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!
Our WOW Saddles sponsored rider, Lesley Peyton-Gilbert makes good of the weather and updates us on her latest antics…
“A dull and wet day gives me the excuse to sit in the warm to do a quick catch up! My boys Woodcroft Garuda K and World Exclusive have had a few adventures! The National Championships in September were fab as always. It’s a great time to catch up with everyone and the atmosphere is always good. I don’t like the venue particularly but it is as it is and we all have to work with it. I feel particularly sorry for the young horse riders! I’m not going to moan but for our National Championships I do think we deserve a better venue now. So many people put so much in to making this a great time of year.”
“I have to thank British Dressage supporters club for my certificate for representing Great Britain this past two years at small and now Big Tour, it was a lovely way to mark something special!”
“In the competition arena we had a mixed bag! Wex always gives his level best of everything he has and did not disappoint in the Medium Open with a top ten place and a 12th in the Advanced Medium Open Championship. Both of these classes are super ‘hot’ and are rich with talent and potential international future stars so I feel very proud of the lovely boy! He was also much more relaxed and grown up staying away this year, he didn’t scrape a hole to Australia at the stable door this year, saying that I did bring a rubber mat to prevent this.”
“Garuda was on fire! Working in on the Friday night he was quite amazing! Not sure I was always in control but he was very happy to be out and about strutting his stuff, he was in for a busy couple of weeks with the nationals and then Saumur the following week. Horses they say are great levellers and being last to go after the amazing Carl Hester, to say the atmosphere was electric was a bit of an understatement! Still, we were here, a national final in my first season at Grand Prix, this had to make me proud and it did. As the test started Garuda felt fantastic, the halt and rein back were smashing and my marks on the test sheet reflected how good the first part felt. As I came across the arena in the extended trot I activated and picked up into the passage, it was lovely, as I turned across the school the little voice in my head said take it steady don’t rush him, Garuda then anticipated the piaffe, I went to push him on he tightened his back and came up a little against the hand, then took one look at the full to bursting stand and went I don’t think so! And sat down! I went to correct him he did a little rear and then I asked him again to straighten and he went up again, before his feet had hit the ground the judge at C had rung the bell and ended my test.”
“Quietly I turned and walked out of the arena. You have to take it on the chin, realise it’s horses but I was quite confused, as were the owners as to why the judge had not given me my 20 seconds, this became one of the talking points of the show as, according to the rules the master judge can send you out if they think the behaviour was dangerous! Well this is ridiculous as, I don’t have the biggest brave pants in the world, G certainly wasn’t dangerous he was just a bit taken by the atmosphere but the judge gave me no chance to rectify the problem and in terms of training this was not a good moment. I worked Garuda quietly outside where he happily did the passage transition several times …… A definite grrrrrrrrr moment. Certainly no room to have an ego around horses!”
“So it was with some trepidation I loaded up Garuda for our 511 mile drive via Calais to Saumur! I was very excited about this show, especially as it is the home of the French classical school and their national equestrian centre. Thankfully Garuda travels well and the French roads were good, even if Rouen is blooming confusing to navigate around! The motorway ends and you have to dive through the outskirts of the town.”
“The welcome in Saumur was fab, super friendly stable manager, lovely stables and super facilities. There are 17 separate ‘poles’ each with an out door arena, indoor arena, stables showers, lunge area wash down area. The hacking is fantastic, indeed some riders bring a second horse just so they can give it a nice international show experience and go hacking! The Cadre Noir are based here, the town of Saumur being the home of the French Calvary with the Napoleonic stables and barracks still being the town centre piece. The National Equestrian centre is a few kilometres out of town set in the forest.”
“The competition arena was stunning! As you can see. I was really excited about being able to ride in such an amazing place.
At the same time as the CDI the French national young horse and breeding championship was on so it was lovely to see their best young horses and for them to enjoy the atmosphere of the CDI, their classes were in the lovely outdoor arena where the spring CDI is held. The show was sponsored by NAF and a local champagne company! We were very well looked after! The riders welcome was fantastic, lots of free sparkling stuff and canapes! We also had a free tour of the wine caves on the Saturday morning! With a spot of tasting of course!”
“The business side of things started on the Thursday with the trot up, really well organised and a big relief when over! And everyone passed! The draw for the Grand Prix put me in the second half of the class, the French tend to do a draw based on world ranking and as I now have a world ranking! (I can’t believe it! 340th but a world ranking all the same!) I was a little tentative going into the first piaffe but once we had that over and done with my confidence grew and we had a good test, he jumped together in one step of the one the tempis, costly as a x2 movement but we ended up with 66% and a top 15 place so good enough to go into the Kur. Which was my aim as I have finally got a programme!”
“So it was on the Saturday night with a pretty full house I did my first ever Kur to music, I’d never even had a run through! Luckily I followed the advice from David Trott to keep it simple and the wonderful Kay from Music In Motion did an amazing job of my music from the film Rush. The moment for me was as I hit the one time tempis totally on the music, it was fab! He lost a bit of balance coming out of the right pirouette but other than that smashing and a 69.97%! Just shy of the magic 70%, I was thrilled and came 7th! So we got to do a prize giving trot round! The other great thing was that all the Brits had a great show. Charlie Hutton was unbeatable in the small tour but Hannah Biggs and the lovely Welzin danced to fantastic superman music to win the Kur! You can safely assume we consumed a few glasses of the champagne we bought earlier in the day!”
“So the next day we packed up and made the long journey home after some great times, beautiful weather……..Older, wiser and happier! Our next adventure is the high profile show at Bury Farm. Wex does his first advanced! And Garuda has a run out in the Grand Prix on Saturday night and the Kur on Sunday. I’m hoping this will be a good wake up having not been out since the Saumur trip as we head off to Roosendaal in Holland to do the Christmas show there.”
“I can hardly believe that it’s a year since we did our first Grand Prix at Bury Farm! It’s been a real voyage of discovery! And one that I hope we can continue to make next year! Sadly Wex is going to be put up for sale as his owner is wanting to downsize her business and move to Spain. I’m really sad as he is such a joy to do, I hope we can find his a great home where he can continue with his career and give as much joy as he has us. I shall therefore be on the look out for a new project as I only have time and space for a few at a time if they are to be done properly and given my attention. So the pending new year will, I hope bring new challenges.”
“Not long until the shortest day, then Christmas ! So I hope everyone has a great close to this year of highs and lows and looks forward to the next! Thank you to my sponsors, especially First Thought Equine and WOW saddles!
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
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!)”
“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!”
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.”
Just before the 2014 event season kicks off we have a chat to WOW Saddles sponsored rider, Kitty King, and find out what she has planned for this year…
“After the event season finished last year all the horses had a break and then came back into work in November so they were all fit and raring to go come January when the jumping and dressage training began. My year started off amazingly when I got a call from Yogi Breisner to say that I had been selected for the World Class Performance Squad! This means that I get access to lots more training and support, as well as additional funding towards my regular training. I have already been to William Fox-Pitt’s yard twice for training, Aston Le Walls all weather cross country course and the Unicorn Centre and it has been fabulous!”
“We have the first event of the season this weekend (1st March) where I will be taking one young horse for their first event. Then the older horses will run at Oasby the weekend after, then all going to plan it will be Aldon and then Gatcombe – fingers crossed the weather doesn’t ruin plans!”
“I am really excited about the season – Persimmon is aiming for Tattersalls 3* and Zidante is aiming for Badminton so we have some big plans! Hopefully all the hard work will pay off! I have a new mare called Creevagh Cooley, owned by Lindsay Caldwell, and she will hopefully do the 6 year old classes, meanwhile Ceylor LAN will be getting mileage on the clock at one day events before hopefully doing Le Lion 7 year olds at the end of the year.”
“WOW have been out and checked my saddles so we are raring to go for the season!”
In between an intense period of school work, WOW Saddles sponsored rider, Hero Seago, has still managed to fit in some show jumping…
“On Sunday 1st December I took both ponies to Markfield EC, in Leicestershire and both the boys got double clears in Discovery. The following weekend, on the 7th December I went to Sollihull EC and came 1st in a strong 80 Open class and 5th in the 90cm on Bobby, he was a little bit lively in the 90cm and took a stride out to the last fence, which made me chuckle.”
“On the 28th and 29th December, Keysoe held a New Year Pony Extravaganza Show, where I got an equal first in Springboard on AJ and a 4th in a very busy 80 Open on Bobby. Then on the 25th January we travelled up to Forest Edge in Norfolk and came equal first in 138cm Stepping Stones, which was my 1st out of 4 double clears to qualify for Scope. We have plenty of competitions coming up so watch this space…”
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