Now, before i start on complaing and bewaring others,this was done in Sth Australia so it may vary in other states.
I would like to warn others about the apparant "saddle fitting" done by horseland to my horse and my friends horse. Now, we both wanted to try the isabell wintec and leather.hense why we went with HL. another saddler in sa dont stock these. We asked at the counter before aranging about the process they go through. Is it a one day course, oh no its an intence course they assured us. So we thought ok give it a go seeming they adverise it enough in HD and brochures.
Time was made and he came out. Chucked the saddles on and off we went. Now, I had a TB and explained that the medium gullet didnt fit in his saddle before and was too tight so how did the med one fit in the isabel??? "Well they are too different saddles see" they will sit differently. ok i thought to myself. Had good clearence etc. Hopped on and had a ride. I loved the saddle so i bought it. My friend has a massave WB. Also apparanty need the balck gullet. She didnt buy. So it got me thinking and i should have looked more into it but it seriously took him 2 mins to fit my horse and he didnt even bring any other gullets or the gullet measurer!!!!!! I only relised a few days later.
My horse has been playing up a bit, really tossing his head in the air etc. I thought something is really not right and he must be uncomfortable. I explained to my coach and sure enough it was the saddle. She had a gullet sizer and he was TWO sizes to small!!!!!!! No wonder he was uncomfortable. Poor thing. Now my friend with the WB got worried and thought oh no what would mine be if a TB is a wide what wll he be. Sure eonugh he was THREE sizes too small and really needed the extra wide.
So what i am trying to say is IF U CAN DO NOT GET THEM TO COME OUT AND FIT. ONLY IN IT FOR THE $$$$$$$. It really worries me as some people that arnt too sure about saddle fitting and get them out thinking oh great he will be comfy because they fitted it correctly and have no idea that it might be all wrong. SO PLEASE be careful. Sorry its so long but i am really p*^%$d off and will NEVER go to that store again. It is false advertising i think.
1. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #0
I am sorry you had a bad experience with your HL saddle fitter. Perhaps it would have been better to go back to the saddle fitter you used and get him to re-check his work. I have never had a problem with my horseland saddle fitter, in fact mine has gone above and beyond in making sure that our saddles don't just fit, that they fit perfectly. I have 5 horses, 7 Bates saddles in various models and I have never had a saddle leave a mark on one of my horses. Half of my saddles were bought second hand, so my fitter did not even sell me the saddles that she is fitting.
2. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #0
Hey that is horrible, but it sound like it was that individual ripping you off! I would report it to the store he works for as they would need to know this!!
Horseland actually contracts out to the saddle fitters!! The fitter is an independent contractor and is probably ripping horseland off!!
Try not to blame the store for the fitter's mistakes but DO TELL THEM!!! They might even give you a refund.
I recently had my wintec refitted as my boy wasn't settled under it and the lady who came out took like 30 mins and measured everything and took photos and used a spirit level and will be coming back out in 2 months to check how he's going.. She said if it turns out its still not right she'll change again for free to make sure its all good.
She says the photos help to record how the saddle fitted before and after the change of gullet and when she comes back she can check agains the photos to see whats happening with the saddle his back and the overall fit.
I was very happy with the service and would recommend Horseland but please make sure they are filling in the sheet as they go... measuring things and taking photos for the records. Also ride the horse with the saddle on before they leave.
If horse isn't happy in all 3 gaits it'll toss head, choppy gait etc.
*~* Tuesday is coming, have you got your coat? *~*
3. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #0
I work at a HL store in the Sydney area and we have signed on a well known "myofunctional therapist" from the area to work as one of our saddlefitters. The company sent her away to do the saddlefitting course (no idea how many days it is sorry) and we now have a trailer full of saddles for our customers to try.
Unfortunately HL is a franchise store so it really depends on who owns THAT one particular store.
At our store this lady worked solely as a "massage/myofunctional therapist" for several years and often came across problems in horses caused directly by bad saddle fit. She worked out a deal with HL to fit their saddles and also have the added option of having her perform therapy on your horse which has been popular among people who have horses with pre-existing back issues.
What's difficult about saddlefitting is that it may 9 out of 10 times fit the horse until you get on. Make sure any person doing a saddlefit has you ride the horse in the saddle, or at least sit in the saddle. Often the weight of the rider can cause the saddle to slip back, squash down onto the wither - whole range of difficulties. And even with the adjustable gullet you may need to get the stuffing adjusted to give your horse the ultimate fit. Horses with very little muscle along the spine will need extra padding to compensate for the lack of bulk under the saddle gullet, whereas fatter horses may need to have padding removed to avoid pressure points at the shoulders.
And remember to have the fit checked every 12 months at least for changes in your horse's muscle tone along his back - some horses need to go up a gullet size after coming back into work just from building up muscle. Its YOUR responsiblity to have it checked as your horse's shape changes.
Also any flock saddle will need to have the stuffing checked after about 4-6weeks. The stuffing in a new saddle hasn't had any weight on it before so while it may fit when you buy it, you might find after a few weeks of riding in it that the stuffing is not giving you enough wither clearance.
I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. I know what its like to go through that. I bought a saddle from a rather big saddle store in Sydney *cough* brighton *cough* saddleworld *cough* (this was years before I started working at HL) and had the guy fit a WHITE... thats right... EXTRA WIDE... gullet to my delicate 15.2hh TB mare. After 2 weeks she had a bald patch on her wither and I called him out again and he still insisted that she was the right size, put some more stuffing in the saddle and told me that should be fine now. Two weeks later another bald patch.
I had the guys from HL come out and re-fit her and they put her in a black/medium gullet and I've had no problems since then. The guy made a mess of the stuffing job too - it was hard as a rock at the front, all but empty at the back, flat on one side and lumpy throughout the whole length of the saddle. My horse now has a permanent white patch on her wither from the damage done to her by that saddle.
If you aren't happy take it back and demand that the store send someone out to fix the problem and re-fit your horse. They shouldn't have a problem with doing it for free if they've made a mistake. Otherwise ask them to pay for you to have another independent saddlefitter come out and do the job if you're still not happy
4. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #3
Oh by the way I ride in a Freeform Liberty treeless saddle these days!
Solves the problem of changing gullet sizes entirely. As for pressure points.... what pressure points??? The whole thing is flexible and soft, and the sheepskin pad underneath makes it ultra comfy for my horse. I just completed a 40km ride in it scoring an "A" for our physical which included testing for soreness along the back.
5. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #4
There's a lot more to saddle fitting than just looking at the gullet size - it's so important to check how the saddle panels lie against the horse's back - so many people ride in saddles that stick up at the front over the wither, don't contact the back well through the middle section, then dig in at the back - 'bridging'.
I can't stand idiots who suggest you use a foam or sheepskin pad under a saddle which is already too tight!!!
6. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #5
"I can't stand idiots who suggest you use a foam or sheepskin pad under a saddle which is already too tight!!!"
I'll second That one!!!
If the saddle is too low get it refitted! Don't just pack more padding in till you thinks its okay... The saddle is still the same shape! It'll compact the padding against the spin and cause more discomfort than before! So whats the point?
*~* Tuesday is coming, have you got your coat? *~*
10. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #7
Thats great, Thanks everyone for the info. sweet sava i wish they were all like that!!!!. The one who came out to us was the owner of this particular store!! Just like i thought it would be different state to state. Ur lucky ur store is a good one who care more about the welfare and not so much the $$$$$.
11. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #7
Similar story here. Got the HL saddle fitter (also the francise owner) to bring out some demo saddles. I bought a Bates Precieux - this was years ago so although it has an interchangeable gullet the "saddler" has to change it. I had the narrow gullet put in. A week later I thought this is not right, there is not enough space between the gullet and wither. Got the guy out again (admittedly this time he didn't charge a fitting fee) but was told I needed a narrower gullet, but that putting this in would void the warranty on the saddle. 'How about a foam pad?' he suggested. Basically I had been sold a saddle that would not fit and paid for this fitting service. Good news is the saddle was refitted by another saddler to fit my new horse. Sorry but thumbs down the HL for saddle fitting service.
12. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #11
Ah sweet_savannah I guess you're right it depends on the individual store. Friends of mine have had a bad experience with a HL saddle fitter - pushed getting a bates when it just didn't fit.
I had a wonderful experience with the brighton saddleworld fitter tony (is that who you were alluding to sav?) who brought a whole load of second hand saddles and we were delighted with the one we ended up with.
13. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #12
Yup Mona that was the guy.
He was great for options, I tried 2 or 3 saddles before deciding on the bates Caprilli - but man did he get the sizing wrong. I got the white patch on the wither to prove it!
And worse was he just couldn't seem to admit "Hey wow that really is is 3 sizes too big." he just kept on saying that the gullet was fine it was the padding. In the end both gullet and padding were totally screwed up. Even I could see the white gullet was too wide for my horse. When you held the gullet on its own over her wither it hit the wither before it touched her back - der!
The guy at HL who I got to refit the saddle said he had never seen such a bad stuffing job in his life! He got me to feel down the inside of the saddle and all I could feel was lumpy-ness and in some places there was virtually no padding at all while in other areas around the shoulder it was hard as concrete.
Thats just my one experience with him... can't say I've been inclined to buy from him again after THAT!
14. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #12
I have said this many time before and probably will keep saying it for years to come! Changing the gullet does not make a saddle fit! Doesn't matter how much you change the shape at the wither it does not make a narrow saddle wider or a wide saddle narrow. It is all just a gimmick to sell saddles - just the same as the "Cair" saddles.
It is unrealistic to think you can shape a particular saddle to fit a particular horse perfectly. This would mean you have to buy a new saddle every time you change horses!
The horses know much more than the saddle fitters - just get on and let your horse tell you!
15. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #14
I don't know where this notion of just changing the gullet can make the saddle fit better. I stay away from anything Bates because the channel is not wide enough and invariably no matter what gullet I had in it the saddle was bridging and pinching.
As for putting a numnah or other pad in, a well fitted saddle does not require any saddle pad (though I do use a thin cotton with my KN). To me, Bates are the Nike of the athletic shoe world....lots of gimmicks, very little substance.
16. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #15
I'm with Mrs B, (both on the gullet thing and the Bates thing, leather covered wintecs) I had to try out many saddles before I found the right one. The saddle fitter ( HL one with big truck full of many saddles) fitted the saddle to the HORSE then I had to decide out of the ones that fit the horse which one I liked to ride in. I will probably get shot down in flames for this but I honestly feel that saddles need to primarily fit horses - not people, and we have to choose in the constraints that our horses give us. Out of a truck full of saddles we picked out 5 or 6 that fitted well, 2 more that would need ajusting. Out of all of those only 2 fit perfectly and so they were the ones that I had to choose from. I will have to admit that I do so love KNs, so it was an easy choice, although i still rode in a few of them to make sure. Rode in them for weeks - not minutes.
This is what I like about the try before you buy that a lot of the HL dealers are doing, and it's about time!
17. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #15
I disagree to a point. I love my Bates Caprilli and after having the padding adjusted AS WELL AS the gullet I have had no issues with the saddle.
Now of course a Bates adjustable gullet isn't going to be as good as a custom made saddle created just for your horse. But it does offer an alternative to buying 5 different saddles for 5 different horses.
It would be naive to think that Bates saddles would fit ALL types of horses. Some horses are going to have backs that are too short, or to curved, or too high a wither or whatever to fit into that brand of saddle. Its like jeans... not everyone is going to suit one brand of jeans - that's why we have many brands of jeans to cater for the differences in shape. Same with saddles. Investigate different brands of saddles and don't get stuck on one brand type if it's not suitable for your horse.
My Anglo for example does not suit the Bates Caprilli that fitted my TB so perfectly because her back is far too short and the cantel of the saddle rests on vertabrae that are not supported by the ribs. This = very bad for horsie's back!
To solve this problem I decided to go treeless. It also had a base specifically for Arab types with short backs, as well as a seat that would acoomodate my long legs.
You will find that each brand of saddle has a set of features that will make it suitable of unsuitable for you and your horse. Demo as many as you can as sometimes the saddle that is the best fit for your horse won't suit you and vice versa.
Its a trial and error process and I strongly advise anyone to ride in as many saddles as possible before deciding on one. Most places will offer 7 day return policy which gives you a week to ride in the saddle and determine its suitability - provided it is returned in its original condition of course!!
19. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #17
So sorry you got a bad deal! My HL saddle fitter (VIC) brought out 3 different saddles, measured my horses wither and at least 2 other spots along his back (he is asymetrical), and was with me for over an hour! He had all the gullets with him, and changed them in front of me to show me how its done (my horse has filled out since, which we knew would happen, and he wanted me to know how to change them). He also explained that after a few months regular riding, I'd need to have it re-fitted, as my horse filled out and the saddle 'broke-in'. I was really happy with him. I'd definitely complain up higher if they are doing a dodgy, maybe get a reputable fitter out to see whatr they say as well, to back it up, and put everything in writing!
18. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #0
MOO321 understand completely been there done that one and same HL owner what does a person learn on a short sweet intense course!! Not a lot, not one saddle ever fitted correctly and have been slugged every time in order to change the gullet size - Raspberries all round to HL and their saddle fitting.
20. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #18
In alot of cases the saddle fitter is the franchise owner. All the quals you need to own a HL, is a big enough bank account to buy the store.
Like anything you get good ones and bad ones.
Unfortunately HL really push Bates as Mr Bates is a part owner of Weatherbeeta who own the the HL franchise. There are so many better made saddles than the Bates on the market. The Bates saddle are now ALL made in Vietnam, and mass produced to fill the American market that Weatherbeeta went into a few years ago.
The only really qualified saddle fitters I know of Graeme and Tracy Aitken of Aitkens Saddlery, who both went and qualified in the UK. They spent months over there and were not guaranteed a pass even though they paid to do the course. In fact quite a number of people fail the course as saddle fitters.
HL do a one day course, UUMMMM! I wonder just how much they learn in a day.
22. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #21
I agree that just messing with the gullet width is certainly not going to substantially change the saddle. I have found that really good, classic saddles seem to fit virtually any horse, while the ones that are not made with as good materials and workmanship will get a bit soggy, and the stuffing will get packed, especially in the rear panels, often making it sit lower behind, or bouncing on the horse's back.
We have one horse who we had measured up for a custom-made dressage saddle. The actual saddler didn't do it himself (in another state) but had someone contracted to do it. The saddle never ever came close to fitting the intended horse, but luckily he was being moved on, and it fitted his replacement beautifully.
Another time we bought a jumping saddle with an adjustable gullet, and had it widened, and widened and widened. It still didn't fit the intended horse (big shoulders, high wither, broad back, a little high behind, hence bridging). Strangely enough, this horse fits virtually any old Bates jumping saddle that you put on him.
But saddle fitting is not brain surgery! The saddle should sit level (which does not automatically mean that the cantle is the same height as the pommel) and the deepest part should be in the middle. The hardest forward part of the saddle (which equates to the front of the stirrup bars) should not interfere with the scapula. And all the areas of padded panelling should come in contact with the horse evenly.
Maybe trust yourselves to fit your own saddles! Just don't compromise with fit!
23. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #22
Bates is Weatherbeeta they are the same company - my OH just backed me up on that, and he works at his fathers equine shop.
I love my old caprilli jump saddle - changeable by saddler
and my caprilli dressage 6 months old.
And the changeable gullets are great, ok they won't fit all horses, but after 2 years of looking for a well fitting dressage saddle for horse and rider it is awesome. My mare is really sensitive, and she goes great in it, because it fits her well she has bulked up heaps over her shoulders, and it doesn't dip in like it used to (muscle wastage) i have had to go up from the med narrow to medium as well! Her way of going has improved heaps, i even did my B on her recently (at 21 lol) having got an uneducated TB 1 1/2 years previous, off the track and not done much for 2 years before. The improvement has been huge in the last 6 months with te new saddle.
I suppose an independant saddle fitter with real quals would be best i suppose. My OHs dad did the day course for saddle fitting through bates, but doesn't do saddle fitting.
24. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #23
To the OP, a friend of mine had a very similar experience with new saddle from HL. I was actually riding the horse at the time and while I liked the saddle, it was incorrectly fit and as a result, the horse was sore in the back. Personally, having spoken to an independent saddle fitter, the saddle is never going to fit this particular horse, no matter what you do. Yes, the gullet was too small as well. Horses are definitely individual and obviously some saddles will be suited to certain types. I was dissapointed for the owner as she had done the right thing, sought advice, had the fitting, and now she's stuck bandaiding.
30. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #20
>In alot of cases the saddle fitter is the franchise owner. >All the quals you need to own a HL, is a big enough bank >account to buy the store. > >Like anything you get good ones and bad ones. > >Unfortunately HL really push Bates as Mr Bates is a part >owner of Weatherbeeta who own the the HL franchise. There >are so many better made saddles than the Bates on the >market. The Bates saddle are now ALL made in Vietnam, and >mass produced to fill the American market that Weatherbeeta >went into a few years ago. > >The only really qualified saddle fitters I know of Graeme >and Tracy Aitken of Aitkens Saddlery, who both went and >qualified in the UK. They spent months over there and were >not guaranteed a pass even though they paid to do the >course. In fact quite a number of people fail the course as >saddle fitters. > >HL do a one day course, UUMMMM! I wonder just how much they >learn in a day.
Funny how wrong you are.
HL Saddle fitting courses are a very extensive three day course, which not only run in the classroom but also on the practical side aswell. Every year there courses are run and not all but most saddle fitters attend to upgrade there skills. The serious saddle fitters attend anyway. Having completed this course myself I can first hand vow for how good they are. Even though the particular course itself goes for 3 days, the theory part takes about 2 months.
The reason I became a fitter in the first place was because of poor advise several times from Graeme Aitken. I moved to WA and started with HL and progressed from there.
While there are probably finer built saddles on the market, The Bates/ Wintec brand are the most heavily tested and always are improving to meet the demand of the rider and horse. They are the innovators and not the immitators. It is true though, that not all Bates saddles fit all horses, therefore the great saddle fitters will not sell you a Bates if they think it will not work. HL dont, just stock Bates, and Dont just push you towards them. If they do there are other HL stores around.
The experience by some at HL stores is something that is dissapointing, I no longer work for HL or saddle fit but still keep in touch with a few who do.
i just wanted to let people know that the uneduacted few who like to put HL and Ron Bates down do not know the full story and are trying to fill there own void. There is a saddle out there for everyone and a fitter and it is not nessesarily a Bates, but at least they offer an awesome alternative and a truelly universal saddle which can be used from one horse to another with some very small and simple changes.
25. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #0
Yep I used Graeme years ago kids wanted a Ambassador and a County. Came measured the horses,took photo's and prints from the horses withers etc. Had the kids ride in each taped them and in the end the Ambassador kid got a county and the county kid an ambassador. Still riding in the saddles today and never a inkling of drama. Who are HL kidding learning all there is to fitting a saddle cramped into a day. Have you ever noticed that the original gullets (white I think) never seem to fit anything and you always get slugged with the $30 plus new gullet in black or red etc.
27. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #26
not all bates saddles are made in vietnam, wintecs yes, but my isabell is made in australia. the standard gullet is the black one, medium.
i've had one incident with a horseland saddle fitter which resulted in my horse bucking, but i got my horse refitted by a different horseland saddlefitter and haven't looked back, he does a pretty good job is very helpful. that said, if my horse was very difficult to fit, i may get peter o'brian out. however, so far, i've been pretty happy with said HL man. if i think there is a problem, i ring up and say such and such is happening and he comes out and adjusts the saddle. he has fitted by horse 3 or 4 times now, different saddles, horse has changed shape, and he always measures her gullet size and makes sure the saddle isn't bridging, lifting at the back etc.
he is also not just a businessman with a bank account, he has ridden all his life, been a breaker and farrier.
so mostly good HL experiences here! by the way, when i was looking for a dressage saddle, i didn't have bates pushed on me, i was also shown keiffers and different brands, but was the most comfortable in the isabell
28. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #27
I would only ever get my saddle fitted by a saddler, not a franchise saddle fitter who has no idea what they're doing, and then passes the saddle on with ill-informed advice, to someone else for the work to be done.
32. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #31
hi, ive had no probs with my saddle fitter Gary Laver from HorseLand in Geelong. I used to have a Tb with a roach back Gary came out brought numerous gullets etc. fitted the horse then came out a few weeks later to do another assessment at no charge just to make sure the fitting was perfect.
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift that is why its called the present.
33. "RE: HORSELAND SADDLE FITTERS"
In response to message #32
I have to say I really agree with Sweet Savannah. I have had the man from Brighton around and found him pushy and just plain wrong. He left a couple of (expensive) saddles for me to ride in and told me they fitted well. I tried them for a about a week, didn't like the feel of them and asked him to take them back. He came back, said I was wrong, and told me that they needed adjusting and he restuffed them. After 2 days (and being tossed off once) I got someone around who knew what they were doing and she was dismayed at what she saw. The saddles were never going to fit and the "stuffing" was so bad and uneven she said it was a credit to my horse that he only tossed me once. Never, ever again. Please, to anyone who wants to listen, get someone who knows what they are doing and are sympathetic to your horse and you (possibly in that order!). I was so happy with the fitter I used eventually I always recommend her - it was Vikki Morgan - not only is she a saddle fitter, she is a therapist as well and works in with the qualified saddler at Artarmon so I know that what she does is correct and done correctly by a tradesman. I'm sorry to be so blunt but after my experience (and the fact that I have been in and around horses for too many years to remember) I decided that when it comes to my horses health and well being I sometimes have to be impolite and name names........