Schleese Bursary in Honour of Melanie Rodgers 

Schleese is proud to announce that they will be providing a Virtual Custom Fit System Saddle to a deserving Therapeutic Riding Centre or Therapeutic Trainer in honour of the late Melanie Rodgers.

It has been an honour for all of us at Schleese to play such a significant role in Melanie’s life.

The challenge of building her custom saddles that have helped enrich her life and allowed her to do what she loved has been an absolute blessing for us over the last couple of decades. We were thrilled to be part of Melanie’s journey and be able to provide her the tool that would allow her to do what she loved despite the physical challenges she faced.

As a token of our fondness for Melanie and everything she stood for, we have established the annual Melanie Rodgers in Memoriam Bursary, and this next year we will be giving away one of our Virtual Custom Fit System saddles to a deserving Therapeutic Riding Centre or Therapeutic Trainer. Melanie has donated all of her Schleese saddles to the farm that played such an important role in her life, and we will also sponsor the fitting of them to a deserving horse and rider combo in her memory at WindReach Farm.

Melanie was a woman of dedication and perseverance and will always be remembered for it. We will miss you dearly Melanie.

In loving memory,
Melanie Rodgers

 But let’s hear from Melanie in her own words:
“I have been riding for 52 years and I have been connected to Schleese Saddlery since 1993. Schleese Saddlery has made it possible for me to have a riding career due to Jochen Schleese and his staffs’ expertise in the industry.

“I have been unfortunate with my disability, which is cerebral palsy. It affects my entire body and all four limbs, as well as severe brain damage, learning disabilities, dyslexia, and ADHD. I can not emphasize enough how important riding has been to me. On the ground I am unable to walk, or move, or even sit without a great deal of pain and difficulty. On the horse, it is like being on a flying carpet. I am free, I am in less pain, and my body moves with the horse, not against it. My balance and coordination, and ability to actually physically ride is something that is extraordinary.

“When I began riding I had two side walkers and a chair, and I could not even sit up in the saddle at all. I was on a lunge line for 3 years before they even dared to let me off, but I was insistent in knowing that riding was the key to keeping my mobility and keeping my independence. I fought and fought for 53 years to keep moving. I have walked 33 years longer and ridden horses 33 years longer than the doctors told me I would be able to. This is solely because of three things. WindReach Farm and their incredible facility and program, Schleese Saddlery Service, who are responsible for giving me the best gift possible (without Jochen and his teams’ expertise in design, I would not be able to ride at all) and my wonderful horse.

“Since 1993, Schleese has built 4 saddles for me that have helped accommodate my cerebral palsy and my muscles. If it wasn’t for Jochen and his wonderful teams’ dedication and willingness to work and find solutions, I would not have been in a position to compete my horse successfully nor ride independently outside and inside an arena. I have been a successful competitor since the age of 12, I’m now 68. My riding has saved my life. It is what I live for, and Schleese Saddlery Service, WindReach Farm and my horse are the three things that have kept my life together, kept me motivated, happy, content, and willing to do anything!

“I am extremely grateful with all my heart to everyone for everything that they have done and every part that they played in my life!”

Melanie Rodgers

Schleese will be opening applications effective January 15, 2022. Applicants can apply with a short essay on why they should be selected.

The lucky recipient of the Bursary of a Virtual Custom Fit System saddle of their choice valued at $8,000 will be announced on March 30, 2022!

 “On the horse, it is like being on a flying carpet. I am free, I am in less pain, and my body moves with the horse.”

About Jochen Schleese and Schleese Saddlery Service Ltd.
Jochen Schleese got his certification as Master Saddler in Germany at the age of 22 and came to Canada in 1986 to establish and register the trade of saddlery in Ontario, Canada. With over 80 different models designed over the years, Schleese Saddlery Service Ltd is the world leading manufacturer of saddles designed for women, specializing in the unique anatomical requirements of female riders. Schleese authorized representatives provide diagnostic saddle fit analysis and saddle fitting services across the globe to maintain optimal saddle fit to horse and rider and together they have enriched the lives of over 200,00 horses.

He and his company have been the recipients of numerous business and industry awards over the years and have been featured in the Wall Street Journal , twice on the Discovery Channel as well as PBS. He has also won a “Winnie” award for his DVD “Beyond the 9 points of saddle fit” as best educational video in 2017 at the EQUUS Film Festival in NYC as well as one in 2019 for best educational book for his best-seller: Suffering in Silence: The Saddle Fit Link to Physical and Psychological Trauma in Horses.

He is a regular guest lecturer at various equine and veterinary colleges around the world.

For more information about Jochen Schleese and Schleese Saddlery Ltd. please go to or

For more information and photos contact:
Miriam Boutros-Dale, Managing Director