I want to preface this blog by saying that trainers are often the biggest assets in this industry. In my opinion there are two types of trainers: one type works very hard to enhance their education and is dedicated to the well-being and successes of their students and horses; while this may also be part of the goal, the other type sees this career path more as a means to promote themselves and their successes in the show ring. It doesn’t mean one is better than the other; they are just different paths. Very few trainers are successfully able to combine both due to time and financial constraints.
The saddle plays a significant role in the support of these two types of trainers. Some saddle companies prefer to work with top level trainers only and give away their products in order to get their names out there. Being named “Official Saddle” for any organization or rider usually comes with a huge price tag – it doesn’t always mean that the trainer actually even uses the saddle to ride in – except in public, for which he/she is paid.
We are extremely happy to see that more and more trainers (even those who are given these freebies or are paid by other companies) prefer to work on an ‘educational’ sponsorship basis instead – which benefits both them and their students. While this is more time-consuming (and generally not as publicly advertised), it often puts their students and their horses on the front page of success stories.
I was recently at a barn (I won’t even say where in the US this was), but it was the barn where an apparently very well-known and successful trainer was working (although I have to admit I was not familiar with his name, but then I don’t know everyone!). Apparently he had researched what we do and had requested an appointment while I was in the area.
We did a static and dynamic fit for a couple of his horses, and he was truly amazed at the difference he felt riding in a fitted sizing saddle compared to what he had been using. Especially on his high level dressage horse the difference was stunning. Then the negotiations began. Unfortunately, his expectations were that we would be interested in ‘sponsoring’ him (i.e., giving him saddles for free) and having his name on our website as being one of our ‘sponsored riders’. He was looking for a way to promote himself, while we prefer to sponsor under the educational program and so offered him our preferred trainer program.
Apparently the educational program was too much work for him; he refused, stating that he had many saddle companies offering to give him saddles for free, without any expectation other than his status as ‘xyz ambassador’. He felt that there wasn’t enough incentive (including the actual huge difference to his position and his horse’s transitions) to get on board with us and asked us to reconsider giving him the saddle for free – without him needing to involve his students in the educational process.
He did mention that he appreciated how much time we spent (a whole day) and how much he learned about the importance of proper saddle fit, but it seems it was not enough. We aren’t looking for trainers or famous riders whose pictures we can use on our website as being ‘sponsored’ or who endorse us – we look for passionate trainers who truly care about the horses they ride and their well-being, as well as that of their students. We look for trainers who believe in the science and our obligation as caregivers to make our equine partners comfortable and keep them healthy as long as possible. We look for trainers who are interested in a win-win-win for all stakeholders in the partnership.
We support our trainers in many ways – one of which is sharing our knowledge and our expertise during regular on-site service throughout North America so they can teach their students. It’s easy to give away saddles made overseas which are grossly overpriced in the market and cannot be adjusted in tree width and tree angle. While it’s very tempting to adorn ourselves with top riders on our website, we have recognized the potential damage that the use of these saddles can cause in the long run (still unfortunately too many companies sell them). We also know that if things are given away, they are not really valued. Too many trainers officially ‘endorse’ a product and yet train in something that really works for them instead.
We are proud of being able to meet the standards of a “Made in Canada” designation in our product, and of having a saddle fitting methodology and training which is backed by the USDF, the German National Riding School, the Certified Horsemanship Association and the Berufsreiterverband (The Association of Professional Trainers in Germany).
We encourage you to look for trainers whose true agenda is focussed on your well-being and success – and includes the longevity and protection of your horse’s back which comes from a properly fitting saddle. Look for trainers who have been educated in saddle fitting. We are hoping that at some point this trainer ‘gets it’ and understands the benefits of an ‘educational sponsorship’. The trending shows that there are many others who do and with whom it doesn’t take persuasion or negotiation to work with.