I had the absolute pleasure of meeting and spending time with Sabine Schleese at the American Horse Publication conference in Hunt Valley, Maryland in 2018. Sabine is the woman behind Schleese Saddlery, which she runs with expert saddle-fitting husband Jochen. Together they moved to Canada from Germany and created a unique saddle company that was the first of its kind to identify a need between the female and male physiology in saddle fit, and also provide a course to teach others how to saddle fit as well. Read on to learn more about Sabine and the strides she is making for females in the equestrian world!
I am one of the founding partners of both Schleese Saddlery Service and Saddlefit 4 Life, and we have been in the industry for over 40 years. My husband was an internationally ranked three-day event rider and taught me how to ride very quickly. Being a former competitive skier made it easy to learn; within three months he had me in my first jumping competition.
I helped Jochen exercise his competitive horse while he was away serving his compulsory military duty in Germany. Unfortunately, we have not had the time to get our own horses since we came to North America in 1986, when Jochen was invited to be the Official saddler for the World Dressage Championships. Instead, we concentrated on becoming the largest English saddle manufacturer in North America, and a leading authority on saddle design and fit – especially for women.
To make a difference to horses and riders everywhere – changing industry demographics (to 75% female) underlined the necessity for accompanying changes in saddle design. Also, the experiences Jochen had with his own horse’s lameness and his certification as a German Master Saddler led to the philosophy of Saddlefit 4 Life and the continuing education of riders everywhere. The S4L methodology is the basis for the Schleese 80-point onsite diagnostic saddle fit evaluation.
We specialize in infinitely adjustable saddles made specifically to conform to the anatomy of both horse and rider.
We work with other equine professionals and equestrian associations to educate riders all over the world – on five continents.
We have published a best-selling book on saddle fit which continues to grow in its reach and is being translated into several more languages beyond German and English.
We are passionate about ensuring that the saddle fits both the rider and the horse – taking into consideration the anatomical and biomechanical requirements of both and allowing the saddle to become a true connective interface between the two.
Equine well-being is the basis for our passion.
Continuing to educate the riding public is the goal of working with several equestrian publications to supply them with regular informational articles.
Fighting the traditional ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ mindset in the equestrian industry.
Finding enough cash to fund our ongoing innovations and research.
Seeing the difference a well-fitting saddle makes to a horse which has been ridden in a poorly fitting saddle most of its life. Also, having the owner/rider in tears when she realizes the damage she may have inadvertently caused her horse. We can help to prevent that.
My husband continues to amaze me with his ongoing thirst for knowledge within the equestrian industry and his collaboration with equine professionals at all levels. His growth as a businessman and as an expert in his field are truly inspirational.
I have worked as a mentor for other businesswomen for over 28 years and continue to work with entrepreneurs who are interested in learning from my experiences. Our accolades over the years – not only in business but also in the equestrian industry underline the fact that our successes should be shared.
Do your homework. Make sure you have enough capital to finance your failures (because you’ll definitely experience many before you break through!). Learn from your mistakes. Find someone who will mentor you.
Network and join as many organizations as possible.
I am working on a business book “mistakes I’ve made and the things I’ve learned” I also began my Ph.D. last January but have decided for several reasons that this is not the right time for me to pursue another degree and to focus my energy elsewhere.
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