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My 14.1 h cob cross, Skip, has had a lot of back soreness and had been increasingly reluctant to work in a treed saddle. Canter had been difficult for a long time. Accordingly, he had a long period of time off ridden work after being diagnosed with kissing spine. Along with chiropractic treatment we did a lot of lunging with stretching work over poles and cavaletti’s to increase strength and encourage him to use his core more effectively.
After much research and advice from my vet/chiropractor, I decided to try the SMART saddle. This was not an easy decision as I live in central Victoria, Australia. I had ridden in another type of flexible saddle and although it wasn’t right for me, this did give me the motivation to pursue the UK based SMART saddle.
With online fitting advice, and advice on which model would suit my pony best (all of which was very helpful), I received my saddle in June 2021 and I found initially, after only a couple of rides, that Skip was already much happier. I did eventually convince him to canter and to my delight he seemed happy and comfortable. His trot work was also more forward, loose and swinging than it had been in a long time.
I did go back to a rigid tree saddle for a few weeks as his back was pain free and I thought he might be ok as I had had a saddle made and fitted for him. He was generally not too bad to start with but did get sore again and was telling me this was not a good idea - very lazy, canter became difficult to achieve, resistant, just very unwilling overall.
I have now gone back to riding in the SMART Dressage saddle and Skip has become much more willing in his work overall with better attitude toward canter and we have started competing again after a 2-year break. I find myself also taking more responsibility for keeping my position balanced in the saddle and I love the close contact feel I have in it.
I would certainly recommend SMART Saddles to anyone, especially if they are struggling to find a good fit for their horse/pony, or if they are having problems with back soreness. It is an investment well worth pursuing.
Sue van Eyle, Victoria, Australia