The Healing Power of Pets

Pets Have a Place in the Sickbed
USA Today

Another, separate nod to patients' connections to pets is evolving: A handful of hospitals and care facilities now arrange care for the pets of people confined for days or weeks.

"It's a huge burden of concern to take off the patient," says Kate Fischer, patient pet-care coordinator for St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan, which has a volunteer corps that tends to 200 to 300 pets a year. Often the pet belongs to someone who lands unexpectedly in the ER, or someone who has no one to call on when surgery is required.

"Every hospital needs something like this," says Fischer, and she's working with the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals to spread the concept.

In Ontario, a similar program was introduced last year at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, which has 26 facilities throughout the province.

Judith Brindley, fighting her way back to health after a rare bone marrow disease nearly took her life, realized one day she would improve no further without the company of her beloved greyhounds, which were banished to a caregiver on doctors' orders.

So she researched how to reduce the chance of dog-to-human disease transmission, such as wearing latex gloves when poop-scooping, cleaning paws after walks and frequent washing of muzzles. She battled for weeks before winning a grudging OK from physicians, who felt the dogs posed a threat to a body compromised by chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant, stem cell transplant and immunosuppressant drugs.

Finally, in July, Brindley reclaimed Grace and Roy after a three-month separation.

"There's no question that having (the dogs) with me these past few months made a huge difference in my recovery," says artist/art teacher Brindley, 65, now cheerfully settled back into her active, dog-rich Manhattan life and preparing to resume teaching next week. "They gave so much to my recovery. Their greeting me each day as though it was a special day … made me realize how lucky I am."

All pet owners and most in the medical community now acknowledge the healing power of animals. Some doctors even write prescriptions giving hospitalized patients access to the pets they left at home. At the 1,000-bed Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., patients can request orders for a recuperative in-room visit with their pet.

But there are pockets of disagreement among doctors when it comes to allowing seriously ill or functionally fragile people to return to a home occupied by a pet buddy. Some advise pets be exiled, fearing that someone in a full-leg cast, for example, might trip over a rambunctious cat and undo everything; or someone with open wounds or whose immune system is weak from chemotherapy or diseases like HIV/AIDS could pick up an infection from the animal.

"I receive phone calls virtually weekly" from veterinarians phoning on behalf of clients who are distressed because a physician has issued a no-pets advisory, says John New, head of comparative medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. They call New because his specialty is public health, which means he monitors animal and human health concerns and guidelines. New never advises them to "ignore the physician's advice, of course," he says, but "in many instances I can give information on assessing the situation and offer precautions."

It all comes down to degree of risk and whether a person — or doctor — feels the need to reduce it to nearly zero, or is willing to accept somewhat more. Every situation "must be handled on a case-by-case basis," New says. But he points out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has prepared guidelines for reducing exposures for people with various weakened-immune-system conditions, "and nowhere do they say 'get rid of the pet at home.' "

In fact, the guidelines for dealing with HIV-infected people say such patients "should not be advised to give away or destroy healthy pets" but should be dissuaded from acquiring a puppy or kitten under 6 months old because of a specific bug they may carry.

Ray Pais, director of pediatric hematology/oncology at Knoxville's East Tennessee Children's Hospital, gives "lots of instructions" to his patients' parents. "But I never tell anyone to get rid of the dog or cat," he says, though he does discourage proximity to pet birds because their droppings dry into a dust that can infiltrate lungs. And he's not fond of pet lizards and turtles because of salmonella risk.

"Most of the infections we worry about — by far more than half of the infections we see (in kids undergoing cancer treatments) — are infections from germs in their own bodies," such as in their mouths or their intestines, that in healthy people are beneficial but in compromised people cause illness.

"Our young patients have already given up so much," Pais says, "I see no reason at that moment for them to also lose the dog."

Indeed, a growing body of anecdotal data suggests time with a pet may be "as powerful in the person's recovery as the medical treatment," says the American Humane Association's Phil Arkow.

Carol Tavani, executive director of Christiana Psychiatric Services in Delaware, says "more doctors are becoming sensitized, largely through feedback from patients" to how important contact with a pet is, but she still hears of doctors who ask patients to "remove the dog or cat as if it were a chair." She calls that "rigid" and believes that "anything that is good for your stress is good for your immune system."

Artist Brindley says she is grateful for the skills of her doctors but believes many in the medical field should acknowledge the importance of pets in people's lives, learn more about pet-to-human disease transmission and discuss with patients "how to minimize the risk of having pets with them as they heal."

She knows "people may criticize me" for relentlessly badgering her medical team to allow Grace and Roy back into her life. But once the dogs were with her again, "I was relaxed. I didn't have to work on healing, I was healing."

Even in Rough Economy, Dogs Tasting Good Life
by Connie Cone Sexton - The Arizona Republic

Kierland Commons is going to the dogs.

And that's a good thing, officials at the shopping center in northeast Phoenix say.

Some shop owners are catering to customers these days by catering to their dogs. They're putting out fresh bowls of water, handing out dog treats and reaching down to give a friendly pat.
The center's open-air design has more owners bringing their four-legged family member along for a visit.

If Saturday's Halloween fashion show at Kierland was any indication, man's best friend certainly hasn't been cut out of the family financial picture in a weakened economy. While many of the costumes were homemade, many others were store bought. Dogs and their owners were bedazzled and coiffed.

A lucky Coco Chanel

Take Coco Chanel, a 3½-year-old teacup Maltese. As owner Xan Brockbank led her down the runway, Coco was pristine in her pink stroller, pink sweater and pink bow.

Brockbank adores her pet and says she has not let the economy sour her spending. "I have not let up," she said.

But Brockbank is able to save on commuting. She and her husband live in a loft above the Kierland shops and work nearby.

Coco is treated to a bath once a week and a hair cut every two weeks. And she sometimes finds rest at the Applewood Pet Resort.

"We keep thinking we should cut back on spending but we don't," northeast Phoenix resident SuAnn Dwight said. She watched Saturday as her daughter, Sarah, 10, walked Kierland's fashion runway with Hershey, a Bedlington terrier. Caring for their dogs "is such a priority," Dwight said.

Stacey Larsen, who owns Puppy Prep School for adult dogs, teaching at several northeast Phoenix locations, said her business is doing well.

"My work is so busy, one of the busiest times I've had," she said. "Even in bad times, people make choices of how to help their family. Having a nice pet is one of those choices."

She offers private and group lessons ( In general, her private sessions are $75 an hour.

Still spending money

Author Arden Moore isn't surprised that people are still spending money on their animals. "It's almost like the pets are a Teflon industry in this tight economy," she said.

Moore, who has written several books on animals, including the recent paperback issue of Happy Dog Happy You, has an explanation. "Pets just bring so much to us. They improve our moods. They make us laugh. Make us feel goofy."

But she cautions people not to go overboard. If you like dressing your dog, don't layer them beyond recognition. The advice is appropriate for Halloween. Don't make a dog dress in something if it is uncomfortable. "Dogs are big on body language. Don't block their ability to smell or be smelled," she said.

Treating pets like family

Adam Avigdor, manager at Choice Pet Market, 7119 E. Shea Blvd. west of Scottsdale Road, said many owners do keep their pets' interesting mind, especially when it comes to food.

"We're sort of the Whole Foods of the pet industry," he said. "Nowadays, people are treating their pets like their children and are looking carefully at the ingredients. They want organic, natural ingredients.

Frozen raw good is a popular trend and sells quickly, he said.

Vince Anginoli, an owner at Mackie's Parlour Pet Boutique, 6137 N. Scottsdale Road, has noticed a dip in sales but is hoping for a good holiday season.

Rather than spending $400 on a collar, people are spending $100. Halloween costume sales are not as brisk as before but customers continue to buy the outfits.

"People are hunkering down more," Anginoli said. "But they still want to buy for their dog or pet because when times are tough, the family sticks together and our pets are our family."

Rescue Dogs Need Recreation in Addition to Rehabilitation Says Ami Moore

Ami Moore, the Chicago Dog Whisperer, educator, author and motivational speaker uses her skills as an occupational therapy provider to create new and novel recreational activities for dogs that are in shelters and rescues. "Dogs need playtime and work time just like children do in order to remain balanced and healthy" says Ami Moore.

Chicago, IL, October 27, 2008 --( Pet Rescue, Inc., issued a cry for help – and Chicago-area dog behaviorist Ami Moore answered. A former occupational therapist provider who specialized in a pediatric population with developmental and learning disabilities, Ami Moore the Chicago Dog Coach employs the rehabilitation techniques she once used on children to tame problem dogs. And so, when Pet Rescue asked for donations for its Pet Rescue Sanctuary for Orphaned Pets and Wildlife, located in Bloomingdale, Ill., Moore knew just what to offer.

“I donated toys and materials to increase the emotional and mental stimulation of the dogs that are at residence at the shelter,” Ami Moore, the Chicago Dog Whisperer said.

Toys such as balls, soft toys, ropes, and bones are “stimulating and interesting” to dogs, Moore explained. Ami Moore, Chicago’s professional dog behavior expert, also gave the sanctuary the gift of her time, providing intervention and advice regarding the housing and handling of aggressive dogs that are lodged there. In Ami Moore’s professional opinion, there aren’t any bad dogs just dogs that are raised badly.

The Pet Rescue Sanctuary, opened since 1973, is one of the largest no-kill, non-profit, minimum cage facilities for orphaned animals. Animals there live in a loving and protected environment until they are adopted. Injured or sick animals are given the best care available from some of the area’s finest veterinarian medical teams. Individuals interested in adopting an animal from the sanctuary are screened carefully to ensure that the orphan will have the best chance of entering a loving, responsible, permanent home.

The organization also prides itself in helping pet owners who have fallen upon hard times – due to illness or disaster – and who can no longer care for their pets on their own. Pet Rescue, Inc., is known throughout the country, and has become a model for the establishment of many newly-formed rescue groups. Ami Moore the Chicago Dog Whisperer said she was glad to help the organization because it shares her values concerning the physical, mental and emotional rehabilitation of animals.


Contact Information
The Chicago Dog Whisperer
Ami Moore


PET DISH: 12-Year-Old’s Idea Gives Free Food to Shelters
By Sandra Eckstein - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Mimi Ausland, 12, of Bend, Ore., was looking for a way to help the animals at her local animal shelter.

She’d been volunteering there since she was 7 years old and knew how great the need was. Then she saw a site her dad, Kelly Ausland, was going to each day. He’d click on it and people half a world away would get a little rice. A light bulb went off.

“I went to a local pet store and asked them if they’d donate the food if people went online and clicked to donate it, and they agreed,” Mimi said.

The site,, launched April 1, with the store donating 10 pieces of kibble every time someone went to the site and answered the daily trivia question (a donation is made whether you get the question right or not.) The Humane Society of Central Oregon started getting hundreds of pounds of food. But Mimi’s idea was destined for larger things.

Within two months, information about the site had gone national, and the pet store couldn’t keep up with the demand for donations. The Auslands started looking for national companies to help.

In stepped Castor & Pollux Pet Works, a company that manufactures natural and organic pet foods, as well as, a pet Web site launched by the former owner of Meow Mix. Suddenly the little site Mimi started to help one shelter was able to help others. She’s now donating food to nine shelters or groups in Florida, Portland, Chicago and New York state, as well as one in Forsyth County.

“We didn’t apply at first because they’re on the West Coast, but then we heard they were looking for other shelters to help,” said Tim Link, president of the Humane Society of Forsyth County.

For the past three months, his shelter has received 1,500 pounds of dog food and 500 pounds of cat food from the site in the form of Castor & Pollux coupons.

“It doesn’t cover everything we need, but it’s certainly a big help,” said Link, whose group feeds the animals in the shelter, operates a pet food bank and feeds more than 400 feral cats.

A sister site,, launched June 1, and today 35,000 people a day are clicking on them, feeding 1,200 dogs and cats daily. Kelly Ausland said donations have gone from 600 pounds in June to 16,000 pounds in September after Mimi made appearances on NBC news and the “Today” show.

“It’s also creating an awareness and getting people to be more involved with their local shelters,” Kelly Ausland said.

Richard Thompson, founder of, said he’s proud of what a sixth-grader has been able to do. As an insider in the pet food industry, he coordinates the food contributions for Mimi and said he plans to continue to do it no matter how popular the site gets.

“Right now it’s about half a tractor-trailer load a month,” Thompson said. “If it gets to be eight, nine or 10 truckloads, then we might have to build a bloody facility, but we’ll continue to support her.”

Cotton States Cat Show

This CFA championship and household pet cat show will have eight rings where cats are being judged, as well as vendors, agility demonstrations and a kitty costume contest. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Gwinnett County Civic Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth. $7 adults, $5 children 12 and under. More information:

Cause for Paws

A dinner and silent auction at the Flat Creek Country Club on Saturday will benefit the Fayette County Humane Society. Tickets are $50 or $90 a couple and must be purchased in advance at or 770-487-1073. 6:30-9 p.m. at 100 Flat Creek Road, Peachtree City.


This pet-centric evening will have live music, food, a silent auction, vendors, a pet psychic and the auctioning of a professionally trained PAWS Atlanta dog. Attire is hippie elegance. Sponsored by Jabula Dog Academy, the proceeds will go toward a new training center at PAWS Atlanta to help prepare the dogs for adoption. 5-9 p.m. Nov. 2 at LITKitchen, 433C Bishop St., Atlanta. Tickets $35 in advance, $45 at the door. Tickets available at or 770-593-1155.

Animal blessing

A church service complete with music and prayers will be offered for animals at 2 p.m. today at the Historic Log Cabin Community Church in Smyrna. Individual blessings also available. Love offerings for the Humane Society of Cobb County will be accepted. 2699 Log Cabin Drive. Info: or 404-351-1912.

Pet photo contest

There’s only a few days left to enter the Spooky Tails online photo contest by Chihuahua Rescue of Georgia. Submit the best scary or fall photo of your pet (any breed or species) for $10 by Saturday. The winner gets a charcoal pet portrait by local artist Erica Cain. Second prize is a holiday photo session, while third place is a $25 gift certificate to a local pet store. Enter at


Pets, especially dogs, can react negatively to people in costumes. Place pets indoors in a safe area on Halloween for their safety and the safety of others.


Know of pet news, events or stories? Tell Sandra Eckstein at or call 404-526-7260. For more pet news, go to

Pet Meets the New Baby

By JULIA PRYOR - Canton Daily Ledger/Master Gardener and Program Coordinator, University of Illinois Extension-Fulton County

When ‘woof’ meets ‘waaaaah,’ some adjustments need to be made, and that is definitely the case in this office. University of Illinois Extension—Fulton County’s Becky Campbell has been blessed with two new grandbabies this fall. Shown in the picture is granddaughter Betsey Weiss with family pet Kick.

Bringing home a newborn means adjustments for your household, since for many couples, their pet may be their first “baby.” Strategies exist to prepare your favorite four-legged friend for the newest two-legged addition to the family. I hope this information from U of IL Adjunct Assistant Professor Linda Case will be helpful.

Case teaches companion animal behavior and training and also owns Autumn Gold Dog Training Center, in Mahomet, Ill., and has authored several books, including “Canine and Feline Behavior and Training: A Complete Guide to Understanding Our Two Best Friends.”

“Basic manners training is especially helpful when a new baby is going to be added to the home,” says Case. She says that teaching your dog the down and stay commands before the baby arrives is a good start to a well-mannered pet that will be calm around infants. She also recommends teaching your pet to “come when called; sit quietly for petting and handling, and to keep four paws on the ground.”

With these commands in your dog’s repertoire you’ll be more apt to keep things under control when you bring the baby home. However even new parents have a hard time preparing themselves for the jolting cries infants can produce, so imagine how stressful that sound might be to an unsuspecting animal.

For this reason, it is recommended that you expose your pet to infant cries long before it hears the real thing by use of a CD of baby noises. Case explains that, “owners can play the CD very softly and as soon as an unusual sound occurs, the dog is given several high value treats.”

Although exposing your pet to sounds of babies is helpful, Case says, “It is important to realize that dogs’ primary special sense is olfactory.” Because of this, the Humane Society of the United States recommends that you have a friend or relative bring a blanket with the new baby’s scent on it home for the dog to smell prior to the baby coming home.

Along that same train of thought, it is also a good idea to allow your pooch to smell and investigate all the baby gear you buy and put together long before the baby arrives. You do not have to go so far as to take your pet for a ride in that new stroller, but at least let it get used to the new items.

When you come home from the hospital with your new bundle of joy, remember that you have been gone for several days and your pet will be excited to see you. It is a good idea to spend a few minutes alone with the new older brother or sister before you introduce it to the new baby.

As a final word of advice Case reminds people that “a dog should never be left unattended with an infant or small child.” This includes the pets of grandparents, relatives, and child care providers. Case also recommends keeping your pet’s daily routine the same both before and after the baby arrives, as abrupt changes will only make the situation more stressful.

Congratulations to those of you who have been blessed with children and grandchildren. For more information on introducing a new baby to pets speak with your local veterinarian or visit the Humane Society of the United States Web site at

At University of Illinois Extension—Fulton County, we are committed to helping the people of Illinois put knowledge to work. For a complete list of activities and links to a variety of helpful resources, check us out on the web at It is my privilege to share information with you in this column, and I look forward to our ‘Extension Connection.’ Have a great week!

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Dog Training – Train a Dog to Fetch
Author: John Williams

The fetch game is probably the most popular and most used dog activity for rewarding your dog and giving him exercise at the same time. Giving your dog regular exercise is essential in keeping your dogs health up to scratch and helping them live a more exciting happy life.

Playing the fetch game with your dog is very easy and takes as much effort as you want to put into it. Simply take some form of ball, Frisbee, or stick and get your dogs attention with it, as soon as your dog has their eyes on the swinging stick, throw it as far as possible and command your dog to fetch the stick and pointing in the direction you threw it in with some enthusiasm to make it seem fun for your dog.

Dogs love this game and are happy to play it al day long with you, some dogs like the game more than others due to breed tendencies to please the owners. There are many different products available to help you with this command if you suffer from a bad back or similar and are incapable of bending down or throwing, this product is a long stick that cups the tennis ball and makes it easier to throw and pick up the ball.

This activity can be an energetic exercise for both you and your dog if you want it to be. Running around after your dog and throwing for your dog to fetch is a way used by many to keep fit and not just their dogs. A helpful two in one exercise to keep both parties healthy can’t be a bad choice!

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Getting to Know Your Cat
Author: Clark Tran

Spay or Neuter a New Cat
Millions of cats are euthanized each year in shelters due to the overcrowding of animals. Cats can easily have over 10 kittens in a given pregnancy leaving owners with problem of trying to find homes for these kittens. There is an easy remedy to this problem and that is spaying or neutering your cat. Not only is this the responsible thing to do but it is better for your cat. If unspayed female are more at risk of developing the following conditions: breast cancer, pyometra, tumors of the uterus & ovaries. While unneutered male cats run a risk of developing testicular cancer.

The Price of having a cat
When people see a cute kitten they immediately decide to adopt it. Once home they realize they have made a mistake. They are not prepared for the responsibility of a cat, not all members of the family are happy to have a cat, resident pets don't adapt well to the new addition or it just doesn't fit into your lifestyle. The costs of pet ownership can be quite high. Licenses, training classes, spaying and neutering, veterinary care, vaccinations, grooming, toys, food, kitty litter, and other expenses add up quickly.

Checking the health of your new cat
When a household decides to adopt a cat, be it from the shelter or a breeder a great deal of time should go into selecting the right animal. Have questions about where the pet came from, how they have interacted with the staff, do the pet have a behavior issue, etc. If you are buying from a breeder, ensure they are registered with an appropriate cat council. When visiting the cattery check out the overall health of the animals. Always have everything in writing, including the final cost of the cat, health guarantees etc.

Buying purebreds from pet shops or backyard breeders
If you are buying a cat from a pet shop or a backyard breeder there is probably little chance that a proper screening of genetic problems has taken place. Pet shops generally charge more for purebred kittens than a registered breeder would. Not only this, but they most likely won’t have certified paper to ensure their authenticity and health. As a result, you may be buying a cat that could have substantial medical bills in the future or even pass away suddenly.

Seek veterinary help
People don't realize the seriousness of a medical condition & fail to take appropriate action & get the cat to a vet. This may be due to the lack of knowledge they posses or funds. Cat owners should look into the cost of having pet health insurance or a special Cat Fund prepared in case of emergencies.

Flea Control Product
Unless recommended by your veterinarian, cats should be treated with a cat flea treatment only such as Frontline. Pet owners think they will save money by sharing their dog’s flea control product with their cats. This can prove fatal as cats are extremely sensitive to pyrethrins & pyrethroids which are often in dog flea products. The use of these on cats can result in death.

An appropriate diet
Cats have very specific dietary needs and as such need a balanced diet. There are many commercially available brands of cat food available which will fulfill your cat's dietary requirements. Don't attempt to feed your cat a home-made diet or other human consumed foods unless you have spent a great deal of time researching, as certain food s can do more harm than good.

Your roaming cat
Some owners feel that having your cat roam outside the home is beneficial for them. In actuality it may do more harm as free roaming cats & their lifespan is considerably shorter than that of indoor only cats, or cats with limited/supervised access outside. Outdoor cats run the risk of being highly stress by been hit by a car, attacked by another cat or dog, plus many other dangers they encounter which is very traumatizing.

Declawing VS not Declawing
Declawing has been a heated debate for many veterinarians, cat advocates, and owners alike. Some veterinarians consider declawing a "routine" surgery, while cat advocates consider it cruel, inhumane, and unnecessary in almost every case. Declawing is not for everyone and cat owners should have all the facts before making this decision.

Litter Box Maintenance
Cats will use a litter box only if it is kept clean, and if the litter is not scented or pleasant to the cat’s feet. Carefully maintaining your cat's litter box will almost guarantee that you will not be faced with litter box avoidance problems. Don’t try to over clean the box with disinfectant or bleach as cats are very sensitive to these and other chemicals. It is also recommended to have an automatic litter box to help in reducing the maintenance. If your cat suddenly starts urinating outside the box despite your careful maintenance, you should immediately suspect a urinary tract problem and call your veterinarian.

Franklin Pet Memorials
“Remember them with a custom solid bronze memorial.”

Contact: Cynthia Linnon
191 Howard Street Franklin, PA 16323
814-346-7205 ph 814-346-7047 fax

Western Saddles: Top 7 Buying Mistakes
Author: Beth Stefani

Buying the wrong western saddle is a very common occurrence in the western riding world. It's also a very expensive learning experience. You can skip this painful lesson by avoiding the top seven western saddle buying mistakes.

1. Buying Pretty. While we'd all like a nice looking saddle, letting looks drive your buying decision is asking for trouble. The quality of the saddle materials and the construction are far more important than the look of a saddle. A poorly made saddle can look awfully pretty, especially to the uninitiated. Don't fall for this one.

2. Buying Image. Have dreams of riding the range and working the cattle drive? Or maybe riding to an NFR championship buckle in barrel racing? While the cowboy and cowgirl dreams and imagery can be strong and enticing, don't let those images determine your saddle choice. Choose a saddle type that fits the actual type of riding that you'll be doing.

3. Buying Cheap. Cheap saddles are not a bargain. Poor quality materials and construction will shorten saddle life, and, more importantly, will cause discomfort and impair movement in your horse. If you can't afford at least a middle-of-the-road new saddle ($500 and up), then buying used is a great solution. Quality saddles last a long time, making buying a "pre-owned" saddle a smart buy.

4. Buying Dumb. You need to educate yourself on some saddle basics before buying. Ride in as many different saddles as you can. Talk to all the horse people you know about their saddles. Pick the brain of knowledgeable saddle folks. And, always, before purchasing a saddle, know the seller's tryout and return policies.

5. Buying Selfish. You found a saddle that's high quality, pretty, and fits you well. You're all set right? Wrong. You're forgetting one very important partner in this deal - your horse. If the saddle doesn't fit your horse well, than the rest doesn't matter. Make sure you understand the basics of horse fit and determine beforehand whether the saddle will be a good fit for your horse.

6. Buying One-Size-Fits-All. While you shouldn't need a different saddle for every horse you ride, one saddle will not fit every horse you run across. The best approach is to choose a saddle that will fit the basic physical type of horse that you'll ride. For instance, I ride Quarter Horses that are on the smaller size. I have a saddle that will fit most horses of this type. If you ride more than one type of horse, you'll need multiple saddles.

7. Buying Brand (or Endorsement). This one is a little trickier. Buying a well-established brand is not a bad idea. You just need to be aware that a number of saddle brands have been around a long time and the quality of their saddles have varied significantly over time. The quality can also vary over their current product lines. Never just blindly buy by brand without thoroughly inspecting the quality of the saddle in consideration. Additionally, celebrity endorsement can seem like a stamp of approval, but it really doesn't mean more than that the celebrity is receiving payment for use of his or her name. Very few celebrities have any input into the design and construction of the saddles bearing their name.

Many riders have a tack room full of saddles that didn't work out. Others are constantly buying and selling saddles in search of just the right one. It doesn't have to be this way. If you do your homework beforehand to truly understand your horse's and your own needs, you can purchase the one saddle that will be a match for you, your horse, and your riding activities.

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