Saddle Proves a Winner for Julia

Wexford saddle

TEN years ago, Perthshire based Julia Craig bought a brand new Black Country Wexford saddle for her event horse.

Now 10 years on and four horses later the saddle is still as good as new.

Said Julia: “A saddler came out to fit a saddle for my horse and I ordered the Wexford after the consultation. The model has a wider seat than normal for a jumping saddle and when it arrived it was just so comfortable and fitted my horse perfectly.

“In the last 10 years it has been used on two event horses competing up to Novice level and it shows no wear on the leather at all.”

Julia’s saddle has recently proved to be too narrow for her new horse so she decided to have it revalued by a Master Saddler and Qualified Saddle Fitter before trying to sell it.

Remarkably and much to Julia’s delight, the saddle was valued at £900 even after 10 years of use and general wear and tear, just £100 less than the original purchase price!

Added Julia: “The saddle was in great condition, it still had the original girth straps and had only been reflocked once. The leather was bedded-in but showed no signs of being worn.

“The saddle had been well looked after as I kept it covered in a dry tack room and it was regularly cleaned and though it was originally oiled I made sure that I didn’t over-oil or over-soap it.”

Having liked the saddle so much, Julia has just bought a new Wexford to fit her horse and has recently sold on her original Wexford saddle which continues to do its job and look the part for another owner.

Julia, who is a qualified BHSI instructor, has recently completed her training with Kay Hastilow and has set up her own business as a Qualified Saddle Fitter. Julia covers Perthshire, Stirling, Edinburgh, Fife, Angus and Aberdeenshire and stocks a selection of Black Country Saddles.

If you would like more information on saddle fitting contact Julia Craig on 07835714581 or email

Top Results at HOYS 2015 for Black Country Saddles Sponsored Riders

THE team of Black Country Saddles sponsored riders notched up some fantastic results at the prestigious Horse of the Year Show.

Sarah Parker finished the show in style with Sarum Rembrandt taking the coveted Supreme Pony of the Year title after standing Champion M&M Ridden Pony of the Year and winning the M&M Ridden Welsh Section A Pony of the Year.

She was also second in the M&M Ridden Welsh C Pony of the Year with ride Menai Thomas, and they also picked up fifth in the M&M 133cm Working Hunter Pony of the Year.

The Katy Carter Show Team were on winning form with Poppy Carter and Rotherwood Rainmaker winning the 128cm Children’s Riding Pony of the Year and standing reserve champion.

The 138cm Children’s Riding Pony of the Year provided a win for Ellis Taverner-Burns with Rhos Exception taking the honours before she pipped her team mate Poppy in the line-up to take the Championship. Ellis also won the 133cm Show Hunter Pony of the Year with Scalacre Eclipse.

Kayleigh Catton headed the 153cm Intermediate Show Riding Type of the Year and then went on to stand champion with Llanarth Fair Play.

Cilgeti Prince Charming ridden by Alex Helliwell took second in the Lead Rein Pony of Hunter Type of the Year with Katy Carter leading.

Robert Walker also proved to be a man on form with Vantage Point crowned Champion Hunter of the Year. Starry Night headed the Maxi Cob of the Year before marking his retirement from the show ring.

Robert also picked up second in the Large Riding Horse of the Year with Firstman and Randalstown Rolex finished fourth in the Lightweight Cob of the Year.

It was also celebrations for the Oakes family as Victoria and Cairns Fergus finished second in the M&M 143cm Working Hunter Pony of the Year and younger brother Charlie took second in the M&M 122cm Working Hunter Pony of the Year with Chetwynd Caspar.

Victoria also finished seventh in this section with Roseberry Lullaby and then claimed third in the M&M 133cm Working Hunter Pony with Roseberry Model Man.

Cassie Hartley took fourth in the 158cm Intermediate Show Riding Type of the Year with her new ride Renkum Lausanna, whilst Acheval Boutique Amadeus was ninth in the Intermediate Show Hunter of the Year Championship.Kayleigh Catton took the 153cm Intermediate Show Riding Type of the Year and then went champion with Llanarth Fair Play.

Lily Ahern-Lee and Barkway Sweet William headed the Lead Rein Pony of the Year, whilst Kirstine Douglas picked up a very credible fourth in the Middleweight Show Hunter of the Year with Primitive Dancer.

Jo Bates finished fourth in the Maxi Cob of the Year Championship with Benny Hill II, whilst Runnon Watergate also took fourth in the Small Riding Horse of the Year to round off a very successful HOYS for the Black Country Saddles team.

Caring for your Tack throughout the Winter


Making sure your saddle and bridle is looked after properly will, in the long run, save you money. Here John Hartley of Black Country Saddles provides advice on caring for your saddle and bridle.

When maintaining a used bridle clean your bridle regularly according to how often it is used. It is much better to give it a quick clean every time it is used but, if you don’t have time, a thorough clean once a week for a bridle in daily use should be sufficient.

A good way to keep your bridle in good condition is to wipe it off after use using a cloth such as an old flannel or dishcloth dipped in a small bucket of warm water and thoroughly squeezed out.

After cleaning the dirt and grease from the bridle, apply a coat of saddle soap. Black Country Balsam is a very popular choice and will help to feed the leather, keeping it soft and supple. The balsam should be applied with a dry sponge.

If the bridle is very greasy, or otherwise heavily soiled, you will find that a small handful of washing soda crystals added to the water will help enormously and will not affect the suppleness of the leather.

Should you be caught out in the rain whilst riding, immediate action is required! Dismantle the bridle as soon as possible and clean it in the usual way – then allow it to dry out slowly. Do not be tempted to place it near a heater or a sunny window to speed up the drying process as this will make the leather go very hard – and you may not be able to revive it. After drying, apply a coat of leather-dressing or oil followed by the balsam.

Do not oil your bridle too often: restrict oiling to when the bridle is new, when it gets very wet, or if it has been unused for a while and has dried out.

If you have just bought a new bridle, always check that it fits your horse before treating it with any kind of oil or leather dressing, as the saddler will not give a refund or exchange an oiled bridle.

Once this is done, apply a liberal coat of good quality leather dressing to both sides. Leather dressings are available in oil and paste forms – ask your saddler for his recommendation.

Before applying the dressing, dismantle the bridle and place it on some newspaper. If you are using a liquid dressing, the best way to do it is to pour a little into an old saucer and paint it onto the bridle with a clean, dry paint brush.

Allow the dressing to soak in and then, if the leather still seems to be quite dry, apply another coat. When the dressing is finally absorbed, apply a coat of saddle soap or balsam using an almost dry sponge. You can then reassemble the bridle and it is now ready for use.

For saddles use the same method as for bridles. Use only soaps or balsam on your saddle which are recommended by your saddler as some have been known to cause colour fade to certain saddles.

Another important tip is to store your saddle and bridle on a purpose-made rack where a fairly even temperature is maintained. This will help avoid any damage to either item and if possible keep them under a fabric saddle cover.

The New Cavalina Dressage Saddle


The new Cavalina from Black Country Saddles has been specifically designed for the dressage pony and junior rider.

This beautiful bespoke saddle has a low cantle design helping to create balance in the saddle and suited to young riders who like more freedom in the seat.

The saddle is ideal for those riders who are used to a flatter style of saddle and are new to dressage designs, helping to create a harmonious picture.

The Cavalina comes in black and is available in 15 to 16.5 inch seat and the wide selection of panels and trees allow it to be fitted to a variety of ponies.

This hand-crafted saddle offers a design which is perfectly suited to the pony and creates a flattering picture which is sure to catch the eye and maximise performance in the ring.

The Black Country Saddles Cavalina is priced at £1,500.

For more information or help with buying a new saddle contact Black Country Saddles on 01543 578 243


The new Cavalina from Black Country Saddles has been specifically designed for the dressage pony and junior rider.

This beautiful bespoke saddle has a low cantle design helping to create balance in the saddle and suited to young riders who like more freedom in the seat.

The saddle is ideal for those riders who are used to a flatter style of saddle and are new to dressage designs, helping to create a harmonious picture.

The Cavalina comes in black and is available in 15 to 16.5 inch seat and the wide selection of panels and trees allow it to be fitted to a variety of ponies.

This hand-crafted saddle offers a design which is perfectly suited to the pony and creates a flattering picture which is sure to catch the eye and maximise performance in the ring.

Liberty is BSPS Mini Rider of the Year

Liberty Grota1

Liberty Grota made the seven hour journey from her Pembrokeshire home to Arena UK in Lincolnshire worthwhile when she was crowned the Black Country Saddles BSPS Mini Rider of the Year Champion at the Summer Championships.

Partnering the stunning four-year-old, Cadlanvalley Superted, Liberty (10) won her section before going on to claim the overall championship.

Cadlanvalley Superted or ‘Ted’ as he is known at home is a 12hh Show Hunter Pony of unknown breeding as he was rescued by the Grota family 18 months ago. Despite his poor start in life this young pony has had a remarkable season with Liberty, standing Reserve Supreme of the Show at BSPS Wales on his first outing.

He has since been unbeaten as a First Ridden Show Hunter Pony and has also qualified for HOYS as a Lead Rein of Show Hunter Type with a younger jockey on board.

Liberty’s mother, Hayley, who breeds Welsh Section B ponies at her Cadlanvalley Stud in West Wales said: “This is Liberty’s favourite show and Ted is such a lovely pony.”

The BSPS Summer Championships seem to be a lucky venue for Liberty as she won her age class in the Rider of the Year divisions last year, but went one better this year to claim the Mini Championship. To add to their glory, Liberty and Ted also landed the Blue Division 12hh Show Hunter Pony section. To top it off, the talented jockey picked up the Wow Factor M&M First Ridden Championship with the grey Colne Torpedo.

Liberty won a Black Country Saddles bridle for their win in the Black Country Saddles BSPS Mini Rider of the Year Championship and was absolutely delighted. Her mother, Hayley added: “We are really thrilled and would like to thank Black Country Saddles for their generosity.” Ted went beautifully throughout for Liberty who belied her 10 years to ride with great maturity and elegance to wow the judges and claim the beautiful floral sash.

Liberty has qualified six ponies for HOYS in five different classes and will contest winter shows with some up and coming homebred Welsh Section B ponies.

Lucille is Rider of the Year at BSPS Summer Championships

Lucille Bywater and Westfirle Mr Mcgregor

Eleven-year-old Lucille Bywater rode her socks off to impress the judges on her way to claiming the Black Country Saddles BSPS Rider of the Year Championships.

Lucille partnered the 13-year-old Westfirle Mr Mcgregor to claim the under 13 age category class before taking the overall title against older competitors.

Lucille is a familiar face on the show pony circuit having successfully shown several Broadgrove ponies who are bred by her grandmother, Ann Fowler. This time it was the turn of her mother’s stunning 13hh welsh part bred Westfirle Mr Mcgregor to have his moment in the spotlight. Having been together for exactly a year, the combination has had much success in a variety of disciplines.

Her mum Victoria said: “I bought ‘Greg’ so Lucille could have a pony she could do absolutely everything with and that’s exactly what they do. He’s a wonderful pony and they know each other inside out.”

In the past year Lucille and Greg have competed on the dressage, show jumping and eventing Pony Club teams, qualified for the Royal International and competed at BE80 one day events. They qualified for the BSPS championships at BSPS 13A Cornwall and certainly made the journey to the Grantham based championships from her Bristol home worthwhile.

Lucille put her multi-discipline experience to good use in the second phase of the Best Rider competition, where competitors were under instruction from Jayne Ross. She captivated the judges with her knowledge and riding ability and Greg went beautifully for her.

A proud Victoria commented: “We were absolutely thrilled. It was such a fantastic competition as a whole and the second phase under instruction was very good and highly useful. It is particularly special for this pony to win as he is a true all-rounder and does everything for us.”

Lucille was the delighted recipient of a Black Country Saddle as her prize for claiming the prestigious BSPS Rider of the Year title. “We are really looking forward to the saddle arriving – we are hoping we might be able to have a dressage one as we would like to focus on eventing next year,” she said.

Lucille has recently acquired the 14hh version of Greg, Pebbly Grey Fox who she will compete alongside one another. Lucille has qualified three ponies for HOYS and will then focus on dressage through the winter including the Dengie Winter League Final, with both ponies.

Championship Showing Success for Cassie Hartley

Cassie Hartley and Archeval Boutique Amadeus

SHOW rider Cassie Hartley and her ride, Archeval Boutique Amadeus, have been in outstanding form this season capturing a host of titles at the BSPS Summer Championships.

The 22-year-old from Stafford has had an excellent summer with her Intermediate Show Hunter Pony produced by the Staffordshire-based Katy Carter Show Team.

Cassie and the 10-year-old bay gelding took the Blue Riband and the HOYS Intermediate Show Hunter classes by storm and then went on to stand Intermediate Show Hunter Champion.

Following this success Cassie and Amoo then went on to collect the Ronnie Marmont Supreme and the Best of the Best Area Supreme titles, before being crowned Supreme Champion of Champions for 2015.

Working at Black Country Saddles as a Client Executive, Cassie juggles her time in the office taking the orders, shipping out saddles, invoicing and dealing with customers as well as her riding outside of work.

Said Cassie; “I really enjoy my job and it is great working in an environment where I get to pick and design my own saddles. I ride in the Classic Show saddle and Amoo really does move well when riding in it.

“Having so many friends who also ride and compete helps to provide great feedback on particular saddles, what they would like to see in any new developments and so on.

Cassie will be heading to HOYS seeking success after an excellent season and will be hoping to continue their great form in the Intermediate Show Hunters classes.

Just Electric – That’s Rupert for You!

Poppy& Rupert

ACROSS all equestrian disciplines every once in a while a partnership between horse and rider develops that is nothing short of legendary. In the world of pony showing few would doubt that this is the case for Poppy Carter and her pony of a lifetime Rotherwood Rainmaker. Courtesy of their sponsor Black Country Saddles, mum Katy Carter tells us more…

FROM a young prima donna, scared of getting wet, Rotherwood Rainmaker now dances to another level even in the heaviest of Great British downpours.

The delightful bay, 128cm Show Pony is made of the stuff of legends and has in recent years with his equally talented jockey Poppy Carter, won every major championship before them.

But what makes this partnership just so very special – mum Katy provides the inside information!

“He was just so difficult as a youngster and although I liked him when we went to see him, he definitely didn’t shout wow factor in the stable.

“Dad saw him advertised on the internet and we decided to go and see him at Di and George Brereton’s yard in Wales.

“As a three-year-old and in the stable you could see he was nice, but in a way quite ordinary, it was when he started to trot I just said we had to have him!

“The lift in his movement was just fantastic and he transformed into a star that I knew judges wouldn’t be able to take their eyes off.

“The bond that Poppy and Rupert have developed over the years really is quite magic and he always neighs as she walks towards him, it is very special to see.

“He was quite difficult to break and in fact it took us nine weeks to get on him but once we had his trust we were away.

“At their first show together they took the Overall Supreme Pony Championship at Area 4B as a novice and their winning ways have continued ever since.

“When he was a youngster he was quite a prima donna and hated rain when we were at an outdoor show.

“At Three Counties we were last as he cow-kicked in hand, which looking back was hilarious but at the time I really didn’t think so.  Thankfully these are now just memories of how tricky he could be.

“I rode him at the show because he was excitable at times but after I became cross with him it was a turning point and I knew he was growing up.

“At the Royal International that year as a four-year-old he went Supreme Pony Champion, a day I will never forget especially as Poppy was only nine-years-old herself.

“Rupert and Poppy have been really successful in the North of England Summer Championships £1,000 classes having won three times in a row which is amazing and I can certainly say he has a bank balance bigger than mine.

“In 2013 when he won there was the biggest thunderstorm but the rain doesn’t bother him at all now, in fact he couldn’t like it more and just wants to win for Poppy.

“At Royal Windsor Horse Show there was a fantastic photograph of them taken where Rupert had turned his head round to look back at Poppy and it just said it all really and summed up their great relationship – it is as if they can talk to each other.

“He just loves what he does and transformed from being such a horror into being just the best.”

By Rotherwood Peter Pan, Rupert was bred by Liz Mansfield Parnell who sold him as a youngster but she has followed his career closely and has been a huge supporter of their amazing achievements.

Rupert and Poppy compete in a Black Country Saddles Classic show saddle to enhance their overall appearance when in the ring with the close contact and neat appearance proving a huge winner.

His success has even led to him developing a fan base across the water in Australia where his full brother, Rotherwood Spring Parade has been very successful.

Adds Katy: “He has a massive fan base and has made such an impact on the show scene.  Rupert is now a complete schoolmaster and just a star.”

New Sponsor for Young Show Rider Tori Oakes

Tori Oakes and Cairns Fergus

Mountain & Moorland specialist Tori Oakes is celebrating after gaining sponsorship from Black Country Saddles, well-known for their bespoke range of premium saddles.

Based in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, 23-year-old Tori has been making her mark on the showing world with her yard of M&M ponies with 2014 proving highly successful.

Among a number of major titles, Tori won her M&M WHP class at the RIHS and went on to be Champion with her brilliant campaigner, Cairns Fergus. In doing so, she was the first person to take the title with a Highland Pony. The partnership went on to be placed third at HOYS and Tori also qualified two Welsh Section A’s for Olympia.

Wendy Hartley of Black Country Saddles said: “Tori is a talented and dedicated rider who is sure to enjoy continued success in the showing world. We are delighted she has joined the Black Country Saddles team of sponsored riders and producers.”

Tori is thrilled to have received sponsorship from Black Country Saddles and all of her ponies are ridden in a saddle from the range.

“I love them and won’t ride in anything else. When Cairns Fergus won at the Royal International he was wearing his Black Country saddle and bridle,” said a proud Tori.

There are currently seven ponies on Tori’s yard, all competing.  They are headed by the successful Highland, Cairns Fergus. He is flanked by two promising ponies who are both in their first year of open classes, the Welsh Section B, Roseberry Model Man and the Connemara, PSF Molly who are exciting prospects for the season and ones to watch.

Tori is already enjoying a successful season, having qualified five ponies for RIHS and her aim is to qualify seven for HOYS.

Black Country Saddles offer a selection of performance-inspired saddles including the Classic Show Saddle, so popular with many showing riders. They are beautifully designed with expert craftsmanship to ensure great fit, design and comfort.

International Dressage Rider Joins Black Country Saddles Team

Denise Hallion

BLACK Country Saddles are pleased to welcome international dressage rider and trainer, Denise Hallion to their team of sponsored riders.

Denise, who is based in Southampton and trains with Carl Hester, currently rides for South Africa competing at Grand Prix level and in 2011 and 2012 competed at many international competitions including the Spring and Sunshine Tour in the run up to the Olympics.

Denise has also successfully competed eventing in South Africa and show jumping on the national circuit up to Grade A level. Now in the world of dressage she is looking for a place on the South African squad for the Rio Olympics in 2016 with her top horse, Wervelwind, otherwise known as Verve at home.

The pair represented South Africa at the World Equestrian Games and also recently won the Grand Prix Special at the Dressage at Hickstead meeting.

Said Denise: “I am delighted to have the support of Black Country Saddles. In the past my top horse, Verve, had been struggling with wither pain despite regular physiotherapy and massage. He was diagnosed by the vet who said that his saddle was pinching him and impacting his performance in a negative way.

“Since having a Black Country Saddles Vinici dressage saddle, fitted by Jill Tremmil from Meadowlea Saddlery, Verve’s back has not had any saddle-related issues for the last 10 months and he is very much enjoying his work now. Whilst competing at Grand Prix level every little detail makes such a difference to my horse’s work and outlook.”

Said Mark Bryan of Black Country Saddles: “It’s great that Denise has joined our team of sponsored riders and we are excited to follow her progress this season nationally and internationally.”

Black Country Saddles Sponsor Kirstine Douglas


BESPOKE saddle makers, Black Country Saddles has welcomed show rider and producer Kirstine Douglas to their sponsored team.

Based in Dumfries, Scotland, Kirstine has been showing since she was three-years-old and worked for well-known showman Robert Oliver for five years before setting up her own yard and she has been highly successful ever since.

Besides her competition career, Kirstine has judged extensively and is on five judging panels. Her duties have taken her to Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as well as all the major UK shows, a role she very much enjoys.

Kirstine’s most prestigious win came in 2012 when she landed the Cob Championship at HOYS with the lightweight, Barneebus. She has also claimed a Reserve Champion spot with the Connemara, Sydserff Lord Of The Dance. Wins at RIHS and Royal Windsor add to the many other placings she has achieved every year at HOYS.

Kirstine currently has 20 horses on her yard, including leading names and a host of youngsters being carefully produced.

The yard caters for a range of horses and ponies from Cobs and Riding Horses to Hunters and Lead Rein Ponies. The Middleweight Hunter, Primitive Dancer who was placed second at HOYS last year on only her third outing with Kirstine has already qualified for RIHS this year as well as standing Reserve Champion at the Northern Spring Show. She joins four others who have also secured their RIHS tickets.

There are two particularly talented cobs on Kirstine’s yard at the moment. The Lightweight, Captain Morgan stood champion at Area 1B and the Novice, Johnny Walker went champion at North Eastern Counties, when shown in the Open category. Kirstine also thinks a lot of her Novice Hunter, Annaghmore Huntsman who recently took the Reserve Championship place at the Scottish Spring Show.

Kirstine’s team are ridden in Black Country Saddles, which she says have made a remarkable difference.

“I have noticed exceptional balance in the saddle and also much more freedom of movement. I really love Black Country Saddles,” she said.

Kirstine has also spread the word about the saddles to many of her clients, with one having her horse recently fitted to give fantastic results and a Championship Title the following week.

Added Kirstine: “It is great to have the support of Black Country Saddles which combine quality with great fit and exceptional performance.”