English saddles made in the UK, Fitted & Supplied Worldwide



Virginia is an Equine Myofunctional Therapist, trainer and competitor and lives in Australia. She contacted us about a dressage saddle for her horse, a 5 year old Warmblood x American Saddlebred gelding. He has been under saddle for about 18 months and is working at Novice/Elementary dressage and jumping around 70-80 cms. Virginia described him “as quite short backed and solid and since his scapula slopes a fair way back behind his wither”, she felt there was not a huge space left for a saddle to sit before his last rib.

Virginia described a long tale of woe in her search for a saddle , one that suited them both. She is not very tall but not light either and this compounded saddle fitting problems. Cheeky Chops expressed his discomfort with an unwillingness to go forward particularly in canter, lots of tail swishing and “pig rooting”. Many different brands, styles and sizes were tried to no avail.

These are some of the photos Virginia sent to us before placing her order for her Ideal saddle, and the change after:

Ian explains that Virginia and Cheeky Chops were suffering from a common problem. The saddles were too narrow for him in front but because he was well muscled and croup high, he kept Virginia in balance and so the problem was disguised, other than manifesting itself in the horse’s discomfort. However, with the correct width of tree for the front, the horse’s shape and musculature behind the saddle will tend to make the saddle too low at the front and for Virginia to feel “downhill”. The answer is to rebalance the saddle using the flocking so that the saddle lifts at the front and sits down at the back. The Suzannah has drop panels as standard and front gussets so it lends itself exceptionally well to this fine tuning.

The next common problem was the perception, which is widely shared, that the saddle should not extend beyond the horse’s last rib. The fundamental problem here is that this is very rarely possible to achieve if a saddle is to fit both horse and rider. If the rider is big relative to the space on their horse’s back where he or she can sit….”you cant do it” says Ian. If you accommodate the horse in this respect, the rider is squeezed in to a saddle that is too small, their leg falls too far forward and they sit on the back of the saddle, causing uneven pressure, discomfort and a sore back for the horse.

The number one golden rule is that the front arch of the saddle tree must be the same shape and width as that part of the horse’s back upon which it should be positioned.  The other golden rule is that the saddle is in balance by which we mean the saddle is positioned such that the rider naturally sits in the centre of the saddle and the combined weight of the saddle and rider is evenly distributed over the whole bearing surface of the saddle. The Suzannah with its wider twist and big, broad panels is ground breaking in this respect as it is designed to maximise this bearing surface.If these two golden rules are obeyed, it rarely causes a problem if the saddle extends a short way beyond the last rib.

Our thanks go to Virginia for allowing us to tell this story. That her problems were common problems is only clear to the expert but having said that many experts would not recognise them nor be able to find the solution. We must say this next!….. Luckily Virginia found us and through us, Ian and his team!

“ I LOVE the new saddle!!! I have ridden in it 4 times and it hasn’t moved at all on him not like any other saddle I tried. It is lovely to sit in and I definitely notice the difference position wise as it sits my pelvis and leg in a much improved position…….and touch wood I haven’t had any pig roots or even any real ears back since I have been using it. Very HAPPY CUSTOMER”.

A couple of weeks later, Virginia wrote “ My instructor, Cherie is a top level judge and coach in this country and in her day rode Grand Prix Dressage and Show Jumping. She is very impressed with the alteration the saddle has made to my riding and to the comfort and happiness of my horse. I even made her sit on him in it and it was only then that she really realised how wonderful it was and how it sat you in the right spot without even trying and allowed your leg to hang in a much more correct position without forcing it. “ Virginia went on to say that her instructor “made about 5 other people sit in it (poor Chops must have thought he was doing pony rides) and it made a big improvement to most of them. The interesting thing was that it suited many different body types – tall and slim to short and round, long legs and short legs”.

As you can imagine reader, we were thrilled to hear all this. We care about what we do, indeed we are passionate about it! We believe this successful outcome is down to the combination of excellent communications, Ian’s experience, expertise and attention to detail plus the quality and excellence of the design of the Ideal Suzannah saddle.