FOREVER SADDLES

Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Saddle Fitter

 

CORONA VIRUS SITUATION:  as the situation is frequently changing, please contact me for the latest availability.  Fittings will be carried out in line with the recommendations of The Society of Master Saddlers and to comply with Government requirements.

ABOUT FOREVER SADDLES

Forever Saddles is owned and managed by Sue Hill, a qualified and registered Saddle Fitter with the Society of Master Saddlers.

I have over 19 years' experience in the saddlery trade and saddle fitting. I also qualified as a BHSAI many years ago.  I have my own horses, and I am enjoying a slightly quieter life with them as we all get older.  We hack, and I drive my New Forest pony, Barney.  I enjoy travelling the world to learn about horsemanship, and have trained with the best of trainers, in the USA and Europe.

I have been asked more recently to provide "CPD" training for horse owners, which I really enjoy.  I've taught in East Anglia and Scotland so far.  If this is of interest, please contact me to find out when the next course will be.

I care passionately about the welfare and happiness of my clients - four legged and two legged. I will happily advise on the fit of your existing saddle, and adjust to fit more comfortably where possible, and will give you an honest opinion as to its suitability and fitness for purpose. My goal is to have a happy, comfortable horse and rider - not to sell saddles!

 

As Forever Saddles is an SMS member, however, I cannot give "second opinions" on another SMS saddle fitter's work - if you have a problem with a saddle that has been recently fitted, please refer back to your original saddle fitter.

FOREVER SADDLES is a member of the Society of Master Saddlers - in the Affiliated Qualified Saddle Fitter Category.

FOREVER SADDLES is a member of Trustatrader.com - the leading trades recommendation web-site. Visit Trustatrader.com to see feedback/reviews left by previous customers. (Declaration of interest - I work as a sub-contractor for Trustatrader.com. All reviews are verified by other members of staff, and keyed by them - I do not have any direct involvement in the updating of reviews for Forever saddles, and the original review documents are retained and can be inspected on request at any time)

 

We are based in north Cambridgeshire, and cover south Lincolnshire, north Cambridgeshire and west Norfolk.  Occasionally fittings may be available down the A1 corridor from Peterborough to mid Hertfordshire.

My fitting service is mobile - I come to you. My service includes flocking adjustments, which are done on site, and saddlery repairs - normally undertaken in our workshop. Evening and some weekend appointments are usually available, during daylight hours only, unless you have access to an extremely well lit indoor school. See the "Services" page for more information.

WHY FIT SADDLES?

Saddle fitting is SO important, for the horse's welfare, and the rider's safety. An ill fitting saddle can cause injury and can lead to the horse mis-behaving, which can be dangerous. An ill fitting saddle will normally create performance issues, too, which can spoil the enjoyment and pleasure of riding.

CASE HISTORIES:

  • A pony who wouldn't stand still to be mounted, hated being tacked up, rushed off when the rider was on board - all due to a couple of pressure points created by uneven flocking. The flocking was adjusted, and the pony's behaviour changed immediately - he is now happy to stand still by a mounting block, his junior rider can mount without assistance, and he walks away calmly.

  • A horse ridden in a saddle that was far too narrow for him - he had severe muscle wastage behind his withers, he was extremely tolerant, and allowed his rider to do what she wanted, but he was a very tense horse (understandably!). The saddle was quite unsuitable - was far too narrow, and couldn't be adjusted sufficiently for him. A new saddle was fitted, and he has already put on approximately 1 inch of muscle either side of his withers. His behaviour has improved, too, and the relationship between the rider and horse has improved immensely.

Signs that your saddle doesn't fit can include some or all of the following:

  • Horse pulls a face when you tack up

  • Won't stand still - fidgets - moves legs - pulls faces

  • Saddle slips - sideways, to front or to back

  • Rider feels unbalanced

  • Rider gets backache when riding

  • Horse won't stand to allow rider on board

  • Performance issues - rushing, refusing to move, bucking, napping etc

 

These problems can be caused by other issues too, of course, but getting a saddle checked should be one of the steps taken to rule out more serious problems.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET MY SADDLE CHECKED?

We recommend a six monthly check, as horses can change shape, and the flocking in saddles will settle and pressure points can arise in time. However, there are other situations when more frequent visits may be necessary - young horses or horses coming in to work after a break are more likely to change shape more quickly, so should have more frequent checks. I will discuss this with you during the appointment and will advise on the recommended interval for your particular circumstances.

IS A SYNTHETIC SADDLE OR LEATHER SADDLE BETTER FOR MY HORSE?

This is a matter of personal taste and budget. There is a massive range of different styles of saddle available in leather, so theoretically, you have a better chance of finding a leather saddle that is a perfect fit. However, synthetic saddles are improving all the time, and there is now a very comprehensive range of styles and models from a number of manufacturers, which increases the chance of finding something suitable.

Leather saddles are generally more expensive to buy from new, but do retain their value more than synthetic saddles. Leather saddles do need care to maintain their value and appearance. At higher showing levels, competitors (and judges!) may prefer the aesthetics of a leather saddle.

Synthetic saddles are lighter in weight, cheaper to buy, and easier to care for. They are incredibly popular with riders and horse owners on a budget. Functionally they are as good as, and offer a very viable alternative to, a leather saddle.

There is also a growing number of manufacturers offering saddles (synthetic and leather) with adjustability by various means. I personally prefer to fit a saddle that is adjustable. No saddle can last "forever", but an adjustable saddle has a better chance than a fixed tree.

I have gullets/headplates for Wintec/Bates, Thorowgood/Kent & Masters and Wow saddles in stock, and I have a Saddle Company machine to adjust their saddles.

  • Check all tack regularly for signs of wear - it's easy to miss problems - I've seen stirrup leathers held together with minimal stitches, extremely worn girth straps, broken trees etc!  Better to find these problems when you have two feet on the ground.

  • Include the numnah/saddlecloth in your checks - any frayed edges could be a source of friction.  Wash regularly to avoid the build up of sweat and grease - dirty numnahs/saddlecloths can also cause friction and sore backs.

  • After washing, check that the filling of the numnah/saddlecloth (where applicable) is still evenly distributed to avoid creating any pressure points in use.

  • Make sure that your saddle is put in the correct place - it's very common to put the saddle too far forward (onto the horse's shoulders) - this will be very uncomfortable for the horse.  

  • Make sure that the numnah/saddlecloth is pulled up into the gullet of the saddle so that it doesn't make contact with the horse's spine.

  • At the end of your ride, leave the saddle on the horse's back for a few minutes.  Loosen the girth, run the stirrups up, take the bridle off (clean the bit) then remove the saddle - this will allow the horse's back to recover from the pressure of the saddle and rider before it is removed.  

  • (Bits should be washed after every ride)

  • We suggest that a horse should never be tied up by a rope attached to the bit of a bridle, for safety reasons - if you need to keep the horse tied up, pop the headcollar back on, over the bridle.  Also, keep the reins out of the horse's way until you're ready to mount - they can be tucked under a stirrup on one side, or undo the throatlash and put the reins underneath it.

  • Always pay attention to the horse's response to being tacked up - they could be displaying subtle signs of discomfort - best to respond to these promptly for the horse's sake and for safety.

  • Make sure that tack is appropriate for the rider - stirrups should be wide enough to accommodate the widest pair of boots you're going to ride in.   If your horse regularly has different riders, you may possibly need different stirrups for riders with very different sized feet.  As a guide, 5 3/4" is the standard adult width.  Male riders, or ladies with chunky boots should check and see if a 6" stirrup would be appropriate.  There is a wide range of sizes of smaller stirrups for children - as your children grow, remember to check that the stirrups and stirrup leathers are still an appropriate size/length.  I often joke with teenagers that they'll be riding with their knees by their ears if they forget to drop their stirrup leathers as they grow.   Tack shops are great places for sourcing stirrups and leathers - take your boots with you to make sure the stirrup fits.

  • Stirrups are made from a wide range of materials - best advice is to buy the best quality possible - and if you're buying a polymer/non metal stirrup, check the weight rating to make sure they're appropriate for the largest rider who'll be using them.   Old nickel stirrups should be placed in museums - nickel is soft and with age they could become prone to breaking.

  • Flexible stirrups are great for those with ankle/knee problems.

  • Angled stirrup treads can be helpful for some.

  • Wash girths regularly - a build up of old sweat & grease can be a cause of girth galls.  Cheap machine-washable girth covers can be purchased to protect leather girths.

OTHER TIPS AND HINTS

SERVICES

The saddle fitting service provides the following:

 

  • An initial discussion by telephone with the client to assess the horse and rider, and their respective requirements, and to book an appointment at a convenient time. 

  • At the visit, full records will be taken, including a template and photograph for future reference.

  • The horse will be assessed on the ground and in-hand prior to fitting the saddle.  (If the horse is obviously lame or very uncomfortable in any other way, the saddle fit will be postponed until the horse is better)

  • The saddle(s) will be given a safety check and advice given if necessary.

  • The fit will then be assessed and any adjustments made.  (Wintec/Bates, Fairfax/Thorowgood and Wow gullets/headplates are kept in stock)

  • The horse will then be ridden (unless unbacked).  As the horse can change shape quite quickly, particularly with a change in work routine, there is little point in having the saddle checked if the horse is not going to be worked for some time.  

  • It is best that the horse's regular rider is available to ride on the day - if the horse is shared it is ideal that all riders are present.

  • If you have a regular trainer it can also be very useful to have the trainer available on the day.

  • If conditions allow, it is best to see the horse in walk, trot and canter, on both reins.

  • The horse will be checked during the ridden assessment to make sure he/she is comfortable, that the saddle is not compromising the rider's position in any way and that it's staying in place.  It may be necessary to make further adjustments to the saddle as part of this process.

  • Finally, the horse's back will be checked again when the horse is untacked.

  • PLEASE NOTE:  in order to assess the horse correctly, a flat, level surface will be required, and somewhere safe to ride.  Please have your horse ready (in from the field and clean!) by the time of the appointment.  Please also keep your mobile phone on, in case Sue is held up in traffic, or there are any problems such as the weather.  (It is not advisable to try and carry out saddle fits in adverse weather conditions, unless facilities such as an indoor school are available).  

  

SADDLE FITTING CHARGES – 2021 

 

  • The saddle fitting charge is £60 per horse which includes VAT at 20%. 

  • There will be an additional fee of £20 per saddle when more than one saddle is checked on the same horse. 

  • Any re-flocking or adjustments deemed necessary following the check will be chargeable at the normal rates (ranging from £20 to £40 depending on the work and materials involved).  Minor adjustments are normally carried out on site.  Major adjustments will be done in the workshop, and the saddle will normally need to be refitted to the horse after adjusting.  Charges for workshop adjustments will be discussed at the time.

  • There will be an extra travelling charge for out of area visits – this will be discussed with you at the time of booking.

  • Payment can be made by card (if I can get a good mobile signal) or cash please.  

Please also refer to the Society of Master Saddlers’ Code of Practice for Saddle Fitting, below:

 

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information, or to make an appointment. 

THE SOCIETY OF MASTER SADDLERS 

Code of Practice (Abbreviated) for the Selling and Fitting of Saddles

 

All members of the Society accept that their prime responsibility is to the health and welfare of the horse and the safety of the rider.

 

All members will:

 

  1. Inform clients of the costs of ALL saddle fitting services, including travel expenses and consultancy time prior to commitment. 

  2. Advise clients that horses may change shape and that after the sale of the saddle it may periodically need to be checked and rebalanced. 

  3. Keep full records of the saddle fitting and the horse as recommended by the Society. 

  4. In the event of a saddle being found unsatisfactory as a result of defective materials or workmanship, correct the defect promptly free of charge.  All warranties should be upheld. 

    1. In cases of complaint, respond promptly and politely.  Where the case is unresolved, provide full details to the Society so that the Complaints Procedure may be followed.  In addition, co-operate fully with the consumer organisations. 

  5. In the event of being asked for a second opinion on a saddle fitted within the previous six months by a Society member, the client must in the first instance be referred back to the original fitter.  If the client still requires a second opinion, it may only be given after liaison with the original saddle fitter and on being in receipt of all original records.  A suitable fee will be charged for this professional consultation.

  6. An approved second opinion must have no other commercial involvement with the client immediately before, during or immediately after this consultation.  This may jeopardise the credibility of the evidence.  (Only through this procedure will the second opinion be accepted as credible by the Society).

 

It is the Responsibility of the Client to Ensure:

 

  1. That the horse is presented in a suitable environment to allow the saddle fitter to carry out work in a professional manner. 

  2. That the horse is presented in a suitable condition and state of fitness for the on-going saddle usage. 

  3. That any independent adviser from whom they may wish to seek advice is present during the fitting for consultation with the saddler. 

  4. That the horse’s condition is regularly monitored and that the saddler is advised of any changes affecting the fit of the saddle.

 

President

The Society of Master Saddlers (U.K.) Ltd

The Society of Master Saddlers

 

 

Apart from saddle fitting, we offer on-site flocking adjustments and most minor saddle repairs (replacement girth straps, re-stitching etc). Most repairs are carried out in our workshop, and major repairs will need to be sent to a qualified saddler or the manufacturer for completion. This will be discussed with you at the time of booking.

Animal brown horse

CONTACT US

Forever Saddles is a trading name of Aardvark Equestrian Ltd

Tydd St Giles, Wisbech PE13 5NH, UK

07971 853881

 

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