In 1968, Philippe Guillot de Suduiraut, former ecuyer of the Cadre Noir de Saumur, intuitively felt that shifting the rider’s weight, as was taught at the school, was not in line with actual functioning of the equine back. Saddles were designed for the driving seat, high cantle and thick padding. They were based on static thinking that created shifts of the rider’s seat forward. Thick padding caused transversal rotations altering the dynamics relation between the horse and the rider.
In 1964, Richard Tucker completed the first dynamics analysis of equine thoracolumbar column. “An initial thrust on the column is translated into a series of predominantly vertical and horizontal forces which diminish progressively as they pass from one vertebrae to the next”. (Richard Tucker, Contribution to the Biomechanics of the vertebral Column, Acta Thoeriologica, VOL. IX, 13: 171-192, BIALOWIEZA, 30. XL. 1964) At the contrary of previous beliefs, it is not the lower line, abdominal and pectoral muscles, that flex the upper line, but instead it is the work of the muscles situated on and around the vertebrae, which convert the thrust generated by the hind legs into horizontal and upward forces. It was necessary to update the design of the saddle to actual knowledge. This is how the Macel dressage Samba was created. Later, the model was updated to advanced understanding of equine biomechanics by Macel’s master maker and manager Patrick Fesquet. Patrick’s craftmanship upgraded a dynamic wonder into a piece of art.
The saddle has to be comfortable for the horse but yet stable and close contact. The problem was resolved by an ingenious design of the tree and the panels in contact with the horse’s back. The center of gravity of the saddle has to be in the middle allowing the rider to find neutral balance; a balance exactly at the vertical of the seat bones without any forward or backward shift of the rider’s weight. It took two years to design a saddle seat that allows the rider seat to remain undisturbed by the saddle.
As lateral bending of the equine thoracolumbar spine occurs mostly between the rider’s upper thighs, it was necessary to design a seat allowing comfortable and steady contact of the rider’s upper thighs. This was achieved through comfortable but thin padding under the thighs and a judicious curvy design of the panels in contact with the horse’s back. Several ingenious details including the material on which the girth is attached and the single panel flap allows for stability and accurate feeling.
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.” (Albert Einstein)At a time where deep seat, thick padding and enormous knee pads are in fashion, it took a touch of genius and courage to move in the opposite direction. Patrick added then a touch of class through superb craftmanship.
It was clearly written in the stars, that a saddle designed in respect of actual biomechanics knowledge, the Macel Samba, and a school of thought upgrading riding and training principles to actual knowledge, the Science of Motion, would meet and further each other’s research.