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!