While in motion,
the spine of a horse flexes and twists.
The back contracts and expands, muscles bulge out.
Skeletal movement is called flexing. Muscular contractions are called eruptions.
The top line of a horse -- where the spinal process is -- can move in any direction, contracting, expanding, and twisting.
A traditional saddle tree puts two wooden boards on the back of a horse, clamped into place with a leverage system called a cinch.
The wooden boards lack the capacity to adapt to the fluid movement of the horse. They also impede muscles that bulge out during various stages of a horse's stride, which can result in chronic pain or compromised performance.
"Comfort equals calmness in a horse," said Bill.
Soft saddles are made to adapt to the movement of the horse.
“I made a saddle that moves,” said Bill.
The placement of saddle rigging is very important for the comfort of the horse. Rigging that is too far forward drives the pressure point of the saddle and the rider's weight into the withers. A cinch rigged too far forward also tightens down on muscles behind the foreleg causing pain and impeding movement.
"Muscular groups unimpeded perform comfortably. These groups include the trapezoid, deltoids and the sensitive tissue surrounding the armpit," said Bill.
Bill likes to say there is a razor thin line---or a pathway--that angles forward from the deep back to the ascending pectoral. Following this route allows a soft saddle to comfortably snuggle a horse from top to bottom.
Saddle rigging also impacts the rider. Stirrup placement on the saddle is vital for proper posture and the ability of the rider to respond to explosive changes of direction. Riders need to be athletically set up for good balance.