The fitting process really starts during the initial telephone enquiry, when I would look to establish the horse or pony’s age, breed, size etc. and also the rider’s requirements in terms of the type of saddle they are looking for. This allows me to come to the fitting appointment with a good range of saddles that are likely to meet the needs of both the horse and rider.
At the initial fitting it is helpful if the horse is clean, dry and groomed in his stable. I am then able to evaluate the horse’s back looking for any issues which might affect the fit of a saddle. I also like to see the horse walked in hand and then trotted up.
After I have evaluated the horse’s back I then measure him for width (we work to 9 width fittings) and then look to establish which particular saddle tree is going to be the best for this horse. At this stage I often try gently placing different trees on the horses back to confirm which one of the hundreds of variations we use is going to suit him best.
From there I would usually recommend a saddle or a choice of saddles and discuss their various merits and charcteristics with my client. Often the client immediately has a preference but I would always encourage everybody to try more than one as saddle if possible. The horse will then be tacked up and the rider can spend as much time as necessary riding to get a real feel for the saddle. During this time I am evaluating the fit from the horse’s perspective, looking to see the horse is moving forward freely and comfortably witout any movement in the saddle.
During the whole process there is a lot of discussion with the owner rider as we gradually fine tune the best saddle for the horse and of course the rider. Quite often we will select one of the saddles we have tried and the customer can then purchase the saddle on the day, if it needs any slight alterations for instance an adjustment to the flocking, then I can do this on site and leave the saddle with the customer. In about 50% of cases, I will make a saddle to order for the horse, either because I can achieve a better fit by making one of our saddle designs on a different saddle tree or sometimes because the rider wants something a bit different. This could be a longer/shorter flap, a different knee roll or perhaps a different leather finish. There is not normally any extra charge for making a saddle to order and in most cases the saddle is ready in less than 2 weeks.