Category Archives: Flair Saddle

Saddling the sensitive Lusitano

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.

Sheren and Ziggy

Katie Gilmour and 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.
Baroque fixed block crop

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.

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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.”

 

 

 

 

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Izzy Chaplin’s blog: Moving Dora, training hard and qualifications!

We catch up with WOW Saddles rider Izzy Chaplin to find out how she is juggling university and training with the beautiful Dora…

“Uni has been going really well and I have passed all my first semester exams with a 2:1. Riding on the uni team has been a great experience especially as you have to adapt so quickly to a new horse you have never ridden. Five minutes with a horse before you go and do a dressage test or a course of jumps goes pretty quickly!”

“A month or so into uni, I decided that the best thing for Dora would be to move her up to Henry Boswell’s yard. This meant that I would have the opportunity to ride Dora more, rather than going 3 and a half hours home! I could also have a lot more help, so I could progress quicker and hopefully achieve my goal of young riders sooner (although we are still have quite a way to go). Everyone at Aspire has been so friendly and look after Dora so well, she settled in so easily. It was also lovely to be able to ride in an indoor school!”

Dora Training Henrys Jan 2015
“While the first term was mostly focused around training and getting Dora to go into more self-carriage, when she came home for the Christmas holidays I managed to get her out to a local competition. She warmed up brilliantly. We didn’t do our best test as we were both a bit rusty but we came away with a 1st place and a lot to work on. I was also lucky to go to Olympia Horse Show to watch the freestyle. It was amazing to witness another world record being set by Charlotte and catching up with everyone.”

“Soon it was back to uni and we took Dora back up to Henry’s. We carried on with training for a bit and then we decided to enter a competition that was local to Henry and do 2 mediums. Dora was brilliant and it was so useful to have Henry at the show to give us a hand and shout a few pointers at us in the warm up. In the first test we got a 71.55% which is one of our highest scores to date. I was so pleased especially as she had chucked in a flying change in one of the movements. It was also really nice to see another U21’s rider Becca Bell who I met when I was in ponies.”

“Then it was onto the next test. Dora really tried and we came out 70.94% to come equal 1st! We also got my first 9.5 for our first centre line. I was so pleased to get 2 scores over 70%. Only a few more points needed for regional qualification then onto advanced medium!”

Dora Warwickshire College Jan 2015
“When I got back I got some more good news, Dora and I had qualified for the Winter Petplan championships at 2 levels, medium open and advance medium open! So we can have another shot at the medium again this year and hopefully don’t have the same bad luck as last year. Now it is back to training for a while but we have a lot planned including BYRDS training and more competitions. Now it’s the countdown to the winter championships!”

Izzy Chaplin’s blog: Red rosettes to finish the summer

As WOW Saddles rider Izzy Chaplin prepares to go off to university, she looks back at what has been a very exciting August… 

“Well August has been quite a successful month! Early in August I found out that I have been accepted into my first choice uni, Nottingham University to study Accountancy! I was absolutely thrilled as I was a bit nervous before hand. Then it was on to Sheepgate U25’s championships. I had an intensive training week before going up to Sheepgate where I was lucky to be able to have training every other day for a week with my trainer, Sarah Millis. We worked on getting Dora suppler and in self carriage and we had a massive breakthrough. It was as if everything has clicked and Sarah has given me some brilliant exercises to work on that I can also use in the warm up, which came in very handy in the warm up at Sheepgate.”

9th August 2014 6“You could tell you where further up north as soon as we got out the lorry, it was so cold! But luckily, thanks to WOW Saddles, we had our team clothing to keep us warm and looking very smart! As I had been picked for the Southern advanced team, I did two medium tests for the team over the 2 days. I also entered into the music class as this is something that I have wanted to do for a while. After sorting out a floor plan I decided on music from Narnia and Prince Caspian.”

“On the first day, Dora and I got just under 69% in the medium team test which I was really pleased with considering we had a mistake where Dora broke into canter in the shoulder in. My other team members also did really well and this meant that we were lying in 1st place as a team overnight. Later on was my music class. Dora felt fab in the test. We got a bit ahead of our music in the canter but apart from that the music worked really well with the test and I got all the extended trots in the right place! Our score can through at 74% to win. I was absolutely thrilled as this was only the second run through of the test and this meant a new personal best. You can watch my test on my YouTube channel.”
Sheepgate 2014 Dora“Day two was just as successful for the team. I was one of the first on in the team test and we did a good test although I felt that she could have been a bit suppler and in more self-carriage. We got a score of 70% to get 3rd place. As a team we all did brilliantly again on the second day so we managed to win by a big margin. Prize giving was amazing as every southern member that had been competing was in prize giving. A very successful show! Unfortunately that was it for another year for Dora and I but it is such a lovely show and always a highlight of the show season. After Sheepgate, I went away on holiday with my family so the horses had an easy week but now that I am back I am looking forward to fitting in some training and competing before I go off to uni. I will keep you up to date on my Facebook and Twitter page.”
Sheepgate 2014 Team

Pete and Gaynor have a great weekend at the Petplan Area Festival

Great to hear from WOW Saddles advocate Gaynor Ranshaw that Pete (Zero to Hero) had a winning weekend at the PetPlan Area Festival in his WOW Saddle
 
439“We arrived on a VERY WET Friday morning and had a super lesson with Jill Grant who is based at Morris. We ran through our tests for the weekend and worked on improving a couple of the movements, Jill thought he was looking good and his canter work was much more through with greater cadence than when she had last seen him. I then installed him in his stable and gave him a shiatsu massage before spending the rest of Friday helping 4 pupils and warming them up for their various classes on Friday evening. They all did good tests and we had a fun evening when they had all finished.”
 
“Up early on Saturday morning to take Pete for a walk prior to warming up Moira, Siobhan, Pam and Marita for their tests that started at 8.20am! Between working with pupils I took Pete out for various walks around the show ground, massaged him and let him munch grass in a nearby paddock. By 5pm Pupils were all finished so it was time to scrub off the stable stains and plait Pete up. At 7pm I got on and walked him for half an hour then went to warm up. He felt absolutely super, really listening to me and as we entered the arena I felt confident that he would do a really relaxed test. I could have probably asked a bit more in my Medium trot but was pleased with our test and even more so an hour later when I discovered that he had WON the Petplan Elementary Open. Both judges said it was a lovely test from a harmonious partnership.”
 
“5.30am Sunday came round awfully early and Pete was sound asleep when I gave him his breakfast. He was lying down again when I returned an hour later to plait him up and scrub those hocks! I got myself ready and went back to the stable to tack him up and yes he was lying down again!!! However, as soon as I got on him he felt great and we arrived in the warm up arena at 7.45am. He felt good and Jill assured me he was looking good so in we went. Other than a not too brilliant walk pirouette, I was really pleased with him and Jill assured me that it looked flowing and easy!  I was hoping to be in the top half of the class and was completely overcome when I discovered that we had won the Medium Restricted. So that’s us qualified for the Championships at the Spring Nationals 2015 at both Elementary and Medium level – Pete really is a Hero!”

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How often do you have your saddle fit checked?

A recent trial conducted by Sue Dyson, Head of Clinical Orthopaedics at the Centre for Equine Studies at the Animal Health Trust has completed research on ill-fitting saddles resulting in back pain in both horse and rider, as well as muscle asymmetry, lameness and gait abnormality. The results encourage checking saddle fit on a regular basis, as well as teaching riders and trainers how to recognise key signs indicating lameness, saddle slip and rider crookedness.

The clinical assessment selected horses, presumed sound by their owners, in regular work and from a variety of ridden disciplines. Results identified ill-fitting saddles in 43% of the 205 riders to have entered into the assessment and observed saddle-slip in 14.6% of the horses, to be further associated with lameness or gait abnormalities. Only two riders present had made a link between the lameness displayed by their horses and saddle-slip, whilst a further 38% of the tested riders experienced back pain, associated with an ill-fitting saddle and rider crookedness.

Line Greve, PhD student at the Animal health trust, said “ideally saddle fit should be checked more than once a year to reduce the instances of ill-fitting saddles. Worryingly, 30% of horses that had their saddles checked at least once yearly still had an ill-fitting saddle. What is unknown is whether these saddles had ever fitted correctly or whether a properly qualified saddle fitter was responsible for the fitting.”

At WOW Saddles, we advocate a more regular saddle fit check as horses can change shape dramatically during different phases of their life depending on condition, health and exercise. As the world’s first modular saddle, WOWs can be easily adjusted to suit the changing shape, build and frame of individual horses. Our professional riders have their saddles checked throughout the year, on a regular basis, to monitor changes in muscle development.

Do not forget that the saddle is simply a tool which, when fitted correctly, allows you to ride your horse in comfort and balance, whilst spreading your weight over a large symmetrical area on the horse’s back. The job of the saddler is to put the load, the rider, securely in the middle of the horse without bias, a position where both the horse and rider can relax. This will need to be constantly monitored to maintain a balanced and harmonious partnership so it is important to remember that saddle fitting is not a ‘one time thing’ and more an on-going relationship between fitter, horse and rider. This research confirms this!

The full results of this study will be presented at the second Saddle Research Trust International Conference in Cambridge, on 29th November 2014 at Anglia Ruskin University. To find out more visit www.saddleresearchtrust.com

Gaynor Ranshaw tells us how an unusual shaped back hasn’t stopped Pete’s progress thanks to WOW!

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!”

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“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.”

Pete posie trot web
“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.”

Pete  web
“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!”

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Find out more about Gaynor’s Equine Shiatsu by visiting www.equestrianshiatsu.co.uk or emailing info@equestrianshiatsu.co.uk. To discuss WOW Saddles with Gaynor call 07818 006 079 or email info@gaynorranshaw.co.uk

Lesley Peyton-Gilbert tells us why she loves spring!

We catch up with WOW Saddles Sponsored rider Lesley Peyton-Gilbert to find out why she loves spring time…

“Last time I wrote it was the run up to the  NAF Winter Dressage Championships, I had both the boys there, Wex (World Exclusive) at his first winters and Garuda in the Inter1 music gala night. I love the winters as it pretty close to the atmosphere that you find at international indoor shows and it marks the end of winter, plus it is a great time to catch up with all my friends! It was lovely to see Maggie there with the WOW trade stand!”

“Both Wex and Garuda went really well. Wex coped amazingly and did a lovely mistake free advanced medium to finish just out of the top ten. In the medium he was very good and earned a top ten place and his first championship rosette! This, in a hot open class, as he is only just seven, is quite pleasing! Better still he was a very good boy with his sleep over! Finally growing up I think!”

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“Garuda was a seasoned pro, and even coped with having started his covering the day we left for Hartpury! The inter1 music was probably one of the most amazing classes for years, every combination deserving of their place there. Garuda was really up for it! And put in an energetic performance, just a little tension in the left pirouette other than that very nice! Two judges thought exactly the same but one I think must have watched another test! Ha ha that’s dressage! Still we finished 7th and watched a lovely test or two. I particularly liked Sophie Wells and Valerius. Sophie is the consummate performer and the music and the test were fabulous! So I really enjoyed my winters experience!”

“From the winters we’d planned training with Paul Hayler before the Premier leagues started for us. I go down on one afternoon have a lesson and then stay the night and have a lesson the following morning. I find this help so beneficial and Paul has helped both me and consequently Garuda so much. The criticism from the high profile at Addington ‘stung’ a bit but I took it on board discussed it with Paul and it’s been brilliant to say the least. This training session was really good and Garuda was much happier to cope with the extra demands in his way of going, engagement, straightness and ultimately collection and expression.”

“So from this we went armed with a ‘tool kit ‘ that we can use in the arena to Keysoe premier league. Grandprix and inter2 were on the cards. As always it was a super show, well organised and friendly it is such a nice venue. The hilarious thing was that none of us realised that the inter2 was the BD test not the FEI and none of us knew it, let alone had ridden it! So having done the Grand Prix on the Friday and being really pleased with Garuda and a super 67.78% and our first top ten placing at Grand Prix, I had to familiarise myself with this new test. It worked, we were 2nd with a rather lovely 71.25%! Very happy in fact! Not that it was mistake free but he did some really lovely work! It’s quite a confusing test with everything of diagonal lines of one kind or another! So that qualifies us for the national dressage champs and gives me more qualifying scores to support my international nominations as there are a few international shows I’d like to go for now! (The other thing was 3 hrs before we did the GP on the Friday Garuda had had to go to Towcester vets to jump the dummy as we needed to collect from him! It just goes to illustrate what an extraordinary character he has.) I got a late entry for Wex on the Sunday to do the advanced medium and he won with a smashing 70.89%! It was a strong class too and he was just lovely! Very very lucky to have two such special boys!”

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“I then had a quiet week working my boys before going down to Badminton horse trials to help one of my long standing eventing clients , she was in the grassroots BE100 final. This is the third time she has been on three different horses. I always love going down and I love the camping out and wonderful food she always brings! It was great to walk both courses and I as in awe of the huntsmans close! I also had a very interesting meeting with Alexander James of Pendlebury, a wonderful traditional tailors who make wonderful jackets and whom I am now going to be one of their ambassadors and try and ‘modernise’ their look with a tail coat and short jacket. I chose the most beautiful fabric so now they are working on the new pattern! I also caught up with Maggie and David and spent and hour on the Wow stand and even helped a few people!”

“The following weekend was Addington Premier league again inter2 and GP, last year we were in Roosendaal so missed the Addington Premier league. The weather was not helpful! Gale force winds and blustery showers. Still it’s a beautiful venue  and the show was very slick and went well. Again a super inter2, the BD one again and I made an error of coarse grrrrr some times I make myself annoyed! Garuda was mega and I was very very please with him. Some lovely transitions with good engagement and confidence. We were 2nd and another good score!”

“The following day was the Grandprix and again Garuda came out in such good form he did a lovely test I terms of way of going but I let him over rotate  and loose balance In the right pirouette (costly as it it’s a x2) movement Garuda also thinks its fun to do 17 1x tempi changes! Costly as that’s another x2 movement! He did a solid 66.667% to take 6th! So thrilled with him as there were some really super horses (25 of them) in the class. He really is doing a super job and really finding his feet at this demanding level.”

“I’m now waiting to see if we get our international nominations! I’ve been designing my new GP Kur too (with strict instructions to keep it simple……. Hmmm think David Trott may have heart failure when he sees what my idea of simple is!!!) So………. There in a few words is why I love Spring! It’s always a time of hope and progress! Oh and then… There’s more!….. I did a photographic shoot for a super talented fashion student who did equestrian sport clothing for her final year show! The clothes were amazing and Garuda and I had a blast being super models for the day! Thanks to Emily Lumb and John Minoprio!”

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Izzy Chaplin’s blog: Ups and downs of horses!

We have a catch up with WOW Saddles sponsored rider Izzy Chaplin to find out what she and her horses have been up to since her last blog…

“Wow, it feels like ages since I wrote my last blog! It has been full steam ahead with revision for my IB exams, but I am pleased to say that I have done 11 out of 15 exams now. Woo, time to spend a bit of time with the horses!”

“After having a great weekend of training up at Keysoe, I was on a high leading up to the winter championships at Hartpury. But then disaster struck. Dora came in from the field with a puncture wound to the chest. Unfortunately she had hit an artery. Luckily we managed to patch her up pretty quickly with the help of some magic crystal things (apparently stitches are very old school) from the vets 😉 Absolutely amazing!”

“Unfortunately this meant that she had to have a week off which gave me a week of working her before the winters. We lunged her for the first few days and then managed to ride her for 3 days before the competition. Not exactly the idea preparation but i didn’t have anything to lose, I was just pleased that I had qualified!”

“So we arrived at Hartpury and I have got to say it is an amazing place. Everything was so organised and it had a lovely atmosphere. I was really pleased with how Dora went the day before and her trot work felt really good. In the warm up Dora was really with me. She obviously knew what was happening! The beginning of our test was great especially the medium and extended trots which felt really uphill and she was moving through her shoulder really well. The extended walk was really good but she didn’t feel quite right in the collected walk and a few strides into the canter it was obvious that Dora was not happy so I decided to pull her up and retire rather than push her and possibly hurt her. There is always another day and it has definitely made me more determined to qualify again for next year! I also got the chance to watch another WOW Saddle rider, Lesley Peyton-Gilbert in the evening gala performance which was great to see the riders riding through the higher level movements and showed me what I am aiming for (in a couple of years anyway!)”

Dora Keysoe 2014
“After that it turned out she had tweaked a muscle, so I did light work with her for a while. I had entered Keysoe premier league and Dora felt good when I started the more demanding movements so I decided to take her with the aim of doing a safe test. On the first day was the team test and I achieved my aim of getting round the test and I felt it was a good test to get Dora’s confidence up after the last competition. Unfortunately we didn’t get a great score as I feel I didn’t ride her particularly well. So bearing that in mind I focused on the individual test the next day. She was a lot more supple and responsive to my aids the next day and this showed in the test, especially the trot work. We still have areas to improve on. I overrode the changes which meant that some were late behind, but we ended up in 5th place which I was really pleased with for our first premier league of the season!”

“It has been great to be able to watch the WOW Saddles sponsored event riders at Badminton this weekend. Congratulation to all riders as it looked like a pretty tough XC course! At home, I have been really focusing on getting Sid to stay in a steady contact. His counter canter is really balanced now and the leg yields are becoming increasingly fluent and he is showing so much talent. I’m looking forward to taking him out to a local competition this weekend so I will tell you how it goes in my next blog! Also, I have finally decided to open a twitter account! Taken my time 😉 My twitter name is @IzzyCDressage so if you want to keep up to date with what is happening, follow me. Hopefully my next blog will have a few more results. Fingers crossed!”

Sid May 2014

Kerry Weisselberg shares her WOW story…

We love hearing feedback from our customers so it was great to read about Kerry Weisselberg’s experience with her WOW Saddle! Read on to find out how her quirky and sensitive mare has gone from strength to strength since discovering the WOW Saddle…

Kerry has been eventing since 1988, and has produced and ridden horses up to Advanced and 2* and 3* levels. “I showjumped as a teenager (only up to Foxhunters) before I evented, and unfortunately no trainer and no amount of determined effort since has been able to get me out of my bad ‘showjumpery’ habit of an insecure lower leg. I have tried all sorts of saddles and all sorts of techniques over this time, including very short stirrups, even tying the stirrups to the girth, loads of work in 2-point seat, but nothing really helped my lower leg in the air. I can honestly say that in the WOW saddle, without me having to think about it while doing a round (which is always impossible, I have enough other things to think about!), my lower leg is FINALLY improving. That is a fantastic feeling.”

as a foal
“Daisy (The Opposition Rose) is a homebred mare by Fleetwood Opposition out of a very quirky but talented Irish SJ mare. Knowing what I know now, I’d never have chosen Fleetwater Opposition as a stallion for her! Daisy had a physical problem growing up, some kind of asymmetry in her back end, and needed a lot of remedial attention. She is very opinionated, has always loved to rear – see photo – and is the only horse I’ve ever known who will stand and buck repeatedly, almost vertical, as if she’s a Buckaroo toy. I backed her without incident, but a few years ago, while quietly trotting a circle at home, she launched me spectacularly for no apparent reason and I landed on my feet but dislocated my knee very badly, leading to months on crutches and eventual surgery. So, I have always known that she has to be supremely comfortable, otherwise I am in deep trouble. She is very independent minded, the lead mare in my little herd here (in spite of not being the eldest by a long way) and likes to think that everything is her own idea. She takes a lot of tact to ride and train, but I absolutely adore her, and would do anything to keep her happy and on side.”

doing her favourite thing
“We started eventing 2 years ago and progress has been slow, not for want of my ambition, but because she never felt ready to do more. Although she’s usually very bold, and sometimes liked to take full strides out (never fun or advisable, we’ve done a lot of work to eradicate that bad habit!) she’d feel a bit overawed by certain fences (although she did not stop) and, frankly, she felt lacking in scope and power. She was skewing badly over fences, throwing me off balance, sometimes feeling as if she was ‘sprawling’ in the air over them. She doesn’t always bring both hind feet down together so she was pushing off more from one hind leg. She was tense, bracing her topline in the air, not basculing and using her body properly. On one occasion (on our BE100 début) she backed off a fence, left one front leg completely behind – possibly stood on the overreach boot, I’m not sure – and slithered over the fence on her chest and that leg totally straight underneath her, somehow staying upright on landing, but I fell off. Not fun or at all encouraging, as it was only a metre high.”

not basculing, tense
“I remember scratching my head and wondering HOW a horse with this breeding, who looks like such a little powerpack, could have so little scope and talent. It was absolutely gutting and made no sense. I should probably mention that I hate selling horses, especially my homebreds, and that I want to keep her for her whole life and, ideally, get up to doing really big stuff again. I still dream of doing a 4* event and she is definitely my best chance unless I win the lottery! So, I was getting close to despair at her apparent lack of talent.”

“The WOW saddle has been a complete revelation to us both. She has started coming up in front properly and now bigger fences feel really easy on her. She is much straighter, and is starting to ‘throw her back end away’ in the air rather than bring it through tight and low (often having poles down). She is arguing less on the way to the fences and letting me ride her more, which helps a lot! I am still experimenting with different bits, and ways of riding her, and this led to us flattening three of the last five show-jumps on her début this year and one major misunderstanding during our last SJ round but overall there is a huge improvement in the way she feels and the way she jumps.”

much better style
“She’s run four times cross country so far this year, two at a hunter trial and two at BE100, always sailing round the cross country clear, with gusto, enjoying every stride, which means I can! Her confidence has grown hugely, she finally feels ready for the step up to Novice. She has a fantastic attitude to her jumping, loving the cross country in particular, feeling very keen and clever, coping brilliantly even with the odd duff stride or line (since I’m far from perfect!). She now doesn’t need all the remedial work she had to have very regularly (monthly, if possible) in previous years.
My dreams of getting up to the higher levels with her have been reignited. She’ll never lead the dressage (which, at the moment, we are doing in our WOW jump saddle, as I won’t put another make of saddle on her now, even though I have a couple of other very nice dressage saddles) but she gives me huge hope that if she stays tough and loving the game, we might get there.”

keen and uphill xc
“There are even little things such as the fact that she now nails EVERY halt, perfectly square. That just wasn’t happening previously. It’s something she has learnt, but also something she now feels comfortable enough to do, consistently. That is a huge deal, to me. I can only say a HUGE thank you to WOW for making such special saddles, which my very special mare obviously needed, to Francis Whittington, for recommending me to try the WOW on her (and I should apologise for waiting a year to do it, and wasting a fortune on another saddle – of a very reputable brand – in that time!) and to my WOW fitter Fiona Reddick, for doing such a fabulous job, and having such a great eye for straightening me out too.”

square again
“I love my WOW saddle, it is supremely comfortable (I can hack out in it for hours, unlike other competition saddles which were purgatory!), it makes me feel really secure in the air, and, more importantly, my opinionated, difficult, but talented and much adored little mare absolutely LOVES it. I wouldn’t swap it for anything now.”

bigger fence

WOW Saddles: Proven to reduce pressure

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!”

Pressure testing close up