Will the TCS fit my horse?
The Total Contact Saddle will fit any horse, from a Shire to a Shetland and everything in between, as well as riders of all levels of styles, shapes and sizes. It's especially well suited for horses who are young (and still growing) older (and changing shape), or those whose form fluctuates with the seasons; the larger flat backed table top horses, heavy horses, Shetlands, Arabs who can be hard to fit, Mules and Donkeys.
The TCS is essentially a flat piece of leather which wraps around the horse and hugs their body, making it completely flexible to any size or shape of horse. In fact, many TCS customers have one saddle which they use on multiple horses - you can't do that with any other saddle!
One saddle really does fit all, as you’ll see from some of our client’s horses below who use the saddle.
Amber is an elderly 14.3hh Thoroughbred cross. She was hard to fit a saddle as she has a very high wither and a dippy back. By using the Total Contact Saddle with a riser pad under her pad, it was the perfect solution.
Hamish is a young Shetland cross who is learning to wear a saddle. The Total Contact Saddle will fit him in all stages of his journey into being ridden. It will also fit his new jockey as they grow too!
Oscar is a 15.2hh Cob. Oscar has always been very hard to find a suitable saddle, every saddle seems to slip. Oscars weight can fluctuate significantly, so the TCS is perfect as it fits him whatever weight he is and never slips.
Magnum is a 17.2hh Selle Francais. Magnum loves to jump! He is a big boy, and the Total Contact Saddle fits both him and his human beautifully.
Fitting & User Guide
To ensure the saddle remains stable and in place as you ride, we recommend you use padding underneath the saddle. This should be placed just behind the high point of the withers of the horse.
‘What padding is suitable for my horse’ is the million dollar question! Don’t worry; you don’t
need to overthink it. Start by looking at what you already have in your tack room and try that. As a guide, a full sized pad is preferable and it should end
below, or at, the bottom of the lower saddle flap. All horses are different, but as a rule of thumb the rounder or more flat backed low withered builds will be very happy in just an average saddle pad like our Classic Total Contact pad.
It has just the right thickness to be comfortable for horse and rider, but you can still ‘feel’ the horse which is, after all, the whole point of the TCS!
Horses with high withers or dippy backs might need a little more padding for the comfort of them and their rider. You might want to put a riser pad underneath the saddle pad, for example. If you have a bony bottom, be mindful
that your horse may feel your seat bones and take this into account when choosing your padding.
You’ll find plenty of inspiration and examples of saddle pad combinations on our Facebook Group Community page.
The Total Contact Saddle goes on top of your padding, with the front edge a little behind the high point of the wither (on the downward slope for want of another way to describe it). You will find it naturally finds its place on your horse.
It’s purely your preference if you order a short girth strap or a long girth strap saddle. The shorter billet saddle is intended for those that wish to use a longer /
standard length girth and the longer billet for those who wish to use a short / dressage girth. As the rider, if you feel you don’t have the flexibility to bend down and adjust a short under girth, you may be better suited to a short billet saddle - or if you want to use the TCS on a Shetland pony then the long billet may be too long and swamp him.
The stirrup safety bars are set much lower on the TCS than a regular tree’d saddle. You will find that your regular length of stirrup is likely to be up to 4 holes too low because of
this. You can use regular leathers that you already own, but many TCS owners find dressage leathers or T bar Webbers work well with the TCS. They are flatter and therefore less bulky under the thigh. We sell our own branded T bar leathers, and generally find riders 5’0 to 5’6” in height find the 24” Webbers are the best length for them.
Pressure on the horses’ back is the concern of many riders, regardless of the saddle they ride in. Simply put, the saddle spreads the pressure - so any forces created by the rider are distributed over a wide surface area with no one point pressing on the horse. Think of someone treading on your foot wearing flat shoes (TCS) or treading on your foot with stilettos (some treed saddles)
We have done a number of pressure tests over the years, and every time the saddle comes out very well with no pressure of note. The only pressure that shows up on the tests are the riders seat bones, which can be a consideration if you are a slimmer rider - though not all riders create pressure. This is easily solved with suitable padding, so just be mindful when you select the padding to accompany your TCS.
We also pay close attention to what our clients are saying. The TCS has now been around for over 15 plus years (as at 2022) and the feedback we get is that it helps horses and riders where other saddles can’t. We have reports from body workers & back practitioners including osteopaths, equine physios, McTImoney practitioners, Bowen and others.
How to ride in a TCS
You can mount from the ground (although for the sake of your horses’ back, we would not recommend this whatever saddle you use). It will be a bit harder to mount using a TCS from the ground as it doesn't have a pommel or cantle to hold onto, so you’ll need to be quite nimble!
Once you are on board, you will easily find your natural position. You don’t need to sit on the saddle, you can sit a little behind it but the most important thing is what feels comfortable for you. Let your legs drape down the girth line to find your
balance. This may feel odd at first if you have been used to a saddle and knee rolls, but you will soon get used to this feeling and will enjoy the freedom tomove.
There are a few things you can try as you get used to your saddle. Try standing in your stirrups at a halt and find your balance, and if your horse is sensible enough do the same in walk and maybe even trot; this will help you find your balance and natural seat. Another great exercise is to ride with no stirrups at a walk and really move your hips along with your horse's movement.
You will “feel” your horse so he may feel more spooky but that is because you can now feel his muscles respond more quickly than in a traditional saddle. It might feel like you are riding a new horse for a few rides, so take your time to get used to the feeling and find your balance.
Your saddle will come to you already oiled, the Premium saddles are heavily oiled. Your saddle can be cleaned using a range of proprietary leather cleaning products like cream
cleaners, leather balm or similar and normally a quick wipe over is enough to keep it looking good. However, should your saddle get more than light dirt on it please don't use hot water or soapy water on it as this may affect the leather.
Ensure that your saddle is stored in a damp-free place and not put away in anything other than a dry condition.