A modern solution to saddle fitting header
A modern solution to saddle fitting header

SMART Ambassador Rebekah Adshead 

“I am an instructor and trainer based near Market Drayton, Shropshire. Owner (or owned by!) 6 horses, of all shapes and sizes. 

I have competed in a range of disciplines, including British Dressage, British Eventing, Team Chasing, Working Equitation, and the odd foray into showing and show jumping. I've also hunted and spend as much time exploring the countryside on horseback as work allows! My main interests are in helping riders to improve their confidence through better understanding of how their body interacts with the horse, and how improving the horse's posture and way of going will lead to a happier, healthier and braver horse, too. I currently work both freelance and as a part of the team at The Dressage Secret in Shropshire. 

My own horses range from my 11.1hh Sec A, Dimples, now very much retired at the grand age of 31! To a 16.1hh ex-racer turned team chaser, Bally, who came to me with a whole range of issues from his time in racing, including kissing spines. 


I thoroughly enjoy training and rehabbing horses of all types - I've often said my "type" is any horse with 4 legs, a head and a tail! Seeing horses find better ways to use themselves, develop confidence in their work and unlock their potential just makes my soul happy. It doesn't matter whether it's a hairy cob finding a bit more swing in the trot, or a flashy warmblood balancing all that power! I also have a minor addiction to riding bridleless (or tackless!) as I love the feeling of connection, but also the knowledge that I have surrendered the power to my horse to choose whether they truly want to participate in what I ask. For me, this is the ultimate feeling of partnership and requires a confident and understanding horse. 


My current main competition ride is my 12.3/13hh 12yr old Fell stallion, Conkertree Peanut. He is currently competing at Medium, soon to debut at Advance Medium, and hopefully continue our way up to PSG & maybe even beyond! I have owned him since he was 6 months old and have done everything myself with him, so he is a special boy. 


He also competes in working equitation, rarely being beaten, and jumps for fun! It can sometimes feel a little daunting rocking up to compete at the higher levels on a small hairy native, but he brings a smile to everyone's face, including mine most importantly!  


Last year I also took on an unhandled Dartmoor Hill Pony who we named Twiglet, who is in the process of being backed by myself. An absolute sweetheart but slow to trust people. I'm excited to see what the future holds for him! He will be channelled towards whatever he finds he likes best. He is a brave boy with nice movement though, so I'm hoping for another W.E. pony! 


Having already ridden in treeless saddles for a number of years, I came to SMART saddles when I began eventing. I started out with a GP saddle for the jumping phases, and when I decided I did indeed have the eventing bug, I went to the only brand I knew that made a true jump saddle (SMART Saddles). At this stage I knew that I did not want to return to treed saddles. My gelding I was competing at the time, Dante, is a NFxTB and changes shape constantly. He can be everything from a little portly looking with a decent girth groove, to resembling a greyhound when he is fully team chasing fit, and anywhere in-between. I knew I could never keep on top of the refits needed in a treed saddle, and also feel that the tree points and pressure potentially caused from a treed saddle and jumping poses a potential issue as he has fairly prominent shoulders. 


I arranged a test ride of a SMART Jump and was instantly hooked. It gave me the security and close contact feel I was looking for, whilst able to shorten my stirrups several holes from dressage diva length! Dan also seemed to enjoy having me in a better balance, not the most careful jumper by nature, I knew I needed to give him every bit of help possible. 


We went on to successfully compete up to BE100 (the top limit of his scope), and several seasons of team chasing, with our highlight being completing the Cotswolds Intermediate Team chase. 



When I decided I needed to try the dressage saddle too. As a fairly petite rider, I was looking for something that would let me be closer to the horse, have more feel, but also be supportive. Many saddles are just too big for me! I was also looking to back and produce my Fell at this point, and knew my existing dressage saddle would be far too large on him. 

I knew straight away that the SMART Dressage saddle was going to be ideal! Easily tweaked to help me sit comfortably, Dan much preferred the closeness too. I am sure this saddle helped me take him all the way to Advance Medium, a feat that took some effort! It supported me and never hindered his movement, which was never big or flashy so he couldn't afford to be limited in any way. 



 I have now been using SMART saddles for 7 years, and they have proved invaluable. They have both been used on a massive range of ponies and horses, from small round cobs to big thoroughbreds, and from backing to advanced work. In my work I often turn up to ride horses only to find their own saddles are unsuitable, so it is useful to have a saddle that can easily be shimmed to fit rather than lose a whole session both for myself and the owner too. 


I can also say I have never had horses with happier backs. In 7 years I have never had a saddle related back problem, even when working at the top of their game or putting in a lot of hours. To me, this is outstanding, as I see horses so often presenting discomfort in the saddle area with treed saddles! 


I adore the SMART saddles, the technology and design behind them and everything they do for horses and riders alike. They keep my horses happy, so I am happy! “