Friday, 1 May 2015

Review - Finding the perfect jump saddle

My search for the perfect jump saddle started almost a year ago when I realised his wow no longer fitted. For a short term fix I bought a Falcon Event saddle which was fab and suited what we needed at the time but it was never meant to be a long term solution. However I never thought I would have such a drama trying to find something suitable!!
The issue we had was that I am incredibly long hip to knee so need something very forward cut or my knees hang over the flap plus I needed something without knee rolls (otherwise my knees cling and my lower leg gets insecure) and then B has a decent wither AND big shoulders which saddles either restrict (if they are forward cut enough for me) or just get pushed back. Oh and I didn't have a massive budget.

I contacted several saddlers and most of them had nothing that would suit both of us but we tried an ideal (didn't fit pony as well as I'd like), black country vinici (I loved but didn't fit pony), albion (too blocky) and finally a style (uncomfortable for me). I was at my wits end so did a pleading post on the TwitterEventing facebook page and someone suggested I have a look at Northumbria Equine.

I toddled off to google and was mega impressed with the way the saddles looked and their price! I got in touch with Kate Hardt who is the MD and chatted with her about the challenges I was having and what I was looking for. She explained the fitting process to me which made complete sense and so I booked her in for a visit.

The session started with Kate looking at Buddy and then getting a huge selection of trees out of the car to try. The main difference with the NE saddles is that they fit the tree to the horse and build from there which pretty much guarantees a perfect fit. We tried about 10 different trees and Kate explained why some fitted better than others (points too far back, too curved for his back etc) and we found a perfect fit pretty quickly. It highlighted to me how important getting the tree right is. I have never ever seen the bare bones of a saddle used as a template and too often just a few measurements are taken to create a saddle but what happens if the tree shape isn't right?!
The final creation!
We then moved on to actually sitting in the saddles. I knew what I wanted so picked this one first and it was heaven to sit in. I tried it over a small fence and was happy that it put me in the right position but I wanted a bit more room so ended up ordering it 1" more forward cut than the one I tried. Buddy loved it too so I was happy to part with the cash!!

Kate kept in regular contact and the saddles were ready so quickly - I couldn't believe it. When they arrived the quality was incredible and I couldn't wait to sit in it! After riding in it for a short while it had dropped and needed a bit more flock in it to keep it off the wither so I was very sad to see it packed off to go back to the factory for a tweak. However I didn't have to wait long for it to come back - it was back in my arms less than 48hrs after Kate left the yard! Seriously great service.

Since then I've ridden in it a lot and have done fast work and jumping in it. I still love it! The first time I jumped in it I was really impressed at how I could just hold my position and didn't collapse on landing when B took off two strides out and caught me off guard. I then had a session with Warren who also agreed that it was a huge improvement, I was balanced over my leg the whole time and that it was a beautifully made saddle - he guessed it was almost £1K more than I spent. It has filled me with confidence over a fence and I am able to ride in a much better position so I cannot wait to go XC schooling in it.

I have been so impressed that I will be putting an order in for their dressage saddle as soon as I've saved a few more pennies!


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