Why use a Qualified Saddle Fitter?
Helen Dart is a Registered Master Saddler and Saddle Fitter and when you ask her to come and fit a new saddle or adjust your existing one, you are safe in the knowledge that she is fully qualified, insured and trained to the highest standard. As a dedicated professional with many years of experience and training, her aim is to ensure the comfort and safety of both horse and rider with a correctly fitted saddle and tack.
The Society of Master Saddlers created the qualification over 15 years ago as there was no confidence in the saddlefitting skills at the time. The examination was put in place to give the public confidence that the person fitting the saddle had been fully trained in anatomy, gait analysis, saddle construction and had a depth of knowledge in equine welfare and performance.
What happens when you book a saddle check or fitting?
Each horse and rider is unique with different needs and requirements. Whether a leisure rider or professional, all our clients get the
same attention and level of service.
When you book your appointment we will go through details about you, your horse and your requirements.
On arrival at the yard, we like to see the horse in its stable or in a safe environment where we will do a back examination and see that the horse is not sore and suitable to have a saddle fitted or checked. We then ask to see your horses trotted up in hand to see his gait , checking if there is any asymmetry in his gait that might affect the balance of the saddle.
When then saddle check for level flocking, straight panels and any wear and tear, making sure that your saddle is fit for purpose. The next step is to asses the saddle on the horse and see it girthed up, and then with the usual numnahs and pads that you might use daily to make a full assessment.
We take extensive notes and keep a detailed history about your horse and their fitting. This is so we can refer back and look at any changes further in the future. Our aim is to become an integral part of your team with your vet and farrier – working to help you and your horse as well as improving their performance and wellbeing.
Our next step is to see the horse ridden in a safe area, with a good surface, to assess the saddle’s straightness, balance, how relaxed the horse is – and his way of going. We check that his gait is swinging and moving forward to the best of his ability for his type and conformation. After the horse has been ridden we may need to adjust the flocking (which is done on site – no sending your saddle away). We ask the horse to be ridden again, checking that the adjustment made are secure and show improvement. In some cases if the horse is new or just coming into training we would recommended rechecking every 3 months.
Does your saddle need attention?
A badly fitting saddle or one that needs attention may well affect your horses temperament as well as his physical wellbeing.
- Is your saddle throwing you out of balance - are you tipping forward or back?
- Is your horse not walking out with quite the same freedom of movement?
- Is your saddle moving, or squeaking when you ride?.
- Is is close to the withers? Is it tight and restricting his movement?
These are all possible signs that your saddle needs attention and a good tip is to check your saddle every time you clean it.
Check the girth straps – is the stitching still tight – are the holes becoming larger? Is the panel even and the flocking level? Check any screws that may need tightening on a saddle with an adjustable gullet. Is there any obvious wear at the stitching.
Helen’s tip >>
- All leather saddles benefit from being kept clean and supple, but using a good quality saddle soap or balm regularly to keep them in tip top condition.
- If your saddle gets soaked, allow to dry naturally and then clean as above.
Get in touch
We would be pleased to come and check your saddle and make any repairs as necessary. We can also supply and fit a new or second hand one – you can see our range of news saddles >>here, but please get in contact for the latest list of second hand ones that we have in stock.
Helen will travel to your yard and savings can be made if a few of you get together and share a visit.