These last few months have marked a great deal of change for me. The desire to improve the saddle fitting experience for my clients, changing the way I run my business from a retail premises to really focusing on saddles and the end experience for horse and rider and moving my business home has not been an easy decision to make. That said, I am entirely confident it’s the right one.
With 30 years experience I believe that the equestrian industry has changed enormously, horses and the way they are bred has changed, the expectations of riders have changed, and saddles have certainly changed.
This week I spent some time with the Saddlery Brands International UK team, on a seminar program designed to support the network of UK saddle fitters enhance the experience for horse and rider- something that I feel very strongly about, and always want my clients to feel like they have benefitted from the range I offer, the time I spend with them and the experience and knowledge I can offer them.
The Bates brand is a brand that I have always had an affinity with as the saddles are extremely versatile, adjustable and good quality. The company are extremely innovation focused, with a huge amount of time, money and research and development going in to the saddles that they produce to support the changing shape of horses and allowing riders minimal inconvenience when saddlers go out to check their saddles.
The introduction of the new Bates Advanta event saddle was a product launch back in March that I was delighted to be invited to- the Advanta had taken 3 years of work, development, multiple prototypes and testing to get it right but it is, without a doubt a superb example of what can be achieved with time, investment and listening to riders.
The seminar I attended was designed to look at how the Bates’ systems (Easy change fit solution) behaves very differently to many of the techniques that experienced saddle fitters like myself know and understand. The CAIR system (air and open celled structure contained in 4 small, sealed units in the panel) is one that has prompted much debate over the internet and within the industry for the last few years.
We worked on multiple horses, some with serious atrophy, and performed both static and ridden assessments. We were able to look at the saddles stripped down to the trees, and see how the CAIR cushions do in fact cover the tree points in the saddles, allowing the horses shoulders to move fluidly underneath the panels and not being restricted by invasive tree points that can restrict the horse’s movement.
For me the seminar program was a great example of the type of support that we should be receiving from saddle manufacturers. Not only was the seminar headed by Lou Collins ( an experienced fitter and equine bodyworker who had travelled from Australia to connect with us) but we all had significant input from our account mangers- who are all saddle specialists, and work tirelessly to be part of our business and endeavour to ensure we receive the support we need as fitters and retailers.
So as my business moves on, after 30 years, it was ironic that it made me think about technology, and how this moves on too…. Phones move on… computers move on…. Even footwear. We accept that we can pack equestrian boots full of technology, equestrian clothing full of technology… air jackets, fabrics on coats, hats…. But no one seems to apply the same principle to saddles. As a representative of the UK saddle fitting service this was a powerful moment for me.
I am fully committed to making my new venture the best in the industry for my clients, and will continue to update my knowledge as changes occur, to ensure that my riders and horses feel that I am best able to support them in any way that I can, with the most up to date knowledge of product, technology and welfare of the horse and rider at the forefront of everything I do.
I look forward to welcoming my existing and new clients to my new premises, and hope that you will enjoy and benefit from the hard work and efforts that I have put in to my new venture.