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Total Contact Saddle

Total Contact Saddle

Postby Chevalblanc » Thu Feb 02, 2017 8:29 pm

Ali is interested in one of these for Skysie, I know our new member Ros uses one, so can we have a product review, pretty please? :-D Anyone else have experience of one?

http://www.total-contact.co.uk/
Helen

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Re: Total Contact Saddle

Postby JennieF » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:58 am

I guess I would be worried about pressure on the spine - with a lightweight rider for shortish lengths of time I'm sure its great, like riding bareback with stirrups ... but I still think that we fitted saddle with trees for a good reason ... to distribute the riders weight over a larger area - just my opinion :hide:
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Re: Total Contact Saddle

Postby FlorayG » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:10 am

I've tried one and found it completely unbalanced - the stirrup bars are too far forward so they tip your body backwards. Probably not a problem if you ride short but I ride dressage length
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Re: Total Contact Saddle

Postby Trudi » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:14 am

I'm with Jennie although I am trying to remain open minded I just can't get my head around the stirrups and photos showing jumping in them :hmmm: they even say you can mount from the ground in one :?
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Re: Total Contact Saddle

Postby crazypony_magnus » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:47 pm

Ok, here goes...

I have been using the Total Contact Saddle for 3 years now and been very happy with it. I had looked at them a while before this whilst researching saddles for my TB ex-racehorse with high withers and roach back, but discounted them on the grounds of not spreading the pressure well enough. However nor was I really happy with the concept of tree'd saddles - partly because I don't like the idea of a fixed structure between 2 moving bodies and partly because I wasn't convinced the tree really does spread the pressure as well as we are led to believe (I think having read a lot of what Solution Saddles have researched, although I was never in a financial position to try one of their saddles). I tried both Torsion and Barefoot treeless saddles but neither suited him and he ended up with a Reactor Panel Saddle in the end.

I came back to the TCS when I started rehabbing a Connemara who reared and bolted - I restarted him bareback in a headcollar, then was hacking him in a bareback pad, I loved the feeling of connection and communication without a rigid structure between us. I was also contemplating backing my young Connemara and realised that I couldn't face having to go through all the saddle fitting saga with either of them. I researched the TCS again and spoke to Stuart Atwood at length - he allayed my fears regarding 'pressure', the link below is useful, but I will try to summarise why I think the TCS works:
- there is no rigid structure so it fits the ever changing shape of the horse and there is no restriction to movement
- it is always used with good padding - treeless saddle pads, gel pad + polypad to aid with pressure distribution
- the stirrups are set lower and are not attached to metal T-bar (I personally don't believe that traditional treed saddles transfer all weight in stirrups away from this, how many horses have wither atrophy and white hair where the T-bar would be...), there is padding over this part of the saddle too
- it is not just a saddle, it is a system of riding that encourages you to be light and balanced in the stirrups and take some of your weight across your thighs

http://www.total-contact.co.uk/index.ph ... -pressure/

My actual experience with the saddle concurs with this - the rehab pony who my physio thought must have had saddle fit problems previously, that likely started his behavioural problems, now gets the all clear when she sees him - his back has improved immeasurably and he has no objection to being tacked up and largely no objection to being ridden now (although some circumstances still lead him to getting stressed, we are still work in progress). My youngster I started bareback and progressed to the TCS, no problems to report, again the physio is happy and we do fun rides, Trec, a little bit of jumping. I am very mindful of how I ride and on longer rides will always try to get off and walk for some of it to allow his back to rest. I've had some classical lessons with an Enlightened Equitation trainer who was happy that my position was good in the saddle and that there was no reason not to keep riding in it.

I have also converted 3 others to using them, one of whom it has made a huge improvement to her horse who would get sore behind the saddle despite numerous expensive saddles, always professionally fitted etc and now he very clearly says he prefers the TCS.

I haven't been brainwashed by them and I don't get commission from them, I am just really happy to have found a saddle situation that suits me and my ponies :-D

I hope this is helpful and not too long winded - if anyone has any specific questions I can try to answer them!
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Re: Total Contact Saddle

Postby JennieF » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:01 pm

Thanks Ros... it sounds like it works for you and your horses ... I like the idea of being in closer contact with the horse but have to admit that I like to have a 'seat' to sit in and some knee rolls for security !!!

So far the best system I have found and that worked for me and my sensitive mare was Flair - air flocking in a traditional saddle ... she has always hated me riding her bareback and made it clear that she needed something else ... we had a Free and Easy saddle for a while while she liked but wouldnt jump in, but the ultimate was the air panels as there is a mobile interface between the saddle and the horses back ... so no pressure points ...
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Re: Total Contact Saddle

Postby littlewhitehorse » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:39 pm

That's it?? Looked at the link and photo, thought it was a joke... :lol: :wink: OK being serious now, it's an interesting concept - and yes, I can see and understand that it is a system of riding with several attractions. Thanks for the review Ros :thumbup: it obviously suits you. I think it is something that will not be for everyone or every horse. I should think it would be Ali, wonder what Sky will think of it...
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Re: Total Contact Saddle

Postby Chevalblanc » Sat Feb 04, 2017 11:18 am

Well we're keeping an open mind, and Ali is looking forward to trying one on Sky. I guess using the right pad is very important? Do you use a gel pad under your saddle blanket, Ros?

Another thing I thought of is does the lower position of the stirrup bars interfere with leg position? I'm guessing not.....
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Re: Total Contact Saddle

Postby spottygiraffe » Sat Feb 04, 2017 11:56 am

I was ready to jump in and say I wasn't keen on it until I read Ros's brilliant review and that really swayed me.

Looks like something that would be a lovely thing to use for dressage and gymnastic training -you'd feel so close to the horse. The position of the stirrups might be an issue though. I definitely wouldn't be happy jumping in one, although the photo is very impressive.

What would Ali use hers for?
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Re: Total Contact Saddle

Postby Trudi » Sat Feb 04, 2017 12:59 pm

It's really a build your own bareback pad I guess. Thanks so much for the review Ros :thumbup: Looking at the video of trot on their site it doesn't put the rider into a soft thigh position, quite the opposite :hmmm: the stirrups still bother me but if it suits a horse who's got fitting problems then I'm all for it.
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