We understand that in some countries, it is still unusual for a saddle fitter to charge a horse owner money for coming out with a selection of saddles for them to try.
This is because most horse owners still only have access to conventional saddle sellers, who need to sell saddles to make a living. This puts a lot of pressure on them to make a sale, even if the saddles they have are not suitable for the horse and/or rider!
It is very different when you ask a BALANCE registered Saddle Consultant (BrSC) or a BALANCE registered Test Ride Facilitator (BrTRF) to come to see you, because they have a different role and a different focus.
These people all started as BALANCE customers. They have owned and used BALANCE saddles for a long time and can share their experiences with you. They are enthusiastic about the benefits of the BALANCE Saddling System because they have experienced them. They have gone through training with The BALANCE Organisation to be able to do this work.
They are now willing to share their time and their experience with other horse owners and make it possible for them to try the BALANCE approach to saddling. They are not sales people. They will never put any pressure on someone to buy a saddle and this means that they can focus on helping the horse owner/rider to discover what really works for their horse. At the end of a Consultation or Test Ride, many horse owners are so happy with the way their horse feels that they decide to invest in a suitable BALANCE saddle. However, other horse owners need more time to think about what they want to do, and some decide that they want to continue with the saddle they already own. All of these decisions are OK.
However, the BALANCE registered Saddle Consultants and Test Ride Facilitators have bills to pay, just like everyone else! They have to be willing to get in their car, drive somewhere, spend several hours of their time helping someone to understand the BALANCE methods and try some BALANCE saddles, without putting any pressure on that person to buy a saddle. In order to offer the service, they also need to spend time regularly cleaning and conditioning all of their Demo saddles and washing Wool Pads and Girths sleeves and so on. For them to do all of this, they have to charge for their time.
When BALANCE started in 1993, the idea came as shock to horse owners in the UK because they were used to saddle sellers/fitters making no charge, but it is now very normal and more horse owners are beginning to recognise that if they want an honest relationship with their saddle fitter, it is essential that the saddle fitter does not have to rely on making sales for their income.
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The BALANCE Test Ride Session is designed to enable you to gather information and try the saddles without fear of being pressurised into purchasing anything! The BALANCE registered Team Members have all been selected by BALANCE because they have had many years of experience as BALANCE Saddle users and have also been given some additional training by BALANCE to help horse owners to explore the way the saddles work and feel. They all know what it is like to be a BALANCE customer and therefore can appreciate the situation from the Customers perspective.
Time to allow:
You will need to allow at least two, uninterrupted
hours of your time for the Test Ride Session.
A Suitable Venue:
You will need to have access to a
suitable place to ride e.g. indoor school (almost an essential in the winter in order to avoid
problems with the weather) otherwise, an outdoor arena or field with good
footing. You do not normally need to do
more than walk and trot during the consultation, although if it is appropriate
you can do more. If you want a jumping
style saddle, it is important that you jump during your TRF session.
What happens during a Test Ride Session?
The BrTRF/BrSC will want to see you ride in your current saddle for a short time to be confident that the horse is sound and to make a note of any saddle related issues that she can see. She will also take a photograph of you sitting in your current saddle for her own records and this picture will also be needed by BALANCE if you decide to submit your Test Ride Data Pack to BALANCE to order a saddle in the future.
Please note that if the BrTRF/BrSC does not feel that it would be safe for you to ride in a BALANCE saddle, she has the right to refuse to proceed beyond this point.
when this could happen:
The horse or pony is unsound, too weak, unhealthy, unsafe to ride.
The rider is too heavy for the horse.
The horse is less than 3 years of age.
The riding area is not safe enough.
The rider is too crooked and unbalanced to ride safely in a BALANCE saddle.
Most of these problems will be avoided if the correct information is provided to the BrTRF/BrSC before the appointment is made. Remember, that the fee that she needs to charge to cover her time and travel expenses, must be paid to her, even if, for reasons beyond her control, it is not possible for the horse to be ridden in a BALANCE saddle.
Once she has seen you ride in your own saddle, she will show you how to use one or more of the BALANCE saddles and pads correctly and will give you an explanation about how and why the saddles are designed and ‘fitted’ differently to conventional saddles. Between you, your horse and the BrTRF, you will then be able to compare the movement of your horse in its own saddle and a variety of BALANCE saddles. (If the BrTRF/BrSC can see ways of improving the way your current saddle is working for your horse, she will be happy to make suggestions)
What happens if you want to buy a saddle?
If you want to take the next step and order a BALANCE saddle, the BrTRF/BrSC can help you to gather the data that BALANCE will need you to submit to the office (photographs and other information). As well as the photographs and a back profile, she will write a report on which saddles and pads were tried and which of them worked best for you and your horse. She will send these to you as soon as possible after the conclusion of the trip.
The BALANCE registered Test Ride Facilitators and Saddle Consultants are not employed by BALANCE. If you decide to buy a new BALANCE saddle from The BALANCE Saddle Company, the BrTRF/BrSC will earn a modest ‘commission’. However, none of them are sales people! They all care deeply about the health and comfort of the horses they see and they believe in the benefits of using BALANCE saddles, but they will never put any pressure on a horse owner to buy anything. In order to do this, they need to make a reasonable charge for their time and travel costs.
You must discuss their
charges and agree them, before booking a Test Ride Session.
A Whole Way forward…
horses, unnatural patterns of movement, muscle development and posture have
been created by past discomfort and restriction from saddles. Some of these problems are only exposed when
the horse first tries a saddle that allows them to use their bodies fully. The full extent of their previous saddle
restrictions may have been misdiagnosed as laziness, stiffness or a poor
attitude to work. Sometimes a horse can
recover well as soon as he gets a more comfortable saddle, but others need some
time and the additional support of a Vet, Chiropractor, Osteopath or other
therapist. If appropriate, this can be
discussed during the Consultation. Please remember that in the UK, you are currently
required to obtain Veterinary permission to have most ‘therapists’ work with
Support after ordering/purchasing a saddle.
Most people enjoy the fact that they have the tools and the information they need to be self-reliant when it comes to managing their horse’s saddle comfort. However, we know that some of you will appreciate some extra support and after-care. If you keep in touch with us at the BALANCE office, we can guide you through the process and help with any queries that come up. Some of the BALANCE registered Test Ride Facilitators are also happy to provide follow-up, hands-on, help if you want it. You will need to talk to your BrTRF/BrSC to see if she can offer follow-up re-assessments and discuss her charges directly.
Before a Test Ride Session is booked, you will need to provide the BrTRF/BrSC with enough information for her to check that she has an appropriate choice of saddle to bring out for you and your horse to try. During this initial communication you can share any concerns or talk about anything you feel you need to before deciding whether or not to go ahead with a Test Ride or Consultation.
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Being able to move in a powerful, balanced and engaged way, without restriction or discomfort, is every horse’s birth-right and essential in order for him to be able to carry the unnatural weight of a rider, without doing harm to himself.