Friday, May 20, 2016

County Saddlery - Customizing the Perfect Fit!

Wednesday we were thrilled that the whole team from County Saddlery at Blue Hill Farm fitting Missy's new horse Wiley, and several of our students and clients.  Gene Freeze, owner of County Saddlery, came with our Pennsylvania rep, Patti Gillen, and her saddle fitting assistant Heather Hunter.  It was an educational day having Gene, who is a master saddle fitter, show us the bio-mechanics of saddle fitting on Wylie, Ari, Loki and Rio Rio!

Gene Freeze analyzing the saddle fit on Wylie
 Gene's professional life has been dedicated to the art of saddle fitting.  He introduced the County Saddle line at the 1978 world championships, and since then his passion has been educating equestrians on the importance of saddle fit and performance.  

Sidelines ran a very interesting article recently on Gene's impressive riding background, his resume and his involvement in many aspects of equestrian industry.  He has always been very analytical and a huge proponent of studying the bio-mechanics of saddle fit in sport horses and how that effects soundness and performance.

“We’ve tried every material in the world, from synthetic to natural,” said Gene. “Although we could make saddles cheaper and faster using high-tech materials, we simply can’t get the results we want. We resisted the trend toward synthetic pre-formed panels, because they can’t conform to the horse’s back and when you need to, you can’t adjust them. For that reason, we use laminated beech wood trees and pure wool flock. Horses’ backs come in many shapes, and they go through changes as a result of training, food, injury, age, weight gain and loss. Off the rack and on the back or one size fits all is unrealistic and pads don’t solve the problems.

"Gene suggests having the fit and flocking checked once or twice a year by one of County’s experienced representatives or a qualified saddle fitter. The good news is that, when needed, a relatively inexpensive adjustment can be made. As for using a tool to open or close the head (pommel) to make it narrower or wider, County Saddlery doesn’t follow that practice.

"Saddle design became Gene’s passion. He belongs to the British Society of Master Saddlers and serves as president and chief instructor for the Masters Saddlers Association in the U.S. His presentations to veterinarians and horse owners, scheduled around the world, receive excellent feedback."

Team County with Missy and Wiley
County has had a long relationship with Blue Hill Farm, originally sponsoring Jessica several decades ago.  Jess is so enthralled with her older County Saddle, that she requested Gene just have it re-flocked when he offered to replace the saddle.  Their saddles are that good......and they withstand the test of time! 

We are so thankful to County for being so hands on in creating the perfect fit for all of our horses.  Missy is excited to get her new custom Solution Monoflap.  Since this is County's newest product on the market, Gene has taken the time to evaluate several flaps and tree sizes to create just the perfect show jumping and cross country saddle for Missy.  We are so grateful for the time and expertise of his entire team at County;  Patti Gillen (together with the help of Heather Hunter) has been exceptional in her customer service and responsiveness to all of our needs.

Missy and Wylie Testing Out One of the County Saddles

No comments:

Post a Comment