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From The Abbey Archive #5

After winning The 2019 Abbey Scholarship I was invited to partake in a monthly blog for Abbey England, talking about the ups and downs of business and the saddlery industry. Abbey England is one of my main suppliers of hardware and leather. Check our their website HERE.

To read the original post you can find it HERE.


Last month our 2019 scholarship winner shared some food for thought and argues why bespoke is best.

Hi all, Would It amuse you to know that my best friend is a trainee saddle fitter? Doing as friends do, we speak on the phone (a lot) and being the workaholics we are, we tend to talk about saddlery/saddle fitting almost daily. The thing that comes up the most in our road to becoming masters at our craft is fit,fit,fit!

Saddle fitting gets compared to picking out your own shoes. In a pair that are too tight or loose, have a pressure point or have the wrong pair of socks on, you wouldn’t run your best marathon times. In fact, you wouldn’t want to do very much at all in those shoes. In the same way that a successful athlete needs a great pair of shoes, a horse that’s being worked needs a good fitting saddle. It’s great to see how a horse can change and improve, with even the smallest of tweaks to a saddle. If only people remembered to take such care with fit when it comes to the rest of their tack. Many people ask for a “cob” bridle or a “full-sized” noseband. It might surprise you that there is no such thing. Many companies have their own individual sizes for pony, cob and horse! When it comes down to it, if you’ve decided to have something made by hand with your choice of leather, buckles and fittings, why not get it fitted to be perfect for your horse?

Think about that marathon runner again, with the perfect pair of shoes. If your underwear is too tight or creeping up the wrong places, you wouldn’t keep running, whether you had on good footwear or not. So, if you’ve got a fantastic saddle which has been well-fitted, why wouldn’t you want the same for your bridle? I really enjoy making bespoke items. Not because it’s easier, or because there’s extra maths involved (boo!), but when it’s all finished and put onto the horse and everything sits bang-on as it should, oh the satisfaction is good! Truth be told, bespoke really is the best.

It can push you up the line in the show ring to have the perfect length of traces. It can lead to a client ordering another three laptop sleeves because the first one you made is the perfect size for their bag. It gives you another edge on “off the peg” items. Good old Abbey England has even got bespoke down! I’ve got a few driving bits on order that I’ve been able to mix and match the mouth piece and the cheeks so get exactly what the customer wanted. The result: an extra happy customer!

This month I’ll encourage you to whack out your tape measure and tell clients the benefits of bespoke-made stuff. Get out some magazines or things you’ve bought and give yourself the challenge of how you could make it a better fit. Personally, I’m going to do some more work on my bridle fitting, they can be tricky little blighters alright. Anyone else wanting to know more on bridle fitting too, there are loads of articles on the web, videos and the SMS even run a bridle fitting course- just don’t forget to buy yourself a good non-stretch tape measure- and then you’re off!

Till next time! L

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