THE MISTAKES THAT MAKE YOU HONEST

Mistakes. Everyone makes them.

Big, small and everything in between. 

As a young girl, I was always bold and ready to make the "sale". I was business savy early on in my life.

I owe this to my Grandfather.

He is my mentor, starting off with little to nothing. He made his way to becoming one the most successful radio DJ's in Canadian history. A few years ago, he had the privilege of being inducted into The Radio Music Hall of Fame. Through the years his success was built buying small or failing radio stations and transforming them into successful stations. With all intentions of selling and moving onto the next project.

My parents also successfully entrepreneurs. Building two Tim Horton's franchises from the ground up. Leading into #1 in sales in western Canada lasting for over 7 years. 

BUSINESS IS IN MY DNA.  

One day it just hit me. I was around 7 years old and I was feeling like I needed to make some cash. So I decided to paint all my parents firewood. Then took the trip around the neighborhood door to door. Using my blond hair and blue eyes, I sold it piece by piece.

I came home rich!

Well in my eyes I was rich. That was until my parents found out they were out of firewood.

In my early teens, I thought I should get started in some more serious business ventures. I began collecting toonies in my lemonade jar. I went to the auction and purchased my first sales project pony, Apollo.  

Picture a rainy day... Myself and friend Kristina decided today's the day!

APOLLO'S GETTING STARTED!   

So Kristina suited up in her bright yellow rain suit. I am holding him, we count to 3, she hops on and BAM! She's bucked off.

INTO A HUGE MUD PUDDLE. 

So we try again, count to 3.

BAM!! lands in the same mud puddle!

SOME THINGS JUST TAKE TIME.  

After proper time and training, Apollo was started and went lovely under saddle. You just can't rush a good thing.

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Since I was young, I was in pony club. An eventer at heart. Always bringing along the next thoroughbred off the track. Until I fell in love with Woody, the Clyde X TB. My 3 Day Event coach Chelan said he was just too big to do the upper levels. We were schooling over 4"6" in Show Jumping and Dressage was always our strong suit. However, asking him to compete at the upper levels would be to difficult. 

Melanie competing on Woody in a Dressage competition.

Melanie competing on Woody in a Dressage competition.

After taking a working student position in Ireland with an international Three Day Event rider. I returned to BC, and broke a vertebrae in my back.  

EVERYTHING GETS PUT INTO PERSPECTIVE.  

After all was healed, I focused in on dressage.

A CHANGE WAS NEEDED. 

 Heading east to Ontario! I decided to lease an equestrian center. 24 stalls, indoor and outdoor arenas and huge paddocks with shelters.  

STALLS AVAILABLE!

Now this is when you see the many varieties that come out of the wood works! I never realized why my dog would stay so far away from some but come straight up to greet others. Wow she could read people, I wish I listened to her!
  • One boarder, would print out the 7 day weather forecast, post it on the door, write out what blankets were required for each day and call to check up hourly.
  • Another boarder, fell off her horse in a lesson, she was 12. Her mom was yelling at her to get back on saying it would ruin her career if she kept crying! 

I HAVE A LAUNDRY LIST OF AWESOME STORIES!

I love when potential boarders come in and say, I have two horses.. Can I have a multiple discount? 

HOW DOES IT COST ANY LESS FOR TWO HORSES THAN IT DOES FOR ONE?  

Then the landlord decided it would be a great idea to raise a huge coverall next door and fill it with sheep. Wow do sheep smell and boy are they loud.

3 years was enough for me!

I give all barn owners, managers and staff a lot of credit for all they do! It is not an easy job! 

The saying "One bad apple, spoils the bunch" sure is true when it comes to boarding.

I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A VETERINARIAN.

I had an opportunity to apprentice in saddlery and to become a certified saddle fit technician. It was definitely not the same line as veterinary medicine but I was up for the challenge. 

Working with leading riders, exceptional veterinary and alternative therapy professionals and of course great clients was definitely great perks to the job. My job provided me with education in depths of the saddlery trade, horses anatomy and very unique areas of the equestrian industry.

Traveling throughout North America, developing new sales/service areas and attending international horse & trade shows.

I truly felt like I was a part of something.

Until situations started to change in ways that were going against my beliefs. The company had always manufactured their products in house, however, they decided to start outsourcing their manufacturing to India.

Saddles were far below the gold standard of production. Something that was strongly against what I stood for. I had a very hard time coming into work each morning. I was selling high end products to my clients with expectations of quality. Who thought that their saddles were made by masters, in a certain workshop.

Except their saddles were being made in a third world county, piece by piece, sent to the shop in boxes similar to pizza boxes. While many of the Master Saddlers had been laid off, minimum wage workers hired to piece together the saddles in the workshop. My clients were paying $5000.00 to $7000.00 plus taxes. I just could not stand by and lie.

Clients work hard for their money, and deserve to get what they pay for.

The final straw for me was when one of the directors of the company said "We should be proud of our company, we are one of the only factories in India that has a cement floor for our workers to stand on". I was literally sick to my stomach and almost walked out of the meeting that second.

I was stuck. I sat in my truck crying to Jeff, my partner. I absolutely loved my job, my clients and many of my coworkers. I loved making a difference in my clients lives. I loved meeting new people, going to the horse shows and making people smile.

The last trip I was on, I was with the president of the company, we were sitting in this little hotel in Minnesota after a long day of fitting. He was working on a huge sponsorship deal with an international FEI Dressage rider. While at this little bar, over a drink, he said "Melanie, I never wanted the company to go in this direction, I was happy with the small shop, helping the local riders and the quality of the products we made. I have been pushed into this direction of developing into a huge company".

I felt for him, I saw the exhaustion. When you have this dream for your company and then when others take a hold of it, you say yes and it goes in a direction that you may or may not see fit.

When I returned, we had been called in for a sales meeting and were told we had to make 70,000.00 by the end of the week. IF we did not the remaining Master saddlers would be laid off or worse the doors would close. So as sales reps, we needed to call on all our clients and let them know we were having a 10% off sale. I felt frantic, I made about $20,000.00 that week. I woke up in the middle of Thursday night and realized what I had done.

There was the chance that the doors could still close and that my poor clients could be out of their money. I felt as though I stole from my clients.

WHAT AM I DOING?

A few weeks later, I was in my office and was called up stairs. The president and sales manager was in the office. They had two papers on the desk, a new outrageous sales contract that took away many of my rights or my resignation papers. I had until the end of the day to decide. This was after 26 days on the road and 13 airplanes I flew on in just that month.

My sales manager said to me "Melanie, it is best for us both if you sign this new contract or I will have to learn to fit and take over your territories" I walked out of the office and she followed me. Which in the parking lot, I told her what I thought of her.

I decided to leave the company. I took the summer off to clear my head.

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Problem was I had clients who were in desperate need of my help. To be honest, I missed fitting. 

SO THERE I WENT.   

Out on the road I realized I needed saddles. When clients saddles were not suitable, a solution was necessary. 

I ended up partnering up with a company. After revamping some models and designing new models; I was able to offer a new European brand to clients. This was a great success for quite a few years.

Until the brand lost its main production manager. Causing many issues in my business.  

At the time, I had multiple saddles in production. Saddles were coming in late, with many mistakes and even being missed within production

After years of business I was being lied to.

I RELIED ON THIS COMPANY - BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, MY CLIENTS RELIED ON ME.   

I  lost my credibility to my clients. I felt like my world was crashing in.

I did damage control through refunding clients, fulfilling as many orders as I could and then ending the business relationship. It caused huge financial and personal stress and tainted my name within industry.

These opportunities gave me the chances to work with some great master saddlers. Gaining the knowledge and courage to craft my own brand.  

One valuable lesson learned, do not invest all of your dollars, blood, sweat and tears into someone else's brand. This all builds their brands awareness within the industry. 

This is your precious time and fortune in which you will never get back.

BUILD YOUR OWN BRAND. 

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I started from the bottom.

I worked with the top individuals that could help me build my own saddle brand.

Most saddle companies purchase saddle trees from a handful of tree manufactures. Almost all saddle brands in North America and Europe are only different through the outer saddle design, the saddle tree's are stock. This was not the case for Seventeen Saddle Co.

Investing in your own saddle tree molds are costly and take time.

Our design team included a Swedish engineer who used high tech 3D equipment to design the saddle tree, the top North American mold maker to manufacture our saddle molds and a premium stainless steel production company to produce our gullet plates for optimal strength and to eliminate corrosion.

All of the materials are above the gold standards of saddle manufacturing.

 SEVENTEEN SADDLE WAS READY.

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At first, I hired a Master Saddler who made all our models in England. I learned very quickly that I needed to expand my team of saddlers.

NEVER PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET.

Seventeen Saddle Co. has grown to have offices in both Canada and England.

I have been fortunate to be in front of some of the top horse and rider combinations, caring for their backs and saddles. Providing optimal freedom and clearance for these combinations to perform at their best. Representing their countries at top international events throughout the world.

Over the years I traveled across Canada, been to almost every state in the USA, and Germany, England, Ireland, France and Holland fitting saddles.

YES I HAVE EVEN SADDLE FIT IN OAHU!  

Lanikai Beach  - This is the Ocean where Jeff and I got engaged!  Pretty Awesome! Jeff usually does not jump when I tell him I am off to work. But when I told him I was booking a flight to Honolulu, he was in! After 10 years together, I guess taking him to a private beach house for a week to celebrate our anniversary deserved a ring! He even came saddle fitting with me!!!!  What a love xoxo

Lanikai Beach - This is the Ocean where Jeff and I got engaged!

Pretty Awesome! Jeff usually does not jump when I tell him I am off to work. But when I told him I was booking a flight to Honolulu, he was in! After 10 years together, I guess taking him to a private beach house for a week to celebrate our anniversary deserved a ring! He even came saddle fitting with me!!!!

What a love xoxo

NEVER BUY SOMEONE through YOUR PRODUCT.  

Early on in my career a fellow equestrian business woman once told me "Never give your product away for free. It cheapens the value of your brand, if top riders see value in your brand they will pay".

For years, I never listened to her advice.

I always felt the need to sponsor professional riders to help promote the brand. In a few cases, they did appreciate the sponsorship and worked with me to develop the brand in which I appreciated. In many cases, I found many did not work exceptionally hard at promoting and/or developing the brand and costed the company more money than it was worth.

I do feel that you can work with professionals in a business relationship, however it does need to mutually benefit each other.  

I HAVE LEARNED MY LESSONS.

MY PASSION. To help horses and riders find optimal freedom and clear communication.

MY FIRE. Designing and developing the next new product.

That is my happy.

MISTAKES MAKE US HONEST.

Our mistakes we have made do not define us. They do not follow us into our next journey.

REMEMBER TO FAIL FORWARD. Keep moving and aim towards the next venture in life. Never be afraid to start something because of the fear of the results.  

I have had many fears in my life of starting, However, I have always trusted in my ability and my love for the horse. We will always trip and fall, It is just a matter of getting back up. Who cares about brushing yourself off, we are horse people! 

A LITTLE DIRT NEVER HURT NOBODY! 

My story today, is to give you a glimpse at Melanie. To guide you through all the twists and turns, be honest with you on my mistakes, how hard I have fallen, gotten up and kept going even when others doubted me. Trust me people still doubt me, but I don't care. 

We all have it in us to win.  

Happy Riding,

Melanie xo

ARE YOU TOO FAT TO RIDE?

Recently "Fat Shaming" has been gaining coverage through North American media especially by Canadian comedian Nicole Arbour's YouTube Channel which actually was shut down because it caused such a stir! You know you hit it big aka "viral" when you are featured on CNN's main page!

Many were hurt over the video and Arbour's comments. The comedy routine was quite harsh. With Arbour saying in the routine, that many of these comments, our loved ones just don't have the heart to say to us fat people!

I am one of those former "fat" people.

Personally, I laughed throughout the video and there were moments I could relate to! However, this can also hit home to some people and some may be more sensitive than others. Some are overweight for situations out of their control due to medical reasons.

We do need to take a firm look at how far is too far in comedy, especially when young girls and boys are at risk in viewing these videos.

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We have to look at North America and understand the scary statistics of the growing numbers of obesity. The United States has a 66.3% of its population being obese or overweight while Canada is at 56.5% of its population on being obese or overweight.

Does this give permission for individuals like Nicole Arbour to express their opinion?

Being overweight, was always difficult.

I remember one year at Dressage at Devon I was cruising around the booths checking out the saddle companies. I wanted see what was the next "new" thing, it was fun being the consumer. I walked into a saddlery companies booth and I ended up sitting in some models. The rep said "yea I think you would be best in a 19.5" to a 20" Dressage model"

I ALMOST FELL OFF THE FAKE HORSE!!!!

It hit me like a ton of bricks! This lady was telling me, that I was saddle fat!

But I was living in my own comfy world, traveling all over the world fitting clients, eating out constantly, gaining weight and not taking care of myself.

Over two years ago I decided to take a hold of my life, and slowly I have lost over 150 pounds. I have taken control of my eating habits and the tornado I was living in.

I DESERVED THE TRUTH - IT WOKE ME UP!
THANK YOU SADDLE REP!

But most do not want to hear it and feel it should not be said because it is too hurtful or too harsh. However, there are too many of us out there who get in our cars drive through, ask for the double big mac, super size it, then ask for the diet coke just to make us feel that tad bit better. (I used to do it.... so I know it was done)

As a Master Saddle Fit Specialist, I have fit many saddles for clients who are just too big for their horses. In a case when I have a very large rider, on a 14.1hh Arabian which has a very short saddle support area to begin with plus one less rib than the regular horse. This is considered a very short backed horse.  A 250lb + woman could require up to a 21" saddle which does not include the panel length.

When is it the right time to say, unfortunately this horse/rider combination is not going to work.

1. You should seriously consider either loosing weight in order to provide your horse more comfort while under saddle.

Or

2. You should consider purchasing a horse that would support your weight better and that has a back that would accommodate your larger saddle.

Riding horses is a sport. We are asking our horses to work for us and provide us consistent results. Recently I read an article about how both Carl Hester and Charlotte Desjardin go to the gym in the morning before they go to the barn to train their full string of horses. This was to make sure they are at the top of their game.

THIS IS WHAT I CALL DEDICATION TO YOUR SPORT.

Canadians have always walked on eggshells and have always worried about hurting feelings by saying the hard truth. Instead obesity numbers will continue to rise and people will continue to get sick if we don't start stating the facts.

Maybe say... put down the burger Claire! why not go and get your own horse. Instead of requesting a fully groomed and tacked up horse when you arrive!

OR WHY DON'T YOU RUN AROUND THE ARENA A FEW TIMES BEFORE GETTING ON?

JUST AN IDEA??

It is important to have this conversation and to truly look at ourselves in the mirror and ask...

AM I SADDLE FAT?

It was difficult for me to face. However, my whole world has changed for the better. Especially when it came to my riding, it has been a complete 180.

If anyone is facing the challenge and needs help, please do not hesitate to contact me through the form below, please fill out all the spaces and submit.

*Please know - I do not support bullying nor do I support any kind of "fat shaming" all I am trying to do here is start the conversation on obesity and health.

Happy Riding!!

Melanie.

Name *
Name

Source: Martinez R. Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity visualization. Health Intelligence, 2015.

HOW TO ATTAIN A SPONSORSHIP WHILE BEING RESPONSIBLE TO YOUR TRIBE.

Being in the Saddlery industry for over 10 years has given me an inside perspective of how many saddlery companies work, early in my career I gained valuable experience apprenticing in saddlery.

Through the years, I have worked with Master Saddlers throughout North America, Germany and England mastering the trade of saddle design and development. Incorporated into my job has always included working with leading veterinary professionals whether it may be on a client case or developing the next great product. I have also been fortunate to work with many saddlery companies, both large and small, providing my expertise through independent consulting work.

Working with both the adult amateur and the top Olympic rider, my career has provided me with some of the most amazing opportunities.  Including front row seats at the Queen's Royal Windsor Horse Show watching Charlotte Dujardin riding Valegro. 

I have definitey learned the tricks of the trade. How marketing and advertising works.

How to get YOU into the new and shiny saddle.

I have always believed that the adult amateurs are the ones who run the industry and support the trade. Lets face it, they are the ones who keep the business's alive! Keeping all of us professionals in business!

At the beginning of the year, many saddlery companies have budgets. As you may notice, over the past two years the name has slowly switched over to product "ambassadors" from "sponsors".

They target the professionals in order to get to the adult amateurs - your followers aka your "tribe". Through being paying clients, social media, watching you at horse shows, in articles and books, through friends and any other outlet that gets your name out there!

When you land a potential sponsorship package, depending on your status, your following and your results will depend on what you will receive in your package.

Let's say you ...

1. Won the Olympics, Have a great string of Current and Up and Coming horses, A strong following of students and clients and a strong following on social media.

  • You will receive anywhere from 100,000.00 to 250,000.00 in Cash per year (this is Dressage - Show Jumping could definitely be much higher)
  • You would receive new equipment for AT LEAST your competitive horses
    • $5500.00 x 6 Competitive Horses = 33,000.00 in Product
  • Each saddle that you sell to your client, you would receive a hefty commission
    • 250 Clients sold saddles to in year @ $700.00 in commission = $175,000.00
  • Usually the brand will make a saddle in your name, you would then make a percentage of the sales on this saddle.
    • 3% Commission on 1500 Saddles sold in 1 Year = $315,000 ($7000.00 saddle)
    • 3% Commission on 1500 Saddles sold in 1 Year = $157,275($3495.00 saddle)

I gave you a 3% Commission rate on both a $7000.00 and a $3495.00 Saddle depending on what price range the saddle company would be selling at. To understand what could be made.

2. Are an Up and Coming Rider, Have had good results, A good following of Students and are either Long Listed or Short Listed

  • You could potentially receive anywhere from 20,000.00+ in Cash per year
  • You would receive new equipment for your competitive horses
    • $5500.00 in Product (one Horse)
  • Each saddle that you sell to your client, you would receive a commission of usually between 250.00 to 500.00
    • 50 Saddles sold to clients in year @ 500.00 = $25,000.00

3. Are a Riding Coach at a Local Riding Establishment with a good following of Students.

  • The potential to receive equipment depending on the amount of sales/referrals made.
    • $5500.00 in Product
  • Each saddle sold to client, you would receive a commission of usually between 250.00 to 500.00
    • 50 Saddles sold to clients in year @ 500 = $25,000.00
*Keep in mind every brand is different in what they offer and how they structure their program. - These Figures are approximate to give you an idea on what you could make and what certain professionals I know have and do currently make. *

Some companies do not offer any money, they only offer commission towards servicing and products. Some offer discounts. It all depends on what level you are at within the profession. Plus what level your following is at aka your tribe!

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BACK IN THE DAY... OK NOT THAT LONG AGO...

One year at the Rolex Three Day Event, while attending the Rider's Dinner Party, I was speaking to one of the Competitors that I know. He mentioned that he was sponsored by a company that was providing him with $20,000.00 in cash per year plus $20,000.00 in product per year and a commission on per saddle sold to each client.

There are many companies who give out saddles for free (kinda like candy). I have never understood this tactic, how can they afford to give away $5000.00+ saddles away left right and center. I have learned where these saddles are truly made and it is not Europe, they may have head offices in Europe, but the manufacturing is actually in third world countries. All which makes it much easier to give products away for pennies. While increasing retail prices, bottom lines and commissions. But nobody seems to remember the product value anymore.

I absolutely agree that when you the rider, work hard toward something, you deserve to get paid for it. What I do not agree with is when you do not understand HOW a product works or HOW it is affecting you OR your animal, you represent it anyway because of the sponsorship. When you represent a product and promote anything to a client, you should fully understand how and why it works. Not just that it "works" for you because of the money or your horse "goes well" in it.

It is unfortunate but many of us do not ask why or how.

OUR HOMEWORK IS NOT DONE.

The English saddle homeland is England.

Walsall, England is where many English Saddlery companies are located. However they are suffering due to the fact that so many companies are relocating to India. Due to cheaper manufacturing costs, causing many master saddlers to loose their jobs and the trade to quickly dwindle. This is happening to other European brands as well outside of England. This effects much more than loss of Master Saddlers and greatly reduces product quality. This also supports unfair and unsafe working conditions in third world countries. Workers getting paid pennies, while saddle companies ask thousands at retail price for your saddle.

THE SADDLE TRADE IS SUFFERING IN SILENCE.

How many of you have asked your fitters their qualifications?

Well, you may get the answer..

"I am Qualified through the Society of Master Saddlers of England"

SOLD! Well that is a quality answer!

The Introductory Saddle Fitting Course is 2 Days.

Followed by the Qualified Saddle Fitters Course which is a whole 4 days.

SO IN 6 DAYS THEY HAVE PRODUCED A QUALIFIED SADDLE FITTER!

I would not even have someone give me a manicure, who did a 6 day crash course in beauty!

Forget analyze my horses back conformation & saddle fit, flock the panels, adjust the tree of the saddle and god forbid do it correctly!

Many of the reps for Saddle company's are representatives, they are trained how to sell. They are not trained as fitters, many saddle companies sell foam panels to eliminate the fitting portion to greatly reduce production costs. You may notice these "rep's" will focus mainly on rider fit and will not focus on the horse. Mostly they will up sell through padding. Padding is a no-no. Please don't get me started, this article is already getting long.

It is September 15th, 2015. I am still shocked that riders feel that they think that they can ride multiple horses in ONE saddle. This is NOT the case. YES your horse will go because they have a heart of GOLD. When you look over each horses back you will see the difference in the curvature (front to back) and the asymmetries (left to right). Every horse is different and requires their own fit, a pad will not fix this. A horses back in movement is completely different than a horses back standing still. A trained, Master Fitter would be able to show you the difference in how imperative this is to both you and your horse. 

So in the perfect world, if right now I was sitting down for a Pumpkin Spice Latte with the Olympian, Up and Coming Rider and/Or the Coach, the advice I would give from all the experience I have learned through the years would be:

You have worked damn hard to get where you are. Good for you!

I encourage you to go towards this company if it feels right. But becoming a sponsored rider is more than just a title it is a responsibility towards your horses and most importantly your followers who cherish you. They work hard every day for their money to put towards their passion which is inspired by you. So when you put your name behind a brand, they will trust in it and immediately follow it because of you. So it is your job to understand the brand, trust the brands service, trust the manufacturing process (made in Europe or 3rd world) the fit. You will also need to consider that one day you may not be a part of the brand anymore and will your clients still be taken care of?

At the end of the day, before taking the first jump. I would do my homework. Because money is definitely not everything. Yes cash is great, however as an experienced rider and a Master Saddle Fit Specialist, I would much rather have a saddle that correctly fit my horse. Allowing optimal shoulder freedom, balanced absolutely correctly from front/middle/back, gave lower back freedom, cleared the spine/ ligaments running through the spine / sitting on the saddle support muscle, gave me the proper natural seat position through the correct seat and stirrup bar placement... I can keep going but wont.

What I am trying to say is, you can potentially earn $20,000.00 from "XYZ" saddle company. However the saddles potentially DO NOT fit. You when spend a fortune preparing and showing, to enter a class with intentions of a win. The class's purse would have surpassed the measly $20,000.00 you earned from your sponsorship. However, you didn't win because your saddle is restricting your horse.

OK, Dressage riders, you don't make the big cash prizes. But scores are your everything, which you need in order to qualify. Those scores also gain you more followers and clients. When you are loosing, you also loose out on the potential sales on your horses. Especially when we look to the collective marks (Riders Position and Seat; Correctness and Effect of the Aids) you can hit the jackpot here dressage riders!!!

Instead, the potential investment in a saddle that fits with a professional master fit specialist that cared for your horses back, could get you to the top of the leader board more often with consistent results.

A SADDLE THAT FITS IS THE SECRET WEAPON.

A few days ago I was looking at a very recent Olympian's Facebook Page, going through some cringe-worthy photos showing the way the saddles fit. Some included the rider in some very recent competitions. As well as one picture of this rider at the saddle company's booth that say's "So thrilled to meet everyone at XYZ Saddle Company's Booth today - They make my horses saddles!". Which is a great "plug" for advertising, however, to my trained eye all of these pictures are of a top professional in saddles that are too low front, twisting and sitting in a chair seat. But this riders following, who has a great social media/industry tribe that may run out and switch brands without understanding or doing their homework.

As professionals it is our job to educate and lead.

I know I have gone on about some pet peeves. But I DO NO agree with some coaches who switch brands every year or two and then ask their clients two make the switch with them. This is something that some may be able to do, as money is definitely growing on the money tree. But this is definitely because the new shiny rep walked into the barn and offered a new awesome deal.

WE NEED TO LOOK AT THE WELFARE OF THE HORSES.

HALF PADS AND SHIMS ETC.... DO NOT MAKE SADDLES FIT~

IF you want to make a Master Saddle Fit Specialist have an aneurysm ... Make her talk about this subject more!

Happy Riding!!!

Melanie.

MEMORY FOAM

Memory foam has been all the buzz over the past while and I thought it would be a great time to write in my little diary about it to shed a little more light on the subject. 

First and foremost, what is memory foam?

Thank you to my friends at Wikipedia, 

Memory foam is Polyurethane with additional chemicals increasing its viscosity and density. It is often referred to as "viscoelastic" polyurethane foam, or low-resilience polyurethane foam (see LRPu). Higher-density memory foam softens in reaction to body heat, allowing it to mold to a warm body in a few minutes. Faster speed of recovery of a foam to its original shape after a weight is removed is sometimes claimed as an advantage by memory-foam mattress producers, who may talk of "newer generation" foams with "faster recovery.”

Basically, what they are describing is that memory foam is:

  • Higher in density 
  •  Reacts to heat faster and softens quicker loosing its original density 
  • After heat and weight has been removed and the foam quickly cools and goes back into the original shape  

Speaking as a person searching for a new bed. I would love a new bed with a memory foam mattress topper. However, even in the industry of bedding, there is a system. 

  1. The frame
  2. The Box Spring
  3. The Mattress
  4. Then if you are the type who wants that extra cushion, the memory foam mattress pad. 

I am sure there are several in the bedding industry who know much more than me who will argue on what goes where and how. But the reason I am explaining it this way is for you to understand we need support. Memory foam does not provide support. It reacts very quickly to heat and weight, almost immediately going to paper thin thickness. Riders are thinking they are providing their horses with extra padding because their saddle is not fitting or just “adding it just for that extra but - just in case”. There should never be a “ just in case” in saddle fitting. 

When you take a memory foam half pad for example - if you pinch the pad with your fingers within 30 seconds you can feel your fingers touching. This proves Wikipedias point above. Memory foam is not supportive nor is it a piece of equipment necessary to make any saddle fit better. If a saddle is too wide or too narrow, or there is a pressure point, just like the old saying goes "stuffing more socks into a shoe that doesn't fit, isn't going to make the shoe fit". Whether it is a pleasure or a performance horse, as a Master Saddle Fit Specialist, to me it does not matter they are all equal and important and should have equipment that properly fits. 

Riders need to understand that we are playing around with nerves, shoulder blades, vertebras and muscle to name a few. Our horses are the ones who are who are doing the jobs for us and they do such a good and honourable job for us, just so that we can have fun. The least we can do is make sure the equipment that we have on our animals fits to the best of our ability. 

It should never be because it is the “in” name, or the “in” thing, we as an industry need to educate ourselves and our friends to make sure our horses get the very best. 

Happy Riding. 

 

WHY DO THEY?

It perplexes me as a Master Saddle Fit Specialist that when I talk with some of my colleagues in the industry that when their clients call them out for an appointment... 

Let's say we have a horse that is sore through its back and is need of several treatments. The specialist is called out to treat the horses back and the time and effort is put into the horse to make sure that this horse is treated to the best of their ability. In some cases, owners expect that one treatment is enough and we are back to riding. 

This is not the case. It does not take one ride to cause this type of damage and inflammation and it does not take one treatment to undue the damage. Rest and treatment is what is needed. We all as professionals know that it is necessary to get back to work and training but there will be no horse in the end if training proceeds before the healing has completed. This sometimes takes days, weeks and even can take months. We as humans hear this from our doctors and we know the damage that is caused when we do not listen. 

It is not fair to not listen to the professional as they know best, as our loved ones are unable to tell us themselves where and when it hurts. When they do tell us, we usually mistakenly take it as they are "acting up" or "mis-behaving" and take the appropriate measures to straighten them out. As a professional in the industry I unfortunately see it again and again. So this is why I am asking, Why do they?

Happy Riding. 

 

2 STEP LEATHER CARE PROCESS

Leather care is crucial in order to make sure that your tack lasts. It is not only the dirt, hair and sweat that you see that is so damaging to the leather. Everyday the small dust particles are like sandpaper to your leather and it is imperative that those are kept away from the leather on a daily basis to make sure the leather is kept safe. 

  1. On a daily basis with a clean damp cloth or sponge wipe your saddle and tack off to clean all the dirt, hair, sweat and the dust particles off. 
  2. Once a week use a natural conditioner that is free from harsh chemicals and dyes and condition the leather after it has been cleaned. Make sure that when you condition the leather you only apply a thin layer around the stitching as too much can start to soften the stitching causing breakage. The best way to apply is by hand, as your body heat will natural heat up the conditioner applying it in a thin layer. Using a sponge or rag can cause it to go on too thick causing a layer over the leather that does not soak into the leather. 

Happy Riding.

 

ASYMETRICAL HORSES & SADDLES PART 1

All horses are asymmetrical, just as we are as humans. Our measurements from left to right vary, some slightly and others are more drastic. 

Let’s say we have a horse with a more prominent right shoulder and a more sloped left shoulder. As a Master Saddle Fit Specialist, I would diagnose this by: 

  • Standing the horse square on a hard level surface like cement making sure there is no grade in the surface like in a wash stall. 
  • Making sure the horse is standing even on all four feet. 
  • The head is steady and neck is straight. 

While a handler is making sure the horse is standing quietly, I would then stand on a stool and look over the horses hind quarters and carefully look at both the right and left scapula (shoulder blades) and the shoulder holes behind the scapula. Usually one will be more pronounced, while the other will be more sloped. Keeping in mind, the more pronounced shoulder usually will likely be visually higher. 

When checking the horse from the front, it is imperative to always look at the horse from the shoulder, to the upper leg, knee, cannon bone, fetlock, pastern, hoof and right down to their heels. The way their conformation is through their legs greatly affects the way the horse moves and it is imperative to the way the saddle will fit. 

EXAMPLE - A horse that is under-run in the left front foot and clubbed in the right foot will most definitely be:

  • Left knee will be lower/Right knee will be higher - causing the horse to move differently 
  • Right shoulder will be higher and more pornounced 
  • Left shoulder will most likely be more sloped 
  • Horse will most likely be more difficult to be ridden to the right due to the more pronounced side and the saddle causing pressure and pain. 
  • The rider will feel the saddle fall to the left due to the right pronounced shoulder catching the tree point, causing the left tree point to sit into the left shoulder, resulting in pain and restriction. 

After evaluation of the scapula, it is important to look at both sides of the longissimus dorsi muscle (saddle supporting muscle) to measure the symmetry of both sides. 

Following the intersection of muscles in the lower back including the latissimus dorsi and the gluteal muscles. This is a very important area that is usually inflamed. Due to whenever there is a muscle end, there are nerve endings and with this intersection there is a cluster of nerve endings. This area is also a very weak area, it is past the area of the last supporting rib (past the saddle support area) and also in the area of the kidneys and in mares is where the ovaries are located. 

Moving further back, evaluation of the hip and pelvic conformation is important. Checking to see how even the horse is from hip point to hip point and how the horse travels under and through its back. 

STAY TUNED... 

Happy Riding.