Fitting Visit

There are many acres of print on ‘fitting saddles’ which identify some key indicators of fit but there is very little written which would allow the average rider to understand the nuances of the balanced fit. It would be very helpful if the horse could tell us how the saddle fits, if it pinches and whether the rider is upright. Alternatively it would be helpful if we could speak horse. Unfortunately we can't, so we need to appreciate some of the signs indicative of poor balance and fit, or of potential damage from defective saddles.

Our fitters are registered, Qualified saddle fitters with the Society of Master Saddlers. This is currently the only City and Guild's qualification in saddle fitting, and is held by only a few hundred individuals. Our fitters have also studied Flocking, Flair and Cair techniques with some of the best qualified individuals in the country and are well qualified to analyse and help out in all fitting situations, although we gain particular pleasure in providing solutions for difficult to fit horses and ponies.

The fitting starts with the customer calling the office to discuss their needs and organise an appointment. Our experienced office staff will run through a series of questions to best establish your needs ad provide enough information for our fitters to load the van with the appropriate items

As with all saddlery’s, the range of saddles stocked, new and secondhand need to pay for the floor space they occupy and as such it is not possible to keep hundreds of the cheaper secondhand saddles. This means that when someone phones up on a limited budget we may only have two or three saddles which may suit. If one of our saddlers is invited to come out for a fitting in these circumstances, it may seem a little unfair to charge the full call out fee if none of the saddles fit, but obviously the time and travel has to be paid for even if no suitable saddles are found.

For this reason we invite owners on a tight budget to take a template across the wither of their horse which can then be used to select a subset of saddles to be tried. In this way we can decide whether a trip to the customer's site is likely to provide a fit, or whether the customer should first try the S/H saddles on a one day loan basis before inviting the saddle fitter to verify the fit of a chosen saddle.

Obviously owners with the budget for a new saddle will have a far greater choice and the fitter will always have one or more possibilities either in the shop, on the van or indeed in the form of a bespoke saddle, made just for that horse or pony. In this manner call out fees are rarely wasted because there is always a solution available.

In all cases we offer a proportion of the callout fee as a discount against any saddle purchased. In general, if the customer purchases a saddle of £1000 or more, the callout fee will be waived. For saddles of a lower value than this a portion of the fitting charge would be written off against the purchase of the saddle.

This approach of charging for a callout means that you can guarantee that our fitters are not trying to sell you a saddle which is ‘close enough’, just so that they can make a living. The call out fee, ensures that we will only sell saddles which fit throughout. If we don’t have the perfect fit available, we don’t need to sell you the next best thing.

No fitting can take place properly without the horse, the rider with protective gear, a bridle, any existing saddles and pads and obviously a safe, enclosed space to trot up and test the saddles.

On arrival at the yard, the fitter will introduce themselves to the horse, the owner and the rider and gain an introduction to any other interested parties so that questions and comments can be directed at the most appropriate person. The fitter will assess the horses back, its conformation and its way of going in hand.

Taking a note of the width of the horse and any conformational problems which may affect the fitting, the fitter will try a range of new saddles or an existing saddle on the horses back. Saddles which appear to fit well will be girthed up for secondary assessment and the fitter may ask the rider to get onto the saddle for a test ride.

Once the fitter has identified a short list, the rider will be invited to test out the most appealing saddles so that the rider, the owner and the fitter can make a selection or identify a further requirement in size, colour or cut which may require a new saddle made to the horses specifications – A truly made to measure saddle!