Ree Miller was diagnosed with severe osteo arthritis in both hips in her 30’s. Being so young doctors were unwilling to operate and she had to wait over a decade to have both hips replaced. From the time of her diagnosis most saddles, and wide horses, aggravated her condition. “If my horse spooked the pain in my hips would be immediate and like a knife going into the joint”.
Ree takes up the story.
“Four years ago I took the plunge and purchased a WOW for Snip, my horse of a lifetime. This saddle has meant that I have been able to continue to ride right up until my surgery. It is super comfy and has been an absolute god send for me! It is because of the narrow twist and then the flaps being snug, not thick, it gives my hips the chance to slowly open. Whereas with other saddles your legs are forced from the top of saddle to go wide. My Equitana flaps keep me secure.”
Unfortunately Snip had to be put down last year due to kissing spine and arthritis, and Ree got Dave on loan. His paces proved uncomfortable for Ree and after a few months she decided to return him. She told her husband she wouldn’t get another horse until after her surgery, but when she took Dave back, Miller, a bright chestnut, was in the next stable. And he was up for sale. “He ticked every box – apart from he is orange. I prefer a bay – how shallow!” Ree says, laughing at herself.
“This is Miller. I think the photo shows how locked I am in my lower back due to my hips. Miller is Anglo-European, his sire is the Olympic showjumper Defi Plateire. He is 10 years old and really low mileage, being used as a happy hack for the last 5 years.
“I’m looking forward to getting back into my WOW in August, as soon as my surgeon permits! Sam Prior is my fitter and she is incredibly knowledgeable and really takes her time with you and the horse. I can’t wait to start schooling and getting out to compete in dressage with my bionic hips on the wonderful Miller. ”
Tory Ashby is lucky enough to live in the West Country, so there is endless scope for her to indulge her passion for pleasure rides in this beautiful region. She tells us:
“My palomino Charlie and I have have been struggling with saddles for ages. He changes shape and is quite sensitive and very politely tells me when something isn’t right. I’m quite a novice rider and he is very much a gentleman, but I knew we could be doing so much better together. My best mate Vicky Flower convinced me to try a WOW after her very sensitive grey came on leaps and bounds in one. I have to admit my initial reaction was “This is just a marmite saddle, it won’t work for me”.
Our local fitter Natalie Pote allowed me to trial a saddle. Oh my! It was just so comfortable and Charlie was incredibly happy. I’ve been so paranoid about saddles, spent thousands but Natalie has been so thoughtful, thorough, taken her time to ensure it’s perfect for both of us, and patiently answered all sorts of questions.
Like all WOW Saddles, the modular construction allowed Natalie to put together options to suit both the horse and the rider, without compromise. Charlie’s short back meant he needed a size 1 (17″) panel, but Tory can still have the size 2 (18″) deep seat she is comfortable in, combined with VSD (very slightly dressage) fixed block flaps to give her length of leg and stirrup leather exactly the support she wants.
This is our first 10-mile ride, with Vicky and her WOW on her grey.
Fun rides are my passion. After a serious illness, to be out enjoying the countryside is all I could dream of.
We have just completed our second 10 mile fun ride and I have one very happy pony.
I know we won’t set the world alight but we are both so happy.”
It is so good to hear that we’ve been able to help another rider achieve their goals happily and comfortably, whether that is top level competitive sport, or roaming the wonderful West Country.
The eventing season may have finished but for WOW’s eventing ambassadors, the off season does not mean lazing about! Francis Whittington took a short break before heading off to the USA to do some teaching clinics. Kitty KIng went horse shopping in Ireland (we are awaiting news of that exciting mission) and on her return, went to Cheltenham races to promote Team GBR at the Countryside Day. Pau Tapner recnently demonstrated at Your Horse Live and signed lots of autographs and then headed off to Newmarket for the Retraining of Racehorses Awards where he was a prize winner. What a busy team they are.
The eventing season may have finished but for WOW’s eventing ambassadors, the off season does not mean lazing about! Francis Whittington took a short break before heading off to the USA to do some teaching clinics. Kitty KIng went horse shopping in Ireland (we are awaiting news of that exciting mission) and on her return, went to Cheltenham races to promote Team GBR at the Countryside Day. Pau Tapner demonstrated at Your Horse Live and signed lots of autographs and then headed off to Newmarket for the Retraining of Racehorses Awards where he was a prize winner – see our blog post on this nest week! What a busy team they are.
WOW customer, young event rider Alex Norris, is sponsored by WOW retailer Nicola Nicholls. He has competed at the British Pony National Eventing Championships 1*, and has also represented the VWH Pony Club in numerous competitions. This year he qualified for the Pony Club National Championships at open level, and was selected to represent the Pony Club in the Show Jumping team at Gatcombe International Horse Trails. Alex also represented his previous school, Dean Close, in National Schools Equestrian Association completions. This dynamic 16 year old has sent us this season round up – thanks Alex, and many congratulations!
“Overall the 2015 event season has been good. Since August I have been placed at every BE event and I have managed to qualify to compete at BE Intermediate level on ‘Minnie Moo’ (more about her later)! The season started in early March with ‘Dassett Two For Joy’ going round Swalcliffe BE100 with a 30 dressage and double clear with a few time faults. He then went on to do two more BE100s at Larkhill and Ascot under Wychwood with clear country rounds both times. Sadly he then had a slight injury to a tendon, so he had a couple of easy months to recover.
‘Little Red Rooster’ had a delayed start due to a bruised foot, but he came out for Larkhill BE100 with a double clear and a 26.5 dressage. We then went out competing at Novice level. At Hambeldon we did a 34 dressage and double clear, but a couple of time faults relegated us to 10th. We then went on to compete at Withington Manor tackling the biggest cross country course to date. We were thrilled to again go double clear only missing the placings due to a few time faults. At Aston Le Walls we did a good dressage of 30 and clear Show Jumping, but sadly we lost our footing going up a hill and had a refusal on the cross country. Our final competition together was a Pony Club event at Hambeldon, where we did a sub 30 dressage and a double clear with only a couple of time faults, giving us our first win. My VWH pony club team also won so it was a fantastic day! Sadly that was our last event together, as Rooster was sold after the event. A huge thank you has to go to Penny Jordan for being a fantastic owner.
With one horse out of action and the other sold, we had more time to work on ‘Frank’, a 5 year old owned by my Aunt, Judith Leggatt. He has been improving massively over the past 6 months. He has done many little outings and he finished the season going to Stonar schools one day event, where he did a good dressage of 35.3%, just tipped one show jump, and flew round the cross country with a great clear. He is really promising for the future. He is currently on an educational trip hunting with his owner.
I was fortunate to pick up a new ride – ‘Minnie Moo’ – who is kindly on loan from Harry Humfrey. She is very experienced having competed at 2* level. Due to being under 17, I had to start at BE100 level and had to go clear 3 times before I could move up to novice. Luckily we managed this in 3 outings. Our first Novice was at Trebrorough Hill where we did a good dressage of 36.5 and a pleasing double clear with only 4.8 time, finishing 6th. We then had Goring Heath Open Novice under 18 which was an extremely competitive section. We did a 39 dressage due to a little tension, however we then did a great double clear within the time. This meant we finished in 9th.
‘Dassett Two for Joy’ was now back up and running after his injury’ and he went out and performed well at Monmouth his first novice. He did a 35 dressage and then a double clear with 6.8 time. We finished in 8th which was really pleasing. He was also selected for the VWH pony club intermediate dressage team where he performed well, even if we were both rather distracted by the blue lights of a fire engine just next to our arena!
‘Minnie Moo’ was in both the pony club open show jumping and eventing teams’ qualifying for the show jumping championships by coming third. However more experience is needed as a partnership at championship level where the atmosphere caused a bit of tension. Our next event with Minnie Moo was at Dauntsey Park. Sadly we had to run HC, but we produced a dressage of 40 and had a double clear within the time so we would of been 9th.
Our Last 2 runs were with both horses, ‘Minnie Moo’ and ‘Dassett Two for Joy’. Both produced good dressage tests at Calmsden but Minnie sadly had a pole down in the Show Jumping. However both went clear X Country, with Minnie going inside the time and Dassett getting 2 .8 time faults. This left Dassett in 10th place.
Our final run of the season was at Broadway. Dassett performed really well and produced a 33.5 which put us in contention. He then sadly had a pole Show Jumping but did a super clear with only 1.2 time. Minnie did one of her best tests to date and got a 38.3. She then did a great double clear with only 0.4 time. This meant that both horses finished exactly on the same score. They were placed 6th and 7th with Minnie Moo Just beating Dassett as she was closer to the optimum time. A fantastic end of season finish!
A huge thank you goes to my owners – Nicki Spencer, Carole Bishop, Judith Leggatt and Harry Humfrey – and my two wonderful sponsors, Nicola Nicholls for WOW saddles and Mary Lane of Oakfield Saddlery, who have given me a huge amount of help and support all season.
Both horses have had a well deserved rest for a couple of weeks but have now resumed training. A winter of dressage training lies ahead, with hopefully some show jumping practice too. We have booked up some training with Rob Lumb, Spencer Sturmey and Caroline Moore and hope to have a lesson with Jock Padgett who knows Minnie Moo. Next season I hope to move up to BE Intermediate level with the 2 older horses and start eventing seriously on the youngster. My main aim will be to try for the Junior Europeans………… fingers crossed!
Leading horse trainer, classical equitation specialist and founder of the School of Légèreté, a respectful way of training lightness in riding, Philippe Karl, is now a WOW Saddles Ambassador.
Based in France, Philippe Karl is a world-renowned trainer and Master of Equitation who is interested in melding the classical traditions of equitation with modern understanding of equine anatomy, physiology and locomotion. The philosophy of Légèreté excludes any use of force or coercive artificial aids, and progresses on the teachings of luminaries such as Xenophon and Oliveira.
Philippe travels the world teaching and demonstrating this ethos, and has produced many books and DVDs about classical dressage. He has worked at prestigious European training establishments the Cadre Noir and Ecole Nationale d´Equitation, and travelled the world presenting equitation shows with the Cadre Noir before setting up the School of Légèreté, which exists to train riding instructors and enhance understanding of kind and respectful horse riding.
WOW Saddles’ co-proprietor David Kempsell is delighted that such a luminary in the world of equitation advocates the WOW Saddles concept. “It is widely recognised that WOW Saddles embrace modern knowledge about equine anatomy and locomotion to produce saddles that enhance equine wellness and performance – but these modern schools of thought and cutting edge technologies are not always associated with traditional equitation. That a Master such as Philippe Karl supports and advocates our ethos, and recommends WOW Saddles, is a great step forward for horses everywhere,” David states.
WOW Saddles are custom made for you and your horse. For more information, visit www.wowsaddles.com or call 01227 831614.
I have some great news: I’m pleased to announce that I now have a lovely 4 year old Hanoverian gelding called Quinn! He hasn’t been backed for long, so at the moment it is all about becoming a partnership, but he is showing so much potential, and I’m looking forward to our future together!
Although I have only been to a handful of shows with Dora due to my studies, she has come from strength to strength. All the training has paid off and of course my WOW saddle means that I can achieve all those higher marks! At the beginning of June, I took Dora to Hickstead to compete in a U25’s show organised by southern BYRDS. Dora didn’t put a foot wrong, winning both tests on the first day with over 72% then nearly 75%, then on the second day we got another 72%+ score, to become the overall medium champion. I couldn’t have asked for a better two days of competing, and this made me even more determined for the upcoming regionals and home international.
When I got home from uni, I managed to fit in a show to qualify for the music regionals. Although we were competing quite late, which Dora wasn’t too pleased about, she performed two great tests to qualify at both medium and advanced medium with two 70%+ scores! I put my music together, and only had one practise of my advanced medium music, so I was extremely pleased.
Then it was onto regionals at Sparsholt, where I was competing in the medium open class. The quality of the trot work felt the best it had been at a show for a while, but unfortunately we had a few costly mistakes in the canter work, but we still managed 6th which exceeded my expectations and made a great first regionals for Dora and I.
The week after, we were off on the long trip up to north Yorkshire for the BYRDS Home International. This show is always one of the highlights of the summer, as it is such a good team event with a great atmosphere. The first day I had a few mistakes, and didn’t ride my test the best I could have, but we came away with 9th. My other team mates also did well in their sections so we had a good placing overnight, and it was all to play for the next day. The team really stepped up to the occasion, all improving loads on their placings. I was a lot happier with my test on the second day with Dora ending in 3rd. Then it was the wait to see where our team had come. We were amazed to find out that our team had come 3rd, the best result team southern has had at the home international. Then to top it off I found out the Dora and I had become joint young rider medium champions. This was a lovely surprise, and it was a show I won’t forget.
With high spirits, it was then onto the next team completion at Sheepgate U25’s championships, where I was representing Southern in the medium/advanced team. After our team won last year, we were determined to do the same again. The first day Dora put in a great test to come 2nd with just over 70% with my whole team coming 1st to 4th. The second day we dropped 1 place to come 3rd but good performance from my team mates ensured that we stayed on top of the podium as a team. Individually I finished 2nd overall, getting some lovely prizes, so thank you to all the sponsors at the show. Unfortunately in my last test, coming out of the first medium trot, Dora tripped and landed oddly on the back fetlock. I then retired as she didn’t feel right, but a huge thank you to everyone who helped us after, everyone was so kind and helpful. Training will now start over the winter with the aim of PSG, so watch this space!
WOW customer Mairi Howat tells us that her horse Pagan, with rider Alex Sales, recently WOWed the competition at the TREC championships. Well done Alex and Pagan! Their collective tally is now:
Welsh Level 2 Individual Champion
Scottish, English and British Level 2 Pairs Champions
Welsh, Scottish, English and British – Best Veteran
Scottish, English and British – Highest PTV Score across all levels.
As you can imagine, Alex is over the moon. “As she said herself, after 13 years of ‘not quites’ and ‘nearlies’, to win all the champs in the same year is unbelievable,” Mairi says.
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!