Christine is a Society of Master Saddlers Registered Qualified Saddle Fitter having trained with Josephine Dancy (founder of NSC) and travelled to England for training and examinations in saddle fitting and reflocking.
To become a Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Saddle Fitter requires a 3 year apprenticeship working with a Qualified Saddle Fitter (I was accepted after 2 years) and then headed to the UK for assessment’s in both flocking & flocking adjustment & then the actual saddle fitters exam. Once qualified to remain registered you must be undertaking regular CPD.
I was asked to become a saddle fitter by my mentor, Josephine Dancy, a highly respected SMS Master Saddle fitter. With over 30 years in the industry, her knowledge of all things saddle related, from Tree’s to working with the needs of Olympic riders was an education of its own. I’ve spent time working on the saddle benches in the UK to further my understanding. And, having a back ground as a rider & pony club coach, alongside an Equine Science degree & Diploma in Equine Acupuncture, helps with an overview of all of the dynamics that relate to saddle fitting. Part of the appeal of becoming a saddle fitter was the fact that it was a rather specific job (the assessment of the saddle fit and how to adjust the saddle to make it fit better) surrounded by the need to have an brief insight into other fields.
As a person who thrives on learning, I could see that I would always be able to learn and grow in this industry and never get bored. While most people see a saddle fitter as a person who solely works with the saddle, what they don’t see is the overview we have to give to the horse/ saddle/ rider combination to see which factors are influencing the fit, and how much of what we see, are we able to change? Ongoing research in this field is impressive with annual conferences providing insights into the latest welfare findings such as pain expressions in the horse and the importance of the twist in the context for horse and rider in saddle fit. This is important to me, as I have a strong interest in the education side of saddle fitting, to prevent pain and discomfort for both horse and rider.