No one told me when buying a Connemara that fitting a saddle was difficult. When I bought Shanti, I had my usual saddle fitter out, who sold me a “cob fit” saddle, which slipped a little, she told me “That's normal, it’s her shape. Use a limpet numnah”
.A few months later I met Steph Bloom and Andrea Hicks at the South West Equine Fair. They said saddle slip is not normal or acceptable & explained that they have a range of saddle trees designed to fit the shape of native horses & ponies. I was reluctant to spend out for a brand new saddle for a young horse that was likely to change shape. Steph very sensibly pointed out that with young developing backs a good saddle fit is very important.
What a revelation, Steph arrived at my yard & having already looked at some photographs I supplied, she took out a saddle & with a minor flocking adjustment it fitted instantly.I was happy with a nice stable saddle, the horse was happy & my instructor impressed with her movement at my next lesson.
Over the last few years as she has got fitter & developed her top-line, Steph has been on hand, checking photos and giving advice by e-mail and phone. When required she has attended and adjusted the tree and flocking to keep the pair of us happy.
I have recently “upgraded” and bought an AH jump saddle, which once again fits beautifully & both of us are very happy.
Steph has also helped us with our other horse Bonny, a traditional cob. We previously had a local fitter out to fit a Black Country saddle; a little later, after an adjustment, Bonny developed white hairs and was very unhappy in the saddle Steph agreed to look at it, adjusted the tree and worked on the flocking to correct the fit, and also provided a wonderful sheepskin shim pad both Bonny and my partner are much happer again. We fully intend that as Bonny retires (she’s elderly and slightly arthiritic so it’s not far off) our next horse will have an AH Saddle too!
I have three very wide hard to fit cobs and Steph has provided fantastic service over nearly 7 years. I had tried various brands, one of them even another specialist for wide horses, each for a year or two, but had never felt happy long term with the saddles or the fitters. These days I don’t trust anyone else to fit my saddles, and recommend her to any clients of our rehab and livery yard who have wider and hard to fit horses. She is flexible in her approach, understanding that horses change shape regularly, and also working with the preferences of my horses and rider, all have strong opinions on saddles! Even through time off because of injury Steph has always been on hand to keep their saddles working well, allowing them to build muscle and progress in their work. Our big Welsh cross traditional cob Jester has just won his section at the Area dressage finals in his working hunter saddle fitted by Steph and we have high hopes for him especially with the new Supercob dressage saddle we have on order!
My physio and I had been very impressed with what we'd seen of Andrea Hicks’ saddles so, after seeing one fitted to one of my client's ponies, I approached the company about working together. The ponies they have fitted have shown marked improvement in their way of going and we quickly saw the change in their musculature, especially directly under the saddle.
The ultimate testimonial is that Team KMP has won both M&M national championships at HOYS and Olympia this year on two different ponies plus we had several best of breed wins across the two shows, all ponies wearing AH saddles.
Steph Bloom is my local fitter, she has been great to work with and I look forward to a long and happy relationship with her and AH Saddles. I feel they are great quality saddles that aren't just beautiful in the show ring but provide benefit for both horse and rider in everyday riding and schooling
Since getting Abbey I’ve had a relatively cheap saddle that’s done the job while she’s been developing and maturing. She’s 7 now and after a 16 months of consistent work her muscles are developing well; the time has come to invest in a good one.
I’ve looked at quite a few and really liked the Ideal Impala but a friend, who’s also got a Connie, discovered AH (Andrea Hicks) saddles. She was really struggling to something that would fit her 4 year old who’s high withers. But she had Steph Bloom from AH Saddles out and was really impressed with the range, the holistic approach and the level of service she has received.When I sat on her pony for a fitting I fell in love with the saddles too.
So Steph came out and I tried all her saddles (or near enough!) First up the flatwork saddles – I tried two dressage and a working hunter. It was in these saddles that we saw the biggest difference in Abbey’s way of going (she was so bouncy I found sitting trot hard) and in my position (longer legs, properly underneath me).
Of their jump range, I tried the Ultimate Jump and the Sport GP; while I loved the jump, there was a gap between my knee and the knee rolls even when I’d put up my stirrups whereas my legs fitted neatly into the gp while still having the security I wanted for jumping. The gp is very comfortable, I could easily go for long rides in it, and because it is well clear of her shoulder, I’d be able to use it for showing at a local level.
So after 2.5hours and lots of patience from Steph, Abbey and my friend who kindly filmed me riding I’ve treated myself to a new gp for jumping, showing and hacking and a dressage for our flat work.
Wow what a difference they are making, both to the way Abbey is moving (her shoulders have so much more room to move) and they put me in a much better position.
I have had my horse for over 6 years trying to get a saddle to fit him and stay correctly balanced has been a constant nightmare I have had so many saddle fitters out and wasted so much time and money but phoning Andrea Hicks and having Stephanie out to fit a saddle was the best thing I have ever done.
I now have a comfortable saddle not only for me (my back was killing after half hour) but for him, I know he feels better because he has an annular ligament injury that is over 3 years old has now since having my new saddle has completely healed I can only presume that now he is moving correctly we now go out for 3 hour hacks and back is not killing and now our hacks are happy hacks he even made the decision to jump a few cheeky small jumps that were left up in the school at speed We both had fun doing that something that he was not interested in doing for years X
thank you so much a happy happy hacker now X
It has given him much more freedom of the thoracic and lumber area.Lily's instructor was amazed at the difference in him!! Still work to do but couldn't be more thrilled
Since purchasing one of your lovely saddles our pony has gone from backwards to forwards in a matter of weeks..he already has had it widened due to building up his topline in record time.Lily and owen have now qualified for equifest ..both 1st place qualifications and the TSR championship class.:)He now enters the ring ..sits up..and goes with his ears forwards wanting a rossette !
So we had osteo for the first time since the new saddle...for the first time in 3 years owen has absolutely no degree of back soreness at all..not even a niggle!!!!!So I then decided to bite the bullet n ask farrier to remove his hind wedge pads.He removed them last night feeling terrified haha.His hinds are 100% in perfect alignment and balance so I felt they needed to come off.
Today lily had her lesson with andy ford who didnt know we had made the change....he was astounded that in this heat this pony was strutting his stuff like he hadnt seen before...we told him at the end and couldnt believe it....so happy that i have got them off and that they did the job required ...even more happy that because of his lovely saddle he doesnt need them...no back pain distorting his feet!!!!
Without your and Andreas help we wouldnt be where we are today with our Nemo. At the weekend he did his first Working Hunter Class, won his class and went to become Working Hunter Champion. Also qualified for the Pony Championships in Eventing but sadly we are away for that.
Without the help from Steph and Andrea from AH Saddles we wouldn't be where we are today with our Nemo. We have owned him for 19 months now and Jessica has concentrated on Eventing this year. But this last weekend they entered their first Working Hunter,he won his class and went on to become Working Hunter Champion. Also qualified for the Pony Championships in Eventing in his first year Eventing at Chalmondsey Castle , but sadly we are away for that frown emoticon We brought Nemo as a very green youngster and soon experienced some issues with him as he changed shape, despite several saddle fittings locally he became worse and almost unrideable in canter. We turned to AH Saddles Specialist Native Pony & Cob Saddles for help, and with their expertise and super saddle they have turned Nemo around. His damaged back muscles have repaired and we now have the most fabulous pony who is so willing to please smile emoticon Thank you again Steph and Andrea :) x