Friday, 15 June 2018

Competition: Do YOU have what it takes to become a SMART Blog-star?

Do you have clear goals for you and your horse over the next 12 months?

Would you like to see the difference the fully flexible SMART Saddle System can make to you and your horse? 
If so, this is the competition for you!
Solution Saddles are offering one lucky person a free SMART saddle and accessories for a period of 12 months. The lucky winner will also receive back up support from Solution Saddles and their local Solution Saddles Approved Advisor, plus a selection of branded clothing and merchandise.

To apply:

Stage 1 -
Submit a short written application outlining key information about you and your horse(s); age, county you live in, what you do competitively with your horse(s) and your equestrian goals for next year. Let us know why you’d like use of a SMART saddle and how it would benefit you and your horse(s). Don’t forget to include a photo! Submit your application by 30th June 2018.
Stage 2 –
From the initial entries, Total Saddle Solutions Ltd will select a short list of applicants who will progress on to the second phase. The chosen few will be required to submit a short video to support their application as to why they should win. Videos should be approx 2 - 3 minutes in duration and need to be submitted in a form that can be easily shared on Facebook. The winner will be selected from the videos by public vote!
Dressage? Eventing? Show Jumping? Le Trec? 

The SMART Blog-Star competition is open to riders of all disciplines and at all levels. Enter today to tell us why YOU deserve to win!
Terms & Conditions:
  1.  Entries to be sent to
  2. Sponsorship only open to riders based in the UK. Entrants must be 16 years old or over. Employees of Total Saddle Solutions Ltd, agents and their families are not eligible to enter.
  3. No purchase is necessary.
  4. Only one entry per person.
  5. The prize: Use of a SMART Saddle for 12 months (model to be determined by Total Saddle Solutions Ltd), plus SMART accessories and branded clothing.
  6. The goods shall remain the property of Total Saddle Solutions Ltd.
  7. The winner’s name and county will be posted on Solution Saddles’ website and social media pages. The winner agrees to participate in any reasonable publicity arranged by Total Saddle Solutions Ltd or its agents, including the filming of their training, competitions and short interviews for videos and photos
  8. The winners will keep Total Saddle Solutions Ltd up to date with their training, competition results and general relevant news during the sponsorship term. This can be done via social media, email and/or in public blog posts. A minimum of 4 updates each month are required. Failure to fulfill this obligation will result in retrieval of all equipment owned by TSS Ltd. 
  9. The winners will allow Total Saddle Solutions Ltd to publish and share all the information sent to them regarding updates with their training, competition results and relevant news
  10. The prize is as stated and is non-transferable
  11. It is the user’s responsibility to ensure all items are suitable and appropriate for their horse and their activity. No insurance or guarantee is included in the terms. Riding can be a dangerous activity and neither Total Saddle Solutions Ltd nor any of its employees or agents accepts any liability should any of its products be involved in any accidents or any cases of either horse or rider or any third party being damaged or injured.
  12. Misuse of equipment will result in return of all equipment to TSS Ltd.
  13.  First round entries will close at midnight on 30th June 2018. A short list will then be selected.
  14. Riders on the short list will be asked to provide a short video clip and overview of why they think they should win. This will then be put to public voting and the lucky winner selected.
  15. Potential candidates will be contacted by phone or email.
  16. A home consultation visit with a Solution Saddles Approved Advisor will be arranged to select the appropriate saddle. It is the winner’s responsibility to ensure they are available for this.
  17. The winner must confirm that they are satisfied with the saddle and the fitting recommendations made. Changing the recommended fitting or using alternative ancillary items to replace those recommended may affect the function and performance of the saddle and voids any warranty.
  18. The saddle and accessories will be warranted for the duration of the agreement. Repairs caused by accidental damage or misuse of the equipment whilst in the care of the sponsored rider will be charged at cost.
  19. If the recipient wishes to keep the SMART saddle at the end of the 12-month sponsorship period, a discounted price for purchase will be arranged
  20. The sponsorship will begin once the items have been received. This will be within 6 weeks of the competition winners being announced
  21. By entering the competition entrants agree to be bound by these terms & conditions and by the decisions of Total Saddle Solutions Ltd, which are final in all matters relating to the promotion. No correspondence will be entered into.
  22. Total Saddle Solutions Ltd will not be responsible for incomplete, illegible or lost entries. Proof of submission of entry is not proof of receipt of entry
  23. Total Saddle Solutions Ltd reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any person it finds to be tampering, or to have tampered with, the operation of the competition or to be acting in violation of these terms and conditions
  24. Promoter: Total Saddle Solutions Ltd, The Old Barns, Firbeck House, Steetley, Worksop, Derbyshire. S80 3DZ.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Rider Size Vs Saddle Fit – A Balancing Act

 At Solution Saddles, our approach has always addressed both horse and rider equally; unless the saddle is fitted to the horse AND the rider, neither can achieve optimal performance.

Preliminary results of a recent pilot study led by Dr Sue Dyson from the Animal Health Trust, which was supported by World Horse Welfare and the Saddle Research Trust, highlight not only that excessive rider weight has implications for the horse, but also the significance of saddle fit in relation to rider size and its potential impact on health and performance:

The influence of rider to horse bodyweight ratios on equine gait and behaviour: A Pilot Study

Key findings:

  • If the rider is excessively heavy for the horse in question, it can have a negative impact on the performance of the horse, including inducing temporary lameness.
  • Rider height and saddle fit with regards to rider position, balance and weight distribution: if a tall rider is forced to sit towards/on the cantle, this can overload the back of the saddle and make it more difficult to ride in balance.
  • Riders should ensure the horse is of the appropriate size and fitness and that the saddle is correctly fitted.
  • The results do not mean that heavy riders should not ride, but suggest that if they do they should ride a horse of appropriate size and fitness, with a saddle that is correctly fitted for both horse and rider.

Contributory factors that should also be considered alongside weight:

  • Age of the horse, its fitness, muscle development and the length of its back.
  • The presence or absence of lameness.
  • The rider’s skill, fitness, balance and coordination.
  • The fit of the saddle to both the horse and rider.
  • The type, speed and duration of work.
  • The terrain over which the horse is ridden.

How can SMART™ FlexTECH™ Technology address these issues?

Thanks to the uniquely versatile and adaptable SMART™ saddle range, the ability to accommodate both horse and rider is unequalled. Without a rigid tree, pommel arch or cantle, Solution Saddles’ SMART™ FlexTech™ saddle technology offers a whole host of advantages:

  • 100% Flexibility

The fully flexible design of the SMART saddle range is key. Not only does the flexibility enable the balance of the saddle to be adjusted independently of the fit for the horse, it also means that there is scope to fit a slightly longer saddle on a shorter back without impinging on the scapula (shoulder) or the lumbar spine (behind the last rib). By affording the taller rider a larger seat that accommodates their length, provided the rider is of an appropriate weight for their mount, they are able to sit in balance and ride effectively without hindering the horse.

Unlike a traditional treed saddle where shims or pads may be used as a temporary measure or quick fix, the SMART saddle is designed to be used with pads where required. Equally, because SMART saddles flex to accommodate the addition of a pad, shims can be added without the risk of tipping the saddle or impinging the gullet space, which effectively narrows the fit of the saddle.

Shims can be used to either fit to the horse or balance the rider. As SMART™ saddles are fully flexible, addition of a shim at the front of the saddle will not change the fit at the rear of the saddle, and vice versa - the saddle flexes independently throughout.
The SMART™ saddle will flex to allow rotation of the scapula throughout the stride cycle, as well as flexion of the back. The flexible base panels can be fitted beyond the last rib (T18) and will not impinge on the transverse processes of the lumbar spine, thereby effectively increasing surface area available for saddle fitting.

It is important that the rider is able to sit in alignment and in balance. Each horse moves and carries their saddle differently; this also changes throughout the seasons with weight and fitness fluctuations. To effectively address these variations and prevent problems occurring, it’s essential that the saddle fit is monitored carefully. SMART shims can be used very efficiently to adjust rider balance to achieve a ‘pelvic neutral’ position. Shoulder shims lift the front of the saddle, having the effect of sitting the rider back on their seat bones, whereas rear shims lift the back of the saddle to support the seat bones and eliminate posterior  pelvic tilt.

Pelvic Balance:

The rider is being tipped forwards, creating anterior tilt and pitching them onto their knees
The balance of the SMART™ saddle is adjusted with shims and the rider is now in pelvic neutral.

“It has been my experience that some horses with back pain benefit tremendously by the use of the SMART™ Saddle.”~ Dr Sue Dyson, MA, VetMB, PhD, DEO, FRCVS, Head of Clinical Orthopaedic Studies at The Animal Health Trust and lead author of the rider weight study.

  • Lightweight, high-density materials

Made of layers of different lightweight yet high-density felts and foams, SMART saddles maintain their flexibility without compromising the support for horse or rider. The materials are carefully selected for their properties, which include shock-absorption and force transmission. Slight compression is normal when fitting a SMART saddle, however despite the lack of a rigid frame, the materials do not collapse and are therefore suitable for riders of all sizes. Thanks to their lightweight construction, SMART saddles reduce the overall load on the horse when compared to a traditional treed saddle.

For heavier riders, additional balance pads may be required to provide sufficient support. We strongly recommend enlisting professional saddle fitting advice from our nationwide network of trained Approved Advisors. SMART shims and balance pads are applied under the saddle and can be quickly and easily changed if the saddle is used on a number of horses.

External dorsal pads and shims are fitted where necessary to provide support.
Balance pads can be layered together where necessary to ensure optimal fit and balance.

  • Wide range of designs – for riders of all shapes and sizes

The style of saddle that the rider chooses for their preferred discipline can also have a bearing on the resulting fit for horse and rider. Whereas a classical dressage position poses less restriction for accommodating a long thigh length, GP and Jump saddles can often be problematic for taller riders wishing to ride with a shorter, more angled leg position. To address this, SMART saddles come with a variety of seat and knee flap options to suit different riders. Our SMART Eventer saddle is particularly popular for riders requiring a forward cut saddle; the open seat with angled cantle allows plenty of room for a longer legged or larger rider, without increasing the length on the horses back. Similarly, our SMART Traditional saddle has been designed to provide a solution for adults riding native breeds or larger riders on small horses or cobs, where large shoulders and short backs often lead to saddle fitting dilemmas.

’’The rider weight study also raised the issue of rider height and saddle fit. The owner of one of the test horses had a similar rider bodyweight: horse bodyweight ratio to the heavy rider and was of similar weight, but significantly different in height (157.0 and 185.5 cm, respectively). This large difference in height has major implications for saddle fit for the rider and consequently the rider’s position and weight distribution. The taller rider sat on the back of the cantle, overloading the back of the saddle and making it more difficult to ride in balance, with the heel being in front of a vertical line between the shoulder and ‘hip’.’’

The SMART™ Traditional saddle is perfect for adults on ponies  or larger riders on short backed horses.
The SMART™ Eventer saddle has an open seat, angled cantle and forward knee flap to accommodate the taller or larger rider.

The open seat and angled back cantle of the SMART™ PRO Jump saddle allows room for a long thigh at a short stirrup length on a short-backed horse
Without enough room for the hip to knee length of a taller rider, weight can be pushed to the back of the saddle creating focal pressure and potential problems for both horse and rider.

SMART saddles are available in a range of sizes; from size 2, suitable for children on ponies, to size 6, for taller or larger riders who often struggle to find a saddle to fit both horse and rider comfortably.

The SMART™ Native Pony size 2 saddle is ideal for young children on small ponies.
The size 6 SMART™ GP saddle comfortably accommodates the larger rider.

  • Customisable Support

With a wide range of knee and thigh block options, rider support can be carefully targeted to the individual be selecting the size, shape and perfect placement of each block. A taller rider may prefer to use a slimline knee block that is unrestrictive and has the effect of increasing the space available for a long hip-to-knee length, whilst a shorter rider may prefer a larger block that meets the knee further back, providing support, preventing the rider feeling ‘lost’. The Velcro system makes it easier for multiple riders to use the same saddle, by simply moving or interchanging knee blocks (and shims) as required.

Choose from a range of knee and thigh blocks to suit your shape and riding style – you can even select different blocks for different disciplines.
Easy Velcro attachments enable the user to adjust the blocks as necessary throughout the lifetime of the saddle.
The SMART™ Suprabloc™ system gives greater versatility and choice, with multiple sites for blocks according to rider preference.
The externally sited Suprabloc™ provides thigh support without adding bulk, giving a close contact feel for the rider.

‘’My SMART™ Eventer saddle is so very versatile. It was used over the summer during a three-discipline riding camp, culminating in a mini one-day event at the end. It performed brilliantly and went from dressage through to cross-country with only minor knee roll and stirrup length adjustments. Moreover, with some minor shim adjustments, my SMART™ Eventer is also easily adapted for my nine-year-old daughter to ride in a balanced and very secure position – a truly versatile saddle!
I am often disappointed with various horsey products that don’t live up to their claims, however I am 100% satisfied that I have made a very sound investment in my SMART™ Eventer and it will be my saddle for life.” ~ Gemma Barnes, SMART Eventer owner

  • Unprecedented Adjustability
One of the greatest advantages of the SMART saddle range is the ability to continually monitor and adjust the fit AND balance according to any changes throughout the seasons. Whenever you or your horse’s weight and shape fluctuates, one of our Approved Advisors can assist in refitting the saddle to maintain optimal performance. This offers an economical solution – simply replace or adjust low-cost shims rather than the saddle itself!

To find out more about the SMART saddle range, visit our website: or contact us to book a test ride today: 01909 720 259 / 07738 711 099 /

Interested in learning more about the rider weight study?

Full results from the weight study will be presented at the Saddle Research Trust International Conference later this year (3rd December 2018). Solution Saddles are proudly supporting this conference, which is highly recommended for all horse professionals, owners and riders. Tickets are available to purchase online.

In the meantime, notes from a Q&A session with Dr Sue Dyson regarding the study are available via the National Equine Forum.