Letters: 07/01

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Master Saddlers Association Information
In reference to your May article on custom saddles, I was surprised there was no mention of the United States’ Master Saddlers Association (MSA).

As a Qualified Saddle Fitter registered by the Society of Master Saddlers in England, I started this group two years ago. We provide training and certification for professionals who wish to practice saddle-fitting and educate equestrians and retailers about proper saddle fit and its bearing on the well-being of the horse and the rider.

Before acceptance, MSA course candidates must demonstrate their commitment to becoming full-fledged saddle-fitting professionals. The in-class course work spans two intermittent weeks. Between weeks one and two, students return to the field and practice saddle-fitting techniques learned in week one. Months later, they reconvene to discuss saddle-fitting issues encountered while in the field and fine tune their hands-on skills. At the end of week two, they must pass comprehensive written and practical exams. Upon completion, the candidate becomes a Registered Certified Saddle Fitter (RCSF) and is required to adhere to the MSA’s Code of Conduct throughout his or her career.

In addition, the MSA plans to expand its role in the future by offering other certification courses in the areas of saddle repair/construction and a saddle-fitting fundamentals course for retailers.

Gene Freeze, President
Master Saddlers Association
Woodbine, MD

Click here to view ”Master Saddlers Association Registered Certified Saddlers.”

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Advice From Schleese
I was concerned that the information printed about Schleese Saddlery in your May custom saddles article was printed without consultation from anyone from our head office. Our base price is actually $1,995, not $4,000, which is the price for our high-end semi-custom saddles. We have a large selection in the mid range, and our delivery time is approximately three months, less for a rush order (not three to seven months, as noted).

While there may be a large number of saddle companies doing customizations, we are the largest manufacturer of completely custom English saddles in North America with 35 employees.

I have a bit of an issue with some of the claims being made in the industry, such as that saddle fitting can be learned in a five-day course, and that saddle makers are not necessarily saddle fitters. Our certified master saddler, Jochen Schleese, spent six years learning his trade. As a three-day event rider in Germany in the 1980s, he knows how a saddle needs to fit and feel, not only from the craftsman’s and technician’s point of view, but also as a rider.

We would also like to have been able to give our “advice from the saddle makers.” One caveat we have come across is that clients want a saddle “just like so-and-so’s.” Each saddle is made individually, so that there may be nuances that will never be “just like” someone else’s. In addition, the saddle that has been tried out may be well broken in. The new saddle will never feel the same, even if it happens to be made by the same saddler.

-Sabine Schleese
Schleese Saddlery Service
Holland Landing, ON, Canada

Our information was obtained from Alexander Rau, sales manager of Schleese Saddlery.

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Cover Photo Is WM Saddlery
I want to thank you for putting the picture of my saddle on the cover of the May issue. It would also have been nice if you had mentioned who built it, like you did the saddles inside. In addition to the information in your article, I believe you should have mentioned that custom saddles are superior to factory saddles and hold their value better. I have sold custom saddles that were 10 years old for more than factory saddles cost new.

-Bill Feldpausch
W M Saddlery
Sulphur Springs, MT

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Immune One: No Triclosan
I must admit to having just glanced over the listings for Immune One Equine Balm under natural-ingredient wound-care products in your May issue, although I positively appreciate being included. I had a customer call asking why we changed our ingredients and added triclosan.

I assured her that we do not have triclosan nor did we remove the herbs from the balm. It’d be great if you could correct the listing and show the following: lanolin/petrolatum, larch arabinogalactan, active aloe extract 200:1 concentrate, grapefruit seed extract, milk thistle extract, pau de arco, tea tree oil, collodial silver.

Thanks for your articles with their wonderful information. It seems I amconstantly repeating information to folks who call with problems, i.e. chronic laminitis, Cushing’s, etc. Dr. Eleanor Kellon’s in-depth articles and common-sense approach is appreciated.

-Pat Dwyer-Bell
Source One Naturals
Buellton, CA

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Pellets Are Better
I’d like to request more manufacturers consider making more supplements into palatable pellets instead of powders. Only a few now do. Horses always eat pellets, even those who get little grain. Plus, pellets won’t sink and sit at the bottom of the bucket. I’m willing to pay a little more for the pelleted form in order to ensure my horses eat it.

-Trish Conk
Virginia

We agree pellets are a more convenient choice, especially with horses that do not get much grain, but the extra processing involved often means a heftier price and there are also some ingredients (e.g. vitamins, essential fatty acids, proteins) that may be sensitive to the heat required to make pellets. The manufacturer may well be using a powdered form for these reasons. Check out our tips in the article on taste tempters (in this month’s issue) for ways to make powders more acceptable.

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Room For Both Types Of Jumps
I just have to add my 2 cents worth about the homemade jumps vs. manufacturered jumps letter (June 2001). I think Jumps USA came down pretty hard on Susan Liggett’s homemade jumps ideas (April 2001). Isn’t recycling supposed to be “politically correct” these days' Ms. Liggett didn’t claim these jumps were first class. They are merely an inexpensive way for the average Joe on a budget to get a variety of jumps for at-home use.

On the other hand, I don’t think $2,729 for Jumps USA’s small-ring package is that bad of a deal, considering the quality and safety of their jumps. If these jumps will be used by a large group (lesson students, boarders, riding club) why not take up a collection' Maybe the group could hold a jumps fundraiser, such as a car wash (maybe a horse wash'). You might be able to raise enough money to buy a few pairs of manufactured wings, then supply your own poles.

-Tricia Wolford
Allen, TX

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Send Us Your Questions!
All questions should be sent to the editorial offices by regular mail or e-mail: 6538 Van Buren Road, Warners, NY 13164 or hjeditor@cs.com. We’re sorry, but questions cannot be answered over the phone. All letters will be edited for clarity, content and length.