Hello and welcome to the new online home for In The Saddle, my regular look at all things equestrian and horse related!
If you’ve never seen the column before, let me explain.
For around the last six years, I’ve been writing In The Saddle for the Epworth Bells newspaper, which sadly printed its final edition last week.
That’s just short of 200 little snapshots into the life of equestrians delving into topics such as competing, pony club, vet medical issues, horse dentist trips, farriers and much more.
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It’s been a wonderful time and even though the Bells is no longer with us, I didn’t want to give up the column that easily!
So here it is is its new online home in various titles across Yorkshire.
I already have a following of just under five thousand through social media such as Facebook and Twitter – many who follow the column from around the world and I’m so grateful for that.
But if this is your first time, here's what to expect.
I’ll be telling you all about owning and caring for horses – I have three – and my little girl is also following in my footsteps as an equestrian enthusiast.
You can also follow In The Saddle on Facebook ‘In The Saddle -Anita Marsh’ and on Twitter at @inthesaddleblog where we post a link to the latest column.
Anyway, with all that aside, on with the new online column and our first installment!
The last few weeks I’ve been preparing to take my young, unbroken British Appaloosa to his Society breed show and gathering his bridle and lead rein to check the fit for this year.
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He seems to be even bigger this year already standing at 15:1 1/2 hands high at only just turned 3 years old. He’s filling out nicely now but i wasn’t sure if his show in-hand bridle would still fit his head.
Luckily after some hole adjustments it’s still good to go, but I did find that the lead rein I’d had specially made for him was too big underneath his chin. It enabled him to grab it whilst walking and chew it. He’s still teething so this definitely needed altering.
The lady that made me the leather lead rein and coupling is Sarah Seels, a master saddler based out in Walkeringham not too far from me.
Sarah initially trained under the guidance of ‘The Society of Master Saddlers’ which aims to ensure a high quality of workmanship through overseeing the training of the members so a professional, high quality service is given to customers.
Its high standards are seen through build, repair and fit, working towards the complete comfort and safety of horse and rider but it’s no quick training course.
It requires master saddlers to not only pass the level 3 City & Guilds saddlery qualifications, they must also have been in the trade for a minimum of seven years and undergone an inspection of their work during this period.
Sarah trained for two years at college, then did a further three years with a master saddler before setting out on her own and boy is she talented.
She is trained, skilled and qualified to make and repair saddlery and harnesses such as bridles, saddles, side saddles, harnesses and any specialist items such as my leather lead rein and coupling.
I met Sarah at her home, where she works, and explained the issue with the coupling and my horse’s tendency to grab it during the show to chew on.
I was expecting to leave it with her and come back in a week or so but she was so helpful and offered to do it there and then to save me driving back out.
Watching Sarah work her magic was incredible. She chatted whilst she worked and told me the best thing about her job was helping someone who didn't think anyone could fix their problem. She loves doing the the unexpected.
She explained how she also enjoys hearing how well a client has done at a show wearing her leatherwork.
Well, I had no problem there and went on to show photos of my Appaloosa winning the ‘Most Colourful Championship’ age 2 and also ‘Reserve Youngstock Champion’ at the British Appaloosa Society last year.
I’ve always believed horses are a passion and one that once it grips you won’t let go. Sarah was lucky enough as a child to always be around horses. She rode as a child and initially went into racing.
After having children life needed to be less risky so that’s when she retrained as a saddler.
She continued to doctrine her children into ponies - joining pony club then taking them out show jumping courses with the British Show Jumping Association.
I think it’s a right of passage for every horsey mummy to help pass on the love of horses to their children. Who knows, maybe my own daughter will one day work within the equine industry herself. It’s got to be better than wanting to be a you-tuber!
Sarah’s work is usually by word of mouth and I can say I would highly recommend her. Thanks Sarah for the wonderful handmade leather work and by the way- your work shop smells wonderful with all that leather.