A Quick History of Comfort Saddles.
Building on the success of The Native Pony Saddle Company Dean Woodward of Saddle Exchange realized that there was also a need for comfortable, high quality, well fitting saddles for the riding and competition horse.
Although some needed a different tree and panel, some Warmblood Horses, Quarter Horses, Irish Draft and Sports Horses were fitted very well by his new trees designed for Native Ponies, they were wide at the wither, flat backed and like the Natives, the traditional curved trees did not fit them well, the traditional trees seemed to be made to fit the standing horse, with the back resting, not a moving one!
After producing custom saddles for a number of people ( originally badged as Native Pony) , he realised that not everyone wanted a saddle badged “Native Pony” if they had a different breed of horse.
Hence the first Comfort Saddles were designed in 2003, badged as as The S. E. ( Saddle Exchange) Comfort Range.
These original saddles were deeper seated versions of the Native Pony Saddles, The Intrepid being a deeper seated Mountain & Moorland and the Seeker a deeper Seated version of the Glen. These saddles proved very popular and Dean soon introduce a Dressage Saddle and a Jumping Saddle again originally badged as Native Pony then later became the Grand Prix Dressage and Four Star Jumping Saddle.
Working with the fitting of Danish Sports Ponies in Denmark,The Pro Pony Jumping and Dressage saddles were then introduced. Designed as perfectly scaled down versions and as most Danish and German Sports Ponies had either Welsh or New Forest breeding the saddles were built on Native Pony Saddle Company Trees, hence they are also a great fit for our Native ponies.
In 2007 the first of our Premium Range, Comfort Elite was introduced. Dean had been fitting saddles for top show rider, Mathew Lawrence for around four years, and with his input they produced “The perfect showing saddle”, looking the part but supportive, comfortable for the rider and more importently, designed to fit the horses and ponies like nothing else.
The Prototype was made and fitted to Connemara Stallion, Bunowen Castle Ri. 3 weeks before Mathew took it to Olympia and rode to victory .
A Working Equitation Saddle was later designed with input from Portuguese Equitation Team Member, Pedro Neves, and in 2012 we delivered an Icelandic Saddle for Maj-Britt Carter . 2009 saw the introduction of the first Monoflap jumping Saddle , The Puissance.
In 2011 we introduced the first Comfort Elite Mono-Flap Dressage, The Rapport. Dean’s wife Gini ( who is a bit short of leg!) wanted a more close contact saddle for riding her Akhal Teke Gelding, “Almaz”. And at around the same time, customer Jaqui Gardner was also looking for a more close contact dressage saddle for riding her Welsh Section D mare “Diva”.
The Rapport Cob was made for Jaqui and The Cadence in response to what Gini wanted.
We had also been looking for a supplier to produce top quality synthetic Endurance Tack that feels and fits like leather to compliment our Endurance saddles. And after deiscovering the right person in the USA we also launched the Comfort Endurance Range of Beta and Biothane tack designed with the input of riders at all levels including the current British Team who used the Bridles and reins in the European Championship in Forac 2011.
In early 2012 we fitted one of our jumping mono-flaps, the Elevation, to the pony of an Event Rider rider on the Isle of Man.
Yasmin Ingham had been on the fringes of the British Team for three years previously, but both her and pony Craig Mor Tom, had been struggling in their current saddles, especially her jumping saddle. After we fitted her saddle everything improved for Yas and Tom, suddenly Tom could work comfortably and Yas felt more secure, her first 4 events resulted in clear rounds in both Show Jumping and Cross Country.
We fitted a new Rapport Dressage Saddle on the morning of the British championships and the team selectors noticed! Yas was picked for the British Team and competed at Fontenbleau.
The first Evolution Endurance Saddles came along in 2012 in response to Riders Endurance Riders, Christine Yeoman ( British Team) and Marjorie Grant (Scottish Team). Who chose to use their new Comfort Elite, Evolution endurance saddles to compete both in the World Endurance Championship and Home International later that year.
More saddles were introduced in early 2013. Including the Cadence Cob, originally designed for Paula Phillips and her Welsh Cob “Taff” . In early 2013 a Cadence Cob was also fitted to Denise Kersley’s, Traditional Cob Stallion Tiger Tim,who was showing a flair for Dressage .
The list achievements by this Cob stallion that year was huge, being placed in all events he was entered. At the end of the year “Timmy” not only qualified for HOYS, where he was placed 9th but won not only the British Riding Club, Dressage to Music Championship but the British Dressage Restricted Novice Championship, which at the time probably made him the most famous cob in the country.
Meanwhile Yasmin Ingham and Craig Mor Tom, in both the Comfort Elite Elevation and Comfort Elite Rapport, had also been going from strength to strength. Winning not only the British Pony Eventing Championship and The British Team selection event at Barbury castle. They went on to become European Pony Eventing Champions, coming back from Arrezzo with Double Gold.
New for 2014! customers are still needing different styles of saddles… Coming Soon, The Comfort Elite, Evolution GPX a forward cut, deeper seated version of the Evolution Endurance, Unsurpassed comfort and security, ideal for the taller rider, thank you Ali Ball and Sarah Murphy for your Input. …Watch this space……