What can I say about Ava saddles? Well, I will start from the beginning
Five years ago, I got a 5-year-old cob mare, today is her 10th birthday and her birthday present was to get a saddle that doesn’t give her pain, and she loves it!
I have purchased every saddle and saddle pad and girth to try and help my mare. Every saddle I have had on her back has slipped, not just a few mm but moved to the point sometimes of the pommel sitting on her spine.
Jewel is a gorgeous (I am biased!) cob type mare who is flat back, low withered, and very very wide.
I have spent over £3,000 on saddles over the five years £250 here, £400 there trying to find a saddle that fits. I have used saddles that say they are for cobs, treeless saddles, hooped trees, and changeable gullet ones with the broadest gullet you can buy. Every single one of them has slipped.
So five years into owning her, my excellent instructor said you might have to try custom made and recommended Ava Saddles to me.
Claire came out, and boy, does she know her stuff! She could see instantly that my cob was in pain and that the saddles I had for her (there were 4 in the tack room at that time) just didn’t fit her. She has a very short back and needed to have something made for her.
Claire recommended that I get her back and spine looked at. Clarie said I should work with an excellent chiropractor -Nika Vorster. She has helped me transform their backs. We have done groundwork to keep them fit and flex their backs, and it has paid off!
So to today, I sat on my new saddle for the first time, we walked, we trotted, we cantered and moved in tight circles and figures of eight and the saddle didn’t move! No fancy girth, no gel pads, no gadgets to keep the saddle still, just a saddle pad and the saddle, and it didn’t move a bit!
Jewel was brilliant the last time I was on her back and working in the school. After about 5 minutes, she would be agitated and start pulling her head down, not wanting to go forward. Getting her to canter was hard work.
Today all that was different, she was tentative at first, but once she realised she could move her shoulders, she was off, even offering up a canter with very little effort.
I am so pleased to have met Claire and to give my horses a saddle that fits them. It is an investment but looked after, will last me my riding life and beyond. I wish I had got it when I had first got her; I could have saved myself a few hundred pounds over the years!
Sarah Kennett, Lincoln.
Just wanted to say thank you for the marvellous difference the Ava saddles and your support have made to Zenda. As you know, a combination of her strange shape and propensity to go lame the moment competing is mentioned, has made progress very difficult. However at your last visit the difference in her movement and confidence was a thrill to experience and I am really hoping this might be a new start for us both ….. weather permitting!!
Kim Burke, Derbyshire
Jake is a 16yr old, 16.3 ISH whom I have owned since he was 5! He has always been a difficult horse to fit for a saddle due to his shape so an off the peg saddle was virtually an impossible task and I was worried his old one may have been restricting his movement! He was getting older but was still very active so last year I decided that I would get him one custom made (he’s a special boy who deserves the best! ?) and got in touch with Claire who recommended the Pro Jump which would allow me to use it for all disciplines we complete in inc drsssge, SJ, XC and showing!
A year on the difference in Jake is amazing! He is now using himself more effectively both on the flat and jumping and my physio has commented on how supple he is in his back with more definitive muscle!
Despite his age, we are still regularly competing at BE and BS and the first time will be heading off the the National British Riding Clubs 1m SJ championships in Lincoln in Sept! I have no doubt the difference in his performance has been assisted greatly by my fabulous saddle!
Thank you Claire ( & the lovely Mabel) from both Jake and I for such a fabulous service and for always being at the end of a phone for advice when needed! ?
Joyce Greenhorn, Falkirk Scotland
Maia is 17 and we’ve had her for 4 years.m
She was bought as a happy hacker for me but was soon taken over by Lanky (Vicki) when she realised she was a keen jumper.
Vicki is tall (5’10”) and Maia is 15.1 which made buying an off the peg saddle to fit impossible.
She’d stared a bit of low level BE so we decided to go for a Jumping saddle & a Dressage saddle.
Maia is now much freer in her movement and although she’ll never be a PSG horse, she can display some nice paces.
Her jumping is much freer too as she’s able to use her shoulders more effectively with the saddle being made to measure.
We’ve had our saddles almost 2 years now and can honestly say they are worth every penny.
Claire comes out once or twice a year to check them and her excellent eye for the movement of the horse means that Maia is always kept comfortable.
Thank you Claire (& Mabel) for an excellent service ?
Denise & Vicki Jarvis, Falkirk Scotland
I just wanted to say an absolute huge thank you ? I have now been riding my boy for three weeks and the improvement from when I started to today is HUGE, this would not have been possible without your expertise and your fabulous saddles. It is now possible to ride my boy knowing that he is no longer in discomfort or pain. I don’t know how I will ever be able to thank you ?
Natashia Copping, Preston
One of the best things I ever did for me and my horse was get an Ava saddle. For him, his narrow shoulders and high withers and for my security (and comfort!) in the saddle. Claire is completely brilliant at what she does. Excellent British made product, excellent service.
Katie Monroe, Windsor
Our Pony Sariska is moving so much more freely in every discipline. We first bought a Dressage saddle and because we were so impressed with pony improvement we bought a Jump saddle too. Pinging around BE courses and improved BD % couldn’t be happier. Definitely recommend worth the investment. Claire was very knowledgeable & patient. Happy Pony + Happy Jockey = Happy Mummy.
Kirston & Eleanor Clulow, Durham
a quick update….Ellie & Sariska went out last weekend to a Dressage competition. They did same test for same judge back in May but this time in their new Ava Saddle and they improved their score considerably, thank you xxxx
Kiston & Ellie Clulow, Durham
Ava saddles truly is a saddle for life for you and your horse.
Claire first came to see my boy when he was a fat just backed 5 year old.
Claire has worked with Jack and I over the last couple of years adjusting and re adjusting his made to measure Ava saddles as he grows and develops. He is now a well-developed turning 8-year-old next year, and his saddles still fit him like a dream.
After having so much success with Jacks saddles I decided a horse or pony is never too old for a new saddle; there was no pony more deserving than my 20-year-old Connemara pony, who is now also proud to be in an Ava saddle of his own to. Can’t recommend Ava saddles enough. ?
Jane Flickler, Cambridge
Not only has my new saddle improved my horses way of going it has helped my leg position and overall riding! The Ava Pro Jump is so versatile having used it now for dressage, jumping, showing and working hunter and its soooo comfy! Claire is extremely knowledgeable and took the time to explain all the fitting options open to my difficult to fit horse! Thanks so much wouldn’t have anything else now!
Joyce Greenhorn, Scotland
Now in my 7th year of riding in Ava saddles, on several different horses – all expertly fitted and adjusted as necessary. My horses and I have never looked back and I’ve never looked anywhere else. My first saddle is still gorgeous to look at and ride on – and my horses vote with their feet, their backs and their movement. What can I say but thank you. It was a happy day when I met you and I don’t know what we would have done without you! I can even forgive you the fact that annoyingly you are always right!! lol. xx
Nikki Cartwright, North Wales
Love our new Ava calfskin Gp Saddle with Swarovski crystals. My boy is so much happier and his way of going is superb! Claire is so knowledgeable, thorough and really caring. Her attention to detail is amazing and the Pre and post care sales is second to none. I would recommend Ava saddles to every horse and rider without hesitation.
Joanne Robinson, Wirral
Love my Ava Pro Jump saddle and my horse does too she’s going so much better , thanks you xx
Kelly Cherrington, West Yorkshire
Fantastic, the change in my boy since changing saddles to the Ava Pro Jump saddle has been amazing.
Vicky Stabler, Cumbria
Ria (my daughter) has 3 saddles from Ava and they have transformed our ponies way of going – now hankering for a 4th #loveAva
Wendy & Ria Scott, Thirsk, North Yorkshire
Can’t thank Ava enough for the help with my boy. Will never go to anyone else, or use another brand! Beyond grateful x
Sidney Churcher, Usk
Love our Ava Premier dressage and Pro jump saddles. After trying many other brands previously on my XW/forward girth groove mare I was beginning to despair. Claire soon had us sorted and finally I had a horse that was free to move. Amazing design, quality and attention to detail.
Emma Jenkins, Oxford
We’ve got 3 Ava saddles, 2 x Pro-jump and 1 x Premier monoflap dressage. All are superb and versatile. Claire is excellent at fitting and you can be confident she will get you & your horse(s) comfortable.
Jenny Stone, Lancashire
Had my Ava saddle 5 months now. Finally found a saddle that fits my rather wide cob after years of slipping saddles. My only regret is that I did not find Ava saddles sooner.
Gill Auge, Wirral
Wonderful personal service ensuring saddle fitted both myself and my horse. And within 30 mins Fran was moving with much more movement through her shoulders. Love my new saddle. Thank you
Amy Bratt, Stafford
Claire is very professional and friendly and puts you totally at ease. I have struggled with saddles probably since having horses. For the first time ever since my saddle fittings for both horses (Young & Older) I feel positive about our future.
Maria Stevens, Usk Wales
Never been so excited about a saddle before -it fits me & my horse perfectly.Its so comfortable to ride in & has improved the horse’s way of going.
Having had a series of riding related accidents I feel supported & secure in the saddle aswell as having freedom to move when going cross country .
Sara Black, North Yorkshire
After three saddle fitters all struggled to sort me out, Ava came to the rescue with an absolute perfect solution. Extremely professional, awesome quality can not recommend Ava enough! Thank you xx
Joanne Mulloy, Cowling , West Yorkshire
All I can say is thank goodness for Claire and Ava Saddles!! 5 saddle fitters before her, and finally we met Claire with the fabulous saddles that can be adjusted in so many ways to suit both Horse AND Rider! My gelderlander X mare is a nightmare to fit, I have an Ava Pro jump and have just ordered a Premier Dressage because no other saddle will do!
Debroah Howson, Doncaster
Not only is my saddle the perfect fit for my horse, my leg position and riding has improved massively! My horse is a big mover and is free from the shoulder but I have enough knee roll for my long legs and our working hunter. Plus my saddle is sooo comfy! Thanks so much Claire wouldn’t have anything else now!
Becky Edge,Bury, Lancashire
Ava Saddles is second to none ! Clare is a knowledgably, experienced saddle fitter who delivers exactly what she says she will, a comfortable, correctly fitted saddle for both horse and rider. Her aftercare is second to none and I would now only have Ava saddles for my horse. She is a very rare thing – a saddle fitter you can trust !
Seonaid MacDonald, Usk, Wales
My Ava saddle was fitted by Claire, in Spring 2016. I have not looked back since. My cob, Maisie, and I have made steady progress over the last year. Now one might say that doesn’t sound much but last year I was sure I was going to have to sell her as we were getting nowhere. She was refusing to move forward, threatening to rear and generally letting me know she was uncomfortable. Now I am confidently developing canter, jumping 50 and 60 cm and my friend is jumping 70cm with her. Maisie and I also take part in Intro and Prelim dressage events at our yard. I will soon be getting a saddle check and can’t wait to let Claire see how her saddle has changed our world. Incidentally I’m in my late 50s and only came back to riding and bought my first horse at 50 so confidence is essential.
Alison Elliot, Paisley, Scotland
Thanks for the saddle cloth Claire. I just love my saddle and christened it by joining the Flint and Denbigh boxing day meet. Amazing experience! Xx.
Penny Swale, Wirral
Thank you for my saddle. Emmy is starting to go really nicely. Spooking stopped now too. First show planned for when the dressage starts at our local riding schools. Gives me a bit of time to learn the test haha xxx
Vicky Starky, Derbyshire
Hi Claire, I thought I’d drop you a line to let you know how happy I am with my new saddle! It’s made such a difference, to his canter particularly. I was stuck at 34 but today we got a 27.5!!
Jen Deakin, Leeds
Lovely hack out today in our new saddle, thanks Claire we love it. After struggled with my thoroughbred for 4 years with saddles, she had big shoulders and had been nipped at the withers, my Ava Saddle is the best thing I’ve bought.I got it in April and after her second fitting Claire was amazed at how Sarah had changed shape , she is so much happier and it shows with in how much she has filled out. Thank u.
Rachel King, Darlington
Hello there, hope you’re well. Just wanted to let you know how simply awesome the saddle is and how it has transformed our work in the school/competition/jumping!! We’re also now doing everything in a simple snaffle not the Waterford – such a difference!! I keep telling people how fab it is. Thank you for your help in making my mare happy.
Nicki Owen, West Cumbria
we’ve just done our first dressage test in our new dressage saddle. We did our first ever elementary test and only went and won it. Thoroughly enjoying both saddles been out jumping too, thank you xx
Hilary Whiteside, Surrey
Top weekend eventing up north in sunny Scotland at Scotsburn this weekend. Putting both my Ava dressage and Ava jump saddles to work. Amazing saddles that kept me secure on the flyers that woody thought would be fun to take xc!!!
Everyone needs an AVA saddle!!!!
Kirsty Morton, Aberdeen
Thanks Claire, Boris and I love our Ava Elite dressage and Ava Elite jump saddles. I feel very secure and Boris has great freedom of movement?
Emma Holmes, Cambridge
Thanks for coming out today – makes me realise we have come quite a long way in 6 months!
Scarlett was a bit funky from when she was first backed, but she’d had a few health issues along the way (foaling problems, some hock problems etc) so we put quite a lot of her behaviour down to those things. After time, physio etc, all of those things were pretty well sorted but she was still a problem, particularly at certain points in her cycle. And there were times when she just chucked me on the floor as soon as i got on.
So I decided to go for it and got Claire out to measure her up for her very own made to measure. At that point I think Claire thought I was nuts as she saw her on a really, really bad day when she would not even move forward without cowkicking out at my leg.
From the first time she had the new saddle on she looked more relaxed and moved more freely. Six months on and she is a different horse, we have been out and started competing, very low level, but it’s a start. Above all her behaviour is so much better and she is obviously so much more comfortable than she was. There are no more tantrums, although she will always be a bit of feisty mare (no she’s not chestnut!) but she is moving beautifully and most problems now are due to my riding!
Thanks again, see you next year ?
Judith Warr, Bradford
I would like to thank Claire for her help in transforming my cob from what I thought was a dangerous horse I wouldn’t be able to hack out on the roads, to the now completely sane & sensible little mare I thought I’d bought at the beginning of the year.
After been fitted with a saddle that didn’t fit at all by a well known saddler Sally just got worse & worse to ride, spooking out across the road at the slightest little thing. I was told I would never get a saddle for her that didn’t move about as she is too flat & wide. After being hit one day by a pick up truck after she shot sideways into the road, then a near miss on the next hack after doing the same again I was terrified of riding her & thought I’d have to get rid of her. I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt & contacted Claire who told me never again to put the old saddle back on her. Her back was hard & sore so she had 4 weeks off, some physio and a new Ava saddle made.
After a month she was like a different horse, completely chilled & relaxed and a pleasure to ride. I’ve even done some jumping with her and my saddle never budges even though she is like a table top! She will also now let me mount by myself which is a massive achievement.
I’m so happy with the results & cannot thank Ava enough, if it wasn’t for Claire, Sally & I would have parted company weeks ago but now we’re both really happy!
Thank you, I love my saddle
Nicola Sutcliffe, Halifax
Thanks to everyone who suggested Ava Saddles. I’m now the proud owner of their Elite Dressage Saddle and it is absolutely AMAZING. I can’t believe the change in me and my horse. He’s more forward, very relaxed and really consistent, something I’ve struggled with for the past two years. I love love LOVE it. Claire is superb. Really knows what she’s doing. Can’t recommend her and her glorious saddles enough. I’ve even got a bit of bling… — feeling excited.
Nicky Hudson, Lancashire
What can I say? Apart from what fabulous saddles!!
Our story starts in 2012 when I rather foolishly bought 2 saddles from a ‘reputable’ company, I was lead to believe they were made to measure – they weren’t.
My little horse went from being fairly sweet natured to a rearing, nappy unpleasant beast. She had so much Physio and we’d get her right for a few weeks then she’d go ‘off’ again. I was encouraged by a very good Physio and friend to ring Claire, oh am I glad I did!! I bought the pro jump and she was much better on that, still needed a lot of time off so I gave her 12 months.
She went into the vets for some investigations which were pointing towards a back issue but nothing concrete found, she was allowed to come back into work and needless to say we’ve not looked back.
I’m absolutely positive that without Claire’s input my little horse wouldn’t be here today!
Unfortunately once Biddy was fixed I then got admitted to hospital and was told I couldn’t ride for 7 months. So she went back to the Physio’s house until October last year. We are now back doing BD and have qualified for Petplan prelim and Novice next month.
In May I bought a dressage saddle and I absolutely love it, so we are now a 2 Ava Saddles family and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone else and if I ever bought a different horse then they will only be wearing Ava saddles.
Rachel Smith, Preston
Thank you so much for fitting my horses, Simon and Donna with such beautiful dressage saddles. Your patience and skill resulted in my horses having made to measure saddles that fit them and me so well. So much so that I’m struggling to keep up with Donna’s paces now! I particularly like how you customised Donna’s saddle with a silver trim so that we could differentiate between hers and Simon’s. ?I’ve had a lot of saddles in my time but never have I sat in a saddle so comfortable for both horse and rider.
Thank you so much.
Grace Hughes, Scotland
Today we had Errol’s back thermal imaged. I can not thank Ava enough for our fantastic saddle. He now has 10 out of 10 for a happy back??
Catherine Marshall, Todmorden Yorkshire
Thank you Claire Love my new calfskin dressage saddle with crystals ? my 4 year old goes so well in his Ava jump saddle so thought I would treat him and buy a dressage saddle with the confidence that it’s so easy to alter with the air system as he grows and develops without having to buy another saddle ??
Steph Holker, Blackburn
Thank you, thank you, thank you for my gorgeous Ava. Dressage saddle. My quest for another saddle was fundamentally to sort my hip problems which only started since I’ve been riding my beautiful and very wide friesian mare. My hips are way way narrower than hers! Thanks to Claire I now have a saddle with a narrow twist to allow my hips to drop and since riding in it for only a few weeks I’m amazed that my hip hasn’t done its collapsing trick once. I’m so delighted and to know that it’s so comfortable for Wypkje too makes me a happy bunny. Cannot recommend Ava. And Claire highly enough. Thank you for dragging yourself north of the border xx
Kirsty Moore, Scotland
Just wanted to let you know I had a few sticky moments this week where i was very very glad I had one of your saddles on. After an explosion from Berrie pony I was able to sit to it quietly without my saddle moving an inch! She’s now sorted herself out and has decided the circus isn’t really for her!
Just thought I’d let you know i’m as in love with the saddle as I was the day I bought it. Xxx
Emily Owens, Wales
The saddle is great thanks Claire – Dora is going very willingly in it & you know how sensitive she can be. Love that it can grow with her & be adjusted as she’s already filling out nicely.
Jennifer Stone, Accrington, Lancashire
My youngster Breeze is one very lucky nearly 4 year old! After getting Sky, my older horse fitted out with an Ava Saddles Pro Jump just under two years ago, and seeing and feeling her transform in such a positive way both physically and mentally, knowing she was absolutely loving it, I couldn’t resist getting Sky’s prodigy Breeze off to a great start in one when her real work starts now after been brought back into work from been turned away after initial breaking last summer. Both girls have got a Saddle for life now though, defiantly a worthwhile investment! Fantastic quality and great looking saddles! Thank you so much Claire Fitzmaurice! Highly recommended!
Izzy Scott – Riding Instructor, Otley
After receiving our third Ava saddle we are delighted with the results. Our young horse already seems looser and more relaxed in her paces. The saddle is extremely comfortable and its great to know that as the horse matures it will be able to adjust the fit accordingly.
The first saddle we purchased from Ava was for an older horse, who, after a series of badly fitting saddles, all supplied by professional saddle fitters, suffered persistent back pain. The Ava saddle gave her a new lease of life and she is still happy to pop round a cross country course at the ripe old age of 21.
We also purchased a saddle for our pony who was showing signs of discomfort with his previous saddle. The Ava saddle proved to be a successful solution and the pony was soon back on top form competing in all disciplines.
Thank you once again Claire for your prompt and expert advice and for supplying us with another great saddle.
Robert, Sheila & Megan Anderson, Skipton, N Yorkshire
Superb saddles! I love my Ava. saddle & bridle but most importantly so does Stan & Bruno!
Tracey McRae, Weatherby
Thanks for your time and patience today Claire, very happy to have an Ava saddle that can be perfectly fitted to Doogs however much he decides to grow!
Debbie Newton, Cheshire
Just thought I’d say a massive thank you, Jack is going like a complete dream in his saddle, he jumped 1.10m yesterday for the first time and absolutley flew it and at a recent show got a first and second in his showing classes; even the judge commented on how much better he was in his saddle so thank you very much!!
Rosie Shouler-Harris, Otley
I purchased a horse that had clearly been subjected to a badly fitted saddle. My priority was to ensure that I got my new boy saddled up by a reputable saddler in a reputable branded saddle! That was my goal and that is what I thought I had done. Cutting a very long and very expensive story short things didn’t work out as planned…….my horse still seemed stiff and unhappy in his work.
A friend recommended Ava. My friend had used Ava dressage saddles in the past and spoke very highly of them! I contacted Claire who asked me a few simple questions and booked me in. From that day on I have seen great improvement! Not only with my horse but with myself. My horse is much looser in his movements, more relaxed, nice and forward and generally a lot happier in his work. His top line is coming back too! My position as a rider has improved too. The deep seat and knee pads sit me up in the correct position even helping with a weak right leg ( due to a riding accident!) …. To be fair as soon as I saw the sparkles across the back of the saddle I thought SOLD! But on a more serious note this saddle has helped both myself and my horse improve as a partnership…….I simply would not be happy to put my boy or myself in anything else!!!
Big thanks to Claire! And of course to Julia for the recommendation ….
Very happy customers from the North West.
Sharon Ball, Cheshire
I am writing to thank you for the wonderful saddle for my second horse. He is so much more happier in this saddle and is much looser, forward going and is enjoying his work. We went to our first unaffiliated dressage competition recently and scored over 80% and I am sure this is largely down to your elite dressage saddle. My saddle is so comfortable for both horse and rider plus I love the crystal too. I would never use any other saddler for my horses as it is so important to have the right equipment. Thanks so much keep up the amazing work horses need YOU!
Julia Tharratt, Macclesfield
After putting my horse Bagel out on loan, his new rider suggested having her Ava premier dressage saddle fitted to him. Wow what a transformation! Watching Bagel in his previous saddle, and after having the Ava fitted I can honestly say I saw a massive improvement in his way of going and his attitude to work. Watching him being schooled Bagel he looked relaxed, and his movement was bigger and looser. I can’t believe what a difference the Premier dressage saddle by Ava has made. Looking back on videos from October last year when he was being ridden in his old saddle, to more recently now he has been fitted with his Ava premier dressage saddle he looks like a different horse! Whats more, the saddle can be easily altered to provide a perfect fit, as Bagel becomes fitter and his muscles develop, meaning that Bagel will be able to carry out his work comfortably with a happy attitude. I cannot recommend Ava Saddles highly enough, based on the huge difference I have seen in my horse. Thank you Claire.
Can I just take this opportunity to say thank you for your excellent service. I can’t believe the transformation in Bagel!
Abby Armitt, Cheshire
Would like to thank Claire Fitzmaurice and Ava Saddles for my fifth saddle. They are absolutely brilliant, I have never ridden on anything as comfortable both for me and my horses. They are brilliant – Dressage, Jumping and GP. The best!
Pam Harrison, Cheshire
Before I met Claire I was having real problems with Henry. His old show saddle was causing him so much pain, restricting his movement through his shoulders and bruising him badly. He had a lot of swelling and bruising below his withers and no saddle would fit without causing more pain. I was beginning to despair that we would ever find anything to fit him properly. After meeting Claire, discussing Henry’s problems and giving him time off for the swelling and bruising to heal, I got my Ava Saddles Show Saddle. Since day one of using it, Henry was back to his normal self and gave an incredible ride once again. He was feeling a lot more relaxed, finding it a lot easier to move and really opening up through his shoulders. The saddle is perfect and the air pockets give us the opportunity to keep adjusting the fit as and when Henry changes shape. The saddle is great and really allows the muscles to build up. Best if all, I don’t have to worry about ever buying him a new saddle again!
Micheala Wood -Show Rider, Harrogate
Just wanted to let you know everybody has commented on my lovely new saddle – it’s just not had enough outings yet because of the awful weather stopping play! UNO is much freer through the shoulder and I’m hoping this will improve even more with consistent work. I will report back! 🙂 x
Jaime Sanderson, Oldham
Just wanted to say THANKYOU! royal completed the red dragon-one of the toughests ride on the endurance calendar. Did it in his fastest speed yet and got a grade 1! Best of all his back was perfect at the end! I’m now saving for another saddle for my other horse and i’ve just recommended you to a friend.
Ann Marie Plec, Hereford
I first came across Sienna when her owner moved on to the yard. Sienna, a lightweight Bay Hunter Mare was head-shaking when being exercised by her owner, who then asked me to ride her.
I began exercising Sienna regularly, but she developed problems and her character and behaviour changed dramatically. The head-shaking persisted, she became spooky both hacking out and in the arena and she couldn’t cope with things coming towards her, whether it was a car or simply another horse. She also started to lock her neck against me and would then proceed to buck. We sought help and advice from the vet and a physio.
The physio found Sienna to be extremely sore over and across her back and agreed with our initial thoughts that the problems were being caused by the saddle. Sienna was signed off work until the physio gave her a clean bill of health.
After her holiday off work the owner and myself contacted Claire of Ava. as we wanted a lightweight, adjustable saddle which was comfy for both horse and rider but also looked good so it could be used in the show-ring . We knew of a few horses whom had been fitted with these saddles and the owners/riders all seemed pleased with the results. Claire came and fitted Sienna with a general purpose saddle and told me to ride Sienna in this saddle only, and to contact her in a couple of months to check that everything was still okay. After a week of lunging in her new saddle and light hacking I began to school Sienna.
Sienna came on in leaps and bounds and stopped being spooky. She was back hacking out, schooling well, and even started jumping. A few months on, Claire came back out to check the saddle and adjusted it as it had allowed Sienna to fill out and muscle up over her back and around her withers. We were so thrilled with Sienna and the outcome we entered her into the Lightweight Hunter class at the Great Yorkshire Show. Sienna was amazing! She was relaxed, forward going and didn’t spook once or put a hoof out of place.
We would like to take this chance to say a huge thank you to Sienna’s vet and physio, and to Claire of Ava Saddles. Without you none of this would have been possible!
Thank you once again
Emma & Lorna
Lorna Johnson & Emma Hogkinson, Clitheroe
Just thought i’d send you an email saying how happy i am with my saddle it has made a hugh difference already! The areas behind his shoulder are definately filling out and he is much more free through his shoulder.
Rachel Thomas, Stourbridge, Birmingham
I really ought to say that Claire has worked wonders making a saddle that works for Moon…. like most mules, she has very little wither, a very forward girth groove, and until recently (when she has been able to work more correctly thanks to having a nice saddle) little shoulder or top line. Just about any saddle we put on her just shot forwards. Claire came to us last August and fitted Moon’s GP and we haven’t looked back. We do have to use a grippy saddle pad, and if she gets tense and humps her back, especially over fences, the saddle shifts a bit… but this is little short of miraculous compared to most mules who, even in western tack in the USA, usually need britchin’. Moon is a much happier animal than the up-tight argumentative creature who hated ridden work last summer, and Claire deserves a lot of the credit for that, it’s been a real team effort to turn her into a happy mule who likes being ridden and loves her jumping, something she only been able to started over the winter.
Linda Dykes, Anglesey
Ava Saddles helped me realize why you should always listen to what your horse is trying to tell you. After two years of trying to get my horse comfortable in a flocked saddle, made and fitted by a master saddler, and after spending thousands of pounds on saddles, I still couldn’t get my horse to work consistently. I knew he was a talented horse, but his performance was erratic and he was often grumpy, sore and argumentative to ride. As a result, I just wasn’t enjoying riding him. We tried several saddles that the saddler assured me would solve our problems, but the same issues kept recurring. It got to the point where I decided to sell my horse, thinking that the partnership wasn’t working, as surely our problems couldn’t still be related to the saddle. Luckily for me, my horse failed the vet, showing signs of uneven muscle on his back and hindquarters – a direct result of ill-fitting saddles. I was shocked to realize that, despite my efforts to correct this problem, the saddle was still causing real problems and my horse was still very sore. It was at this point that my friend and physio recommended Claire from Ava Saddles.
I admit that I thought it would be a waste of time as my previous saddler had told me that my horse was an awkward shape and I would just have to make do with what we had as I would never find a better saddle. How wrong! As soon as the Ava. saddle was placed on his back I could see the difference. It sat level and when I rode in it my horse took just 10 minutes to change from an awkward, short-strided, over-bent showjumper to a horse I felt I could do a dressage test with.
Four months later and my horse has completely changed shape and become symmetrical for the first time since I bought him. Luckily, due to the Flair Air system, the saddle can be adjusted and never has to be sent away, as Claire makes the changes on site. This means that he’s been ridden more in the last four months than in the previous two years. He is consistently scoring 68%+ in dressage tests, winning the last three outings, and jumping courses of 1m10+ comfortably in a snaffle, with no gadgets needed – not even a martingale! I am so impressed that I’m going to enter some BE one day events with him as well! Thank you Claire for fixing my horse for a lot less than I would have expected, and for making me realize that he is the talented superstar I bought. He won’t be up for sale again as he is now a pleasure to ride in every discipline……
Steph Holker – Riding Instructor, Blackburn
We wasted a vast amount of time and money on saddles for our two horses over the last six years. If, by some miracle, we got something to fit them it wasn’t long before they had changed shape and we were back to square one. I lost faith in saddlers generally and started to worry about the problems we might be causing for our boys by using various saddles that didn’t quite fit. When we found out that our instructor had gone for Ava. Saddles we thought it was worth looking into as the idea of a ‘saddle for life’ really appealed to us – plus, the peace of mind that comes from knowing your horse is comfortable is priceless.
Six months on I can honestly say that these saddles are worth every penny. We are all so much more comfortable! I wouldn’t want to go back to ‘ordinary’ saddles ever again, and we know that Snoopy and Finn are very grateful!
Julie Grimshaw, Rossendale Lancashire
Monty and I both love his new saddle, I think it might be worth at least five points on our dressage scores! Seriously, he goes beautifully in it and gives me a much better position.
Jane Fraser, Cheshire
Thanks to Claire at Ava Saddles for my fantastic new saddle, Bentley is going brilliantly in it, can’t wait to get out competing now!
Katherine Palin – McTimoney practitioner , Cheshire
I would just like to mention how brilliant the Ava saddles have been for my horses and what an amazing difference they have made to the both of them.
I had been struggling with my previous saddle for nearly 12 months, and instead of listening to my poor 5 year old TBx Frankie I kept listening to my then saddler. Frankie began to let me know in her own rather dangerous way that enough was enough! When I met Claire I was at my wits end, I had lost faith in saddlers and the saddles themselves. I am not somebody who is easily impressed, but after Claire explaining the very logical science behind her designs, I gave one a go. An Ava saddle was the only saddle I could get back on Frankie with. Having seen the difference Claire and Ava made to Frankie, I had to buy one for my little warmblood, Zaffy. I got the same style saddle but Claire made some special design alterations, allowing extra room for her enormous shoulders! I never knew my horses could move so freely and their jumping technique has improved massively. Both Frankie and Zaffy are young and are sure to change shape throughout the year. I love the fact that during a saddle consultation Claire can alter the saddles on site, so I am never without my perfectly fitting saddle. I’m looking forward to entering some events this year….. not withdrawing, worrying about my tack or horses back’s!’
Jess Bradshaw – horse dentist, Blackburn
Hi Claire, sorry its taken so long to let you know how fab my new dressage saddle is, it’s still fab and fitting Austin really well, he is moving so well and more freedom in the (massive) shoulders. He is much happier therefore so am I and I thank you very much for producing this saddle and enabling me to see just how good Austin can really move. Half pass a doddle now !! Thank you again
Jenny I’Anson, Selby
Great saddles & an excellent knowledgable fitter – even with big (17.3) high withered sport horses – i will never use any other saddles or fitters now and great value for money!
Seonaid MacDonald , Bath
Just wanted to let you know Gem absolutely loves her new saddle, I could almost cry when I tell you how much difference it has made to us both – I can now finally sit in the right place, so not only can we get the movement, stability and freedom, we can also get the ‘lift’ in her paces. Instead of it being a horrible experience for both of us, it is now an absolute pleasure (despite her still being a typical and incredibly sensitive thoroughbred mare !) – she is now comfortable – it’s as simple as that.
I want your potential customers to know that if they REALLY DO care about their horses’ comfort and performance, just GET ONE OF THESE SADDLES – as I blurted out to you when I was riding round with my mare so realxed and going beautifully, this product really is AMAZING, and your sheer knowledge, care, attention to detail and enthusiam makes the whole experience a delight. You really pulled the stops out to get me the saddle on time and we are soooo grateful.
Liz Byrne, Chorley Lancs
Just wanted to say that I absolutely love my dressage saddle. It fits perfectly and is the most comfortable saddle that I have ever ridden in. Kato’s dressage marks have really improved since I got it as his movement through his back and shoulder is so much better. Can’t wait for the event saddle to arrive now and dying to sit on that lovely calf skin. Wish I had discovered you years ago as wasted so much time and money on other saddles that have never fitted me or my horses like Ava do.
Becky Clark, Baildon
I now have 2 saddles from Claire, one with crystals but that’s a long story! Very good quality.
“After 3 years of back problems, inconsistent performances and 3 different saddles Claire came to my rescue. My TB event / dressage horse was continually struggling to maintain form and needed regular visit by the physio. Since changing to Ava saddles my horse now requires fewer physio visits and is unrecognisable in her muscle development and movement.
Claire’s experience and understanding as a rider, trainer and saddle fitter has transformed my approach to my riding and horse care. Claire has a very natural understanding of a horse’s way of going and applies a common sense approach that has been moulded by her own experiences.
Not only did Ava saddles instantly change the freedom of movement of my horse, but it had also improved my position, making me stronger and more effective. My horse is now competing with great success which I attribute to the comfort and freedom of my Ava. saddle.
My horse’s top line and shape changes regularly, dependent on her fitness and her work level. Due to the adaptability of Ava. saddles I have saved a fortune on the costs of new saddles that I would otherwise have needed to purchase. I would recommend Ava. saddles to all of my friends and clients as they are well worth the investment. You’ll be amazed at the difference a saddle can make”
Susanne McIntosh, Wakefield
I was struggling to get an off the peg saddle wide enough to fit my broad ISH, Claire came to my rescue her professional and thorough approach has turned a rather tense, uncomfortable horse into a much more trainable and happy animal!
Alison Jarman, Thirsk
“Just a note to say how delighted I am with my new dressage saddle. I have been struggling to find a saddle to fit for three years and have have tried at least four different makes which have been disasters!
I realise that Texas is not an easy fit but you sorted us out in 15 minutes – I have received so much bad advice in the past. The difference to Tex’s way of going has been amazing he is a completely different horse both in his movement and attitude it does help when the saddle does not slip forward or roll from side to side!
So many thanks for your helpful advice and support we will highly recommend you!”
Tracey and Texas
Ava Saddles are a young forward thinking company whose saddle’s are crafted and fitted to provide the vital link of comfort and ride ability between you and your horse. A thoroughly professional team for whom nothing is a problem i am thrilled with the results
Zoe Rymer, Driffield
I am delighted with my bespoke saddle by AVA.; it is the ultimate in comfort and improves my riding position. My horse now moves freely in all paces and is no longer tight in his back. I have received a first class service, so will be recommending a.s.s. to everyone.
Claire has fitted my event horse with both dressage and jumping saddles. The air bag system was instantly preferred by my horse and took me about a week to adjust to the new feel and position. I can say that Claire wants to make sure that things are spot on for both horse and rider and very much takes into account how the horse is likely to develop in the short and medium term. I found her expectations very accurate and that where I was uncertain about something, she turned out to be right.
I recently purchased a jumping saddle and a dressage saddle from Ava for my 6 year old mare Summersong, who currently competes at novice level BE. Previous to purchasing these saddles, my mare was incredibly sensitive in her back. I have had my saddles for 2 months and the difference in her is amazing! She now enjoys her back being groomed, is relaxed when saddled and her performance has improved dramatically. Her paces are more open and relaxed and her jumping technique is much better. In both saddles, I can really feel my leg and my position because the saddle puts you in such the right spot. The fitting and aftercare service was like nothing I have ever experienced before, Claire has a fantastic eye for detail and is incredibly thorough, I am 100% happy with my Ava saddles! I would recommend Ava to everyone I know.
Emma Littlewood, Leeds
Saddle Solutions came to my rescue after many months of ill fitting saddles and bad advice. Gerry, my 16h2 Irish Sports Horse has high withers and a wide back, this means that wide saddles sit to low and narrower saddles are too tight. Consequently I had a very unhappy horse with a constantly sore back. All Saddles Solutions solved this problem with the Flair system, which allowed them to put in different amounts of air in the front and back of the saddle to fit perfectly to my horses shape. The air filled panels also allowed my horse to develop more muscle along his top line, and within a month the saddle needed altering to his changed shape. Ava Saddles made the alterations quickly by changing the amount of air in each panel. I now have happy horse who is working well and continues to build a very healthy top line.
Jenny Owst, nr Otley
After several bad experiences with other ‘made to measure’ and air flocked saddles, I was rather anxious at embarking on another to fit my youngster. I needn’t have worried! The whole service from start to finish was built on experience, totally professional, personal and second to none. The dressage saddle I ordered came promptly and I was not disappointed on the quality and amazing seat it provided! It sits you exactly in the correct position and you can’t fail to look the business. The fit and comfort it provided my horse, speaks for itself, he’s never been happier or moved so well. I can’t hold the service and product received by Claire and Ava Saddles in higher regard. Best of luck in the future! I am a very happy horse and saddle owner!
Lisa White, North Yorkshire
After 5 saddle fitters before her, we finally we met Claire with the fabulous saddles that can be adjusted in so many ways to suit both Horse AND Rider.
Debroah Howson, Doncaster
I’m so happy with the results & cannot thank Ava enough, if it wasn’t for Claire, Sally & I would have parted company but now we’re both really happy!
Nicola Sutcliffe, Halifax
Her jumping is much freer too as she’s able to use her shoulders more effectively with the saddle being made to measure.
Denise & Vicki Jarvis, Falkirk, Scotland
Love our new Ava calfskin Gp Saddle with Swarovski crystals. My boy is so much happier and his way of going is superb!
Joanne Robinson, Wirral
Claire is completely brilliant at what she does. Excellent British made product, excellent service.
Katie Monroe, Windsor
Ria (my daughter) has 3 saddles from Ava and they have transformed our ponies way of going – now hankering for a 4th #loveAva
Wendy & Ria Scott, Thirsk
Claire has a fantastic eye for detail and is incredibly thorough, I am 100% happy with my Ava saddles! I would recommend Ava to everyone I know.
Emma Littlewood, Leeds
Thanks to Claire I now have a saddle with a narrow twist to allow my hips to drop and since riding in it for only a few weeks I’m amazed that my hip hasn’t done its collapsing trick once.
Kirsty Moore, Scotland
My Ava saddle was fitted by Claire, in Spring 2016. I have not looked back since.
Alison Elliot, Paisley, Scotland
A year on the difference in Jake is amazing! He is now using himself more effectively ... and my physio has commented on how supple he is in his back
Joyce Greenhorn, Falkirk, Scotland
Now in my 7th year of riding in Ava saddles, on several different horses – all expertly fitted and adjusted as necessary.
Nikki Cartwright, North Wales
I have struggled with saddles probably since having horses. For the first time ever since my saddle fittings for both horses (Young & Older) I feel positive about our future.