I get asked this question a lot and I do kinda see where it stems from – the want to have a totally unbiased opinion on what brand to buy – but I do not understand the hoped outcome.
Do people want to have the saddlefitter recommend/fit from knowledge of every saddle available in the Market place?
Are they worried they will be ‘talked’ into an uber expensive saddle?
Do they like the knowledge that they aren’t paying twice (fit and then purchase) to the same person?
To lay to rest some myths or unknowns that seem to be circulating.
1. Any SMS (Society of Master Saddler UK) Saddlefitter is aligned to at least one brand. They need to be to hold the qualification. You can not get the qualification without being nominated by a Walsall Saddlemaker.
The ASFA is a qualification largely geared towards Bates.
2. Personally I do not have knowledge of every brand on the market – but I have my fit principles. This means by checking fit, horse and watching movement/ridden horse I make an opinion judged on what I see. I’ve recommended $100 saddles, I’m a horse rider as well and have kids that ride. I KNOW how expensive the sport is. Just ask those people who have seen me ransack their tackroom and blow dust off an oldie (but goodie) saddle how determined I am to see if they already own a solution.
Yes, I have preferences and biases for or against brands but that comes from information I’ve accumulated from years of doing this. But if the saddle works I’m not going to steer you towards a new one. Even if I don’t think the current saddle is a long-term prospect (remember I fit for the future) I’m happy to look at options to get you through until a new saddle can be purchased. At the end of the day – The horse is the best critic of saddlefit, and I listen to what he or she thinks long before a pricetag.
For the last 10+ years of selling saddles I’ve evolved my brands that I sell. I’ve bought brands into my ‘stable’ only to discount them due to them not doing what I hoped they would do, or finding a better suited brand. I like to think that by only selling a few hand-picked (or unpicked and pulled apart to see the innards) saddles and working with the saddlemakers I become an ‘expert’ in the brand. This is especially important with new saddles as it is a huge outlay and its my reputation (and conscience) that suffers when a buyer is unhappy with their purchase. By having a large knowledge of what I sell I can give the best possible service and outcome.
I offer a 6 month backup service with all saddle fits (whether you buy a saddle from me or not) – this means if you find a secondhand saddle I’m happy to come out and offer an opinion for the cost of the travel fee. I’m here to look at photos, ads etc to help you buy the saddle that works. Because – at the end of the day – all horses are individuals and there is no cookie cutter solution.