Schleese Saddle Fitting Lecture and Demonstration, May 14, 2022

Thirteen people brought their lawn chairs and attended the saddle fitting lecture put on by Schleese Saddlery under the manicured and very cool, breezy covered arena at Topsider Farms.  A big thanks to Schleese who are headquartered in Ontario, Topsider Farms owned by McKenzie Mull and Michelle Voorhees who was managing that day.  Also to Charlie Sokolov, a Schleese Client Services Manager, and her mare Rosie who patiently permitted to be used as a demonstration horse.

Schleese prides itself on their ability to fit riders and horses comfortably.  The difference between male and female anatomy as it relates to the position in the saddle were explained.  Saddles that were invented for men (think cavalry) have not changed until relatively recently to accommodate the female anatomy (think wider hips, longer thighs).  We learned that men can ride in anything but women need a different saddle to be comfortable.

Saddles that were much more thoughtful when horses were needed to make war and get from point A to point B became less thoughtful and more disposable with the advent of mass production.  Some of the principles of saddle making that accommodate the horse’s motion were lost for a while. But Schleese is dedicated to bringing them back in the saddles that they make.

Rosie became a chalk board while the equine muscles that are supposed to support the saddle were traced out and the anatomical parts which are NOT supposed to be involved with the saddle were also pointed out.

Scheelse does like to custom fit each horse and rider if possible but will work with other makes of saddles if they are adjustable.  Many saddles consist of foam panels and cannot be reflocked although some will allow you to change the tree at the withers.  Schleese trees can be manipulated in an instrument that will spread or narrow the tree and contain wool flocking only.

We were able to see an actual saddle fitting while Rosie got her dressage and Western saddles re-fitted and Charlie rode after each adjustment.  Charlie gave us her take on each adjustment and one could see that Rosie liked things better, more willing to go forward or easier in the canter transition.

And what about the pros who ride many different horses each day?  Well, Schleese makes a saddle called “the Pro”, a saddle that averages the measurements of most horses (not shetlands to drafts, no) especially for that purpose.

We all might go home and take another look at our saddles after this.  I do have a Schleese and  I use mine on a daily basis and since I only have one horse to ride, I can fit it to him and I enjoy knowing that if he is not very cooperative that day, at least it is NOT the saddle.

Nitro is Not Explosive!

-Jinny Johnson

BACH president and professional trainer, Jennifer Skinner, demonstrated the beginning elements of trailer loading to a small group of BACH members at Still Creek ranch on April 23rd.  Her helpers were her daughter, Sarah, and Nitro, a very nice 4-yr-old warmblood with limited trailering experience.

To begin with, Jennifer had Nitro show us how he responded to her cues on the line, changing direction going to the right or left and easily staying with her on a light contact.  I asked Jennifer how long it would take to get a horse to that stage.  “Three or four days”, she answered.   Having done some ground work myself, I would say that was very optimistic for most of us, but I digress.

Next, since Nitro easily responds to poll pressure, he led right into the trailer.  “Well, there is another skill set that needs to be in place before you can begin this process”, I thought.  If you already have to drag a horse around to get him close to the trailer, nothing good is going to happen.

However, most of the time Jennifer spent in teaching Nitro to come off the trailer, insisting that he come off step-by-step and teaching him to stop midway with his hind feet on the ground while his fronts were still in the trailer.  She patiently loaded and unloaded him until he would stop at any moment, stepping off the trailer so that he went backwards in baby steps until he felt the step.  Having seen horses come blowing out of a trailer, ramp or step-down and nearly slip or fall, I thought this was very smart.  I think, in general, we spend too much time thinking about getting the horse on the trailer and no planning for getting off.

Also, how many of us practice loading and unloading our horses without going anywhere just as a training session?

Throughout the demo, Jennifer gave us a lot of tips and insights into her thoughts and methods on training horses from the ground.  It was easy to see that Nitro came already with a lot of training and trust even though he was not that familiar with trailering.  I was thinking to myself that we need another session or two about making sure our horses are ready for a successful trailering session. Standby.

Equally as important as your horse loading & unloading is the maintenance and attention to your trailer! Check out another post written by Julie Brown where she talks about “must haves” in her toolbox, checklists for before and during trips, and other helpful tips to keep in mind when on the road. Find that post here: Trailer Maintenance and Safety Preparation.

You can learn more about Jennifer on her Professional’s Corner page here: Jennifer Skinner.

2021 BACH Award Winners

Congratulations to our winners for the 2021 competition year!

USDF Intro Jr/YRElla WylieThe Queen’s Legacy
USDF Training Jr/YRChiara FischerCharisma
USDF First Level Jr/YRElla WylieLove Story
USEA Novice Jr/YRKate BrownSport’s Revenge
USDF First Level OpenJennifer SkinnerThe Captain
USDF Third Level OpenSandy VennemanCarpe Diem
USEA Beginner Novice OpenKaylyn ForemanIsle of Chaos

Mary’s Musings: Spookables

So you are trotting up the center line, wearing your nice dressage apparel and on your well-groomed horse. And just as you get to X, your horse does his version of a capriole and dumps you in the dirt. What set him off?

Let’s start with “the obvious suspects”—people trying to take the perfect close-up photo and hanging over the railing, small running children in the arena, flapping things (flags, blankets, papers on clipboards), and other people’s horses acting up. Now let’s get to others: remember the pigeons in the old arena at Cedar Trace? How about the blood from de-horned cattle at Freeman Arena? (You couldn’t smell it but your horse sure could!) There are some memorable ones: hot air balloons going overhead (Wuff! Chuff!), pigs next door, and the night-time lesson when the barn cat let a live rat loose in the arena and both the cat and a dog chased it under the horse’s feet (oh, please, please halt!) .

So what can you do? At a show, the management can insist that spectators keep their distance and warn people with small children to stay away from the horses. But what can you do otherwise? Start by acclimating your horse to areas outside of your covered arena. Is there a pasture where you can ride? Can you ride with somebody whose horse is a wise old-timer who will not react? If all you do is practice inside an arena (same test, same time of day, etc.,) you are setting yourself up for trouble. So do something different! Are there some trees, bushes, or maybe some jumps in your field? Do some figure S’s or pole-bending around them at your gait of choice. Will your horse hop over a tiny ditch or a mud puddle? Can you lean away from your horse to open a gate or grab something? How does your horse react to a flag, a blanket over his head, or you putting on a flappy jacket or raincoat? Can your horse back up? If you need inspiration, look up some training exercises for the western trail class. No, you do not need to ride through a pen of armadillos or a cloud from a fog machine, nor do you need to pick up a raw animal hide or shoot a pistol.

It’s a good idea to get out of a rut no matter what level you ride.

2022 BACH Board Members!

Congratulations to the 2022 BACH Board Members!

BACH is proud to officially announce the election of the following individuals to the 2022 BACH Board:

Executive Committee

President: Jennifer Skinner

Vice President: Jinny Johnson

Secretary: Cathy Ruoff

Treasurer: Karin Loftin

Additional Board Positions

Communications Chair: Julie Brown

Activities Chair: Donna Meyer

Membership Chair: OPEN

Development Chair: OPEN

If you are interested in one of the open Membership Chair or Development Chair positions, please reach out to our new officers at

Thank you to everyone who participated in the election, and congratulations to our new Board, which will begin its term of service on January 1st, 2022. 


Brazos Association for Classical Horsemanship

BACH By-Law Review 2021

Goals of Bylaw Review Committee: to assess the sustainability of BACH and its purpose; make necessary changes to the BACH Bylaws to support the future direction of the organization; add considerations to the Bylaws for when/if to dissolve the organization.

The BACH By-Law Review Committee met for the first of three scheduled meetings on June 27th, 2021. At this meeting, the following items were discussed/decided:

  • BACH’s Constitution and Bylaws will become the same document, therefore reference to the “Constitution” of BACH will be removed from the Bylaws.
  • Historically, BACH’s amendments to the Bylaws have been driven by the organization’s consistent need to violate the requirements (due to lack of participation) in order to stay operational. BACH may no longer viable under the conditions set forth by these Bylaws.
  • Discussed Amendments to BACH’s Purpose
    • Refocus on education as the primary purpose of BACH
    • Design future BACH events to engage a broader horse community through classical horsemanship based in dressage
    • Organize a couple of “boutique” events that BACH can become known for and that volunteers/participants can count on (one large clinic/show and unmounted event per year).
    • Sponsor and/or promote events with partner organizations and businesses that align with BACH’s mission
  • Other Considerations
    • Formation of a BACH Handbook to outline details of BACH operations (board member “job descriptions”, volunteer roles, event guidelines, etc.)
    • Should BACH be required by the Bylaws to stay a USDF GMO?
    • Creation of sponsorship and partnership guidelines
    • How can BACH create more value in a BACH membership and added efficiency in our leadership?

The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for early August, where the committee will discuss needed changes to the Bylaws with the new purpose in mind.

Seminar Summary: You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But What Should He Eat?

By McKenzie Mull

This past month, members of BACH, along with those from the South Florida Dressage Association, had the pleasure of learning all about equine nutrition from Texas A&M’s own Dr. Sarah White-Springer.

The lecture started off with a basic overview of an equine’s digestive system – not quite ruminant, not quite monogastric (as we all know, horses are special!). The equine stomach produces acid 24/7, which isn’t an issue for those with a lifestyle of continuous grazing; however, this can be problematic and ulcer-causing when horses receive their meals in a few large rations, as the stomach is most efficient at half-capacity (or roughly 2 gallons).

This is why Dr. White-Springer recommended basing all equine diets off of forage first, to provide a quality source of fiber and optimal gut health. She also noted the importance of knowing the nutritional value of the type of forage you are feeding. For example, protein levels vary widely between alfalfa (~18% protein) and coastal bermuda (~9% protein).

On the topic of grains or concentrate feeds, she noted that each horse has different nutritional needs, depending on their age, breed, workload, living situation, and individual genetics, among other factors. Some horses may not need grain at all, if provided sufficient access to quality forage or pasture, while the traditional “hard-keepers” may need additional calories/energy to maintain sufficient weight. Others may just need a ration-balancer to provide them with vitamins and minerals, but not too many calories. One of my key takeaways from this lecture was that horses do not need high levels of protein in their grain (10-12% is enough), unless they are in growth stages, lactating, or in moderate to heavy work. Too much protein in the diet may cause high volumes of urination with a strong ammonia smell, and associated kidney issues.

As we head into the heat of the Texas summer, Dr. White-Springer stressed the importance of access to electrolytes and water. Since electrolytes cannot be stored in the body, she suggests feeding them in the evening to help your horse’s body recover from the heat of the day. Fresh, clean water should be available to them at all times, as horses have no chemical “signal” to tell them they are thirsty.

Believe it or not, this is just a glimpse of all the great information Dr. White-Springer talked about with our group. But don’t just take my word for it – hear it from Dr. White-Springer herself! A recorded version of this lecture is available here:

Zoom Recording of Equine Nutrition Lecture

Passcode: rXJ$+r?0

More About Our Dr. Sarah White-Springer

Dr. Sarah White-Springer is an Assistant Professor of Equine Physiology at Texas A&M University. Upon culmination of her PhD program at the University of Florida, Dr. White-Springer completed postdoctoral training at the University of Kentucky focused on human and murine models of muscle disease. Dr. White-Springer’s main passion is improving performance and wellbeing in equine athletes with an emphasis on precision management to optimize nutrition, training, and management for individual horses. Relationships developed with the Thoroughbred industry have afforded Dr. White-Springer the opportunity to work with elite racehorses, including offspring from notable sires such as American Pharoah and California Chrome. Dr. White-Springer has also formed collaborations investigating skeletal muscle energetics in cattle and swine production, and in an ovine model of human hypophosphatasia. In addition to her academic pursuits, Dr. White-Springer is an avid equestrienne, having received over 50 National and Regional titles with her own Arabian horses, Amira and Khody.

Mary’s Musings: Spring is Here! And So is Shedding…

By: Mary Wicksten

So you went to see your horse after weeks of rain, cold weather, and wind. Did your horse look like this one? (Mine came close). Now what?

Maybe you were one of the folks who clipped your horse and kept him indoors — in a stall or other covered area. Maybe he did not “stock up”, get stiff, or get the equine version of cabin fever. Let’s hope he wasn’t out in a muddy pasture while wearing his blanket, and when you returned, was shivering without a way to dry out and no spare blanket (bad plan, but I’ve seen this happen!). Hopefully, you groomed the worst of it off and were able to put a blanket back on him afterwards.

So your horse is at pasture and is now so furry that he rarely gets cold? And now it’s time to ride? You want to make sure that your tack doesn’t catch on any long hairs. Comb the hair flat, making sure that there are no burrs or mud clots right underneath where you tack will rest. Now, you will need a shedding comb just about every day. This will get rid of tufts of shed hair (much to the delight of small birds that use it to line their nests!) Tradition dictates that you also pull the mane and forelock to the appropriate length. For this, check breed specifications – traditionally, Arabians can have longer manes than Quarter Horses. Yes, clipping is another option, but can look artificial. Most riders like to clip the area just behind the ears for a bridle path.

Going to a show? Now you’ll need clippers to clip those so-called “goat hairs” below your horse’s chin. There is a difference of opinion regarding hair around the mouth; some authors say that if your horse is out on pasture, those hairs should stay to keep his nose away from spines or other trouble. Clipping a horse’s ears can be a bit intimidating for both parties. If you haven’t done it before, seek help from your instructor or another experienced person. You may need to use your favorite equine distraction method or a twitch. Note that schooling shows may not require such trimming. Now head down to the fetlocks and clip off any “feathers”—unless you are riding a Clydesdale, in which case you need to clean and fluff them. How about the tail? You need not braid the tail for a dressage show, but it looks good if it does not reach beyond the fetlocks and is cut straight across. Comb the tail from the bottom up to avoid tangles. Lastly, put on a stable sheet and hope that he doesn’t roll in the shavings!

Lecture with Jan Biss – Biomechanics and Connection

BACH is hosting a lecture with Jan Biss on Saturday, November 23rd at 6pm in the Patio Room at Johnny Carino’s in College Station. He will be covering the topic of Biomechanics and Connection.

We are excited to have the opportunity to learn from Jan again! In February 2016, he spoke about “Communication between Horse and Rider” and he was a guest lecturer at our 2017 Year End Awards Ceremony.

If you are interested in riding wth Jan, he will be teaching at Look Sharp Farm November 22-24, 2019. Contact Marcetta ( or Donna ( for more information and to sign up. There is no cost to audit and there are riders of all levels to see!

Jan at Look Sharp Farm in February 2016. Photo: Donna Meyer
Jan acheived his Gold Medal in Germany aboard his 13 yr old Oldenburg gelding Divino in 2017. Photo: ACP Andreas Pantel