Wednesday 15 December 2021

SMART Advisor: Caroline Gaya, Northern Spain/ Southern France


Pamplona based Master Saddle Fitting Consultant, Caroline, has extensive experience as a professional dressage rider for over 17 years: from backing young horses in studs, to riding in Grand Prix dressage stables around Europe (Spain, Germany, UK). Additionally, she lately spent 6 years dedicating herself full time to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga as a practitioner and teacher. The combination of these paths led her to link her biomechanical experience on both horses and humans, through saddle fitting.


“I first got involved with Solution Saddles as a Saddle Fitter after watching a webinar on the subject. I tried a SMART™ saddle myself and then invited different riders to try as well. I could witness the improvement in the locomotion and acceptance of the aids. Tested on different horses (leisure, jumping, dressage, young, old, novice, advanced), so far, all the horses without a single exception have been moving with more ease, freedom, impulsion, and flexibility with the SMART™ saddle. They all look more relaxed, and easier to ride, no matter their starting circumstances. If the riders sometimes still wonder what is best, the horses don’t. This brings us back to the art of listening, just as Yoga does. I feel a deep gratitude to be able to contribute and witness these improvements in comfort, movement, communication and performance”.


Caroline Gaya

Monday 29 November 2021

Overseas SMART fitting service a success for US customer

 “For years I have struggled with saddle fit for my ever-changing Haflinger.  Eventually, our saddle fitter recommended we try a treeless saddle. While researching the models she suggested, I came across UK-based Solution Saddles.  I am located in the USA and had very little information about these saddles, but I was impressed with what I saw.  

I decided to enquire about a couple of SMART saddle models and was pleasantly surprised by how informative and helpful the customer service was, even when I admittedly was only casually looking at the time.

Living in the USA, I was also a bit hesitant about the idea of importing a saddle from the UK, but I became increasingly confident as the online community and Solution Saddles provided me with so much information and support. 


I was in regular contact with Solution Saddles, happily messaging back and forth, answering my questions and looking at photos and videos of me and my pony to assess which SMART saddle and size would best suit us.   With the level of competence and care with which I was treated, I decided to go ahead with the overseas transaction.


I'm so happy I did!  My SMART Pro Eventer saddle arrived safely in the USA and with continued support, I had no problems making the necessary adjustments for optimum fit and balance.

My pony is now moving nicely and, as he has added his fall fluff, I've only had to change some shims rather than curse the saddle fit.  I am looking forward to many seasons with this saddle!"


Thank you!

- Andrea & Franzi

Friday 29 October 2021

SMART Advisor: Zsuzsu Illes - California, USA

As a qualified Master Saddle Fitting Consultants (MSFC) saddle fitter, Zsuzsu looks at the horse AND rider, each as a whole, and focuses on saddle fit in motion.

"The 20 plus years of study in Classical Horsemanship, which focuses very specifically on the biomechanics of the horse’s movement and the rider’s seat, is an important factor in Zsuzsu’s knowledge and ability to understand saddle fit in motion. Zsuzsu’s experience and knowledge as an effective rider and trainer brings to saddle fitting a much needed skill and asset."

Find out more about buying a SMART saddle from out with the UK.

You can find out more about Zsuzsu here:

Thursday 7 October 2021

SMART VSD saddle review: "I can’t put into words how delighted I am that these saddles exist"


“Following a trial with a SMART PRO VSD saddle, I was completely in love with it - as were both my horses! I have had the same saddle fitter for about 5 years now and we’ve always fitted holistically, even despite this, the change in both horses is incredible. 


Odie is six but has been started very gently for a number of reasons; I’ve struggled to find a saddle that can cope with how quickly he changes shape not only between fittings but also within the space of a single ride! I was convinced to try a SMART saddle because it would be an investment for his ridden career. 


King is 21 and has some physical limitations. As such, I’m always very cautious of changing things too much with him, for fear of upsetting our cautious equilibrium.  


We agreed on a selection of saddles for me to try out based on how I’ve always ridden, and the activities I normally do with my boys. As she was my existing saddle fitter, the SMART Advisor knew my horse very well. She turned up with everything for me to try and whilst we just loved the feel of them, none were quite right until we tried the SMART PRO VSD - I was convinced this wouldn’t work having historically had a working hunter saddle which was a similar shape. I could not have been more wrong, so decided to take it on a trial.  


I was determined to ride as much as I could in this saddle to really test it out. King and I try and get in one really long ride each week, but with the weather being what it was, we set out at 7am. We achieved 12.5 miles in 2.5hrs (averaging around 5mph - a decent endurance ride pace!). 


Odie is learning about life in the school. Historically he’s struggled to stretch over his back and flex, this was like finding a new magic button for my little horseWe hacked up the drive the next day (something I’ve not been happy to do), I just felt so safe and secure in the saddle - I could do anything! 


King continued to tot up the miles and I soon noticed something; this horse who in the 14 years I have owned him has ALWAYS dipped away from a brush or hosepipe, particularly after riding, wasn’t anymore. Once I clocked this, I noticed, he wasn’t spasming his back as I mounted anymore either. Out of curiosity, I got my massage lady to have a look at his back while she was on the yard. She was astounded at the difference in his reactivity. It’s always been a comment on her reports about him; to have finally found a solution is phenomenal. 


Odie then discovered yet another button, to go with his new stretchy, we discovered we can canter! I’ve only ever asked him out hacking up until this point, and even then held on for grim death. But I felt so safe, and secure, I just asked, and off he went on the correct leg as if he’d always done it! 


I can’t put into words how delighted I am that these saddles exist. I want everyone to know about them and understand that a saddle can be flexible and supportive for both you and your horse. My boys are a testament to that - as is my gradually increasing confidence! 




Caitlin Kretzschmar 2021 

Friday 10 September 2021

SMART Advisor: Jess Rudkin - Bristol

"As an ambitious and competitive BE rider, I worked my way through many and varied saddle fittings, which proved to be unsuccessful, before finding SMART™ saddles for my Event mare. I understand the importance of taking the holistic approach to competition horse health, since having to treat chronic ulcers and complicated musculo-skeletal problems which contributed to foot balance issues as a result of ill-fitting saddles."

Jess Rudkin

Wednesday 1 September 2021

SMART Advisor: Buffy Lacey - Argyll and Bute

Buffy lives on the Isle of Seil, just south of Oban on the West Coast of Scotland. She has three horses and enjoys training her horses following classical and natural horsemanship principles as well as exploring Scotland on horseback. Her background is in teaching and coaching and she is a qualified BHSAI. Buffy also trained as a Riding Therapist with the Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy and taught children with additional support needs at the local High School in Oban. In 1997 she founded the Oban and Lorn RDA group.

“My interest in saddle fitting started over 30 years ago when I struggled to find a saddle to fit both me and my horse. I could find no clear career path to become a saddle fitter but I have always been aware of the importance of a well fitting saddle. I trained to fit traditional saddles and hold the Master Saddle Fitting Consultants (MSFC) qualification. I have been fitting traditional saddles in Scotland since then.  My riding coach introduced me to SMART Saddles and I am so impressed at how much freedom they allow the horse. I believe SMART Saddles will allow me to help horses be happy and comfortable and remain fit and healthy in their ridden life.”

Tuesday 10 August 2021

"I'm a total convert to SMART saddles and tell everyone about them"


“I am a serial saddle buyer. For the last ten years I have been constantly buying saddles for my 14hh rescue cob, Bob, to try to get the perfect fit. This has been impossible due to him always changing shape. A friend suggested that I try a SMART Saddle and, to be honest, I wasn’t keen on trying treeless but, after some research, I decided to book an appointment to try out the saddles. I am now a convert and cannot recommend them enough.

My SMART Advisor brought a few saddles for me to try and we determined that the best one for me was the SMART Native VSD. The saddle is comfortable, puts me in a great position, doesn’t move and Bob is going so well and moving so freely.

So far, in the month of having the saddle, we have been placed 2nd in a dressage competition (first competition in 18 months ) and been on a 16km pleasure ride.

I would never buy a treed saddle again.”



Photos: @helenlouiseequinephotography

Friday 16 July 2021

SMART Advisor: Lindsey Partridge, Ontario, Canada

Lindsey Partridge is dedicated to life-long learning and helping others connect with their horses. She is an accomplished student, trainer, and competitor.

"I love the Smart Saddles because my horses love them. They have made riding comfortable for students and horses, our equine massage therapist commented how much better our horses' backs are, the horses are moving and jumping better, the students are happy, and it's made saddle fitting so much easier without the need for expensive appointments and constant readjustments. 

I am so thankful I found these saddles!"


You can find out more about Lindsey on her website: 

Wednesday 14 July 2021

SMART Advisor: Bethan May Williams - Oxfordshire

 Bethan runs a 5* livery and training yard in Oxfordshire, specialising in youngsters and schooling liveries. She has used SMART Saddles for over 10 years on a huge variety of horses, of all ages and in all disciplines. Bethan has a passion for saddle fitting, the latest research and making sure horses are comfortable. 


“I will never loose that buzz from seeing the huge improvements in horses, 
after fitting a flexible SMART  saddle” 

Friday 2 July 2021

SMART Native Dressage proves successful for young Dressage Cob.


I have a 5-year-old part Dales x Clydesdale Gypsy cob gelding who I have had since a foal. He was backed by myself but he was forever changing shape with a broad, short back, huge shoulders and not much wither.  


As he matured his saddle was always slipping to one side and I felt we could not progress his training as I was worried he would eventually get a sore back because of the saddle slip. He is also very short backed and would need a 16.5" traditional treed saddle, whereas I need a 17.5" saddle to accommodate my length of leg. 


A friend suggested that I try SMART saddles. I was wary at first but after speaking to Solution Saddles HQ and having a fitting from my local SMART AdvisorI felt much better about the whole thing.  


Once I sat on the SMART Native Dressage saddle and felt my gelding, Saxon, move, it was a whole new ball game. His freedom and paces changed and all the tension of a moving saddle left him.  decided to rent the saddle, during which time we went to a two day BD camp where he and the saddle were much admired and discussed.  


When we went to camp, Saxon was not long backedbut he improved so much and felt so confident that we actually did our first prelim test whilst there. I find the SMART Native Dressage saddle to be extremely comfortable and lightweight and Saxon has gone from being a tense horse to floating along and being relaxed over his back with a greater length of stride. 


I ride my pure-bred Dales pony at Medium level and have represented Scotland at two Senior Home Internationals and would not hesitate to use this saddle on him also. 


Lesley 2021

UPDATE: 08/21 

rode in my new SMART Native Dressage saddle in the show ring at the TraditionalGypsy Cob Association Traditional of the Year Show with my five-year-old part-bred Traditional cob. It was only his second show and, before using the SMART Native Saddle, he had not really cantered due to saddle issues.  


I am pleased to say that he went amazingly, winning two ridden classes and doing extremely well in every evening performance. He has come on so much in the few weeks since his SMART saddle was fitted. 


UPDATE: 09/21 

 Saxon continues his excellent form; he is improving in confidence and producing super tests in his SMART Native Dressage saddle.