Echo is a 6 year old racehorse with 5 wins and 12 places to his credit. Not only successful, Echo is “the sweetest horse ever, always tries his best. So genuine & not a crazy racehorse!” says his owner, Victoria. I think you can see this in him from his photos. I completely fell for him!!!
Echo’s racing career has come up against the handicapper. He now has to carry too much weight. He’s not big, just 15.2hh. So he’s off home for a new career as Victoria’s “happy hacker”. I’m not sure this is quite the right description(!) but his change of career is how we had the great pleasure of meeting the lovely Echo. The plan is low level jumping/eventing and Victoria wanted a forward cut, GP type saddle with a good knee block. Discussions led to a Gazelle.
Echo ran his last race at Hamilton in September. He is now to have the winter off, allow him to naturally let down and we will start his saddle fitting in the spring. Enjoy your holiday Echo!
Here he is looking very beautiful
….and also very muddy and comfy last winter!
Echo’s new saddle was delivered in March. Victoria wrote to us “I LOVE IT. It is so comfy”. Echo was so good. He hasn’t been ridden for almost 6 months so I was expecting him to be bonkers but he wasn’t. He must love his new saddle too!”. We hope to have a photo soon of the pair of them with their Gazelle.
Well. It’s been a busy year! Lots of saddles to the UK but also to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Canada, France, Saudi Arabia, Japan and more! Many were Suzannahs but also in demand were the Suzannah Mono flap, Gazelle, Impala, Nyala, Grandee & Lynx. We fitted them all and most had “Designed to Order “ modifications, for example shorter or longer flaps, different blocks, deeper or shallower rear gussets, special leathers, contrast piping. Here are just a few stories in brief:
Nelle from New Zealand has a lovely big boy, Popeye and wanted a saddle for working hunter classes and hunting, seen here doing it in style (but not yet in his new saddle!). Nelle is 5” 10” and Popeye 17 2hh with a high wither but quite broad with it. Nelle struggles to find a saddle which is forward cut enough and has the length of flap she needs. She also likes an event type jumping saddle with a bold knee block. The answer: a Gazelle with longer flaps for Nelle and deeper rear gussets for Popeye! As I write, their saddle is nearly ready to ship.
Dolly from Australia had a Suzannah for use on several horses. Her particular need was to accommodate her long legs! She wrote to us:
“Have ridden in the new saddle on 3 different horses. I have to admit I was not looking forward to riding in it as brand new saddles always have such stiff flaps. Well, It was awesome! I can’t believe how good it is to have those two extra inches in length! Finally my top boots aren’t hooking on the bottom of the flap. The deeper seat is beautiful as well! I am so happy with it. Couldn’t believe how good it feels and it is not even broken in yet!”
Corrina from Canada had a lovely Gazelle. The seat and pads were made up in black calf skin and the skirt and flaps in dark havanna Supplex. The rear gussets were slightly deeper for fit. Corrina wanted a secure saddle for jumping and she wanted it to be especially comfy….hence the calf skin and Supplex!
Joanne from France was another candidate for a Gazelle. It was a long saga for Joanne with a happy ending! After contacting us about a saddle, she had a riding accident, then changed horses and had a long wait for the new one to arrive from Ireland. ….he’s gorgeous! So in the end we fitted the saddle to the new one and it all ended happily with a successful show jumping outing! Photo hopefully to come!
Yuka from Japan chose a Roella, which is a narrower twist version of the Suzannah. Yuka didn’t need the saddle fitted to a particular horse, it was for use generally on Thoroughbreds. Her first thought was a medium fit but we advised a medium wide unless the horses were the really skinny type. However, Yuka needed the saddle fitted to her! She is petite and Japanese people have proportionately shorter legs. So, Yuka had a 16 1/2 “ seat with much shorter flaps than standard. Ian and Ideal put their heads together to work out what length. The saddle was made up in special leathers: Memel Solid skirt & flaps and Grippy Hide seat & pads. Yuka asked for a brass nameplate on the back of the cantle to read “Yuka & Horses”! Yuka wrote us a lovely message made lovelier through the translation (she does’t speak English)! Our thanks to Yuka’s English sister-in-law for help in our communications and and our appreciation too for online translation tools!
I’m sorry , my answer became slow.
Roella is my ideal saddle!
In the form that is easy to sit down. The seat is tender, and without too being wide, it supports the knee block kindly without being too obstinate. It is easy to ride on because I have shortened flap
As it is soft and is light, it fits a horseback kindly.
“The medium wide” was right.
Roella is moistened and I have not yet poured the oil as it is soft.
I intend to wait until leather wants oil.
The summer of Tokyo was very very hot, and nobody were in the club not to be able to ride a horse, but in September, everybody came back to the club little by little. I introduce your shop if somebody shows interest in my Roella!
Thank you Jane,
Thank you very much. Take care.”
Stacey Donnelly from Talesend Farm, Somerset, Virginia USA ordered a Nyala primarily for her son Neil and his competition horse, Fool Proof but for her use occasionally too and also perhaps on their other horse, Darcy, the chestnut shown here. The horses were not too far apart so it was possible to accommodate the two.
Neil & Fool Proof are competing successfully with a string of successes & top places in Horse Trials this year. They are entered in their first CIC 1* at Morven Park at the end of September. We wish them a great day!
Here is a video of Neil and Fool Proof jumping at Middleburg HT in June…..in their Nyala!!!! I think you will agree Neil rides not only successfully but beautifully too and is a joy to watch…..
Middleburg HT 2016 Prelim 1st place.mp4
If anyone is interested in sponsoring this talented your rider, please get in touch and we will forward your details.
Sarah from Saudi Arabia ordered a Lynx Twin Flap for her horse Twilight. The saddle was to have Jessica style knee rolls and no thigh rolls. She found it impossible to find a dressage saddle in Saudi and (we are glad to say) found us! Asked about her saddle, she wrote :
“ I looooooove it ):”
Here are Sarah and Twilight looking very elegant….and comfortable and relaxed too!
To finish my roundup, let’s return briefly to the UK. Suzannah’s were often the choice for dressage saddles, not only the original Suzannah but the new mono flap version too. Also successful has been the new FWB GP saddle designed on a hoop head tree for the extra wide. Some saddles were made to a very individual spec, for example an Impala for a customer in Essex had deeper knee rolls, was more forward cut, with Buffaloe skirt & flaps and Grippy Hide seat & pads finished off with Cognac piping! As ever, we have seen a great variety of horses, (even an Orlov Trotter!), who turn their hand/hooves to a great variety of things! Our job is to help them do this in freedom and comfort.
Till next time!…..
I just had to ask Sarah if she would let me share her photos here! I think we all dream of this!
Sarah contacted us about a saddle for her 3/4 American TB, 1/4 Dutch bred youngster. Smart Shrimp! He is now 28 months old, Sarah having had him since he was 3 months old. “Shrimp” is young but Ian says there is not a lot of difference from a fitting perspective between a 2yr old and 3yr old. Sarah’s thought was a 1650 GP which is a good choice for a young horse. It is a very forgiving fit and has plenty of panel which will encourage him to develop top line.
When I asked if she had done anything with him yet, I received the wonderful reply that she had sat on him a few times in the sea!!!! Here are the photos:
Sarah also has a mini Shetland called Angus, for her daughter, Alex.
and a rescued 9 year old French-American standardbred. Here are the three of them together.
Lastly, fun at a gymkhana plus Alex & Angus showing us all how to do it:
Bella from New Zealand was looking for a dressage saddle for her 7 year old, Hanoverian gelding, Lyndon. Although Bella liked her current saddle, she thought it was too narrow for Lyndon. A friend of Bella’s in Holland has a Suzannah and is very happy with it and thought that this design would suit Lyndon and Bella. How right she was! The wide twist and generous panels would help Lyndon gain and keep top line at a crucial stage of his training and development.
For Bella, her main preference for us to accommodate was that she did not like too big a knee block so the saddle was made with shorter and slimmer blocks than the standard Suzannah block. We also advised Bella that the Suzannah has a wider twist and there is “more saddle” than she has been used to. We explored other options, for example the Lynx Twin Flap but Ian didn’t think the fit would be as good for Lyndon so after conferring some more with her friend in Holland, it was decided to go for a Suzannah.
Lyndon is quite high withered but then fairly wide with quite a lot of shape in his back rather than being flat. So the saddle was made with deeper rear gussets and his shape meant that more flocking was required in the waist of the panel.
A few weeks later Bella writes….
“And Yes! This morning the saddle arrived!
So I rode on it this morning without anything under it.
When I first got on him it felt right straight away! Yay!
I think it is the same as with shoes, when you buy shoes they have to fit right from the start not that you have to get used to them for weeks…
I walked for 10 minutes and then started to ride like I always do. It felt so comfortable! I have the feeling that my position is better. My legs are much stiller and I can’t lean backwards too far.
Lyndon also made all the right noises.. he seemed pretty happy and relaxed!”
It fits perfectly so far”
And a bit later ….
“Have been riding for over a week now and still love the saddle!”
The result: this lovely photo of the two of them……
Page lives in Minessota, USA and has a greatly loved Friesan/Morgan cross gelding called Luther. Her saddle fitted Luther but didn’t work for Page. So, this time Page was the fitting conundrum for us, not Luther!!!
Page wanted a dressage saddle but due to the angle of her knee joint, the length of her thigh bone and her round thighs, she has found it impossible to find a dressage saddle that fits her leg comfortably. She finds that her knee travels over the knee block as she rides and traditional dressage saddles are too straight cut for her. Other considerations for us were that Page likes a narrower twist, a medium, not super deep seat and supportive knee blocks and currently rides in a 19” seat.
Ian had a chat with Ideal and together they thought the answer was a saddle with an increased bearing area, wider gullet and a broader more generous and not too deep a seat. That saddle was a 19” Jessica Professional made with a lower cantle, slightly more forward cut flaps and shorter, higher knee blocks. Subsequently we decided to have knee blocks on Velcro, 3 pairs, which would give Page greater flexibility in this respect.
Luther has big shoulders and is wide but not over wide. He is a bit asymmetrical, as many horses are but Ian’s view is that the saddle should be flocked evenly and then the flocking takes up the shape of the horse rather than the other way around. It turned out that we had thought Luther was more “up” in front than he actually is and on this occasion we didn’t get the balance of the saddle quite right first time. I assure you reader, this does not happen often but I tell the story as evidence of our commitment and guarantee to our customers: we arranged for the saddle to be collected from USA, made the necessary adjustments and sent the saddle back out to Page all at our expense.
Luther. Isn’t he lovely!
Page has been a wonderful customer and we have had great fun corresponding. She has another horse, Anja, a Friesan cross again, just 3 years old and we are looking forward to helping Page with a saddle for her next year.
To complete this story for now, a few words from Page:
“I’ve never had a saddle fit my leg so well. Luther felt free in his shoulder and canter depart was awesome. The sweat pattern was perfect. I am very happy.”
“Things are going VERY well! This saddle is so versatile. I can hike my leathers to get in to a good two point position and my knee STILL does not go over the flap so that is perfect. I couldn’t be happier.”
“People need to know what a fantastic job you do!”
and the best one(!!!)…..
“Please keep in touch. I really like you guys!”
Zuzana lives in Saskatchewan County in Canada. She has several wide backed horses, Lusitano crosses and Warmbloods and rides to Grand Prix level with some. She trains with Mary Wanless and likes to “clearly feel her seat bones and ride with a fairly closed angle of her leg”.
Zuzana had recently bought a Tonishia but found it wasn’t wide enough for some of her horses and so she was on the hunt for another saddle! Although she and the horses love the Tonishia she would like her new saddle to be closer contact with a smaller block and less restricted seat.
We thought there were two options:
Option 1: we could adapt a Tonishia to greatly enhance her closeness to the horse and accommodate her leg position. We would do this by having less padding in the seat, cut the panels less full, custom flock the saddle with lambs wool which is lighter and softer than the Jacob’s wool used as standard by Ideal and reduce the bulk and depth of the block allowing her knee to pass under the block. The block could be on Velcro allowing her to ride with or without a block.
Option 2: choose a different saddle, our suggestion would be the Lynx Pro. This saddle is a fairly new addition to the Ideal range. It is a closer contact saddle with a smaller block, a less restricted seat, designed for the high level rider. It is a very forgiving fit and should be fine for the horses.
We exchanged lots of emails and Ian and Zuzana chatted on the phone and it came down to this!…….
“to summarise: a “modified Tonishia is a bit of a compromise between what is ideal for you and what we know works for the horses. But you know the saddle so it is not a leap in the dark. Alternatively, go for what I think you want, the Lynx Pro and I guess trust in us that it will work for the horses too!”
Zuzana went for the Lynx Pro and I am very happy to report dear reader that it did work! Here are a few things Zuzana wrote to us:
“I rode a few horses in the new saddle today – and love it! It feels as comfortable as my treeless – like I can forget there is a saddle there at all. The more open seat is great and the blocks are perfect!”
“Yes, the saddle’s working out great, love it. It is the best saddle I ever rode in ☺ . The horses are super comfortable in it and it stays centred with a loose girth”
“It’s been great dealing with you and you definitely have a customer for life!”
Zuzana is riding in her new saddle in the snow. It was -25 degrees!