1. Fit and balance
The ultimate goal of saddle fitting is to balance the saddle on the horse’s back to evenly distribute the rider's weight and properly clear the horse's anatomy (withers, spine, shoulder, and rib cage), allowing for freedom of movement and for the rider to sit in an effortlessly balanced seat.
The blue line represents the balance of the Stübben saddle; note that it is even front to back (this does not mean that pommel and cantle have to be even). The yellow line represents the balance of the rider. Note that it is at ninety degrees to the saddle balance line. The red line represents the horse’s back. Note the wither clearance and that it runs perpendicular to the saddle balance line.
How do we get to this point?
Example of the stubben saddle model Portos:
7 tree width options, 4 seat sizes, 2 twist widths, 11 flap cuts, 8 panel flocking alterations = 4,928 possible variations
Thus, you can be sure that there is also a solution for your specific requirements. To find these, we roughly outline the following:
Tree widths: the appropriate tree width is defined by an even pressure distribution over the entire surface of the saddle tree points with sufficient freedom for the withers.
Seat size: the right seat size is one of the few parameters that doesn't relate to the horse’s anatomy. It is impossible to balance the saddle if the seat size is too small for the rider. The seat size is correct when the rider's seat bones are in the center of gravity (lowest point in the saddle).
Panels: our panel options along with different flocking variations enable the accommodation of diverse withers shapes as well as proper fit along the horse's spine. Again, the goal is to balance the saddle. To this end, we have developed customized solutions that take into account shoulder shape disparities, as well as rib cage circumference. By including these considerations in our fit determination we help you achieve better performance from your horse. Our patented spring tree ensures that the rider's weight is only carried over the length of the tree. Our panels are at least as long as the tree (otherwise no balance) and only as long as necessary. So the effective contact area (where pressure from the rider on the tree is transferred to the horse) is 42cm (16.5 in) maximum and 38cm (15 in) minimum.
Flaps: the flap cut is determined by the leg’s anatomy and riding style preferences (short or long stirrup leathers) of the rider. Up to 11 different flap cuts are available depending on the saddle model. Regardless of cut, our panels and flaps are flexible around the area of the tree points in order to ensure the horse's shoulder freedom of movement.
2. The saddle tree
We have designed our gullet irons with not one but two pieces of steel
Why is this? Because the safety of the horse is of utmost importance. Protecting the horses withers is essential. Especially in show jumping where there is a lot of force on the gullet iron during take off and landing. In order to protect the horses withers we have designed a corrugated iron for extra strength. Never the less it is still possible to adjust the angle of the tree points if necessary.
The flexibility in the seat is a result of two opposing forces of the webbing and the steel spring. This process of tensioning allows the tree to be flexible yet always return to its true position. For the horse, this unique flexibility allows the riders weight to being absorbed and evenly distributed on the horses back. Unlike rigid trees such as carbon and wood, it allows the rider to effectively communicate with the horse while giving effective riding aids. Our tree is recommended by horse health professionals for these reasons.
Recessed stirrup bars that are rust free are another important feature in all of our trees. The stirrup bars are designed so that the stirrup leathers do not harm or cause discomfort to horse or rider. In the unexpected event of a fall from the horse the safety mechanism of the stirrup bar releases the stirrup leather.
To make the seat as comfortable as possible for the rider, we use many various seat and foam material combinations. Each seat is constructed by hand with these materials to the customers specific requirements. The rider has several options in choosing seat comfort including standard, extra soft and Biomex. How soft the seat should be is the rider’s decision. The patented Biomex technology helps to alleviate any discomfort for the riders back and tailbone. Keep in mind the softer the seat the higher the chance of wrinkles, the firmer the seat the better the communication with your horse, it’s up to you. With proper care, using Stubben Hamanol and Soap you can help reduce the chance of the saddle wrinkling. The perfect balance of strength and flexibility in the saddle will be achieved with a Stubben spring tree.
At the center of our operation, our material and supplier selection has always been of top quality and sustainability. We are confident that within the past 125 years we have managed to identify the best of the best in each discipline. Our mission in the the future is to continue to be the quality leader in equestrian sports.
Our Leather: The dominating material in our workshop is leather, and by far the most important resource. You can tell by the smell of our leather the importance of maintaining the natural features of the hide. Selecting quality raw hides is the key. The following information will elaborate on the secret to finding quality leather.
At Stubben we only process Central European full grain leather. The majority of our leather is from the “Simmentale” cow breed. In order to maintain the functionality of the hide the top layer needs to be preserved. The natural grain can be seen as evidence that is it full grain. With general pattern inconsistencies and scars every hide tells its own story. Don't be alarmed with these small inconsistencies as these are all clear indicators of full grain leather.
Nevertheless when cutting the leather we focus on using the best parts of hide. Only full grain leather features breathability, tinsel strength and wear resistance. This is very important in Equestrian sports as the material is exposed to a high degree of wear and tear. Variations of weather, contact of sweat from horse and rider, and abrasion can all challenge the material. Because full grain leather is breathable it helps to reduce the temperature which minimizes perspiration and aids in grip of the saddle for horse and rider. We ensure this with our specific tanning process where the pores of the leather are not sealed. By using all three layers of hide, the epidermis included, is what makes our leather strong and wear resistant. The alternative to full grain leather is split hides on which a plain even grain is printed. With these type of hides you cannot observe the illustrated features.
The tanning process: is what converts the rawhide to leather. There are multiple tanning methods, with most falling into three categories, chrome tanning, vegetable tanning and metal fee tanning. At Stubben, we process metal free tanned leather, which can be characterized by the following attributes: Hypoallergenic. It is virtually impossible to have an allergic reaction to our leather. Weight advantage of up to 25% compared to chrome and vegetable tanned leather. Smallest environmental footprint (Co2, water consumption and waste water). High UV resiliency. Thermo neutral. The metal free tanning process is superior to chrome and vegetable tanned leather. It is from the point of craftsmanship and technical requirements, very advanced, and only a handful of the 1,700 tanneries in Europe have mastered this metal free tanning process. We developed our own olive tanning process with our partner, Wet Green, which utilizes the tanning agent, OBE. OBE is based purely on all natural recycled products. Today in Europe around 12 million tons of olives are harvested each year. Of that massive number 1.2 million tons are olive leaves. For farmers the leaves are waste and in many places burned. We use those olive leaves as our OBE tanning agent, helping the farmers and helping our climate. With full confidence we can say that you will find no better leather product in the equestrian industry than Stubben. Despite leather all our materials are being sourced and made in Europe. For example our saddle tree is made in France, our saddle nails are made in Italy and foam and webbing made in Germany.