Saddle Helps Lucy to National Championships

Lucy and Boras at Port Royal

Dressage rider Lucy Bulmer was looking to upgrade to a new saddle for her 15-year-old Belgium Warmblood, Boras when she came across the Optima from Black Country.

The pair has been together since he was a young four-year-old and now compete at Prix St George level. Good friend Mary McGowan bought Boras for Lucy more than 10 years ago as a project after her then top horse had an injury.

Based near Harrogate, North Yorkshire, Lucy now helps her sister run a clothing business and as well as running the shop they are also busy out and about with a stand at shows and events.

Said Lucy: “Over the last few years I have scaled down my riding and teaching to concentrate on the shop but still have ambitions and want to do as well as I can with Boras.

“I was looking for a new saddle and having tried many with the help of the team at North Yorkshire Saddles I was just delighted when I had a sit on the Black Country Saddles Optima model.

“I couldn’t believe how comfortable it was for both Boras and me and having ridden in it a few times it has really helped my sitting trot.

“I tried a lot of saddles and this was the only one that I truly felt made a difference to both of us.”

The new Optima dressage saddle was quickly put to good use with Lucy and Boras qualifying for the British Dressage National Championships when winning the Northern Regional Gold Prix St George championship at Port Royal.

Added Lucy: “Black Country Saddles will definitely be my first port of call next time I need a new one and a couple of my friends have recently bought one and are also delighted.”

Lisa’s Saddle Delight

It is always great to receive feedback from happy customers and this one from Lisa Paddleford and her local dealer Trumbull Mountain we just had to share…

…”I know I’ve told you this several times, but can I tell you just one more time how much I (and my horses) LOVE my Black Country Vinici Dressage and Black Country Equinox saddles? After riding the sore-backed horse just three times over the weekend and yesterday in the Black Country Saddle (which fit him perfectly, too!), he’s already improved. Now you can literally feel him relax as he goes along in the saddle – like my other horse, he’s figuring out this saddle doesn’t hurt and allows him to move freely without pinching.  Also, they are the most comfortable saddles I’ve ever ridden in.  Recently, a friend watched one of my lessons and complimented me on my “beautiful and correct position” – my old dressage saddle put me in a chair seat but the Black Country aligns me perfectly (and naturally). My trainer and I are amazed at how I’ve progressed in my riding since getting the Black Country saddles. (She is so grateful that she gets to ride in such wonderful saddles, too!)  I look forward to jump lessons in the Black Country Vinici Jump saddle!” Lisa

Master Bandsman Plays the Tune at Equifest

CerysFord-BCSHunterChampion-Equifest2016THE Black Country Saddles Show Hunter championship at Equifest provided a feast of quality on the Thursday Evening Performance.

With the first and second from the Lightweight, Middleweight and Heavyweight sections through, judges Richard Ramsey and Kevin Lee had the difficult task of choosing the Champion and Reserve in the electric atmosphere.

Said Wendy Hartley of Black Country Saddles: “We were delighted to sponsor the Show Hunter Championship in such a wonderful atmosphere.

“Equifest is a great show and we always see so many of our existing customers and many new ones.”

Winner of the Middleweight section, Cerys Ford and the charismatic, eight-year-old chestnut Master Bandsman were the judges’ choice taking the Championship after much deliberation and a close run competition with Karl Standing and the magnificent Golden Inca Cross who had won the Heavyweight class.

Cery’s and Master Bandsman also compete in Side Saddle classes and continued their excellent run at both Equifest and throughout the season where they have had an excellent run of success.

Karl and the huge Golden Inca Cross put in a sterling performance in the Championship, galloping their heart out in a bid to secure the title.

Gary Foggon and Gypsy Fortune Head to the National Dressage Championships

Gary Foggon and Gypsy Fortune at Port RoyalDerbyshire-based Gary Foggon and Gypsy Fortune have continued their rise up the dressage ranks by qualifying for the National Championships.

Competing at the Port Royal Regionals the pair secured their ticket by finishing second in the Elementary Gold section on a score of 73.75%.

Gary and Gypsy Fortune, a 16.2hh bay mare, have been in excellent form and have great support from their sponsor Black Country Saddles who designed and made a saddle especially for them.

Said Gary: “Gypsy Fortune is a star and we couldn’t have wished for more at the regional championships, there was a great atmosphere and she went really well in the class.

“Throughout the summer months she has become more engaged in her way of going with great expression and cadence throughout the test.”

As well as the second in the Elementary Gold, Gary was also fifth in the Novice Gold section, just missing out on qualification in a very strong class pipped by the last competitor in the arena.

 “Gypsy Fortune is a home-bred mare by Grafenstolz out of the first horse I owned, Bonny Bank Jay Jay who competed right up to Advanced level British Eventing and competed successfully to PSG in dressage,” said Gary.

“I named her after a gypsy told my fortune, I’m very sceptic, but when she told me I had a filly foal and my mare was back in foal which was going to be a colt I was captivated, she then went on to tell me my filly was always going to be in the ribbons. Looking back so far she has been right!

“A huge amount of team work goes into getting horses ready from trainers, farriers, physio’s, chiropractors, grooms, family and friends. Having a correctly fitted saddle that allows my horses to move to the best of their ability, which I have found with Black Country Saddles, is so important and I am very delighted and honoured to have Black Country Saddles as part of the team.”

TV Debut for Young Dressage Rider

Sophie and IzzyPARA dressage rider, Izzy Palmer has caught the attention of the media recently with a television crew for ITV visiting the home of her trainer, mentor and good friend Sophie Wells to film a piece on their relationship and Paralympic dreams.

Izzy recently started to ride Sophie’s horse Pinocchio, the wonderful chestnut gelding, now 19-years-old and responsible for rocketing Sophie into the Para-dressage spotlight.

Together they won Paralympic World and European gold and silver medals in team and individual competitions before Sophie retired him from Para competitions in 2012 and then able-bodied classes at Grand Prix level in July last year.

Sophie and Izzy are both sponsored by Black Country Saddles and had a great time filming the news piece.

Fifteen-year-old Izzy was born with Cerebral Palsy and travels to Sophie’s base in Nottinghamshire from her home in Leeds to train with her mentor and is thoroughly enjoying the experience.

“I am very fortunate to have such amazing support from Sophie and to ride Pinnochio is just so special,” said Izzy.

“We make the trip at least twice a week usually before school so it is a very early start but I am really determined to succeed in the sport and follow Sophie’s fantastic success.”

Added Sophie: “I very much enjoy helping Izzy who has developed a great partnership with Pinnochio and it is wonderful to see their progress.

“Izzy is on the Podium Potential Squad as part of the World Class Programme and has her sights firmly set at the top of the sport so everyone is doing their best to help her get there.”

Black Country Saddles Sponsor Ridden Hunter Championship at Equifest

Equifest logo1Staffordshire-based Black Country Saddles has announced an exciting new sponsorship at Equifest 2016 and will be supporting the Ridden Hunter Championship.

Well-known for supporting leading names including Katy Carter, Kirstine Douglas, Jo Bates, Robert Walker, Sarah Parker and Simon Reynolds, their Classic Show Saddle has become hugely popular amongst riders.

Said Wendy Hartley of Black Country Saddles: “Equifest is a fantastic event and we are delighted to be sponsoring the prestigious Ridden Hunter Championship on the Thursday evening.

“It is now such a popular show and bearing in mind that last year our stand was so busy we decided we wanted to support the event by sponsoring one of the championships.”

Many leading competitors now ride in the Black Country Classic Show Saddle which  offers style and elegance when in the show arena.

This saddle is straight-cut to help accentuate the horse or pony’s shoulder but, has a subtle knee roll to help keep the rider in the ideal show position.

The low cantle helps provide a flatter seat for a neater appearance with the close profile of the saddle helping to show off and enhance the overall picture, so important in the world of showing.

Made using pre-oiled vintage leather, the saddle offers an ultra-comfortable seat and is flocked with pure wool to allow for greater bearing pressure and fitting adjustment.

More than 20 years of expertise has been combined to produce the saddle, using a specialist tree and the very best materials available today.

Perfecting Your Show Ring Gallop with Jayne Ross

Jayne Ross photo by Julian PortchDo you ride a Show Hunter, Show Cob, Working Hunter or Riding Horse? If so you will be required to gallop in the ring at a show.

You will be asked to gallop in the go-round after walk, trot and canter with other competitors so preparation is key.

The gallop pace forms an essential aspect of the marking criteria so it is very important that you get it right. I have judged and ridden several horses which have won a class with their gallop, so it could be the difference between a winning place or one half way down the line.

To achieve a correct gallop that will wow the judges, it is essential that you practice at home before expecting your horse to perform in the ring. When first teaching your horse to gallop, it is a good idea to ask him for a few strides in the school first, where it is a confined space, in case he gets excited. This also helps the horse to come back to you easily, which is a key element of the gallop and provides confidence in an environment they are used to.

The judge will be looking for a positive pace which moves forward easily into an extension with a lowered head and neck and then an obedient transition back to the canter.

It is crucial that your horse is off your leg and reacts to your aids for gallop. Practicing some ‘on and back’ will help to sharpen him up and also improve the downwards transition which should appear seamless and without any inconsistencies in the contact.

Once you have mastered the art of lengthening in the school, practice galloping in an open field where you will be able to open your horse out more. If he is a bit reluctant to go forwards, ride with another horse because this usually works a treat to help brighten them up. When practicing ask for a little more each time, rather than flat out to begin with, because this will teach the horse to lengthen gradually.

To ask for the gallop, adopt a slightly forward seat (like you would when cross country riding) loosen the reins by pushing your hands forward and ask him forward with a subtle leg aid. When making the downwards transition sit up into a conventional position and drop deeper into the saddle and gradually bring the hands back to their usual position.

Make sure you practice the gallop on both reins as although it is usually the left rein that you are asked to perform it on, you never know what the judge is going to ask you on the day!

It is also important to make sure your tack fits and allows freedom of movement for your horse.

Your show saddle must be comfortable for both horse and rider and fit well. The Black Country Classic Show Saddles I use were comfortable from the minute I sat in them and made me feel completely at home.

They also allow plenty of freedom of movement which is so important for the show horse in order that they can move well and have presence when in the ring.
Good luck with your gallop!

Hugely Successful Rolex Kentucky for Black Country Saddles Team


Partners Rob Cullen and John Hartley have just returned from an absolutely fantastic trip to this year’s Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event having been joined and supported by a very strong team of highly qualified BCS Dealers from all over the United States.

John commented that the support from the dealers said everything about the ethos of the Black Country Saddles family with each dealer sharing their extensive saddlery knowledge with the never-ending queue of enthusiastic visitors to the stand.

Said John: “Dealers present included our long-time friends Patty Merli and Rip who brought along their very own “I love my Black Country Saddle” T-shirts that seemed to be worn by almost everyone walking by the longer the show went on!

“Alongside Patty and Rip were local dealer Bryan Lynch of Creature Comforts, Faye Flynn from Florida, Bob Cooper from Texas, Amanda Berges of The Saddle Tree, Ohio, Vet Thais McCoy from WA and Ann Jacobson from MN.”


Added Rob: “We are just back from an amazing Rolex Kentucky Horse Trials.  It was by far our best attendance and we were delighted to have so much interest on the stand.

“The US launch of the new Dante collection with its unique seat positions proved a huge success.”

Regular visitors to this fantastic competition, Rob, John and the dealers were on hand to promote and explain the many benefits of riding in one of their saddles whether riding at the highest level or choosing a saddle for leisure activities.

This was the 36th consecutive year that Rolex Watch USA has sponsored the Kentucky Three-Day Event, the longest corporate sponsorship in horse sports.

Left to right – John Hartley, leading event rider Jessica Schultz and Rob Cullen on the stand at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day-Event.

New Dante Vinici Jump from Black Country Saddles


THE new Dante Vinici Jump from Black Country Saddles provides a jumping saddle that is designed for optimum performance of the horse and the rider.

Designed to enhance rider position when show jumping, the Dante Vinici is a fantastic example of the craftsmanship and technological advances available today.

Incorporating the well-established Vinici single/mono flap design, this saddle is high-spec throughout and has been developed as part of the new Dante range, which focuses on optimising rider position in the saddle.

This superb saddle incorporates the highly regarded flexible overlay girthing system with the straps lying on top of the panel.

Feeling at one with your horse is key to success and the hugely popular Vinici design has been developed into a stylish jumping saddle, with the Dante tree giving a narrow twist and making an ultra-lightweight saddle.

A squared-off cantle provides a slimmer look from the back which enhances the elegance of the saddle. In addition, the head nail is also square adding to the unique appearance of this saddle.

The Dante Vinici jump is available in Black, Brown or Oxblood and comes in sizes 17 to 18.5 inches.

Gypsy Fortune Heads for British Dressage Winter National Championships


Derbyshire-based Gary Foggon and the 16.2hh bay mare, Gypsy Fortune have secured not just one but three tickets to the Winter Dressage Championships.

Competing at Myerscough Regional Championships the pair secured their first ticket finishing second in the Elementary Open Freestyle to music.

Gary and Gypsy Fortune continued their fantastic form in the Novice Open where they finished third, securing their second qualifying place, before being crowned Novice Open Freestyle to music champion.

Said Gary: “Gypsy Fortune is certainly on top form having just had the most thrilling Regional Championships at Myerscough where she became the North West Novice Open Freestyle to Music Champion.

“She totalled four top five placings with three qualifying her for the Winter National Championships at Hartpury in April.

“Gypsy Fortune is a home-bred mare by Grafenstolz out of the first horse I owned, Bonny Bank Jay Jay who competed right up to Advanced level British Eventing and competed successfully to PSG in dressage.

“I named her after a gypsy told my fortune, I’m very sceptic, but when she told me I had a filly foal and my mare was back in foal which was going to be a colt I was captivated, she then went on to tell me my filly was always going to be in the ribbons. Looking back so far she has been right!

“A huge amount of team work goes into getting horses ready from trainers, farriers, physio’s, chiropractors, grooms, family and friends. Having a correctly fitted saddle that allows my horses to move to the best of their ability, which I have found with Black Country Saddles, is so important and I am very delighted and honoured to have new sponsor Black Country Saddles as part of the team.”

New Dante Vinici Dressage from Black Country Saddles


THE new Dante Vinici Dressage saddle has been developed utilising the very best in technological advances combining the closeness of the Vinici Dressage saddle with the new Dante design optimising rider position.

Extensive research and development has preceded the launch of this saddle and has contributed to its ability to help balance the rider.

The Dante Vinici Dressage saddle features a squared single/mono flap that offers outstanding closeness, maximising the contact between horse and rider.

The saddle also includes a narrow twist which helps with keeping the rider in a forward, upright position to maximise effectiveness.

The medium-deep seat and knee roll configuration offer non-restrictive security and support for the correct posture whilst the flexible overlay girthing system lies neatly between the cushioned sweat flap therefore avoiding any discomfort.

A squared-off cantle provides a slimmer look from the back, which enhances the elegance of the saddle. In addition, the head nail is also square adding to the unique appearance of this saddle.

The panels are designed to distribute weight evenly over a wide surface with a number of choices available to fit for all types of horses. The flap length and rolls are custom built to suit each individual.

The supreme quality of this saddle is accentuated by its calf covered leather, giving a soft and supple feel. The Dante Vinici Dressage is available in Black, Brown or Oxblood in sizes 17 to 18.5 inches.

International Rider Gary Foggon Joins Black Country Saddles Team


WELL-KNOWN for producing talented young event and dressage horses, Buxton-based Gary Foggon has gained sponsorship from Black Country Saddles for the 2016 season.

As well as a host of homebred horses to bring on, Gary has two event horses, Who’s a Boozer and Gypsy Squire aimed at the five-year-old championships at Osberton.

Gary will focus the talented six-year-old, Gypsy Fortune on competing in the world of dressage.

When not competing, Gary is also busy training riders in both disciplines, a role he very much enjoys.

When it comes to show jumping and cross-country, Gary rides in a Black Country Saddles Vinici Jump and in the dressage arena his preferred choice is the Black Country Saddles Dante Dressage.

Said Gary: “Having met the Black Country Saddles team I have recently been involved in new saddle designs, coming up with ideas and providing feedback on latest developments and innovations.

“We developed the saddle so that I can sit in a more balanced and relaxed position which allows the horse more freedom.

“The saddles are just fantastic and as soon as you sit in one they are so comfortable, the leather is soft and supple from day one.”

Gary’s homebred horses Gypsy Squire and Gypsy Fortune are full brother and sister with both bred out of his former eventing mare, Bonny Bank Jay Jay by the well-known stallion Grafenstolz.

Added Rob Cullen of Black Country Saddles: “Gary is not only a talented rider but also has a great reputation as a trainer and we are delighted to have him join the Black Country Saddles team.

“He brings a host of innovative ideas when it comes to saddle design and development and his feedback has been excellent in recent months with the launch of the Dante range.”

Black Country Saddles Sponsor International Event Rider Ian Wills

Ian Wills and Hartpury Sky Is The Limit

International event rider Ian Wills has a new sponsor for 2016 thanks to Black Country Saddles.

Based in Brackley, Northants, Ian has three main rides for this season including Hartpury Sky is the Limit, Marli III and Fallulah.

Ian has his sights set on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a four year goal to achieve his life-long dream.

Said Ian: “I am really excited about joining the Black Country Saddles team of sponsored riders and to be representing them in the world of eventing.

“I have three talented horses to ride this season and am so really looking forward to getting the competition season underway.

“With the success of 2015 putting me on the World Class Equine Pathway I now have Tokyo 2020 firmly in mind.  Being part of Team GB is a dream I intend to make a reality.”

Ian’s preferred choice from the Black Country Saddles range are the Vinici Jump and Vinici Dressage saddles which he says fit to perfection and help provide excellent balance whether in the dressage arena or on the cross-country course.

In 2015 Ian and Hartpury Sky is the Limit won the 8/9-year-old Advanced class at Aston Le Walls and was the only horse to finish on his dressage score.

Other notable completions included sixth at Hartpury International CCl** and fourth at Blenheim International Horse Trials in the 8/9-year-old CIC*** where Ian was the highest placed British rider.

Owned by the ever-supportive Brodie family, in 2016 Hartpury Sky is the Limit is aimed at the Grantham Cup at Belton then Chatsworth CIC*** followed by Tattersalls in Ireland CCI*** targeting a Nations Cup team place for summer 2016.  With these foundations laid Ian will then aim Hartpury Sky is the Limit at his first CCI**** and Badminton in 2017.

Adds Ian: “Eventing is the biggest test of a horse’s ability, agility and mind-set and more importantly, the biggest test of partnership and trust between horse and rider. Thanks to Black Country Saddles I have fantastic equipment which I can rely on at the highest and most demanding levels of the sport.”

Black Country Saddles Sponsor Showing Supremo Jayne Ross


LEADING rider and producer Jayne Ross is the latest top showing star to join the Black Country Saddles sponsored team.

Well known for their prestigious range of saddles, bridles and accessories, Black Country Saddles produce a bespoke collection that has been developed to the highest level of craftsmanship with superb attention to detail.

Jayne has ridden and trained many top show horses over the years winning all major titles including five supreme championships at the Horse of the Year Show.

Based in Windsor, Jayne had a fantastic 2015 season winning the British Horse Society Supreme Horse Championship at the Royal International on the lightweight show hunter Time to Reflect.

She then finished the year by winning the Supreme Horse of Year Championship at HOYS for a second year running on the riding horse, Broadshard Simplicity.

Said Jayne: “I am very impressed with the Black Country show saddles and am really looking forward to riding in them this season. To have gained their support is a fantastic start to the year.

“The show saddle is so comfortable and is a fantastic fit for horse and rider.  The minute you sit on one you feel completely at home and you know you will not have to spend time bedding it in.

“They also allow plenty of freedom of movement which is so important for the show horse in order that they can move well and have presence when in the ring.”

Added Wendy Hartley of Black Country Saddles: “We are delighted to have Jayne join our sponsored team.  Her brilliance in the show ring, attention to detail and immaculate presentation is well known.  She is a winner through and through and also understands the importance saddles play in their success.”

Simon and Natalie Reynolds Join Black Country Saddles Team

Simon and Nat 003

WELL KNOWN for their huge success in the world of showing, Simon and Natalie Reynolds have secured new sponsorship from Black Country Saddles.

With various showing championship successes to their names, the husband and wife team are a major force to be reckoned with especially when it comes to cob and show hunter classes.

Simon’s partnership with the maxi cob Hallmark lX has led to countless accolades while other multi-winning partnerships include the lightweight cob Cock Robin, small hunter Sporting Sam and working hunter Ballin County.

Natalie’s major wins came aboard the lightweight cob Casanova and of course her small hunter Bailey’s Over Ice.

Said Simon: “We are extremely impressed by the quality and fit of the saddles.  The leather is just superb and has such a premium feel. 

“We also like the fact the business is run by a team who fully understand horses and the horse world in general so recognise the exacting requirements of competitors like ourselves.

“Show cobs are not the easiest horses to fit when it comes to saddles but the team did a fantastic job making sure everything was just right.  The attention to detail is truly outstanding.”

Added Wendy Hartley of Black Country Saddles: “Simon and Natalie are a great team and have won many championships over the years.  We are delighted to be supporting them and look forward to success throughout 2016.”