I met Suzie a few years ago when someone recommended her as “the real deal.” I liked and trusted her right away not just because when you meet her you can’t help but like her, but because she didn’t try to sell me anything or talk me into anything. She did her saddle-fitting magic, offered her opinions, and that was that. And it really did seem like magic: I had a jump saddle that just didn’t work for me. She waved her magic wand over it (ok, shifted the blocks) and it was perfect for me.
Not too long ago I bought a new dressage saddle. Unfortunately, it was made asymmetrically and my horse’s back became very sore. Even after Suzie fixed that, it simply didn’t fit my horse. She had bumps on both sides of her back that kept getting worse. Suzie cared so much about my horse (and all horses), though, that she loaned me her personal saddle so I wouldn’t have to put the other one on my mare for even another day while I sold it. My trainer, who’s extremely talented and at twenty-eight has her USDF Gold Medal along with various other achievements, was so excited that I had one of Suzie’s saddles – she said it would help me become a better rider. Suzie and my trainer explained that in this saddle, the riding was entirely up to me. It wouldn’t hold me in any particular position; I would just be aligned so that the correct position was the default. I was really excited about that because, while I do want to move up the levels, my greatest ambition is to be able to get on any horse in any saddle and ride well. I want to learn to ride correctly from my seat and legs in true harmony with the horse, no matter how long that takes. Suzie warned me that it would be hard to ride in the saddle and it might take me quite a while to adjust to it. I didn’t find that to be true. The first couple of rides were indeed difficult (though never uncomfortable) because I felt sort of out in space – nothing was holding me in. After that, though, I loved it! I wasn’t held in the right position, and more important, I wasn’t held in the wrong position. If a saddle has to hold me in the correct position, it means my body keeps trying to be in the wrong position and I don’t realize it or correct it, and I’m also resisting, which means I’m tensing. So pretty quickly I adjusted to the saddle and I nagged poor Suzie until she sold it to me. Now the bumps on my mare’s back are gone, she’s never back-sore, and I really do feel that the saddle has helped me to improve very fast.
My daughter, who has just turned thirteen, was riding in a high-end saddle. I told her about Suzie’s saddle and what was great about it and she asked if she could try it. She never rode in the other saddle again! Now she has a saddle that Suzie made just for her and she loves it so much.
I’ve saved the best for last, though. The first time we used Suzie’s saddle (my trainer and I each rode in it), we couldn’t believe the difference in my horse! It seemed like her front legs reached out about an extra foot with every stride. She moved so freely and so beautifully. You could see how happy she was, moving like she was meant to. Then when my daughter tried the saddle, we were amazed at the difference in her little Morgan. He’d never had back issues and her other saddle had fit him just fine. Nevertheless, he moved so differently than he had before. Now he and my daughter are scooping up the blue ribbons and having so much fun. So, regardless of how great Suzie’s saddles are for riders, what’s most important is that Suzie’s saddles are great for horses. If you think I’m grateful to Suzie, just ask my mare!