Helen, M and a saddle for a Baroque Friesian

Helen and M “2 years ago (??), lady luck smiled on me. Someone on my yard was having an appointment with Gini and Dean to try a saddle on her Knabstrupper, and suggested I might like to try one as well.

It’s a long and expensive and sadly not too unusual story about the quest to find a decent saddle to fit a supposedly difficult baroque Friesian gelding, and also my baroque body! So, I took a leap of faith and said yes, and a train of events started which I can still hardly believe.

On a warm day, a very kind and quiet Gini came round the corner and said would you like to try a saddle now, by which time I was terrified and forgot even to put Meindert’s bridle on! I went outside and Dean decided on which saddle would fit – the Mono Flap Dressage Saddle– and said try this. The saddle fitted M and me, was very comfortable, made me feel safe and on top of that Helen and M in her Comfort Dressage Saddlewas very beautiful and I was soooooo nervous, Dean walked round the outdoor with me chatting away about nothing and everything as I relaxed into the saddle and into a whole new riding experience! M was so calm and just wandered round next to Dean and the feeling I had that day is still indescribable. I can honestly say, it felt like I had previously been sitting on several old metal tractor seats before that day – and very expensive ones at that! Like the other lady on the yard, I ordered mine that day and sat impatiently waiting for it to arrive! I didn’t suddenly get picked for the Olympics, but my confidence improved in leaps and bounds, and the next time Dean and Gini came I didn’t need Dean to hold my hand (!) and I had already started to ride out in my saddle, something I was too scared to do before because I felt so unsafe and communicated this to M every time we went out. I ordered a gel dressage girth to go with it and we were set to go.

Helen and M ClinicBUT, I was trolling though the comfort saddle website a short time later, and saw the Comfort Elite Iberian Working Equitation Saddle and I was lost forever. I asked Gini and Dean if they had one we could try, and they said yes. It’s a little unusual these days to have brown on a black horse but I loved the look and the idea behind the style and fit and wanted to try it. And I did, and I knew it was the one but I daren’t make my mind up immediately having only had the dressage saddle for such a short time, but after an hour, I decided I had to have it and went to find Dean and Gini on their next appointment at another yard, to beg them not to sell it to anyone else and could I please have it….!!! Not long after that my saddle arrived and the journey really began. I changed yards in the meantime and when Dean and Gini came to visit in the pouring rain, they were so enthusiastic about the visible change in both M and me. It was lovely to show them the difference that a saddle that fits makes – when I say ‘fits’ I mean that one so many levels, not just Helen and M competing at Trecthe physical fit for both M and me. I also have a reactorpanel girth for the saddle now thanks to Gini, and the combination is perfect – I never worried about the saddle slipping on either saddle from the first day.

I have had so many comments about my Working Equitation saddle – everywhere I go, people ask me about it. I took M away on a week’s training clinic to Cambridge from the Isle of Man – and even the western riders there commented on my saddle. At that clinic I had to ride M with no reins at a canter – I could never dream of doing this in any other saddle. My instructor said last week ‘your position in the saddle is your strength’ something which I have never heard before! I can’t thank Gini and Dean enough for the way they not only listened to me and made sure M is happy too, but how they actually saw what it was I really needed, but were also willing to try something a little different. I attach a picture take as we were about to go out on our first LeTrec orienteering session, in the end it took us 4 hours riding, but at no point was M uncomfortable and neither was I, and we have never ridden that long before. If you are thinking you are never going to be able to find the right saddle for you and your horse, you have just arrived at the answer.”

Helen and M

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