Our Services

To meet today’s high standards of fit for both horse and rider, Martin Wilkinson Saddlers provides a second to none saddle fitting service for all types of horse and pony. We adhere strictly to Society of Master Saddlers guidelines and protocols, always templating your horse at every visit and keeping those records for several years. You can be assured that the saddles we offer you will be the best for you and your horse both in terms of design and value for money.
On booking your visit from one of our saddle fitters we will take comprehensive details of both you and your horse so that the van is stocked with the most suitable saddles for you to try. It may be when we visit you, that we find your horse is an unusual shape and in that case we will order a customised saddle for you.
We also provide a saddle checking service, mainly for those customers who have bought a saddle from us in the past, and as our saddle fitters are all also fully qualified Master Saddlers you can be assured that they can alter your saddle on site where appropriate. Larger jobs such as a total reflock will be taken in to the workshop where tools and facilities are more appropriate.

We also stock a wide range of accessories such as Numnahs, bridles, stirrup leathers, stirrup irons, and our qualified staff are always on hand to advise so that you make the best choice.

Martin Wilkinson Saddlers are also qualified fitters for Fairfax bridles and girths.

Saddles

Here at Martin Wilkinson Saddlers we are not tied to any particular saddle manufacturer so we can stock those saddles which we think can offer our customers the best in value for money design and fit. We are agents for a wide range of saddle makes (see below) so should be able to find a saddle to fit even the most difficult of horses.

We also stock a small range of quality second hand saddles.

Fitting Visits

To arrange a fitting visit please phone the shop (01727 821020) or email [email protected] Jenny our diary manager will take down all your details and requirements and will call you back when a fitting or check can be arranged. To be as economical as possible we try to arrange visits in the same area and in a logical sequence to reduce mileage and emissions. Once the day is arranged Jenny will call you again nearer the time to let you know the time of the saddle fitters’ visit.

Please have your horse ready, clean and dry with a bridle on. You - or te horse's handler - should be correctly dressed to handle the horse and ride if necessary. While we like to assist customers as much as possible please be aware that it will not be possible to fit in extra horses once an appointment has been made – we try our hardest to adhere to the times given to our clients, traffic permitting, however, if our fitters are presented with extra horses, this means that other clients times will be delayed.

Blog

Tracey Day (continued!)

By Rosemary on Tuesday, the 1st of May, 2018

So, first time out today. I have had lots of saddle issues, which has caused some tension in harvey, and due to my back injury I am struggling. In last ditch attempt and being so totally confused by various differing advice from other saddlers, after a bio mechanics session I felt I needed to return to Martin Wilkinson. Martin spent ages with me, listening about my back issues, what my osteopath thought, what Russell guire from bio mechanics had said, and fitted harvey with a very nice new dressage saddle. Straight away I felt like I sat better and took more weight into my right leg. Something I struggle with. The back lady who sees harvey has noticed how he compensates. Last year my scores were 36/37 ish. Today at Aston we scored 28 and there is more to come. Followed by a double clear in my Martin Wilkinson fitted jump saddle.Thank you to all of you that has helped me.

Well, events overtook the blog and last Wednesday (25th April) Tracey took Harvey to Aston le Walls with a fantastic result!! In her own words, this is what she wrote on Facebook:


'So, first time out today. I have had lots of saddle issues, which has caused some tension in Harvey, and due to my back injury I am struggling. In last ditch attempt and being so totally confused by various differing advice from other saddlers, after a bio mechanics session I felt I needed to return to Martin Wilkinson. Martin spent ages with me, listening about my back issues, what my osteopath thought, what Russell Guire from bio mechanics had said, and fitted Harvey with a very nice new dressage saddle. Straight away I felt like I sat better and took more weight into my right leg. Something I struggle with. The back lady who sees Harvey has noticed how he compensates. Last year my scores were 36/37 ish. Today at Aston we scored 28 and there is more to come. Followed by a double clear in my Martin Wilkinson fitted jump saddle. Thank you to all of you that has helped me.'


We are more than thrilled for Tracey and Harvey and so pleased and proud to be part of this amazing turnaround. 

So what happened when Martin visited Tracey? Tracey had been riding Harvey when Martin got there and so he first of all examined Harvey's back once the saddle had been removed.  What he noticed was that Harvey had some areas of 'ruffled' hair just behind his withers and Martin explained to Tracey that this will have been caused by the saddle running forwards.  So why do saddles run forwards on Harvey? Well Martin explained Harvey has a flattish back with a good lift when he works (ie his back will get flatter as he lifts his muscles to work) which means that if the saddle is not a good fit, it will shift as he moves.  This 'running forwards' could well have been the cause of Harvey throwing Tracey when he was being broken and also his then reluctance to move forwards as it is most uncomfortable for a horse to have its hair brushed in the wrong direction.

He examined her other saddles on Harvey and explained that the problem with them all was that there was not enough height in the panel at the back.  This meant that Tracey was not in balance and was sitting further to the back of the saddle than she should which again could contribute to Harvey not wanting to move forwards freely and would also cause the saddles to move forwards.  

But, a confused Tracey said, the other saddle fitter said that an Albion tree would be suitable for Harvey, are you telling me now that it would not?  Well Martin said there is sure to be an Albion tree which is suitable for Harvey, but the problem is that Albion, like most top manufacturers of saddles. make dozens of different shapes of tree. Also their saddles have a range of adjustments - high head, low head, different sizes of gusset in the back of the panel, short flap, long flap - all sorts of adjustments to suit different shapes and sizes of horses and rider.  Buying off the internet is never advisable as the seller is unlikely to know the detail of the saddle design and it takes a fully qualified Albion fitter to recognise the exact detail of the saddle so the saddle fitter who made the blanket statement that 'an Albion tree would suit your horse, was correct in one sense but which tree??? And clearly he or she was not familiar with the Albion range and therefore not qualified to advise anyone.  

Martin's length and breadth of experience and expertise enabled him to find a few saddles which would suit Harvey, one of which was an Albion SLK which he went well in but the difference when he tried the Fairfax Gareth was extraordinary - so much so that Tracey was nearly in tears!  Martin Wilkinson Saddlers deliberately are not tied to any one make of saddle so that we can give customers the best advice on what saddle will suit them and their horse and we constantly keep up to date with advances in saddle design and manufacture - often advising the saddle manufactures on how their saddles fit and what type of horse they suit best.

Tracey's problem was budget - and she tried to do the best for her horse on a limited budget which is not unusual.  We try to do the same - to advise customers on the best solution within their budget, but sometimes the budget has to be stretched to do the best for the horse.  It is our experience that often its a false economy to buy a cheap saddle and hope for the best!


Our Saddles

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Martin Wilkinson Master Saddler
Coursers Farm
Coursers Road, Colney Heath
St Albans, Herts AL4 0PG
Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 9:00 - 17:30
Saturday 9:00 - 13:30

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Martin Wilkinson Master Saddler
Coursers Farm, Coursers Road
Colney Heath, St Albans, Herts AL4 0PG