Tuesday 22 July 2014

The SMART Native Pony Saddle - An Investment To Help a Child & Pony Improve Balance

"We bought Buttons, a 10hh Welsh cross for my daughter Brooke when she was one. She is now four and wants to constantly jump and canter.

It became clear that the saddle we had was not suitable as Brooke couldn’t keep her balance in trot or when jumping. Buttons was also uncomfortable and we struggled to get him into a canter at all, and when we did succeed, he was unable to maintain it and would fall back into trot.

My sister bought a Solution saddle around two years ago and I saw the improvements instantly with her horse. She urged me to try a Solution saddle for Buttons as she was sure it would improve Brooke’s position and Button’s way of going.

We decided to buy the pony size SMART NATIVE GP saddle. When the saddle arrived we were so pleased as it fits Brooke and Buttons beautifully. This saddle model can also be fitted to much larger ponies, so the investment will mean that Brooke will be able to ride in it for many years to come.

I would recommend the SMART pony saddle for anyone with small children as we saw an instant and incredible improvement. Brooke and Buttons have never been happier. He is comfortable in his canter transitions - both pony and child are balanced and able to maintain canter. Brook now is so balanced in her rising trot that she can even feel the correct diagonal.

I cannot thank Solution Saddles enough for the improvements in Brookes riding. I never realised how much a saddle can effect a child’s position - especially one as young as four!

Charlie Adey

Saddle Study Reveals High Degree of Lameness In Sports Horses - Issued: 4 April 2014

Hind limb lameness is the biggest cause of saddle slip in horses and there is a startling frequency of lameness  in the general sports horse population, reveals a new study on the relationship between lameness, saddle slip and back shape.

Saddle slip is usually blamed on poor saddle fit, a crooked rider or asymmetry in the shape of the horse’s back but the first phase of a long-term research project, which was first published in 2012, showed that in fact hind limb lameness is frequently the culprit.

The second phase of the study, conducted by Dr Sue Dyson, Head of Clinical Orthopaedics at the Centre for Equine Studies at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) and Line Greve, PhD Student at the AHT, has gone on to look at the frequency of saddle slip and the reasons for it, in a large cross- section of the sports horse population. 1

Of the 506 normal, working sports horses assessed, 46% were classified as lame or having a stiff, stilted canter. Saddle slip occurred in 12% of cases, predominantly in those with hind limb, as opposed to fore limb, lameness. There was minimal asymmetry of back shape in the horses studied but 37% of the riders sat crookedly, possibly as an effect of the saddle slip rather than as a cause.  

Given  these  figures, horses  with  hind  limb  lameness  and  gait abnormalities  are  more  than 50 times  more likely  to  have  saddle  slip  than  other  horses,”  said  Line Greve.  

“Furthermore with nearly half of those studied being lame, many horses with lameness are clearly going unrecognised. This study has reinforced our previous work and suggests that further education of riders and trainers is needed, to help them identify saddle slip as an indicator of lameness.”  


The full results of the study will be presented at the second Saddle Research Trust International Conference, to be held in Cambridge on 29th November 2014 at Anglia Ruskin University. The conference is supported by World Horse Welfare (WHW) and is approved by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA). 

Advance tickets are £100, £75 for SRT, BEVA, WHW members and students or £150 on the door. 

Email research@saddleresearchtrust.com or telephone 07775 912202 to reserve your place.

To find out more and to download a copy of the programme visit www.saddleresearchtrust.com 

1. The interrelationship of lameness, saddle slip and back shape in the general sports horse population, L.  Greve and  S.J.  Dyson,  Centre  for  Equine  Studies,  Animal  Health  Trust,  Lanwades  Park,  Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7UU, UK. 

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Customer update 2014 – Georgina & Her Mother Use Three Solution Saddles Between Two Horses

“I now own three Solution saddles between two horses.  Two GPs; one set up for me as a Jumping saddle and the other for mum as hacking saddle, as well as a SMART Dressage saddle. We still have our horse Mickey and also a youngster, Solo, who has never been ridden in anything other than a SMART saddle.  

Mickey has taken a bit of a back seat for now owing to a lack of time, although he still loves a bit of hedge hopping given the opportunity!  His new job is to look after my mother and have some fun.  Owing to this, his SMART saddle has been invaluable as his weight can fluctuate quite a lot over the season!  They’re planning on attending some training clinics and some Hunter Trials over the summer as well.

As for Solo, he was three years old in the last photographs I sent in and freshly backed, he’s now a six year old with a fabulous work ethic.  We’ve recently debuted at Novice Dressage scoring 70% + at our first attempt this season, as well as jumping several double clears Show Jumping this winter.  

The plan for the upcoming season is to qualify for the BD Summer Regionals at Novice.  Start 1m Show Jumping classes, have a run around Milton Keynes’ 3 day event in May and possibly finish the season with a BE90. 

I‘d like to thank everybody at Solution Saddles, for these wonderful saddles that make it all possible. I know, Mickey at least, would not be in ridden work without them!  And in particular to my Technical Advisor, who is always there if I need any support!

Many Thanks,

 Georgina’s previous update from January 2012:

“I’ve had my, 8 year old Gelding, Mickey, for nearly 5 years. Mickey has improved more in this last year with his new saddle then he ever did over the previous four.

Mickey’s a native with a large rib cage, little wither and croup high; a perfect recipe for a slipping saddle. He also has asymmetrical shoulders. We consulted a recommended Master Saddler and bought a saddle for Mickey. The use of point straps and a non-slip saddle pad were advised to hold the saddle in place but after a couple of years and several saddlers, we still had a saddle that none of us were convinced actually fitted him. Mickey was unhappy in himself, fighting the contact, hollow in canter, rushing into jumps. We were by this time also having on-going issues with back pain.

Exasperated, during a particularly bad schooling session, I got off Mickey, took the saddle off and got back on. Wow. My unhappy, uncomfortable, stuffy pony suddenly moved. He lifted, settled, accepted the contact and for the first time in three years he actually worked. His canter was uphill and soft, his trot stride lengthened and his walk was swinging. We decided the problem was his saddle. So we had yet another highly recommended saddler bring saddles to try on him. All of the saddles “technically” fitted him, but with each he reverted back to his uncomfortable, hollow and stuffy self.

I was a member of Pony Club, and about six years previously, Anne Bondi, had given a demonstration with Solution Saddles. The horse in the demonstration had shown an improvement, but at the time I didn’t have a horse with a problem and a treeless saddle didn’t cross my mind. Now faced with a horse that obviously hated every treed saddle we had tried I had to open my mind. I needed a saddle I could compete in so after some research into treeless saddles, we arranged a Home Consultation Visit from Solution Saddles.

Mickey moved off cautiously to begin with at the test ride, he must have been expecting pain but it never came. There and then he showed us a walk so long and so relaxed just like he did when I rode him bareback. The difference in his attitude to work was quite astounding. He chose the Original Solution as his saddle and I chose the GP style. I can alter the knee and thigh blocks depending on the discipline I’m doing so I don’t need two saddles.
A year on, I’m finally getting double clears Show Jumping, I have a pony that schools willingly and a pony that will listen in open fields without rushing off with his back hollowed and his head in the air.  I’ve got a saddle that can be both straight cut for dressage and forward cut for Jumping and galloping, with only a very simple alteration of knee roll and thigh block position.  I’ve been hunting him this winter, we’ve not had a saddle slip, a sore back or a sore bum (on my part). We’re jumping the big Leicestershire hedges with the best of them.
Georgina and Mickey
with the Readyfield Hunt 2012
I’ve also made use of the saddle fitting different shaped horses. We bought Solo, an unbacked three year old, this summer. He’s a completely different shape to Mickey; a Welsh D x TB, with narrow shoulders and higher withers. All I had to do was alter the pads. He was started, and fully backed in my Solution GP saddle. He didn’t once object.

We now have two Solution Saddles in our tack room. He soon got his own Solution GP so my mum and I could ride out together. We are aiming to do a couple of ridden showing classes towards the end of next year in it.
Georgina and Solo
on his second ride 2012
The Solution Saddles Advisors I’ve experienced are lovely people that understand horses and riders. I trust them and they listened to me. I’ve recommended them and the saddles to many people and they too love them

Thank You Solution Saddles! I’m sure my horse would not be where he is now without your wonderful saddle!”

January 2012

Wednesday 9 July 2014

The Eventing Way - Introduction - Reports From Their 2013 Event Diary

Event riders Steven Way and Mel Beckett make up The Eventing Way team, based near Salisbury. 

Stephen has produced and ridden a number of horses up to advanced level and competed at Lumuhlen 4*. Mel, who has competed at Intermediate level, focuses on bringing on young horses and retraining racehorses. The team are currently competing a string of six horses from unaffiliated to Advanced level eventing.

Alongside one of their owners, Frances Smart, they are now running their horses in SMART™ RigidFree™ saddles. The team saw changes in all of the horses immediately when ridden in the SMART™ saddles and so were looking forward to seeing how they continued to improve in their work with their RigidFree™ saddles over the following season.

Look out for their 2013 Event Diary reports that will be published over the next few months ...

The Horses

Sabreeze (Basil) - BE Novice
15 year old TB gelding.

Basil is about to make the step up to Intermediate. He is quite quirky, often quite wooden in his flatwork and we struggle to achieve straightness in his work. He is a very careful jumper but can sometimes be a little tight behind and have rails because of this.

Image of Sabreeze (Basil) before using a SMART™ saddle

Phantom Spark (Biggles) - BE100
7 year old TB gelding.

Biggles is aiming to progress to Novice level in the first half of the eventing season. He is very weak over his back and we have struggled to get him to build muscle and top line. This weakness shows in his work and he finds it very hard to hold his canter. Over a fence he has a very exuberant technique but the weakness in his canter prevents him from giving his best at the moment.

Image of Phantom Spark (Biggles) before using a SMART™ saddle

Cadanbyrig No Warning (Blott) - BE100
17.1hh 11 year old TBxWB.

Blott has previously had a foal. She has had a great start to the season winning her first event. She is very smart on the flat and moves well, but as a big horse finds maintaining collection difficult

Images of Cadanbyrig No Warning (Blott) before using a SMART™ saddle

Cadanbyrig Moonrunner (Mole) - BE100
15.3hh 9 year old TBxWB.

She has progressed well and has good paces but can be a little inattentive on the flat and finds collection very difficult. She can be tight through her back over a fence and as a result has rails behind.

Images of Cadanbyrig Moonrunner (Mole) before using a SMART™ saddle

The Navigator (Scobie) - Open Intermediate and re-qualifying at 2*
16.1hh 12 year old TB.

Scobie has competed up to Advanced and 3* level in the past. This season he is competing with the aim of Blenheim CCI3* at the end of the season. Scobie could be softer in his work and sometimes can be lazy over a fence!

Cadanbyrig Drifter (Joey) - unaffiliated
 17.3hh 5 year old TBxWB.

Joey is has been to dressage and showjumping over the winter. Joey moves really well and is careful but is huge and finds any sort of co-ordination very difficult – his brain is a long way from his feet!

Check back soon for an update from The Eventing Way event diary to find out how they got on after the first four weeks of using their SMART saddles. 

Welsh Section D Mare & Her Success with Using Solution Saddles - A Story From The Archives.

“I have owned my Solution Saddle since January 2006.

It is the best thing that has ever happened to my horse who is a highly excitable 14 year old Welsh Section 
D that I have owned for 6 years. She used to be very tense, short striding and almost uncontrollable in canter and whilst jumping. 

It wasn't until I had a test ride with Solution Saddles that the true extent of her back problems came to light. I had her checked by a different osteopath who discovered that she had injuries consistent with having fallen over on a treed saddle. It was about 2 months before I could begin riding again and I immediately saw a change. Using the Solution saddle has obviously helped no end, as it had no rigid parts at all.

At home we are now working at elementary level and doing county level showing. These are both things that I would never of dreamed of doing previously, as it was a regular occurrence not to even get into the showing ring after a rearing fit!!

Whilst she is still very sharp whilst jumping, I don't end up on the floor quite so often … we got there in the end!!

Katherine Taylor

Tuesday 1 July 2014

July 2014 Solution of the Month - - Amazing Cross-country!

An Update From Solution Saddles customer, Linda Kidby 

“I had such an amazing day yesterday I just had to share it with you. I had a lesson with our instructor at our local cross country course, Coombelands. Lou was an absolute star - jumping everything with enthusiasm and skill! The second photo shows the drop we have just cantered off - a while ago she wasn't balanced over even a tiny step down. I felt totally secure so my confidence was good. Even better Lou's not stiff at all today. All her back muscles are soft. That saddle is proving to be worth every penny!”

Best wishes

Lindas previous update from 2012:

“I hadn’t even heard about treeless saddles, and then a person on my yard purchased one…

I looked into the theory behind them and it made sense to me, but I didn’t like the look of my friend’s saddle so I started to research to find one of a more ‘conventional’ shape and I discovered the Solution Saddles website.

Meanwhile, my made to measure saddle was beginning to flap a little when I rode. When I had it checked, it was thought to fit as well as it ever had but when I rode my horse, Lou, bareback in the school she seemed much softer and freer than when wearing her saddle. Lou has had lots of issues with her back in the years since I’ve had her, and has caused me serious injury with her tendency to buck.

The South East Riding Clubs Dressage
Championships at Hickstead, May 2012
I decided to trial a Solution saddle and my local Technical Advisor visited me at my yard and put together a package to suit my mare, Louisiana, and myself for our two-week trial. I was very nervous, and anxious to be sure in my decision, as it was to be an expensive purchase, but Lou quickly got used to the saddle and instantly felt ‘softer’. A situation that would have caused her to buck just evaporated, she gave me some amazing trots out hacking and her jumping became easier. It took me a little longer to get used to it but each time I felt I needed guidance my Technical Advisor was there to help.
Now I’m a total convert and think everyone should have a Solution saddle! It’s the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever ridden in, I feel totally secure and trust Lou much more. Lou is far more active over her back and has changed shape… I just wish I had known about the saddle years ago. It’s worth every penny!

One of my fellow competitors remarked at a recent competition…’I can’t put my finger on it but your horse seems much happier in herself’.

Linda Kidby