Below is a selection of some of our favourite stories from our archive. To keep up to date with new stories, case studies and images from our clients using their SMART saddle for different disciplines, with different types of horses and ponies, both at home and competition check our SMART Customer Stories blog to read professional & amateur riders’ experiences.
The first centre to use the Solution Saddles Veterinary Referral Scheme was The Equine Centre at The Animal Health Trust in Newmarket.
Dr Sue Dyson’s main clinical interests are improving lameness and poor performance diagnosis by combining imaging techniques with comprehensive clinical evaluations. She has published extensively and lectured worldwide on the diagnosis and management of orthopaedic injuries in the horse. Because Sue has also ridden at top national level in both eventing and show jumping and has produced horses that have subsequently competed at the Olympics and World Championships, she is in a unique position of understanding performance related problems from a rider and trainer’s point of view as well as that of a veterinary specialist.
“Clinical assessment of a horse with a performance related problem working in a Solution RigidFree saddle helps me to determine if such a saddle might benefit the horse long term”
Several case studies undertaken at the AHT have involved kissing spines syndrome (IDSP) and all have shown marked improvement with the use of a SMART saddle.
“After fitting with a Solution saddle, the horse was immediately more willing to move forwards, more relaxed and willing to stretch the topline.”
In one AHT case study, a horse that had appeared lame in front when ridden in its own saddle moved markedly better when a SMART saddle was used and it was then possible to observe subtle hind limb lameness.
“...The horse was ridden bareback and no lameness was detectable. The horse was then ridden with a saddle (the owner’s) and showed consistent right forelimb lameness on the right rein and a lot of resistances. The horse was then ridden using a Solution RigidFree saddle. The horse was prepared to stretch down much more by the head and neck and was less lame.”
Dr Sue Dyson MA VetMB DEO PhD FRCVS
Event riders Steven Way and Mel Beckett make up The Eventing Way team, based near Salisbury. Stephen has produced and ridden a number of horses up to advanced level and competed at Lumuhlen 4*. Mel, who has competed at Intermediate level, focuses on bringing on young horses and retraining racehorses. The team are currently competing a string of six horses from unaffiliated to Advanced level eventing.
Alongside one of their owners, Frances Smart, they are now running their horses in SMART™ RigidFree™ saddles. The team saw changes in all of the horses immediately when ridden in the SMART™ saddles and so were looking forward to seeing how they continued to improve in their work with their RigidFree™ saddles over the following season.
Reports from their 2013 event diary will be published on the Solution Saddles blog – so please check back for full updates and photos.
Rob Arro, a member of the Hong Kong Paralympic Dressage Squad, who has been based at Ingestre Stables near Stafford since February 2011 has achieved the qualification needed to compete at the London Paralympic Games.
Rob, with trainer Andrew Bennie, himself a former Olympic Event Rider, and Riding School horse "Jim" left last week for Northern Spain where they have competed in an international Paralympic Qualifier class.
In order to qualify riders must achieve a test score of 60% minimum. On the first day of the competition, riding in the grade one A class, Rob achieved a score of 63.39% putting him well inside the qualification criteria.
Jim, Robs horse for the competition is a school horse at Ingestre, who was kindly loaned to the stables by Sue Harcome from Herefordshire, following a successful dressage career.
Rob, who had never ridden a horse until 15 months ago started riding as a form of therapy following a severe accident in which he became totally paralysed in the whole of the left side of his body. Having always been competitive prior to his accident but in other sports, Rob decided to use the therapeutic riding to continue his love of sport and competition. In February 2011 he based himself at Ingestre Stables in order to train intensively with the hope of qualifying for London.
Rob is greatly aided by riding on a SMART™ Dressage saddle, which was able through its versatility to be adapted to suit Robs needs. He is particularly grateful to Anne Bondi of Solution Saddles, whose expertise has helped enormously.
Now having gained the qualification Rob with his various trainers at Ingestre will continue to work hard, as the next ambition involves medals!
Rob added, "There is plenty of interaction between horse and rider. Tim Downes and Andrew Bennie do this well. Partially why they are so good. The SMART™ saddle enhances this interaction making us more 'as one'. In turn horses and I perform better."
Rob, Jim and Andrew are in Europe to compete in Fra nce, Belgium and Germany in the coming months.
Kookie and I finished 5th at the National TREC Championships.
I feel sure that some if not all of Kookie’s previous foot problems were down to his old saddle. The SMART™ GP saddle has freed up his shoulders and he is able to move more freely and therefore he is using his feet properly.
It certainly is hard to believe that when I bought the SMART™ GPsaddle back in January I was looking at doing a little dressage and some competitions on a surface.
At the championships, he completed 24 km over very testing moorland, tracks and roads and then came out full of himself for the second day.
We are off to Scotland next year – aiming for that No 1 spot.
"My twelve year old daughter, Antonia, competed at her first junior Tetrathlon with Blondie. She had to run 1500m, swim for 3 mins and shoot at a 7m turning target with one hand. The pictures below are of them jumping over a 2'9 to 3' course. They were one of only four partnerships to go clear - and most of the competitors were riding horses. Blondie was so sweet, ears forward as usual, tail flicking and paws up :D Antonia came 10th overall - I was so amazed!"
Crackenthorpe Jamboree (Tom) is a 15.3 homebred Warmblood gelding Owned by Susan and Clare Chappelhow from Crackenthorpe Stud.
One day in January 2006, Tom was found in the field with a massive tear to his shoulder. Somehow he had ripped right through the layers of superficial and deep shoulder muscles exposing the bone of the scapula; a deep wound, 122 long and 8” wide, probably with associated nerve damage as well. The vet suspected that the bone had been chipped and that euthanasia would be the kindest option. He did not believe that he would ever be sound again. “We thought it was the end of the road for Tom” said Clare.
But the Chappelhows were determined to give Tom every chance of recovery and embarked on a long rehabilitation programme. With his special, bubbly and kind personality, he just deserved the best.
As an Equine Massage Therapist, I began to treat Tom as part of this plan, along with Lucy Crow, Equine Osteopath, who also visited regularly. We both noticed that, although he was recovering well, he was beginning to use himself unevenly; there would be tightness in his off-hind to compensate for the extra work that the near shoulder was doing in supporting the injured shoulder.
Gradually his shoulder muscles began to atrophy and his shape became increasingly asymmetrical.
For Clare and Susan a Solution saddle was the only option for him. No other saddle would do the job that he needed. A Solution RigidFree saddle would constantly flex and mould to his movement, allowing him freedom to change his shape and redevelop his musculature. A treed saddle would only have created more atrophy and the last thing they wanted to do was to impede his action. Gradually, Tom started to go well enough to begin competing again.
He was level and sound.
People who saw him could not believe that he had recovered at all, let alone was working so well. Within five months of his injury, he had won a Medium affiliated dressage competition, been placed at the British Dressage Championships and qualified for The Horse of the Year Show.
In 2008, Tom started to event at Advanced level again, regaining his qualifications and aiming for a CCI***. Susan is convinced that Solution Saddles have been a major part of his success.
“He won’t have anything else on his back – no other saddle can do the job.”
“There is no way this horse would be working under a saddle at all, if it was not for Solution Saddles.”
At Crackenthorpe Stud, the Chappelhows now use Solution Saddles for all their horses as they find they achieve the most effective performance with them.
Coedeneirin Solo is a 12.3 hh Welsh Section C pony owned by Lindsay Caldwell. He is based at the late John Dufosee’s stables at Nyland in Dorset, and has recently been awarded the Pitchford Trophy by Endurance GB at their annual Awards Dinner in Daventry, for the registered native pony gaining the most points in all types of EGB rides for the 2010 season.
Solo did not have the best start in life, he was ridden far too early and his back muscles were badly damaged. He was rescued in a poor condition and scared of his own shadow. He has been ridden by ex-British team member Lisa Franks, since 2006.
“I decided straight away that I had to use my Solution saddle on Solo. I had previously and very successfully used it on other horses, but because he was so small, it seemed to be the obvious choice; there was not going to be a chance of any pressure points and the saddle would help spread my weight evenly. I find that Solution saddles also allow you to feel the horse’s movement and whether there is any problem with the gait, which in endurance is most important. I have had the saddle fitted and monitored by Approved Advisors over the years, and Solo has blossomed.”
‘Solo’ was originally destined for the show ring, and although he had many successes, and did qualify for the NPS novice ridden championships at Malvern, he has found his real niche in Endurance.
He has built up over the years and now regularly completes rides up to 80 km in a day and has represented Wales at the Home International Competitions for the last four years, most recently placed 5th in the 82 km endurance ride at Burgie, Scotland in August 2010.
His rider Lisa says: “In order to do this type of mileage, his tack has to fit well and also be adjustable for both horse and rider as he is constantly changing shape. This is where his Solution saddle really comes into its own.”
In 2007 Solo surpassed what his team had hoped for him, not only did he complete one 80 km ride to go advanced, but he completed the 80 km ER (race) at the Inter-Regional Championships, helping their team to second place overall. They then went on to be given an award at the Red Dragon as the top scoring Native Pony and best pony under 14hh.
Lisa was thrilled to bits with Solo in 2008 as he was progressing well. As they looked forward to competing for the Welsh Team in the Home International in Northern Ireland, Lisa reported “After Solo successfully completed the FEI CEI 2* 80 km endurance ride at Euston Park, at a speed he has never done before in his life (13.99 kph!), the vets were quite interested when we said we used a Solution saddle - there is not a mark on his back” At the end of the season, after successfully completing 10 rides, Solo was going beautifully and was full of life when he went ‘out on holiday’.
In 2009 Solo continued his success and was awarded the trophy for the best pony under 14.2hh ridden by an adult, sadly picked up an injury that cut his season short.
He bounced back in 2010 and Coedeneirin Solo and Lisa Franks added to their long list of achievements and awards, including a distance award for successfully completing 2,400 km in his career to date – all in his Solution saddle! He also has taken the regional native trophy for the past four years and the top under 14.2hh.
“Since using Solution Saddles, Solo he has changed quite dramatically. He will always be highly-strung and flighty but he used to be totally tense when ridden in a traditional saddle with a tree and would try to run away from it. Now he is totally chilled – and this is entirely due to the fact he has learned that he can work without any discomfort and life is FUN.”
Lisa and Solo have had a good start to 2011 having already completed over 300km competitively. So far they have achieved a top ten placing in an FEI 1* 80 km ride and a bronze award in the Exmoor 80 class at the Golden Horseshoe. They are starting out with their new SMART Native saddle and looking forward to another successful season.
“I have been riding in the new SMART SPORT jump saddle since June 2012 and I have been pleasantly surprised with the results.
I am currently using it on 5 different horses and finding that I only need to alter the fitting and pads very slightly to accommodate them all. It is certainly an economical and easy alternative to the traditional system!
Without exception, I have seen changes in all my horses’ attitudes and way of going. Even Patsy, a talented but very temperamental and ‘particular’ mare, is showing improvements – where I believed there were few to be made!
One of my own geldings, Kamil, has always been very difficult to keep comfortable with a treed saddle, despite the fitting service of my SMS saddler. Since working in the SMART SPORT jump saddle he has shown unbelievable changes in his musculature, shape and balance. I have to say that I am impressed far beyond my initial expectations.
I always strive to get the very best performance from my horses, and know without doubt that they only excel when they are comfortable.
The appearance, comfort and stability of the SMART SPORT jump saddle is proving second to none; the easy fitting and balancing options make it very user friendly and the function and performance it is offering me and my horses is excellent.
As well as providing me with a first-class product, the understanding and knowledge of my Solution Saddles Technical Advisor has been refreshing and enlightening. I am looking forward to continuing to compete successfully in the SMART saddle.
“I liked the concept of SMART saddles, watched other people ride in them and thought that the horses went better.
My younger daughter Charlotte has recently taken over the reins from her older sister’s pony, Tzar. He’s presently competing at BE100, but certainly has the scope to upgrade to Novice.
Things haven't been going too well this season; Tzar has started refusing, rushing and generally looking like he has lost his confidence in jumping. Our Pony Club DC noticed this, and suggested we take a look at his saddle. We had it fitted for him a few years ago, and was only refitted again recently by a saddle fitter, so I had no reason to suspect anything was amiss. Our DC pointed out that it was encroaching on his wide shoulders, slipping over his withers and Tzar was unable to move freely.
We contacted our local Solution Saddles Technical Advisor, Catie Baird and tried the new SMART™ Sports jump saddle. Within a few minutes Tzar was striding out, carrying himself and flowing in a lovely outline - showing off his lovely paces! When asked to jump, he took a few fences to realise that there was no pressure over the shoulders but once he did, he was flowing over ever fence effortlessly. The saddle stayed exactly where it was supposed to and Charlotte said it felt very comfy and secure. It looked the part too!
During a disastrous jumping lesson the following week with Tzar wearing his own saddle, he had a catalogue of refusals, run outs and Charlotte fell off twice! Poor Tzar got a rollicking for being "bad" and Charlotte came out in tears. We went straight back to Catie, and received a lovely new SMART™ Sports jump saddle on trial. A few days later and they had another jumping lesson... What a difference! Again a bit shaky to start with, but once Tzar got the idea he was flying! One happy pony and one happy child... Everyone was admiring the new SMART™ Sport saddle and our instructor even asked to have a ride on it.
Charlotte and Tzar have just completed their first BE event using the new SMART™ Sport saddle, where they achieved their best dressage test to date and a lovely clear jumping round... Three happy bunnies!”
Nicola Nisbet kindly sent in two videos showing her horse before and after starting to use the SMART SPORT VT Dressage saddle. There are just 3 weeks between them yet the difference is quite remarkable.
"I have used SMART saddles on everything from Icelandics to Thoroughbreds, Chunky Cobs to sports horses and warmbloods. I love the fact that I can adjust the saddle to fit any shape of horse and I get the benefit of riding in a saddle that I know and feel secure in. Further more, despite having spinal and pelvic injuries I can still ride in the SMART saddle and not be uncomfortable.
Thank you Solution Saddles, for your lovely saddles, and for always being right there with help and advice whenever I’ve needed it :)"
Donna Sharman, Happy Solution Saddles Customer