Just a quick note about reflocking your BALANCE saddle. The good news is you shouldn't need to do it. Unlike many other conventional saddles BALANCE saddles rarely, if ever, need reflocking. It has come to my attention to write about this as I hear people telling me they have had their BALANCE saddle reflocked. OH NO !!!!!
The reasons that BALANCE saddles don't usualluy need reflocking are:-
1) Some of them have a foam rubber panel - which doesn't have flocking. They can be replaced if they get damaged but something pretty drastic has to happen to damage them.
2) The saddles that are flocked are flocked with pure wool - this doesn't settle and harden like synthetic fibres which are often used in many conventional saddles because it is cheaper.
3) The padding system helps protect the flocking from so much compression.
4) You use the easy to access and adjust padding system to make the adjustments needed as your horse changes shape or if you are changing to a different horse. It is possible that your horse could out grow your saddle - we do try to allow for the expected changes so you don't have to purchase another wider saddle but occasionally it does happen. If it does happen it is a case of needing another saddle with a wider tree not just taking some flocking out.
Reasons why you might need to get your BALANCE saddle reflocked :-
1) It is extremely old and the flocking has flattened and hardened. However in saying that I am still using my original BALANCE saddle, its around 20 years old and has had MUCH use and it has never been reflocked.
2) The rider or horse had a strong crookedness pattern which caused one panel to settle (flatten) unevenly.
3) The rider pushes down in their stirrups when they post to the trot especially if the saddle was not broken in correctly when new. Brand new flocked BALANCE saddles should be ridden in at the walk only for a few hours to settle the new flocking evenly.
3) The saddle has been stored in a way that squashes the panels - eg. badly designed saddle racks, sitting heavy things on the saddle in storage.
If your saddle did need to be reflocked for some reason - it is imperative for it to be reflocked by a BALANCE endorsed saddler. One of the things that makes BALANCE saddles as good as they are and why horses love them is because they are flocked differently to conventional saddles. For example the flocking is not packed as tight or full, not as rounded, not flocked to fill in the dips behind the horses shoulders and on not as steep an angle. So if you get a "conventional" saddler to reflock your saddle it will most likely not function as a BALANCE saddle anymore because they will flock it "conventionally".
Most saddlers, who know nothing about BALANCE, have been trained to flock the saddle to match the shape of the static horse, which goes against the principles of a Functional Saddling method like the BALANCE Saddling System. A BALANCE saddle should only be flocked to recover the simple, flocking depths and pattern that it had when it was new. However, it could be hard to find a saddler who is willing to just flock the saddle back to its original state without seeing it on the horse and once they come out and see the saddle on the horse, it can open a huge can of worms if they start trying to persuade you that the saddle is too wide (as they won’t understand the pad system). They will also often think that they need to flock the saddle heavily to avoid using the pads!
The other no-no is for someone to deliberately flock a saddle unevenly to compensate for crookedness in the movement or the horse and/or rider. This practice damages the original, horse-friendly specifications of a BALANCE saddle. The Functional Saddling approach is to work out why the uneven loading patterns are impacting on the flocking and to deal with that. The only time one might use more depth of padding under one side of a saddle is if dealing with a horse or rider who has a permanent, mechanical, uneven weight loading that cannot change, but that is an unusual situation.
This is something to be aware of when purchasing second hand saddles and why it is best to purchase second hand through a BALANCE saddle consultant where the saddle has been inspected for damage to tree, panels or for any modifications.