Friday, 20 May 2022

The adjustable SMART™ saddle, for security and confidence in the saddle

 


Ebony and I came together by an amazing chance set of circumstances during the Covid pandemic. I am a novice rider in my fifties and I have never owned a horse before. I made friends with the owner of a horse in the field adjacent to my house and, within a year, Ebony had been rehomed to us! She is nineteen years old, about 15hh and a Friesian/cob cross. She is very green, so we have spent a lot of time building up her confidence on the ground and hacking out.

I was borrowing my friend’s saddle but I really felt I needed something more secure so that I was confident going out, which is the best way to get Ebony working with a rider at present. I had a visit from a fantastic SMART™ Advisor who really put in a lot of time and effort to keep in contact and meet our needs, especially when the fitting was delayed for many weeks due to the Scottish weather!

I now have a SMART™ PRO VSD saddle and the fit is great both for Ebony and for me, especially with the adjustable knee and thigh blocks; she is really ready and keen to work now. The next step is to decide on her bridle and get her out of the halter.

I am hoping to buy another horse and we will keep Ebony as a companion, so the SMART™ saddle is intended to fit the new horse as well. It also fits my friend’s horse, by simply changing the shims, which means I can have lessons on him in the arena. 

In the meantime I am enjoying working with Ebony and learning so much every day!

Kathy Dale

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Happy, comfortable and confident: the perfect fit with a SMART™ saddle.

“I’m so glad SMART™ saddles were recommended to me. ‘Hugo’ is a very chunky monkey; very wide with a big shoulder and short back.  Everyone’s comment when they met him before he was started was  ‘you’re going to have fun finding a saddle to fit him’ - how wrong they all were.



The SMART™ saddle is amazing! It fits Hugo perfectly all the time, so putting on or losing the odd pound doesn’t matter and, as he’s changing shape and developing muscle, the saddle just accommodates any changes. It allows him full and free movement in his shoulders and back which encourages him to use his body correctly.

We have done many miles now in it, both in the school and out and about exploring the countryside. Both Hugo and I have been happy, comfortable and safe in it. 




 

The quality of the SMART™ saddle is impressive; there has obviously been a lot of thought gone in to not only the design but also the materials used. 

SMART™ Saddles are so easy to deal with, they are so helpful if you have any questions or queries. Having a decent trial time to try the saddle out properly was amazing and gave me confidence in both the saddle and the company. 




I also love the fact that the SMART™ saddle will fit any horse, so when chunky monkey #2 gets started later in the year, I can pop this saddle on and know it’ll fit him as well as it does Hugo – plus, I’ve got a very comfy familiar saddle to start his ridden career in too.”

 

Clare Mercer

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

SMART Advisor: Sarah Pizane, Aberdeenshire


 
"I have been involved with horses for most of my life; competed in British Eventing and British Dressage and I have an interest in biomechanics. For the last 30 years I have been training horses using natural horsemanship techniques for all areas including, behavioural issues, starting horses and ridden work. 



I have been riding in SMART ™ saddles for many years now. I came to them after finding it almost impossible to find a saddle for my little Thoroughbred, the change in him  with a SMART saddle was instant so I've never looked back."





Friday, 22 April 2022

Continuous progress since switching to a SMART™ saddle

 “I finally got my first SMART™ saddle 2 years ago after having numerous issues with fitting a treed saddle to my cob; constant reflocks and needing a new saddle every year, it was getting too expensive and he was always restricted at the shoulder, we just couldn't get enough clearance. 

 


Since changing to a SMART™ saddle our dressage scores are much better, we are constantly progressing in our training and he just finds everything easier because he can move without restrictions.

 

We now get comments such as, "working beautifully from behind" which never happened before, he simply couldn't and wouldn't stretch and work through. We have a SMART™ dressage saddle and we jump in it too - the saddle is also great for adapting to muscle changes throughout the season due to his PSSM. 

 

I have recommended SMART™ saddles to friends and clients and all see happier free moving horses straight away, seeing almost instant progression in training. 

 

For anyone thinking about taking the leap - just do it! SMART™ saddles are worth the investment and will save you a lot of money in the long run."

 

Rebecca Duke 

( the cob diaries ) 

 

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

SMART Ambassador: Rafaella Bailey

Introduction


My name is Rafaella Bailey (Raffi for short) and I am a dressage rider based at The Talland School of Equitation in Gloucestershire. I have always had a huge love for horses and have been having lessons since I can remember. My mum’s best friend inspired me to get into teaching, so I moved to Talland in 2016 to train for my BHS exams, of which I have achieved BHS Stage 4 Complete (which is the old BHSII) and I am now training towards my BHSI. Although only one year was planned, I would not be where I am now without the help from everyone at Talland, especially Pammy Hutton and Pippa Hutton, both of whom inspired me to take up Dressage.

 

At Talland, I teach alongside grooming and riding for Pammy, and I am lucky enough to be able to compete on those wonderful horses. After meeting Anne Bondi, and riding in a SMART™ Elite Dressage Saddle, I am so excited to join the team as a SMART™ Ambassador. The SMART™ Elite Dressage Saddle is probably one of the most comfortable saddles I have ever sat in. I love that I can make little tweaks to help my position on the horse. Where it is flexible, I can get a really good feeling of what is going on underneath me, and it gives such a close feeling to the horse. With three horses out competing in British Dressage, from Novice to Advanced/Prix St George, only having to put one saddle into the lorry for the three of them is such a massive bonus and saves so much lorry space.

 

Gatsby

The first horse I would like to introduce is Gatsby (Platinum Furstensohn), he is an 18.2hh black Hanoverian gelding by First Heinrich whom I bought back in 2018. I quite often refer to him as an overgrown black Labrador as he follows me around absolutely everywhere. In 2019 we came in the top 10 at Sheepgate U25 National Championships at Prelim, and last year (2021) we finished top 10 at the Summer Area Festivals at Elementary. At home we are training towards Advanced Medium. The flying changes are quite difficult when your legs are so long! Last year we also tried our hand at Eventing, mostly because he loves to jump. At our last event I got rather wet, so it is safe to say I won’t quit my day job and turn into an Eventer. My plan this year is to qualify him for Summer Area Festivals at Elementary and Medium and to do an Advanced Medium by the end of the year, which will be rather emotional for me as he is my first horse that I have trained up the grades from a 5-year-old. Gatsby feels so happy in his SMART™ Elite Dressage Saddle, and it just adds to how much he feels like an armchair to ride.

 


Maddie

The next horse I’d like to talk about is Maddie (Kalosca) who is a stunning 17hh bay mare by Speilberg owned by Pammy Hutton. I have been riding Maddie since September 2019, not long after she had been backed as a 4-year old. In 2021, we competed at the Winter Area Festival Championships at Hartpury where we finished 4th in the Novice Silver and 2nd in the Prelim Silver. Later in the year get got a wildcard to go to Somerford Park for the Le Mieux National Championships at Prelim Gold, where we came just outside the top 10 in a very hot class. Maddie has not been particularly straight forwards and can be quite opinionated; I have always said that she is like myself but in horse form. However, she is the soppiest mare in the stable, you could sit in her stable with her all day long having snuggles. The aim with Maddie this year is Elementary Summer Area Festivals and to hopefully do some Mediums as well for the Winters. Alongside me riding her, she will also be doing Show Jumping with another rider this year. At home she has been learning the work for Advanced Medium. She shows such a talent for the lateral work and the SMART™ Elite Dressage Saddle helps so much with her freedom of movement along with allowing myself to be comfortable sitting her take on “flying” changes!

 

Enjoy

The final horse to introduce is the main reason that I decided to join the SMART™ saddles team and his name is Enjoy. Enjoy is a big moving 17.1hh bright bay gelding by Vivaldi, also owned by Pammy Hutton. Although I have known him the entire time I have been working for Pammy, I have only been riding him consistently for the last 6 months. He has got the biggest sense of humour I have ever seen and does come with a slight reputation of walking around arenas on his hind legs! Enjoy has competed to Prix St George/Inter 1 with his previous rider and he has taken me though my first Advanced Mediums and Advanced tests. No matter what interpretation of the test he decides he wants to do, which has included a Grand Prix Freestyle down the centre line of our Advanced Medium, he always leaves me laughing (and sometimes the judges as well). 

There have always been issues fitting saddles to Enjoy due a bit to his conformation and lack of muscle behind his shoulder. Anne Bondi came out to see him, to try a SMART™ Elite Dressage Saddle on him. She talked me through everything about the saddles, how they fit and how they work. Safe to say I was hooked, it all made so much sense and the biggest plus is Enjoy absolutely loves the saddle. So much so that the last time I tried to ride him in something else, well “tried” is the best way to describe it really as it was not particularly successful. Enjoy does not keep his opinions to himself and is such a sensitive soul – he gives the best hugs when you’re in the stable with him. 

Last week we received a Wildcard for the Winter Area Festival Championships at Hartpury in April at Advanced Medium which is super exciting.


Improvements all round with the SMART Elite Dressage saddle.

I was looking for a saddle that allowed my Warmblood the freedom to use his shoulders and engage his back more, especially as we started more lateral work. I felt his traditional saddle was blocking his movement and I could not use my seat fully.



I initially rented the SMART™ Elite Dressage saddle so we could both become accustomed to the flexibility and allow my trainers to see if there was a difference. One trainer said how much the horse's walk had improved and would now easily gain an 8 in a dressage test – we are now getting this!


The lateral work is also improving, I can now sit and feel the movements - the close contact design helps!

The SMART™ Advisor was so helpful, I had a concern about the fit and she offered solutions over the phone and arranged to come out to review the saddle. Pictures of his back had been taken at the initial visit so we could see the difference and how the horses back muscles had developed in 4 weeks. The saddle balance pads were tweaked and now the saddle fits his new shape perfectly.




Before (December 2021)
 
After (February 2022)

I was very sceptical at the start of the trial, but now I don't think I could ride in a traditional saddle and I am sure my horse would let me know that he was not happy too. If in doubt rent a SMART™ saddle and feel the difference!

 

Gillian Kettles

2022


Update: April 2022:

I purchased the SMART™ Elite Dressage saddle in January and the saddle has radically improved my Warmbloods movement through his back so much that with his improved dressage scores we have now been selected to represent Scotland at the Senior Inter Regional competition in May . A dream come true THANK YOU SOLUTION SADDLES.

 

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

HAPPA: SMART™ saddles have offered us the perfect solution


After struggling for years with the never ending challenge of finding, fitting and funding saddles for the wide variety of horses and ponies we currently have at HAPPA (Horse and Pony Protection Association), SMART™ saddles were recommended to us by our local SMART™ Advisor, who is also an external trainer that we used to help with the challenging rescue horses.

 


HAPPA is a small charity who offers a second chance to neglected, abused and unwanted equines, through rescue, rehabilitation, rehoming and education. We have around 45 horses/ponies on-site and are constantly having new intakes, as well as horses leaving for their loan homes. Saddle fitting is a continuous and costly challenge. With our great turnover of horses, having a purpose fit saddle for each horse is an unrealistic cost, yet it is still very important to ensure the horses welfare is not compromised. As a welfare charity, the horses’ welfare is at the heart of everything we do. 

 


SMART™ saddles have offered us the perfect solution as they can be fitted and used on a variety of different horses, meaning every time we bring a new horse into ridden work we don’t need to invest in a new saddle or have a saddle fitter out. The saddles are also easy to fit using a variety of different shims and pads. The SMART™ Native range is designed for cob types, which makes up for majority of the horses we have in at the centre.

 

We have been fortunate enough to receive a grant for two SMART™ saddles and have opted for a SMART™ Native GP and SMART™ Pro Event. Within the two-week trial period we have only needed these two saddles and have been able to use them on several different ponies.  




The ponies are a lot more comfortable and happier in their work, becoming more willing to go forward with a massively improved range of movement through their shoulders. Our physio bills are also reduced as the horses are able to work better and saddles are no longer causing them issues.


 


The SMART™ Native GP saddle is perfect for our rounder cobs with large shoulders and no withers. We always found that saddles tended to shunt forward and/or restrict the movement of the shoulder on these horses, however the SMART™ Native GP saddle doesn’t shunt forward and with it been fully flexible, is not interfering with the movement of the shoulder.


 


The SMART™ Pro Event saddle is perfect for the finer types we have and the cobs which are short backed and croup high, but still have a wither. The saddle flexes to fit the shape of the horses back, without causing any pressure points. 

 

The staff have also benefitted from the SMART™ saddles. They have commented on how they feel a lot more comfortable and they are not having to compensate for small imbalances in the saddle. The yard team have also said how they are no longer getting as much pain in their lower backs or hips from asymmetric horses. 

 

Overall, the SMART™ saddles are allowing us to improve the welfare of both the horses and the staff, as well as massively reducing costs of saddle fitting, investing in new saddles and physiotherapy. The SMART™ saddles are improving our rehabilitation plans for each individual horses, helping us to prepare them for rehoming more efficiently, which allows us to overall help more horses that have suffered neglect and abuse.

 


Thank you,

 

From all at HAPPA 



 



Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Novice rider and Cob feel the amazing difference a SMART saddle can make.


 

“This is Asbo, a 14.2hh, hairy chestnut cob. I bought him 2 years ago, a few months after he’d been backed - I’m a novice rider and he was a novice horse.

 

I spent two years not knowing which Asbo I would be riding. Some days he would buck and feel angry. Others he wouldn’t go forward. We made very slow progress, but he never felt ‘right’. During this time, I was riding in a heavy, changeable gullet saddle. Sold to me as a ‘it’ll fit any horse’. Except it didn’t, it slipped to the side and I constantly adjusted as I rode.

 

Eventually I bit the bullet and decided to invest in a SMART saddle …

 


 A month later I effectively have a new pony; he’s forward going, ears pricked, loving both hacking and lessons. We are bouncing along, both happy. I feel close to him and can feel every movement.


We won’t ever be world beaters, but I’m very pleased I made the choice to purchase a SMART PRO GP saddle.” 

 

Natalie Ruane

2022

Friday, 11 February 2022

SMART Ambassador: Sam Gorman and 'Porridge' with their SMART Native Dressage saddle.


INTRODUCTION:

"Porridge was bought as a lightly backed 3 year old with the intention of gently producing him for my riding school. He's a 14.2hh traditional gypsy cob. I quickly fell in love with him, and his can do attitude, so I decided to produce him myself for dressage. 


Porridge, ridden by Sam Gorman

His first British Dressage outing was as a 5 year old, gaining 69% and 70 % at novice and prelim.  




Porridge recently featured in Horse and Hound

We are now competing Advanced Medium, having featured in Horse and Hound magazine after a double win! We are schooling all the tempi's, and piaffe and passage, and hope to compete at PSG soon. He's rising 9 now, so would love to compete him at Grand Prix one day, with plenty of years left to be able to compete at this level. 

Porridge loves Spanish walk, it's his party trick! Even when saddle fitting, thinking he'll win a treat! I love training him, he's such a happy chap, and really appreciate the value of the best and most comfortable equipment for my horses. 


Porridge showing his SMART Native Dressage saddle

I've ridden lots of horses, in lots of saddles, having gained my BHSI qualification almost 15 years ago. I'd never go back to using treed saddles and my Warmblood competed at Inter 1 in my SMART saddle too.  Most of my riding school horses go in SMART saddles and I plan to increase my collection so that all my school horses are ridden in them."


We can't wait to hear how Porridge progresses in his new SMART Native Dressage saddle, watch this space!


You can follow Porridge the Long Haired Lipizzaner on Facebook:  https://bit.ly/3gCKqbc


 

Thursday, 13 January 2022

'’100% top class service’’

“I just want to say how pleased I am with my new SMART™ PRO VSD saddle for my horse, Daisy Duckling.  I am starting endurance on Daisy next season and I want her to be as comfortable as possible.

 

As soon as I introduced her to the new SMART™ saddle I honestly felt there was more freedom of movement, especially from her shoulder area. She was relaxed and forward going and seemed so much happier.

 

 "The saddle is lightweight and extremely comfortable."

I like that it looks like a traditional saddle, but it isn’t. Overall, I am chuffed to bits with it and, when I start the Endurance season, I shall send you more photos of Daisy and I in action!

 

Many thanks for your support and 100% top class service including the charming SMART™ Advisor who visited us for the saddle fitting, very professional indeed.”

 

A truly quality service!

 









Judy & Daisy