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For the past few years I have had countless saddlers try and fail to fit a saddle to me and my Fell Pony. We are a unique pair, I am 5’4” with long legs and he is 13.1hh XXXXW and can only take a 15” treed saddle - at 8 years old now, he is fully matured and whilst he is small, he is as wide as he is tall and he is also a VERY good doer - which is always tricky when fitting saddles. I contacted every ‘main’ brand saddle company and no one could help me without offering me a very small child’s seat which meant that I had no support in the saddle in a custom design that I couldn’t trial or ride in before purchase which I wasn’t prepared to do.
I had a friend recommend that I consider SMART Saddles and I have to admit I was dubious. I hadn’t ever considered flexible saddles before and had only heard negative things about them and only anecdotal research. Having no other option I decided to book a trial for myself. I was convinced I would not get on with the fitter but I couldn’t have been more wrong, she was unbiased, watched me ride in both saddles and allowed me to feel the difference for myself. I so wanted to hate the SMART saddle and for Onyx to buck and kick off and tell me he hated this saddle. Within a couple of minutes, he was stretching and moving bigger and the first canter I had in the saddle was so big and powerful I nearly came off!
I decided that this could be a one off, so took advantage of trialling the saddle, convinced that after hacking up the huge hills around me that it would slip and slide around just like all the saddles before this one. I figured the £75 a week trial period of worth it. After a few weeks of not slipping, of not sliding and feeling Onyx work more correctly, longer and lower and after researching the production of these saddles and reading up on the science behind them, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase my Native GP. I took advantage of the interest free finance option and I am now writing this just before my last payment comes out after 10 months - and all I can say is, this saddle has changed everything. I have a saddle that not only fits me and keeps me secure, but a saddle that fits Onyx length wise, width wise and all the season fluctuations in between - with the support of my SMART Advisor, I am able to make small adjustments when needed by using the innovative SMART shimming system.
I had my physio. out for Onyx when I first trialled the saddle and then 6 months later and she has said his back is the best it has been, his back and wither have muscled up and he is now developing a correct top-line thanks to correct usage of his body. This year I have seen a difference in his flatwork especially his punchy, powerful canter but most of all I have seen a difference in his jumping; I used to regularly have run outs and refusals from him however literally since we switched saddles, we’ve had none of that nonsense and he is working positively over fences.
I am grateful to SMART Saddle for putting time into developing these saddles and making them accessible to everyone across all sports and giving them such a stunning appearance where it’s hard to tell them from traditional treed saddles.
If you had a difficult-to-fit horse or pony, don’t hesitate trialling one a SMART saddle for yourself and seeing what a difference they make to both of your lives!
Jadine Huxtable, 2022