Friday 26 October 2018

The SMART PRO Jump saddle has played a huge part in getting ‘Eric’ back up the grades.

“I have owned Eric since he was 10 years old. Now 14, this was our first 1.20m class together which, despite a few faults, he jumped round with a super rhythm - I was very pleased with him. I only started competing in affiliated classes when I got Eric and, in that time, I have had a now 2-year old son.


Before I owned Eric, he was ridden in a treed saddle. When I saw his previous owner at Hickstead, she told me that although he had competed up to 1.30m, he was struggling at 90cm when he was sold. 

Since having our SMART PRO Jump saddle he feels more adjustable and flexible in his jumping and most importantly he is happier; his SMART PRO Jump saddle has played a huge part in getting his confidence back.”

Katie King

Read Katies previous story, from 2015, when Katie first discovered the benefits of a SMART Dressage saddle here:

Friday 19 October 2018

The flexible SMART Native VSD saddle was the perfect choice for an awkward to fit, young New Forest pony.

I needed a saddle for my young New Forest pony, William, who is an awkward shape to fit; wide with a very short, flat back.

I decided to try a SMART Native VSD saddle because they are flexible and can adapt to the shape of the horse. As William still has a bit of growing to do, a SMART saddle gives me more flexibility in terms of adjusting the fit as he changes shape. The SMART Native VSD saddle looks very high quality and no different to a traditional treed saddle - it is also very lightweight.

I decided to rent the SMART Native VSD saddle for a few weeks initially, so I could really test it out before buying. During this period, Solution Saddles were very supportive and were able to give me lots of advice from the photos and videos I sent in when I had questions. I am enjoying the saddle & my youngster is coming on nicely.

Sheri Pinkney

Thursday 11 October 2018

From BE90 to Bramham: Edison's SMART story...

Edison: From BE90 to Bramham…

Those of you who keep an eye out on the Solution Saddles website and Facebook page will already be familiar with ‘Edison’, the diminutive event horse and SMART Saddles poster boy who often features in Simon Grieve's Horse & Hound blog. Edison first turned his hoof to eventing as a 5-year-old in September 2014 and, in just three seasons, has progressed up to 3*** level.

To celebrate his first run at Bramham International Horse Trials this season, we are taking a look back through his career, each step and every jump of which has been taken in SMART Jump and Dressage saddles.

Introducing 'Edison':

KWPN, born in 2009, by Quasimodo Z out of ‘Wirena’ (Oklund). 
Owned by Dr Anne Bondi (Solution Saddles MD and SMART saddle designer).
At (barely) 16hh and croup high to boot, Edison may not be a likely event horse, but thanks to his natural self-assured nature (read: Ed knows best), talent over a fence and the SMART saddle system, Ed's less than ideal conformation has never held him back:

Whilst Edison has little  no interest in dressage, he LOVES to jump - the expression on his face between flatwork and jumping is like night and day. See for yourselves:

Dressage Face            Vs        Jumping Face



They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and that is certainly true for Edison... 

2014: Bad ponies go to boot-camp!

Originally purchased for Anne's husband, David, to event, Ed's talent soon shone through -demonstrating great athleticism and accuracy when it came to dumping David on the floor. Unwilling to compromise, Edison was promptly packed off to boot-camp with local event rider and SMART Ambassador, Penny Lawn. 

Although Edison had some experience in the show jumping arena, he had never seen a cross country fence until arriving with Penny - but always game for a jumping challenge, Edison took to cross-country like a duck to water, popping each fence happily in his SMART SPORT Jump saddle:

Brain engaged and suitably motivated, Ed defined 'knees-up' at his first BE90 with Penny at Frickley Park:

By his 3rd event, Ed was confidently running at BE100 level:
Oasby Horse Trials BE100

Finishing the season with a double clear for 4th place at Norton Disney Horse Trials, which was his fourth top-10 placing in just his 1st short season.

2015: A new jockey and an FEI passport!

Even with a job to do, Ed let his cheeky side shine through, so to harness this 'joie de vivre', Ed spent the winter hunting over Leicestershire hedges, learning about crossing different terrain and how to dig deep at the end of a long day following hounds. Enjoying life in the Leicestershire Wolds, Ed stayed down there for the start of the 2015 season, where he joined British 4* event rider, Simon Grieve's yard.

Thanks to Penny's hard work the previous year, Simon was able to pick up where she left off and take Ed straight out at BE100 level, making a strong start with a double clear at Oasby Horse Trials, followed by just one down at Poplar Park:
Edison & Simon Grieve, Poplar Park BE100 

Edison & Simon Grieve, Poplar Park BE100

Already forming a strong partnership, on just their 3rd run of 2015, Ed & Simon WON their BE100 section at Great Witchingham International Horse Trials, earning themselves front cover of 'East Anglia Rider' magazine and signalling the time to move up to Novice... not bad for a rogue pony!

Ed confidently stepped up to the plate, recording another super double clear and his very first BE point at Burnham Market Novice, before consolidating his skills over the next few events at this level. Although the jumping part came easy, Ed remained unconvinced about the dressage phase, which kept them out of the placings at this level for the first half of the year.
Edison & Simon Grieve, Keysoe Novice 2015

Edison & Simon Grieve, Keysoe Novice 2015
Edison & Simon Grieve, Carlton Novice 2015

That was until Smith's Lawn in August 2015, where Ed let his guard down, pointed his toes and recorded a sub-30 dressage score, followed by another customary double clear to WIN his section. Ed was starting to look like a real event horse..!

Edison & Simon Grieve on WINNING form in the Novice at Smiths Lawn, 2015

Edison & Simon Grieve win at Smith's Lawn 

Edison & Simon winning at Smith's Lawn

Osberton International Horse Trials Young Horse 6yo CIC* Championships 2015

With 2 wins and numerous double clears under their belts so far in 2015, Ed was targeted at the Osberton International Horse Trials 6yo CIC* Championships that Autumn. 

True to form, Ed coasted through the dressage test - no doubt making Simon work harder than himself - but, powered by his SMART PRO Jump saddle, he jumped 2 super rounds, holding his own against some of the best six year old event horses in the country. 


On his final run of 2015, Edison was 9th in his first Intermediate at Oasby Horse Trials, a mere 13 months after his very first BE90:

2016: Introducing the 8th best 7-year-old event horse in the country!

Now a fully fledged event horse, Edison only needed 7 runs in 2016 to prepare him for his next big championship competition. 

Edison & Simon Grieve, Upton House Intermediate 2016

Edison & Simon Grieve, Upton House Intermediate 2016

Simon piloted Edison in 6 of these runs, before a nasty rotational fall from another horse he was competing saw him out of action for the rest of the season. 

Ed and Simon - another Intermediate double clear at Aston-le-Walls

The decision was made to move Ed to Izzy Taylor's yard, for her to compete him whilst Simon was rehabbing his dislocated shoulder. After a short period getting to know one another, the new combination went for a school around the Intermediate at Allerton Park, in preparation for the Young Horse CIC** 7yo Championships at Osberton at the end of the season. 

Osberton Horse Trials Young Horse CIC** 7-year-old Championships 2016

Despite having limited time to acclimatise to one another, Izzy piloted Edison to a convincing double clear at his biggest competition to date. In amongst top riders' rising stars such as Billy Walk On (Pippa Funnell), Vendredi Biats (Kitty King) and Little Fire (William Fox-Pitt), Edison finished on his dressage score to come 8th in a very hotly contested championship, earning himself a very nice rosette, some more BE points and a well-deserved Winter break. 


Click here for video 2

2017: Edison goes Advanced!

It's not unusual for the creme-de-la-creme of Event horses to move up to Advanced level at 8 years old, but it is unusual for a croup-high, overgrown pony to succeed at any level in the sport, let alone keep up with their peers throughout the age classes.  However, as with all his accomplishments to date, in 2017, Edison would prove to everybody that you don't have to fit a mould to succeed; with a talented jockey, a fully flexible sports saddle and a whole lot of jump, great things can happen!

Edison and Simon breezed into the season with some Novice and Intermediate runs, easy double clears, a few points but no placings; all in preparation for Burnham Market International 2** and Houghton International 2**:

Edison and Simon, double clear Oasby Horse Trials (Intermediate) 2017
Edison & Simon Grieve, Burnham Market 2**

Edison & Simon Grieve, Burnham Market International 2**

Edison & Simon Grieve Clear SJ @ Houghton International CCI** 2017 in their SMART PRO Jump saddle:

Simon Grieve & Edison - yet another clear XC round in their SMART PRO Jump saddle at Houghton International Horse Trials CCI** 2017:

As you can see in the videos above, Edison cruised around the CCI** at Houghton - which was just as well, because he was about to make his Advanced debut at Aston-Le-Walls ...

Aston-le-Walls Advanced 8/9yo 

Reaching Advanced level Eventing really is a milestone. At the top level of British Eventing, the dressage test requires half-pass, flying changes and collection, all before you even get to the Show Jumping, which is big as well as technical: set at 1.25m - 1.30m. Last, but definitely not least, is the cross-country which although it may not seem that big at 1m20 maximum height, is a serious challenge. With technical question after technical question, fences as wide as 2m70, and a fast-paced optimum time limit, Advanced Eventing takes no prisoners. Of course, Edison, at a tender 8 years of age and just touching 16hh, was his usual blasĂ© self about the whole affair; just one down show jumping and a confident clear cross country round despite most of the fences being bigger than himself. A milestone for many, but just another great day to jump as far as Edison was concerned - and the bigger they get, the better he gets:

Aston-Le-Walls Advanced 8/9yo SJ 2017

Aston-le-Walls Advanced 8/9yo 2017

Aston-le-Walls Advanced 8/9yo 2017

Aston-le-Walls Advanced 8/9yo 2017
Aston-le-Walls Advanced 8/9yo 2017

Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials 8/9CCI***

With the end of the season looming, another challenge awaited Edison: the prestigious CCI*** for 8 and 9 year old horses at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials - a competition brimming with  savants of the equine world and, nestled in amongst them, little Edison with his flexible SMART PRO saddles.

Expressive as ever, Ed maintained his discontent for dressage to the very last halt - no doubt Simon was just as pleased as Edison when it was over:

But, all was forgiven as soon as it came to the jumping phases! Ed jumped his socks off around his very first 3*** to finish with a double clear!

This culmination of the 2017 season was a wonderful achievement for Edison, as well as  everyone who has been a part of his journey, not least Simon and his team who manage him so well (and with such good humour):

Simon & Ed with their Blenheim rosette
Both looking pleased with themselves

One of Simon's grooms, Maggie, getting Edison ready to go home for a well earned rest after Blenheim 2018 !

2018: Edison inspires the next generation

When it comes to event seasons succumbing to the Great British weather, 2018 has to be up there with the worst of them. With seemingly never ending rain and water-logged ground claiming the start of the season, followed by an almost unprecedented heatwave from June onward, the number of viable runs open to Simon and Ed have proven limited this year. Despite this, the duo have continued to both progress and impress, with two CIC*** completions highlighting their 5 runs this season: Houghton International Horse Trials and, one of the most well loved and prestigious events in Britain, Bramham International Horse Trials. 

Houghton International Horse Trials CIC***

The CIC*** at Houghton proved a tough track, with plenty of horses and riders not completing. But, hampered only by Ed's attitude to dressage - and perhaps the amount of time he spends in the air over a fence - Simon and Ed happily popped around to complete their second 3*** together. 

Judging by the video (below), Ed was keen for the challenge as he left the start box..!

The Big 'B': Bramham International Horse Trials CIC*** 2018

Bramham Horse Trials is considered to be one of the best events on the circuit, not only for it's beautiful grounds and old-fashioned bold, galloping courses, but also for its buzzing atmosphere. It has been a venue for important events such as Olympic trials as well as the exciting Event Rider Masters series, so it seemed only right that Ed would get to showcase his effortless jumping style and much-loved SMART PRO saddles at such an important venue. 

Dressage: the less said, the better. Just because Ed benefits from full freedom of movement and a happy, healthy back courtesy of his SMART PRO Dressage saddle, it does not mean that he is prepared to demonstrate this positively to the world when within the white boards. We'll leave it there.

Show Jumping: Of the 97 horses that competed, only 17 produced clear rounds in the Show Jumping, illustrating just how tough the track was. Ed had 2 poles down, which although unusual for him, was perfectly respectable and set him up well for the greater task of Cross Country later that day. 

Cross Country: As you would expect, the Cross Country course, designed by Ian Stark, was a serious track and caused plenty of problems for the field. Ed, however, had no issues with the jumps, the questions or even the terrain; the only problem he encountered was removing one of his front shoes on take-off into the first element of the coffin, forcing Simon to take quick action and re-route to the alternative fence and, in doing so, accruing a few time faults. Despite this uneasy moment, Ed was able to regain his balance and Simon able to maintain his composure in the SMART PRO Jump saddle, preserving their faultless cross country record. Not only this, but he also inspired his biggest fan, Harris:

Watch and learn: Edison inspires the next generation as he jumps one of the iconic London 2012 jumps at Bramham International Horse Trials 2018. 

Although Bramham was Ed's last run of 2018, we are all looking forwards to seeing what 2019 has in store for him!