A short blog about weird ‘saddles', planty things and equine track systems …. by Stuart Attwood, TCS Total Contact Equine Solutions

The horse that I’m a human to will be completing his first Mane Show dressage test video shortly. He will be bitless, unshod, wearing his rhythm beads and his Total Contact Saddle (TCS) which he’s been ridden in for over six years now since he came to me and we started his ridden career together.

Now, you may not know too much about the TCS but I’ve been providing them for about 13 years now. It’s a treeless saddle that has no pommel or cantle. Some refer to it as a surcingle with stirrups or even a ‘paddle’ – part pad and part saddle – and the feeling of using it as ‘like riding bareback but with stirrups’ or even ‘it felt weird that I didn’t feel weird’. That’s all fine and I really don’t care much even if you want to call it ‘George’ ! What I do know is that it fits all horses, all year, doesn’t place pressure on the back, has been known to help a wide range of behavioural issues (in horses and riders !) and has even been able to help some riders with back/pelvis issues ride in comfort. It allows riders to have greater rapport with their horses and to use less ‘aids’ to effect changes of direction and gait but simply use their body balance to do these things and so have a much lighter rein. It suits novice riders and those of all abilities including children and all horses.

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The saddle has had a client satisfaction rating of 95 odd% for the last three years in my annual survey of client users and they’re happy to tell others about it. It’s been seen by a wide range of ‘equine body workers’ – osteopaths, physios, Bowen, massage practitioners, chiros – and many are now clients and recommend the saddle to others as well. It’s purchased in around 16 countries worldwide (incl the UK !) and used for a wide range of activities including long distance hacks, trail rides, endurance races and show jumping. It allows the horse’s back to move as it is designed to do, for muscularity to develop across the back and wither area and the shoulders to flex more which is especially important in jumping. It may seem counter-intuitive but concerns about ‘pressure’ (which I do understand) is just a non-issue.

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Have a look at my Facebook page – Total Contact Equine Solutions – or website at www.total-contact.co.uk – for more info, images and client comments (all of which are not edited). Each one is hand made by a UK Master Saddler and we only use top quality materials to make them.

Apart from the TCS I’m also involved in helping clients with medicinal planty things for their horses as well as those that are good for the human herd to eat. I’m happy to lead forage walks for client groups, do presentations to all sorts of groups and clubs on the subject and advise on planty things in your area. Of course travel to some locations is a bit of an issue and the cost of fuel has to be factored into any fees but these plants are, for the most part, free and growing in field boundaries and horses will select them if, and when they need them. Combine this with being an information source on the design and establishment of equine track systems for horses to live a better life in a herd situation that will allow a greater number per acre with health and welfare benefits and it can be said that what I offer as a business is far from ‘normal’. I’m happy with that. ‘Normal’ is far too over rated anyway. Check out the above information pages and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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Stuart Attwood, TCS Total Contact Equine Solutions