A Busy Season Gets Underway

Leading showman Robert Walker has amassed a host of major championships over the years whether riding Show Hunters, Riding Horses, Hacks or Cobs. Well known for his attention to detail and making sure his horses look in fantastic condition, Robert’s horses are always a picture of health.

Name: Robert Walker

Location: Cheshire

How and when did you start riding?

I probably sat on a pony even before I could walk, but certainly as soon as I was able to sit upright on a pony. My dad Tony was keen to get me started and I never looked back.

During your career has there been a particular horse that you consider to have really helped you ‘make it’?

I would have to say the Small Hunter, Double Coin. I had him when I was 16 and we went to the Royal International Horse Show for the first time. I was pulled in top out of 43 and suddenly everyone sat up and took notice. We eventually finished third but it was very much a turning point.

Which top horse do you personally most admire and why?

I would have to go for Caesar’s Palace as he combines real quality and class with a trainable attitude. He just knows he is special and if he were human would be George Clooney!

Tell us about the tack you use?

We are very fortunate to be sponsored by Black Country Saddles. The team at Black Country Saddles have many years’ experience when it comes to fitting and making saddles and we are delighted to have their support. When it comes to showing, the overall image and look is just so important when you are in the ring and as well as being the perfect fit for horse and rider, the saddles also have to be comfortable for the judges to ride in. We are very impressed with the saddles and are looking forward to riding our Show Hunters, Hacks, Riding Horses and Cobs in them this season.

If you could give one piece of advice to readers, what would it be?

I think it is very important to be committed to your chosen discipline and also to watch and learn from the professionals. Everyone is happy to provide advice and we want to encourage amateur riders to come up through the ranks and be as professional in their production skills and outlook as they can.

What are your plans for 2015? 

We have a great team of young horses to get out and about on the show circuit this year so at the early events it is our job to educate them and provide them with a good experience they will remember at their early shows. Once the season is underway we always look forward to Royal Windsor Horse Show and then it is all about qualification for the Royal International Horse Show followed by HOYS.

Horse Profile

Caesars Palace


Horse name:            Caesar’s Palace                         Stable name: Caesar

Owner:  Jill Day        Colour:  Bay             Sex:   Gelding           Height: 16.31/2hh

Age: Six-years-old         Breed: Irish Sport Horse            Sire:   Emperor August


Caesar’s Palace took the Show Hunter Championship at HOYS last year after winning the Middleweight category. We first caught sight of him at the Royal Dublin Horse Show. His owner Jill Day had seen him and wanted us to take a closer look. You could see he was a star even as a two-year-old and went on to be Youngstock Champion at this prestigious show. Like all top class show horses he just has that ‘look at me’ attitude that horses are born with. You can improve them in many ways but they have to stand out from the rest in a class and attract the judge’s attention.

Three things you did’t know about him:

1)         He is very fussy

2)         He is a good-doer

3)         He is always relaxed and ‘good to do’

Frelsi Icelandic

The Frelsi saddle has been designed specifically for Icelandic horses. After facing many challenging fit issues, much work and research within the Dutch market we have a greater understanding of what is required.

Typically Icelandics have short backs limiting the seat size, however this tree features a new cantle design allowing more room for the rider. We offer three different styles of back gussets and other panel options to accommodate the range of profiles within the breed.

It comes complete with extra D rings and the choice of 5 standard straps or dressage style straps.

The Frelsi Icelandic saddle is suitable for trail riding, dressage and gaited competition

Vinici GP

Even if it’s an All Purpose saddle for everyday that you want, why not spoil yourself with a Vinici.
Whatever your level of riding this truly superb saddle will give you and your horse the ultimate in comfort, style and performance.

Built on the principle of the GPX model. The girthing system lies neatly between the cushioned sweat flap, so as to avoid any discomfort.

Take advantage of all the benefits that a Vinici single/mono flap, close contact saddle has to offer – just for everyday! – “ a true indulgence”

Vinici Ballina Jump

The Vinici Ballina Jump offers sophistication and style, combined with the latest cutting edge technology.

Designed with close-contact in mind, the Ballina is a single/mono flap saddle but with girth straps positioned between the flap for added comfort and neatness.

The single/mono flap maximises closeness to the horse and the medium seat and knee roll offer support without restriction.

Made from soft vintage leather, the Ballina includes detailed stitching and a superior finish.

Vinici Ballina Dressage

The Vinicia Ballina dressage saddle offers sophistication and style, combined with the latest cutting edge technology.

Designed with close-contact in mind, the Ballina is a single/mono flap saddle but with girth straps positioned between the flap for added comfort and neatness.

The single/mono flap maximises closeness to the horse and the medium seat and knee roll offer support without restriction.

Made from soft vintage leather, the Ballina includes detailed stitching and a superior finish.

New Etienne Pony Jumping Saddle

LOOKING for a pony jumping saddle that offers the very latest in design and materials?

The new Etienne Pony Jumping Saddle is the latest addition to the Black Country Saddles collection.

The saddle has been developed specifically with the pony jumper and rider in mind.

Made from top quality calf leather, the Etienne has a forward-fitting seat to allow freedom of movement over the highest jumps and is custom-made for each individual rider.

A discreet knee roll provides support without blocking the leg position and the forward-cut flaps help the rider’s balance and security.

Built on a close contact tree, the pure wool flocking helps to offer the perfect fit and allows greater adjustment options.

This bespoke saddle provides attention to detail and design and craftsmanship that is second to none.

The Etienne Pony Jump Saddle is available in a range of width fittings and comes in sizes 15in to 16.5in, colour Havana – £1195.

Jumping into the Saddle

Here the team at Black Country Saddles provide advice on what to look for when buying a new show jumping saddle…


I am looking at buying a jumping saddle for my horse, what should I be looking for in my new purchase?


Rob Cullen of Black Country Saddles replies:

Both show jumping and cross-country requires the rider to be athletic and in balance with their horse at all times.

Making sure you have the right saddle that fits the horse and is comfortable for the rider is key to success whether competing at a local or international level.

The modern jumping saddle has been designed to provide a close contact fit to help the rider sit close to the horse and with their weight balanced.

As ever, designs vary in style and colour and there are some saddles that are made using a single or mono flap system that allows the rider to have a closer feel around the horse.

It is important for a rider to feel their horse working underneath the saddle in order to get the best out of them. This level of communication is greatly enhanced by a single flap jumping saddle.

Jumping saddles are designed with knee and thigh blocks to help support the rider’s leg position, and the forward cut flap helps assist balance in the saddle.

When deciding on which saddle to buy make sure it is one that is designed to allow maximum performance from the rider as well as the horse.

As with all saddles we recommend that you use an experienced saddle fitter to get the very best advice.

Always pay great attention to the saddle’s flocking, it needs to provide cushioning to help reduce trauma to the back when jumping. A saddle that is over-stuffed will be too hard causing soreness on the horse’s back.

The forces involved with a big horse taking off, stretching over a fence and landing on the other side are tremendous, so the saddle must sit well and minimise the effect of jarring to the horse’s back.

If comfort, style and longevity are what you are looking for a saddle made from top quality leather is just what you need. Remember cheaper leather can have a tendency to be slippery and not provide a secure seat with good grip.

Choosing to buy a bespoke saddle will help ensure it is fitted by trained experts who understand your horse’s needs.

Compromise should not be an option when deciding on your new show jumping saddle. Ideally the saddle should maximise your partnership with the horse and balance comfort with style and performance.

Talking Tack with Robert Walker

Black Country Saddles sponsored showman Robert Walker discusses the importance of correct tack and turnout for Show and Working Hunters and provides advice on how to make your horse look his best.

First and foremost, it is important to realise that every class and type of horse is required to wear different styles of tack. However one thing is a necessity…. no matter what class you enter all tack must be fitted correctly and be comfortable for the horse. Turnout is also extremely important therefore special attention should be paid to how your horse looks in the ring.

Show Hunters

Ideally, Show Hunters should be ridden in a double bridle and the noseband must be a simple, plain, flat cavesson. The size of the noseband used depends on the horse’s head. You can make a lot of difference to whether the head is large or small by making sure the noseband enhances the appearance.

I like Show Hunters to wear a straight cut saddle with a plain brown or black numnah.  The Black Country Classic Show Saddle offers style and elegance when in the show arena.

It 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 which is so important in the world of showing.

For turnout, Show Hunters must be plaited with a neatly pulled tail. Make sure all whiskers, ears and heel feather is trimmed to give your horse a more defined outline.

For Working Hunters the turnout is the same as a Show Hunter however the tack differs. I would always opt for a General Purpose or Working Hunter style saddle which gives enough security for you to jump in, whilst at the same time does not cover too much of the horse’s shoulder, hindering the appearance.

Bright numnahs and square saddle pads are a ‘no no’ whilst brown or black numnahs – which aren’t too big for the saddle – are the norm. In Working Hunter classes you are also allowed to use a martingale if you need to.

10 Things You Didn’t About Katy Carter

Black Country Saddles sponsored show pony producer Katy Carter, from Stoke-on-Trent had a very busy and successful 2014 season.

Here we catch up with Katy to catch a glimpse of her hectic lifestyle.

  1. I went to Moorside High School in Stoke-on-Trent but I didn’t like school much as I always wanted to be out riding.
  2. My nickname was Budge!If
  3. I hadn’t become a show producer in the equestrian world I would have liked to have been a fashion designer or run my own restaurant.
  4. My Dad is the person who inspired me most and is still involved in producing show ponies.
  5. I have a dog called Widget, he’s a real character!
  6. I am fortunate to be sponsored by Black Country Saddles and my daughter Poppy has a saddle named after her!
  7. I help promote the saddles which not only fit extremely well but also enhance the overall appearance when it comes to showing.
  8. My favourite show of the season is the Horse of the Year Show which is a really prestigious event and you have to qualify to compete there.
  9. I could not live without my partner Jason, my two sons Harry and Harvey and daughter Poppy.
  10. I am a BSPS, PUK, Chaps, BSPA and Veteran judge and I have my BHSAI and BSPS Accredited Trainers Certificate.

Izabel Captures BSPS Mini Rider of the Year Award

YOUNG Izabel Worthington and her Lead Rein Show Hunter Pony, Conway Moonlight Serenade captured the Black Country Saddles Mini Rider of the Year Award at the BSPS Summer Championships.

Based near Whitchurch, five-year-old Izabel had a smile from ear to ear after claiming the prestigious award and winning a bespoke Black Country handmade show bridle.


Although in their second season together, this year has been a big step up for the pair contesting affiliated classes for the first time throughout 2014.

Izabel, nine-year-old pony Mac as he is known at home, and her Mum Clare were on great form to impress the judges in the prestigious final at Arena UK, near Grantham.

The Black Country Saddles Mini Rider of the Year Award proved popular with the presentation taking place during the Saturday Evening Performance.

The championship is split into two sections; Lead Rein Rider of the Year and 12 years and under.

Said Clare: “Izabel and Mac have had a great season, we couldn’t be more pleased, he is a great confidence giver and just a brilliant pony both at home and in the ring.

“They have now formed an excellent partnership and made such huge progress throughout the season.”

Clare has chosen to have a bespoke show bridle made for their young lead rein show pony, Sycamore Jade who will come out under saddle next season.

“Winning a handmade Black Country show bridle is a fantastic prize and a great way to round off the year,” added Clare.

Qualifiers for the Black Country Saddles Mini Rider of the Year Award took place at shows all over the country with the final open to riders who had been awarded a Best Rider Card.

Picture Caption:  Izabel and Clare Worthington with Conway Moonlight Serenade and Wendy Hartley of Black Country Saddles.

James Takes BSPS Rider of the Year Award

A delighted James Painter won the Black Country Saddles Rider of the Year Award at the BSPS Summer Championships.

Shropshire-based James and the 143cm Mountain & Moorland Working Hunter Pony, Willoway Apple Jack, were on great form to wow the judges in the prestigious final at Arena UK, near Grantham.


The Award is one of the highlights of the show, with the presentation taking place during the Saturday Evening Performance when James won a bespoke Black Country Saddle as his prize.

Said James (19): “AJ as we call him at home, is a superstar. He is now 14-years-old and we have a fantastic partnership together.

“I look after AJ and prepare him for shows myself with help from my Mum, Liz and really enjoy going competing.  We have had a great season and he is just a fantastic pony.

“Winning a Black Country Saddle is just amazing and a brilliant bonus, I was over the moon to take the award, it was a great evening.

“AJ is very consistent and I really enjoy riding him, we have owned him for five years and this year have qualified for HOYS and also competed at the Royal International Horse Show.”

Qualifiers for the Black Country Saddles Rider of the Year Award took place at shows all over the country with the final open to riders who have been awarded a Best Rider Card in the following classes:

Open Lead Rein and First Ridden, Open Lead Rein Hunter Type, Open Show Ponies, Open Show Hunter Ponies, Open Cradle and Nursery Stakes, Open WHP, Open Intermediate, Open Heritage Lead Rein and First Ridden, Open Heritage Ridden and Open Heritage WHP classes.

At the championship the competition was divided into six categories, with each winner receiving a Black Country Saddles jacket.

The sections were Lead Rein Rider of the Year, nine years and under, 11 years and under, 14 years and under, 17 years and under, and 25 years and under.

The classes and championship were judged using a two-phase system with marks accrued from a freestyle individual show before a second individual show with set movements required.

Picture Caption: James Painter with John Hartley of Black Country Saddles and judge Robert Walker.