Saddle fitter recommendations

autumn7

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1 January 2010
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Hoping someone can recommend a qualified (and excellent!) saddle fitter in North Devon/Cornwall area (Bude and Bideford region). I have looked on Society of Master Saddlers site but would prefer personal recommendations if poss. before contacting. Seems a dearth here unfortunately - seem to all be near Exeter. Thanks.
 

sbloom

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ETA - @sbloom is right - qualifications are not always everything - experience, recommendations and happy customers are far more important! :)
The point I always make. I am currently having a discussion with an equine charity about not simply saying "always have your saddle checked by a qualified saddle fitter", but rather "choose your saddle fitter carefully from recommendation, observation etc, you may also choose to have a qualified fitter...". It's a bit of a closed shop between them all.
 

autumn7

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sbloom I've never really considered having anyone unqualified because when 'flying blind' I suppose I've always felt a recognised qualification is a good place to start and there'd be less chance of getting a cowboy person who professes to know what he/she's doing and damaging my horse in the process. Similar with any professionals I suppose ie. physios, chiropractic bods (horse and human), EDT's, farriers, etc. Am I wrong in the belief that to be on a registry in the first place a reasonable standard of knowledge and service has to be upheld? Maybe times have changed and it's no longer a mark of faith, which is a little worrying when I'm trying to find new services having relocated.
 

sbloom

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I would suggest reading around, perhaps moans about saddle fitters on here, threads about the SMS, how much the customer was helped by the SMS where there was a complaint etc. Look up non-qualified saddle fitters such as myself and our reviews on FB and elsewhere, whether they might specialise your shape of horse, or a brand of saddle that seems to have some unique benefits. It's never black and white and I would ask for recommendations for fab saddle fitters first and foremost and then see if qualifications outweigh other benefits.

I think it varies with profession - it's illegal for a nonqualified person to apply horse shoes, we have lots of different types of bodyworker who will have "qualifications" some of which now come under the umbrella of RAMP, some won't. Their qualifications can be more like our own CPD, and because of the way saddle fitting is overseen in this country there is no similar organisation to RAMP under which we could all be brought, but also only the SMS can deliver the SMS qualifications, so it's completely unlike getting qualified as a chiro, a vet, a physio where properly approved courses (City and Guilds, LANTRA, degrees etc) can be delivered by competitors giving choice and oversight.
 

autumn7

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1 January 2010
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Another two for you to consider are Frank Edwards at Acorn Saddlery in South Molton, and Stephanie Smith in Cornwall. :)
Thank you Baywonder. Stephanie is a long way from me but S.Molton could be worth a try although not listed as a saddle fitter but may have to reconsider in the light of the area I'm in. Is your recommendation re. Frank Edwards from personal experience please?
 

autumn7

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1 January 2010
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Yes sbloom, I do see your point, just not something I've needed to consider before having moved from my long term fitter of nearly 30 years. A bit daunting having to begin again here. Will see if I get anymore recommendations over the next day or two and then take the leap of faith! And yes - I've followed you on here for years. Shame you're not in this area!
 

Baywonder

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26 November 2018
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Thank you Baywonder. Stephanie is a long way from me but S.Molton could be worth a try although not listed as a saddle fitter but may have to reconsider in the light of the area I'm in. Is your recommendation re. Frank Edwards from personal experience please?
Yes, we (my DH and I) have known Frank for many years, and he is an excellent fitter. If you scroll down on Acorn's home page, saddle fitting info is towards the bottom:)
 

SlinkyMinxy

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29 July 2011
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Devon
I have used Sue Paine at Dragonfly Saddlery in the past and found her really helpful. She also does Bit Fit consultations. I've also used a couple of other qualified saddlers who were not so great but don't want to give out names here (none of the ones mentioned so far by other posters).
 

autumn7

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1 January 2010
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398
Thank you Slinky, just found your post and will look into Dragonfly Saddlery tomorrow and will see where they're based.
I've had a busy weekend so need to get back on the case again. Will bear in mind qualifications aren't everything, you're not the first to make me rethink. When I finally get sorted I shall repost to let all you helpful people know how I got on.
 
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