Letters from Zoë: October 2020
This month I started the next step in my saddlery training journey by attending the Introduction to Saddle fitting Course. Due to the restrictions of coronavirus, the course was delivered via webinar over two days. Traditionally this course is held at Moulton College, with practical and interactive demonstrations showing and explaining the proper fit of saddles.
Laurence Pearman (Cirencester Saddlers) explains about the tree which is the most important part of the saddle being the skeletal base the saddle is built around. If this is fitted incorrectly the saddle will not be able to effectively spread the weight and pressure of the rider across the horses back and can easily cause pressure points, sores and atrophy if there is continued use in a bad fit. This lead into saddle construction which is something I’ve already covered, having made almost 3 saddles, but there are a lot of people aiming to qualify as a Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Saddle Fitter who don’t go through the same lines of training and the importance to understand the inner working of a saddle if you are going to fix, alter or check for faults.
Sue Norton (Saddle Doctors, Oxfordshire) explained the importance of record-keeping and effective handling of the horse ( and customers!) then onto the principles of saddle fitting while covering many case studies and examples.
We also had Jane Nixon (Nixon Equine Vet Consultancy) explaining the veterinary observation of a saddle fit, this to me was very interesting coming from a saddlery background rather than a physio background. I have near enough no prior knowledge of the horses back or how the Skelton and muscular structure works. Since studying Lorinary I have always been intrigued by what goes on under the skin, having studied the bone and nerve structure over the horses face. Although I did get a little confused on some of the very long Latin words I found it extremely interesting to understand the role the different parts play as well as a few interesting facts such as; horses guts are 30 metres long and that horses don’t have a collarbone which is really surprising to me!
As this couldn’t entirely be taught via webinar there is a practical day booked for next year where we will be able to put this knowledge into practice, after this i will eventually take the Qualified Saddle Fitter exam however this is after completing minimum experience and training requirements. In the meantime, I’m still working on my Level 3 Saddle Exam which once complete means I have all the required qualifications and in good stead to be awarded, Qualified Saddler status by the Society of Master Saddlers.
‘Til next time, stay safe,