past the front of the saddle’s tree, and some jumping saddles have flaps and knee rolls that extend onto the shoulder. These parts of the saddle are not weight bearing and will not put pressure on the shoulder. The easiest way to check tree position is to slide the fingers of one hand, palm side to the horse, under the saddle pad and over the edge of the shoulder blade after placing the saddle on the horse. If using an English saddle, the tree points at the very front of the saddle should be behind your fingertips. On a western saddle, the front edge of the tree is usually marked with a concho, rosette or screw at the base of the fork. This “marker” should be placed behind the end of your fingertips.

Even the best-fitting saddle can cause pain and damage to the horse’s withers, back and shoulder if it is placed too far forward. Often, this positioning will cause the saddle to “bridge” on the horse’s back. Bridging occurs when all of the pressure from the saddle is placed at the very front and rear of the saddle, instead of distributing the rider’s weight along the entire length of the saddle bars or panels.

A saddle that is placed too far forward not only impedes the movement of the shoulder, but can also lead to muscle atrophy and pain. As the muscle atrophies, the saddle can fit even more poorly, which can lead to additional muscle problems, pain, lameness and training issues. If your horse begins exhibiting behaviors such as refusing jumps, bucking, trouble picking up a canter lead or “girthiness”, it could be a saddle fit or placement problem.

Occasionally, the saddle is placed on the horse correctly, yet seems to creep to an incorrect position on the back – a symptom that the saddle may not be the best fit for this particular horse.  The tree could be either too wide or too narrow or the billets/rigging are not aligned with the horse’s natural girth line. Any saddle, no matter how well it fits the horse’s back, is going to move on the back until the girth or cinch is perpendicular to the ground. Most of the time, the billets or rigging are forward of the horse’s natural girth line, which will cause the saddle to be pulled forward onto the horse’s shoulder. There are English girths available that have offset buckles to allow the girth to rest in the horse’s natural girth line and still line up with the saddle’s billet position. Some Western saddles have multiple rigging options which allow the rider to customize the cinch’s location to the natural girth line of their horse. There are also many saddle pads available that help with saddle slippage. Be cautious, though, that your slipping saddle is not trying to tell you something about the saddle fit or placement on your horse.

There are many factors that affect saddle fit. Your best option, should you have questions or concerns about your horse’s saddle, is to seek input from a saddle fitter. Most major saddle makers have a fitter or representative in your area specially trained to evaluate fit and function of their saddles. Often, these reps are available to help evaluate other saddle makes. You can always ask your veterinarian, trainer, instructor, equine massage therapist or acupuncturist for the name of someone that they trust. English or western, competitive rider or pleasure and trail rider, your saddle fit and placement are important to your horse’s comfort and soundness.

Cindy Dulaney

Red Horse Saddlery, LLC


Cindy is a lifelong horse lover. She graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science, and is the owner of Red Horse Saddlery and an authorized representative and fitter for Custom Saddlery. She resides in Elizabeth, CO, with her husband, three horses and one dog.