Sally Farrall - Endurance GB rider

Jeremy Rudge Saddlery sponsors Endurance GB rider Sally Farrall with a made-to-measure, Remy Endurance saddle from the JRS ‘Signature’ range. Sally is part of Endurance GB’s world-class development squad and competes at advanced level. A new, flapless saddle, designed specifically with reduced weight for endurance riding, has been made-to-measure for Helen Blair’s 14.2hh mare Silvretta Grand Marnier (Gizmo).

“I know from experience,” says Sally, “that a well fitted saddle makes all the difference for both horse and rider. I have tried a number of other saddles from other suppliers, both made-to-measure and off-the-peg, but all have in some way restricted my horse’s movement or adversely affected my seat; This limited the distances I was competing at, simply because I could not find a saddle with a good enough fit.”

“I bought my first Jeremy Rudge saddle in early 2012 and the problem-free progress has been amazing. So much so that we can look forward to taking part in some of the biggest challenges on the endurance calendar.”
Mary Wanless - Internationally renowned coach and the developer of the 'Ride With Your mind' (RWYM) approach.

“The wonderful Jeremy Rudge and his partner and saddle fitter Amy Downing have made me a wonderful saddle for Domino, our new school horse who is a great guy. We are collaborating on the kind of saddle shape that supports good biomechanics.... they are well worth consulting on your saddle difficulties.”
Denise O'Reilly - owns and runs The Dressage Secret Riding Centre at Teddesley, nr Penkridge in Staffordshire and is the UK's only Level 3 RWYM coach.

In line with our own philosophy, Denise has become a fan and a keen advocate of the place that the wider twist saddle has for improving dressage performance.

Strongly held opinions and discussions around the merits of narrow twist versus wider twist dressage saddles have been circulating the equine industry for years. Denise, who has been training dressage horses for over 25 years, has ridden in a variety of saddles, some with flair, some with flock, but the one thing they all had in common was a narrow twist. Many riders prefer a narrow twist because it makes it easier to achieve a deep seat and provides the feel of closeness to the horse.

Denise explains,” Until 2 years ago, I was happy with the fit of my saddles and the way the horses went in them but then Dragonfly, my then Elementary level horse, began to struggle with the collected work, He had plenty of power from behind, but somehow, it didn’t feel like it came through his back to the rein. Despite his saddle appearing to be a good fit, my instinct was telling me to look more closely. Many years ago, I trained as a saddle fitter, so I have always taken a keen interest in what various fitters say.’

‘Having contacted Jeremy Rudge Saddlery and reviewed the problems, Amy Downing, JRS’s qualified saddled fitter diagnosed saddle fit as the key issue. An assessment of the horse, followed by trials with a selection of trees – the internal frame on which the saddle is built - led to a recommendation of a saddle with a wider twist.”

The Jeremy Rudge Saddlery philosophy and approach to saddle making lies in the belief that the secret of making horse and rider ‘go well’ lies in the fit of the ‘tree’. It is fundamental to the manufacturing process to use a tree, which conforms best to the breed and shape of the horse and follows the selection of the optimum type, style and shape of tree. When placed on the horse’s back, the tree should be so designed and constructed so that it has close contact over its surface area. It is essential that it is a 3-dimensional fit ie front to back and left to right, which also takes account of the angle and width of the twist. If it does not, then a narrow twist will put pressure at the base of the wither, limiting the freedom of movement. The key test of a well-made, well-fitted saddle is that it does not interfere with riding ie it is ‘saddle neutral’. As a result the rider can focus on performance. “My initial reaction to sitting in a wider twist saddle was a little cautious,’ Denise admits, ‘but with the recommended change in my stirrup leathers to have less bulk under my thigh, I started to feel happier.’

‘The change in Dragonfly was not immediately obvious, but he continued to improve over the coming months. He is now working on his Advanced Medium training, but more than that, it is the quality of his work that is different.”

Denise has come up with a simple theory to explain the possible restrictions caused by narrow twist by using the analogy of motorway lanes of traffic being narrowed down to one lane.

“Think of a route of ‘energy’ being like the lanes of traffic on a motorway from the hindleg, up over the back and through to the bridle. With a powerful horse, it can be a really busy motorway, but with the traffic flowing freely.’

‘When energy comes from the horse’s hind leg, it gets transmitted through the hindquarters and if things are working right, through a soft, swinging back to the rider’s hand. In some horses the narrow twist can ‘block’ the swing as it comes through the back, leading to a lack of engagement, difficulties in establishing the contact, and tightness in the back.’

‘Although training can often go some way to addressing these issues there is an easier way.’

‘If the width of the motorway remains constant throughout its length, the ‘traffic’ (energy) will flow freely all the way to the end (the bit). But what if the motorway narrows at one point? In the case of our analogy, the narrow twist in the saddle could become like flowing lanes suddenly having to fit through one remaining open lane.’

‘In a saddle with a wider twist, all lanes remain open to the end of their journey – and ‘throughness’ is achieved. The power and energy created in the hind leg swings through the long back muscles on the horse and because of the additional freedom of the wider twist, 100% of this energy gets transmitted to the forehand and the bridle.”

Symptoms of restricted power and energy are:
  • Horse simply not going well.
  • Fussy in the contact.
  • Paces stilted and back not free and swinging.
  • Straightness issues.
Says Denise, ” Having taken and accepted the wider twist challenge, I now have three horses with a wider twist saddle from Jeremy Rudge with similarly impressive results.”


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A Vet's View
Vet's View
'Not all horses react in the same way to problems. Some horses are more pain tolerant and will put up with a badly fitting saddle, but it can lead to lack of performance and there can be serious long term effects.'

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Classic 45
Specially developed biomechanical dressage saddles with wide twist - ridden in by Ride With Your Mind (RWYM) international trainers Mary Wanless and Denise O’Reilly.