Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Saddle Fitter
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 16 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 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, west Cambridgeshire, west Norfolk, and the A1 corridor down through Bedfordshire 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.
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 gullet/headplates for Wintec/Bates, Thorowgood/Kent & Masters and Wow saddles in stock, and I have a Saddle Company machine to adjust their saddles.
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.
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 – 2018/19
The saddle fitting charge is £50 per horse for weekday appointments and £60 per horse for weekend appointments.
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.
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:
Inform clients of the costs of ALL saddle fitting services, including travel expenses and consultancy time prior to commitment.
Advise clients that horses may change shape and that after the sale of the saddle it may periodically need to be checked and rebalanced.
Keep full records of the saddle fitting and the horse as recommended by the Society.
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.
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.
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.
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:
That the horse is presented in a suitable environment to allow the saddle fitter to carry out work in a professional manner.
That the horse is presented in a suitable condition and state of fitness for the on-going saddle usage.
That any independent adviser from whom they may wish to seek advice is present during the fitting for consultation with the saddler.
That the horse’s condition is regularly monitored and that the saddler is advised of any changes affecting the fit of the saddle.
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 for completion. This will be discussed with you at the time of booking.