“Echo has been a horse with many problems since I bought him 4 years ago. On paper he was the perfect match for what I was looking for but very soon the reality was very different. He is a very complex horse and I have worked through his problems with groundwork and slowly unpeeled the layers of his health issues to finally have a horse that was ready to go back under saddle.
Unfortunately, Echo refused to accept a saddle. He is very reactive and only had to see the saddle come out and would turn on you both swinging his quarters and threating to kick and trying to lunge at you with his teeth. I progressed to riding bare back, this he is happy with but I needed a saddle he would accept.
I spoke to a very experienced saddle fitter who advised me he would be better with a flexible saddle. I decided to try a SMART NATIVE GP as I like the versatility of being able to alter the fit for him as he changes shape.
I arranged for a SMART Advisor came out to see Echo with the saddle. She was so calm and patient with him, letting him take his time to have a good look at the saddle and the feel of it on his back. Once fitted, I had the saddle on trial; due to Echo’s shape and living in hill country we had the SMART Advisor back for a review fit, she altered the shims and added the breast plate. Bingo! Everything was perfect for him.
Echo is a horse that had always struggled down hills due to his confirmation in front but in the SMART NATIVE GP saddle he powers down the hills.
He is now happy to be saddled, we are still working on the mounting but he is improving every time he lines up at the block.
Recently a friend came over and rode my older horse and Echo did his first 10KM ride around a bridle path. This is huge for us and a dream I never thought would happen. I have been leading him out for 2 years now and to be able to ride him was just amazing: I ordered our own SMART NATIVE GP for him!
I truly believe that we would still be stuck without the versatility of this saddle. I have Echo entered in his first TREC competition in September in a pairs class with my other horse, Something I thought we would never achieve.”
~ Jackie Bennett, July 2023