Category Archives: Air Flocking
Zigzag is a 14-year-old Lusitano gelding, bred by Sherene Rahmatallah of Sussex Lusitanos, a small group of breeders specialising in these sensitive and intelligent horses. Zigzag has enjoyed success in the show arena and currently works at Advanced Medium level at home.
Katie Gilmour first rode a Lusitano with Tina Layton BHSI at Contessa Riding Centre, Ware, Hertfordshire, and fell in love with the breed. On moving to Sussex and seeking a horse to ride, she contacted Sherene, who suggested she ride Zigzag.
Zigzag is a true schoolmaster for those who can already ride well, but seeks to develop a stronger, more consistent position with better feel and sensitivity. Katie’s aim is to improve her riding and training skills and to become a ‘Luso rider’ in advance of taking on a new partner – a Luso of course! – to compete in dressage and showing.
“Zigzag is fairly close coupled,” Katie says. “Sometimes he gets blocked in his back and finds it difficult to work over his topline, particularly if his rider doesn’t maintain their position in his point of balance.”
“He has a big heart; he wants to please his rider, but it felt as though he simply couldn’t go forwards and he would stop. Just before Christmas, he felt particularly uncomfortable and his willingness was affected.”
Sherene carried out the usual checks on Zigzag, including his teeth and his back and became concerned that his saddle was uncomfortable. Sherene contacted her local Wow fitter, Nicola Purdy, because of Wow’s reputation for allowing full freedom of movement in all shapes and sizes of horses.
Wow boast Baroque styles in their range that are modelled on the Relvas type saddle, designed for showing and competing Iberian horses. These can be used with any of Wow’s huge range of panels, headplates and seats, to combine a classic traditional look with up-to-date sadddle technology. Difficulties in fitting Iberians are consequently easily resolved.
With his new saddle made to order and fitted, Sherene and Katie both noticed an immediate difference in his work, and it became obvious that he had been hindered and constrained by the previous saddle’s fit.
Katie says: “Ziggy is definitely a lot happier in his Wow; he is so much more forward-thinking. He is a very sensitive horse, but now he is so comfortable, you can just enjoy riding him, and not feel like you are treading on eggshells all the time. There’s now no tension in movements like half-pass and counter-canter. I have never seen such a dramatic change when saddles have been changed on other horses I’ve ridden. It’s lovely to feel such a difference. Ziggy really is a special horse and it’s heartwarming to feel him feeling so well.”
We were fascinated to hear how well WOW Saddle fitter Gaynor Ranshaw’s horse is getting on with his WOW Saddle. As an Equestrian Shiatsu therapist and dressage trainer as well, she explains here that despite an unconventional back shape, Pete is thriving in his WOW…
“Pete, AKA Zero To Hero, is a 17.1hh grey gelding by Marston St George, born in 1998. He was bred at Warwickshire college and born with rather unusual back conformation!”
“He was originally produced by David Wadge BHSI and sold to Kim Young in 2007. Kim continues to own him and I have had him on loan since 2011. I have known him for over 10 years as I used to train with David and when Kim took over the ride I coached her and also regularly gave Pete Shiatsu sessions. Kim competed Pete at novice, elementary and medium level and I often accompanied them to competitions including regional and national championships. In 2011 Kim offered Pete to me on loan and I decided that as I had not competed for a number of years I would get us both down graded to novice level so that we could have some fun and also see if I still enjoyed competing.”
“I work as a dressage trainer, equine shiatsu practitioner and WOW saddle fitter so don’t have very much time to compete but when we have been out Pete and I have had a great time together. In 2012 we won the Petplan Area Festival and Scottish Championships at Open Novice and came 3rd in the Open Elementary Petplan. Last year we were 3rd in the Open Elementary Scottish Championship and won the Scottish Veteran Trophy – but I am not saying who is the veteran out of the two of us! Unfortunately we missed last year’s Petplans due to illness but have qualified for them and the Scottish Champs at both Elementary and Medium level this year.”
“We have only competed a few weekends this year but most of his rosettes have been red ones and we recently won both Elementary and Medium music classes to qualify for next year’s winter regional champs. He qualified for the summer regionals at Open elementary but we are going to do the Petplans and will hopefully complete our non music winter regional qualifications at our next outing.”
“I train regularly with FEI 4* judge Jo Graham who is really encouraging and really likes Pete – all trainers love him as he tries so hard. He has an absolutely amazing extended walk and loves his medium trot & canter. He is very established in his lateral work and we do lots of it to keep him supple. Generally I follow a routine of hack/school/lunge on alternate days and include plenty of hill work and canter work plus paddling and playing on the beach in his hacking.”
“Pete was fitted with a WOW saddle in 2005 (I think) when he was with David as with his rather unusual shaped back he was a saddle fitter’s nightmare. It has certainly worked for him! Kim inherited the saddle with Pete and when he came to me I had the one owned adjusted to fit him. I purchased a WOW saddle in 2005 as my horse had kissing spines and the WOW combined with shiatsu really seemed to help keep him as supple as possible and gave him another few years of work. I currently ride Pete in an Extra Deep seat with Giant High angled back flaps. He has DWG no tab with 2.5” rear gusset panels and insists on a sheepskin saddle cloth so I really hope WOW start doing Sheepskin saddle cloths soon! I became a fitter when the fitter in our area moved away and having just taken Pete on loan I thought it might be a good idea to learn what I was doing.! I now fit WOW saddles throughout southern and central Scotland & Cumbria!”
Find out more about Gaynor’s Equine Shiatsu by visiting www.equestrianshiatsu.co.uk or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. To discuss WOW Saddles with Gaynor call 07818 006 079 or email email@example.com
A recent study carried out by Dundee university has independently verified that Flair – The air flocking system gives 26% less pressure on your horses back than wool flocking!
The research undertook to measure the forces on the horse and the rider. By using one horse and six riders using the same saddle filled with wool and then with the Flair air flocking system.
This is a great independent test of the Flair system. The research found that the forces on the rider increased with Flair. This is not a negative as the problem with this type of testing is that the horse is not constant. When such a large difference in pressure is made to the horse’s back this allows the horse to move bigger under the saddle/rider. The reduction in pressure results in increased stride length along with swing and elevation of the back. This induces move movement in the rider, which amounts to more forces being applied to the rider.
In other words it verifies what First Thought Equine Ltd the manufacturers of Flair have claimed about their product, that if you want a bigger moving horse Flair has the ability to deliver that movement.
Professional riders use Flair for that very reason, Wayne Channon will not ride in anything else now he has felt how his horses backs swing, as does Richard Davison, Lesley Payton-Gilbert, Paul Tapner, Kitty King, Francis Whittington and many, many, more. “The ideas along with the research and development strategy that First Thought Equine has employed to create and prove their products is enlightening and refreshing to see in the saddlery industry,” says Wayne Channon. “This product appeals to me on two fronts; its ability to deliver a better moving horse whilst providing more comfort for that horse and as a scientist, a science based approach to proving and then improving the product by using the best available technology and materials.”
It has therefore been suggested that there be another study carried out where the horse is replaced with a simulator so that a more controlled test without variables in the horse’s gait affecting the data. A simulator will keep the horse induced movement in the rider a constant and therefore accurate assessment of the forces applied to the rider using various saddle flocking materials can be measured accurately.
First Thought Equine Ltd have 10’s of thousands of customers using the Flair system, a lot of them with quite severe back problems. All these riders report that they are much more able to ride with the Flair system in their saddles compared with other flocking materials as this typical email points out.
WOW Saddles customer Georgina Greenslade says, “I have owned and ridden in Flair saddles for over 15 years and after breaking by back just over 8 years ago, my Flair saddle is the only one I can ride in for hours on end, without getting a backache!”
Technologically advanced saddle manufacturers are increasingly utilising design creativity to make their saddles not just functional, but beautiful too. WOW Saddles is shortly launching within its new designer range the ‘On Fire’ dressage saddle, which, on the fixed block models, utilises beautifully embroidered, quilt-effect stitching on the saddle flap. This gives a discreet, unusual appearance behind the leg and includes flame-shaped stitching behind the rider’s lower leg. A small burst of Swarvoski crystals behind the rider’s thigh adds light-catching sparkle.
While showjumping and eventing attire is fairly relaxed, dressage riders are quite limited in terms of their flamboyance in the UK. British Dressage bans clothing decoration, except discreet manufacturer’s logo studs on boots; although patent leather boots are popular, and give a high shine. Conservative-coloured coats are required in BD competitions, although discreet pinstripe patterns are now de-rigour. So, your dressage saddle is the ideal place to add a little bit of interest!
Within the field of showjumping, riders can express their fashion savvy a little more, as they may wear coloured jackets (providing they do not clash with the official ‘team’ jacket); perhaps to correspond with their own, or their sponsors’ colours.
Dress codes for the XC stage of eventing attire are even more relaxed, as there are greater provisions for promotional material and logos on clothing, (albeit at a certain maximum size, or in a designated position on the rider’s clothes.) Bright and bold colour-ways are popular.
Patent bridles or those with diamante or coloured accents are also popular to add interest, while leather riding boots in materials such as ostrich, crocodile or kangaroo are also popular with more flamboyant riders, particularly internationally.
Riding helmets are increasingly being seen with diamante accents and patterns, as well as jewel-inspired colours – the trick is to keep it discreet, so your accents complement each other and don’t over power you and your performance.
Why not personalise your saddle today by speaking to the team at WOW Saddles! www.wowsaddles.com
Within the eventing sphere especially, some riders are looking to their saddles to express their fashion sense, or coordinate their cross country colours. The leatherwork of all WOW saddles may be customised in the rider’s or sponsor’s colours; two-tone coloured leather is popular. Eventer Paul Tapner may currently be seen competing in a beautiful red and black XC saddle with fixed long blocks that give increased support for the leg. He also sports a more neutral Havana brown and maroon version of the saddle.
Why not ‘bling up’ your saddle?
WOW Saddles recently customised a customer’s saddle at the cantle and pommel areas, using appliquéd diamante and crystals. “Some riders like to use a bespoke pattern of their choice, particularly if they compete in the discipline of dressage under artificial lights, as discreet sparkles can really add interest and glamour,” explains First Thought Equine’s Co-proprietor, Maggie White. “It is also possible to spell a rider, horse or sponsor’s name in gemstones, or diamante and crystals. However I wouldn’t advocate that owners simply ‘bling up’ their own saddles – it is best left to saddlers with design experience and all the right materials and technology at their disposal to do this!”
If you want to ‘bling up’ your saddle and make a statement then get in touch via www.wowsaddles.com
Leading saddle manufacturer First Thought Equine now offers a personalisation service on all new saddles.
The leatherwork of all saddles may also be customised in the rider’s or sponsor’s colours; two-tone leather is popular, for example. Eventer Paul Tapner recently commissioned a striking red and black saddle in his country colours.
Key features of WOW Saddles:
• The only longitudinally rigid, but laterally flexible tree – offers greater shoulder freedom
• Large bearing surface
• The widest range of interchangeable width fittings: XN-8X
• Features Flair air bag flocking; a flexible, gaseous bearing surface that increases pressure distribution over the horse’s back & provides shock absorption.
Call (44) 1227 831614 for stockists or visit www.wowsaddles.com.
Korrector is a revolutionary new saddle pad which using air and foam technology, can be adjusted by the rider to give full day to day control of the fit of their saddle on one or more horses. If you haven’t already used the Korrector then these reasons will explain why we think you should…
Korrector benefits the rider by…
- Allowing the rider to adjust the pad for seasonal changes in the horse’s shape
- Absorbing jarring shock to the rider’s lower back
- Giving the rider the means of using a saddle on more than one horse
- Allowing the rider to adjust the balance of the saddle front to back
- Allowing the rider to adjust the balance side to side so distributing the riders weight centrally
- Allowing diagonal adjustment when the horse is asymmetric
- Can be used with English, Western and Spanish style saddles
- Bags can be removed and replaced fully inflated for washing purposes
Korrector has been proven by independent testing to give your horse greater comfort by…
- Dispersing the pressure points of the saddle
- Increasing the bearing surface of the saddle
- Continually flexing and moulding to the horse’s shape allowing the back and shoulder muscles to work unrestricted
- Absorbing impact shock from the rider
- Alleviating pressure across the horses spine and wither area