Trainer Julia Feilden
StrideFree Saddles are the culmination of hard work and determination by like-minded individuals to produce a saddle that works well with the biomechanics of race horses and performance horses alike. Designed with back health in mind, the saddles are built for comfort and freedom of movement, with the ergonomic design of the tree contouring away from major muscle groups in the horse’s neck, back and shoulders to allow the horse to have full, unhindered range of motion. It works particularly well for horses that have already suffered problems in the shoulder, back and wither areas by allowing the horse to relax, cutting out any pinching that saddles may have done in the past.
The introduction of track work saddles with the new StrideFree tree has been successful, not only here in Australia, but around the world. The curved edge design of the tree has meant that the saddle is not only beneficial for the horse physically, but it is also good for the trainer and track work rider too, giving them peace of mind and an assurance that their horse is performing to the best of its ability in comfort and style.
Recently, Grainne Chaba-Byrne – Equine Physio in Newmarket and advocate of StrideFree Saddles in the UK - spoke to Ross Birkett, brother to female jockey Shelley Birkett and Assistant Trainer and Son of successful Newmarket trainer Julia Feilden who has become reliant on StrideFree exercise Saddles to aid her horses in moving more freely and easily during track work and to help those horses that may have or have had issues in the past.
Striding free on Newmarket turf. StrideFree- a favourite for trainer Julia Feilden.
Julia Feilden has been training for almost 20 years at the home of UK horse racing, Newmarket. After learning the trade with leading trainers Clive Brittain and Patrick Haslam, the time was right in 2001 to take out her own training licence. Since then, Julia has sent out over 200 winners with a small and inexpensive string of horses. This success is due to her attention to detail and the individual care each horse receives - including physiotherapy. However, it wasn't until Julia started working with equine physio Grainne Chaba-Byrne that she became aware of the benefits of using a Stride Free saddle.
For the past year, Julia has been using the Stride Free Race Exercise Saddle on a handful of horses who previously suffered with muscle wastage and frequent muscle tension in the saddle and shoulder area.
The Stride Free Race Exercise Saddle is ideal to use for the daily training of thoroughbreds as it is light, durable and sits well on a horses back.
"Racing yards are full of horses which are labelled as bad movers," says Julia. "However, I have found that with the help of physiotherapy and daily use of a Stride Free saddle, these often ignored symptoms can be corrected and the horse's movement gradually improved and, as a result, their performance on the track gets better."
"The Stride Free saddle may be slightly more expensive than a traditional saddle but it is an investment worth making as you will benefit from the results on the racecourse."
Julia adds: "The saddle feels extremely well-made and the leather used is of a high quality. After 12 months of hard use, there is little sign of wear and the riders who ride in it love it. The saddle is a lot wider than a traditional one but it seems to hug the horse's back and spread the weight of the rider - you are less likely to cause back pain as there are no high-pressure spots. I could easily see a time in the future when my whole string is ridden in a Stride Free saddle as you are reducing the possibility of problems in the saddle area which can interrupt training."
Peter visited Julia at her stables in Exning, Newmarket in the UK last year and was able to encounter first hand the problems that Julia was facing due to ill-fitting, half-tree saddles.
Duke of Diamonds- evidence of sores forming from the half tree traditionally used by Julia.
Duke of Diamonds.
During his visit, Peter saw the half tree that was being used by the riders on the horse and the damage the tree was causing. Large, raised pressure points can be seen on the horse's back where the old tree was putting pressure. With fantastic therapy and some pretty cool looking Kinesio Tape, the horse has recovered from these injuries. The StrideFree tree has made a world of difference to the horse now recovered from its injuries, is now going from strength to strength and only wears this saddle during track work. It just goes to show the difference the ergonomic design of the point free StrideFree tree makes to the horse. Julia refuses to use the other half-tree saddle any more on this horse.
Peter with Grainne at Julia's Harraton Stables, Newmarket.
A recent tweet by Julia Feilden said;
'@stridefree @nichababyrne your saddle has been the making of Duke of Diamonds winning for the 2nd time this year at Doncaster today'.
We would like to thank Julia Feilden, Ross Birkett and Grainne Chaba-Byrne for talking to us about their successful experience with the StrideFree exercise saddle. We would like to wish them the best of luck for the continuing season and we look forward to hearing about their successes on and off the track.
You can discover more information about Grainne and the fantastic work she does for horses in the UK at her website; www.newmarketequinephysiotherapy.com