“Your saddles have transformed my mare!! She was so uncomfortable before I found WOW Saddles, she stopped jumping but with the WOW she has her mojo back.”
When we got this message, we immediately contacted the rider to hear her inspiring story.
Jodie Coombes, based near Dawlish, comes from a horsey family and loves to showjump and event her two horses.
Last year Jodie’s 9yo Irish Sport Horse Sea Girl (Sia)’s jumping wasn’t going well. Often standing a stride off and hurling herself at the fence, she would hollow her back, drag her hind legs and land with a braced neck.
A full veterinary check revealed kissing spine and she had an operation last summer. In the autumn she gradually came back into work, completing some dressage tests during the winter, but not really making the progress Jodie expected, so her workload was reduced dramatically.
Meanwhile, Jodie worked with her other horse, young Put On A Faestival (Emmy), taking her to a pre-season Eventers Camp in February. Equine chiropractor Beth Norrish was at the same camp, and lent Jodie her WOW saddle to try on Emmy. It proved to be a reasonable fit, and within half an hour Emmy was going “the best she’s ever been”. As a result, Jodie asked West Country WOW retailer Natalie Pote to come and fit a WOW to Emmy. While she was there, Jodie asked her if she could fit Sia too. As it happened, Emmy’s saddle was a good fit for Sia, and there was an immediate improvement in her way of going.
Natalie regularly leaves a demo saddle with clients for a week or two, for them properly to assess the horse’s way of going. This time it was a particular blessing, as lockdown intervened so it was a while before Jodie took delivery of Sia’s own saddle. Over the last two months, Sia’s work has gradually been built up from 10-15 minutes a day on the flat, to longer periods including some jumping. In that time, she has been able to use and develop her musculature, broadening by 3 headplates. Previously she simply couldn’t engage properly from behind; now in her WOW she works up into a correct frame.
Recently Sia went out showjumping and happily popped round a 1m BS course – the first time for three years. The plan is to continue showjumping through the winter, and consider re-starting eventing in the spring.
Jodie says “Natalie was absolutely brilliant throughout. Nothing was too much trouble – she came out every two weeks over an 8 week period to ensure Sia was comfortable and the saddle fit was accurate as she was changing shape so fast.” Natalie explains “Because Sia had had serious issues, I wanted Jodie to take the process slowly, and let me work with her to make sure the saddle fit was 100% at all times. She’s been the perfect customer, in that she’s understood that the horse will change shape, and the minute she felt this was happening she would call me to arrange another check. We can see by comparing templates taken throughout the process how much change there’s been in the horse and so how necessary it’s been to be able to adjust the saddle significantly.”
Jodie sums it up “I really think WOW saddles are the way forward and could see how so many horses – not just ones with major problems like Sia had – would thrive and perform to their best in them.”
Dutch customer and WOW ambassador Roos Dyson wanted to tell us about her recent escapades with her WOW saddle (with thanks to her fitter Kerry Sharp for his help and assistance)!
“Kerry recently fitted a WOW saddle on Variety, my new mare. Kerry came to see if my existing WOW saddle, which I’m using for my other horse, would fit her; and it does! I think it does fit her very well indeed as not only did I noticed a big change in her movement, but on the third day I saddled her up with the WOW saddle, she walked up and ‘greeted’ the saddle with her nose. Obviously the WOW saddle is very welcome! As I said to Kerry, I do believe that horses recognise different saddles!” Roos says.
“I bought Variety in June and have ridden her in the WOW saddle since July. She is 13 years old and has been previously competing up to Grand Prix level so she will be my new teacher! It will probably be a couple of months before I will be competing her though as I want to get her more relaxed first and she is known as notoriously ‘difficult’ to ride.
My other mare is 17 years old and I am competing her on ZZ Zwaar level (which is the grade below the British Prix St. George). I have ridden this mare in a WOW since March 2015 and really do rate these saddles,” Roos concludes.
We wish you all the best with your horses, Roos!
Roos’ website is www.gepaardmeteenlach.nl where you can see she gives a special mention to WOW Saddles!
We are very excited to introduce a new WOW Blogger to the team! Oli Lawrence tells us a little bit more about himself in his first ever blog…
“So WOW Saddles asked me to write a blog for them that follows the highs of lows of being, well, me. Great plan. Then it occurred to me that I’d have to write it at 1am surrounded by piles of books, sleep deprived and high on caffeine. The inevitable consequence of this is I’ll end up being brutally honest and make lots of spelling mistakes… I guess for everybody else that can only make entertaining reading. Put some Jack Johnson or other suitable film-esque music on and keep reading. Here goes…”
“My name is Oli Lawrence. A 20 year old, tall, skinny Cambridge student. I study geology – rocks, fossils, oil, mining…stuff like that and play lacrosse and polo for uni. I’m also trialling for the Great Britain Young Rider eventing team this year as well as the other normal things students do – borrow traffic cones, go to lectures, not go to lectures, sleep. The reality of the situation is that I don’t actually get to sleep very much and I don’t really have an average life in any way. Some days its like living in a film – you score in a lacrosse match, drive straight from there and win money jumping and then remember you’re dating an Italian model which kinda tops it off really. On the other hand, there are days when it’s pouring with rain, I’ll be at the yard at 7am to ride, get soaked to the skin and covered in horse poo then have to go straight to 9am lectures that go solidly till 5pm. Realise, I haven’t eaten a hot meal in a week and dig into another Sainsburys meal deal of dry bread and fake fruit juice and run to lacrosse practise. NB – it’s still raining, I still stink of horses and when I get home I’ll be writing essays till 3am. Suffice to say life has its ups and downs… The idea of this blog, honestly, is to publicise my long standing supporters WOW Saddles by getting every man and his dog to read my blog, from which they’ll sell millions of saddles and I’ll find some new generous owner who wants to buy me a yard and a string of horses. Ambitious.”
“So. This eventing business. I don’t come from a horsey family in the slightest, which is ermm… unorthodox and a royal pain in the a*se. We’ll leave it at that. In fact my parents have just left for India for 3 months leaving me to handle the spring circuit on own. Cheers mum!”
“Sox, 17 hands, big, black, positive personality is the other side of the partnership in all this. Things kick off for us at Oasby this March and from there it’s kick on and aim for Houghton Hall CCI**. Sox lives with, and I’m trained by, Charlotte Bathe, who is based about 20min from Cambridge. As situations go its pretty ideal. *Hang on, hold that thought, I need to go to a lecture on paleobotany – basically, really old and very dead plant anatomy taught by a balding bat crazy french man with too short trousers.* Dead plants aside, thats the plan for the first few months of this season.”
“Cutting back to the present. I’ve got Young Rider training at Aston-le-Walls coming up, which should be a good opportunity to get Sox out and about and get a different opinion on how it is all looking. If everyone could touch wood and cross all fingers and limbs that would be great. After that we’ve got just over a week before Oasby and Sox gets his WOW dressage saddle fitted just before that. Perfect timing I’d say. Saddle fittings usually result in two things: Sox going much better and being more comfortable and me being told I don’t sit straight – cue Oli gets shouted at for multiple dressage sessions, which I’m sure Sox finds utterly hilarious.”
“In actual fact I think our pre-season preps been pretty good. The thing I’m kinda worried about is the fact that when I go to events there won’t be a mother to bring food and general organisation and money and just be vaguelly helpful. But hey ho, I’m sure it’ll be grand. Predictably something won’t go to plan (forgetting to get car insurance, cash for a start fee, forgetting a horse…) soooo on the bright side I’ll have something to write about.”
As we head full steam to the end of the year and everyone gets full of the Christmas festivities we wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers and supporters for making 2013 a fabulous year!
We couldn’t do it without all of our WOW Saddle riders and we hope that you have enjoyed 2013 as much as we have!
There is nothing more to say other than Merry Christmas and have a healthy and happy New Year! We are looking forward to seeing what 2014 has in store!
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
Q. Francis is known for having very soft hands (which is always so nice to see). I appreciate there is no simple answer to having such a ‘giving’ style but could you please ask him if it came naturally to him or was it something he spotted as a youngster in his pony days and developed ? Marc Melander
A. I was lucky enough to receive training from some amazing trainers when I was younger. They were tough on me and if I got it wrong they made it clear!
One person who helped me with my style of riding for cross country and show jumping was my show jumping trainer. Most will have heard of him as he is the current boss of the British Show Jumping team, Rob Hoekstra. I had a lot of training from Rob as a kid. Starting when I was 6 or 7 years old. Although I don’t see him that often now as he is so busy, his words and advice still play an important part in my riding and understanding of how I should ride. It was important to use body control rather than fight with the hands. To teach the horses to listen to our body and allow the horse the hand when needed. There are obviously times where it is necessary to take a firmer contact and I’m sure you will see the odd occasion at Badminton next week. For me there are three basic points to remember. Rhythm, Balance, Control. You only ever need two of them to achieve the third!