I relocated, Swedish warm blood mare in tow, from the United Kingdom to the United States in 2000 on an international corporate assignment as a global marketer. I was the first employee in the history of The Gillette Company to move abroad with a horse, but as many horse people will understand, my horse was too important to me to leave without her.
In 2006 we had settled down and I decided it was time for a new saddle. With the help of Colleen Meyer of Advanced Saddle Fit, my mare was assessed, measured and fitted with a new Albion dressage saddle; the panels carefully flocked and smoothed to custom fit her back. As I carried my brand new saddle into the tack room I was stopped in my tracks. Staring at me was my steel bar saddle rack and I did not want to put my new saddle on it – it just didn’t make sense to take these newly flocked panels and set them down on steel. Curious and concerned, I lifted up a number of different saddles and ran my hand along the length of the panels – all of them had deep ridges and indentations where the bars had pressed into the leather and flocking. I didn’t want my saddle to end up conforming itself to my saddle rack, I wanted it to conform to the contours of my horse’s back so she would be comfortable, content and able to perform at her best.
Several minutes later, my saddle rack was layered with multiple saddle pads, folded neatly to create some cushioning under the saddle. Voila I had fixed it….at least until the next day. My great solution turned out not to be so great when I lifted my saddle off the rack and watched the saddle pads fall to the floor. Even worse, trying to position them under my saddle when I came to store it again was like being a contortionist. There I was, squeezing between the other saddles, trying to lift my saddle with one hand whilst folding saddle pads underneath it to cover the entire rack. Day after day I went through the same ridiculous performance, I even tried towels and fleece pads but those didn’t work either.
One evening while driving home I challenged myself to find a more permanent solution to the problem, after all I was a global marketer specially trained to develop new products. There had to be a way to protect my saddle whilst it was stored on the rack, it would need to be strong and durable enough to bear the weight of my saddle for 23 hours every day and yet soft enough to cushion the panels without damaging them. I was looking for something that would be highly effective and yet look attractive at the same time.
The next day I scribbled some drawings down on paper and with the help of a cheap sewing machine and some arts and crafts materials, a concept was born. It took another two years of developing SaddleMattress through many rounds of prototyping and testing to ultimately create the highly designed and engineered product it is today. It took close collaboration with engineers and many equine professionals including saddle fitters, saddle makers, equine chiropractors, veterinarians, trainers and top riders to make a product that really works.
A good saddle fit and maintenance is so important to a horse’s comfort, well-being and performance yet, unfortunately, the maintenance is too often undermined by the way saddles are stored. Many equestrians don’t realize the damage being caused to their saddle by a saddle rack, but the horse feels it! And not all efforts to make a saddle rack more friendly are as effective as one might think.
We’re glad you’ve discovered SaddleMattress and invite you to learn more about our product and how it works.
Throughout this journey many individuals from all over the United States have dedicated their time, tireless efforts and honest, frank feedback to help make SaddleMattress a reality; I am indebted to all of them.