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