Where Gaston Mercier really makes a difference is with a saddle concept that is unique in the world. A clever saddle that is so comfortable that riders adopt it and can no longer do without. A Gaston Mercier saddle is positioned over the horse’s 13th dorsal vertebra. This is the animal’s point of balance, the keystone of its spine providing the best possible for weight-bearing. It should be kept in mind that when a horse is ridden, two thirds of the rider’s weight is carried on the horse’s forehand. Bringing the saddle forward, as became common practice starting in the 19th century, can only further overload the animal’s shoulders.
Gaston Mercier saddles optimally distribute weight. This allows for greater mobility of the horse’s thoracolumbar junction (so that it can lower is hindquarters) and releases the shoulders. Hence, the horse’s movement is enhanced and its muscles are more relaxed.
By regaining this freedom, it becomes easier for the horse to perform the exercises required of it thereby giving the rider better sensations.
The secret to a Gaston Mercier saddle is its tree.
On the retail market of saddlery parts, standard trees are made of glulam and designed to rest over the 9th dorsal vertebra. Their bearing surface is small. As early as 1983, Gaston Mercier came up with a completely different concept. A design that was less restrictive for the horse and more comfortable for the rider.
As a connoisseur of equestrian history, he drew inspiration from the tradition of horse riding nomads and their wooden trees with a deep seat positioned over the 13th dorsal vertebra. Gaston then designed his own tree. Rather than using wood, which is heavy and thick, he chose epoxy resin, carbon fibre and fibreglass. With these modern materials, the tree is far lighter and allows closer contact with the horse.
It was this pioneering model that constitutes the backbone of a Gaston Mercier saddle. A saddle whose popularity has grown inexorably in all equestrian disciplines: trail riding, dressage, endurance and even show jumping.