It is a privilege to have been a part of this industry for over 40 years but not been heavily involved for all of that time and therefore grown too set in my thoughts and ways. I pride myself on my open mind, which means I acknowledge and embrace that saddle fitting is part of a wider ‘team’ effort that include physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, farriers, nutritionists and of course the only profession that is allowed by law to diagnose - Vets
I originally qualified as a Master Saddler in 1983, following a four year apprenticeship with Country Fair Saddlers, Edenbridge and Bridleways of Guildford. I started when making bridles and headcollars to stock a shop was the way and we had to hand make every single thread we used for stitching using hemp and beeswax and we smelted lead to make blocks to use with hole punches in the workshop, a bygone era for sure.....
I also attended Cordwainers in Mare Street, Hackney and was awarded a City & Guilds in Saddlery & Harness Making and a Distinction in Lorinery.
Continued in the trade as a bench saddler gaining further experience until the end of the 90's, during this time, other qualifications or experience gained included:
SMS (Society of Master Saddlers) Introductory Saddle Fitting course 1998
Equestrian Buyer at W & H Gidden, London until 1999
Sales rep with internet sensation Kickon.com!!
However, fast forward to present day, after about 15 years of pursuing a range of administrative roles and bringing up a family, in 2017 I decided to go back to an industry I loved. Since then I have revisited and more importantly, updated all my skills and knowledge. Making a dressage saddle and double bridle for acceptance into the Society of Master Saddlers (Buttons is modelling them both in the photos)
Attending a huge amount of conferences, seminars, residential courses, day courses, taking tests, exams, being assessed covering topics that include bits and bitting, bridle fitting, biomechanics in the horse and rider, saddle fitting, flocking saddles, equine massage, leg dissections (!) ………..
Many visits to Walsall (the home of the British leather and saddlery industry) saddle makers and their factories including; Albion, Black Country Saddles, Adam Ellis, Harry Dabbs & Jeffries, Ideal Saddles and attending product information days presented by Bates & Wintec, Prestige Italia, Erre Plus (Italy) and Fairfax Saddles (including Kent & Masters and Thorowgood)
Further qualifications or experience gained included:
SMS Introductory saddle fitting course 2017
SMS Residential saddle fitters course 2018
SMS Flocking course - City & Guilds 2018
ESMT Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist – 2019
Gillian Higgins – 2 day Anatomy & Biomechanics for saddle fitters - 2018
Horse Fit Bit course – comprehensive intro course into bits and bitting - 2019
Neue Schule Bit and Bridle Fitters course - 2020 currently on hold during Corvid-19 outbreak however a good start with 92% in the online course part……..
I love my job! I take a thouroughly holistic view on saddle fitting, there are many many questions and the answers go some way to provide jigsaw answers to create the 'bigger picture' which is important.
I value each persons individual circumstances and will work within their parameters, to a point! You will find that I am not a fan of elastic girths, even less so of stud girths, I have preferences in numnahs and pads used as the majority are a marketing sucess, but I will be gently honest with you on behalf of your horse, whos welfare ultimately comes first.