I came into saddle fitting through my teaching, training and competing, rather than from the saddle manufacturing or retail sectors. I feel this gives me a clear insight into the needs of the modern competition horse and rider. When teaching riders to sit correctly on out-of-balance saddles, I was forever putting makeshift pads under the front and back of pupils’ saddles to give them an idea of what I was trying to achieve. And of course it’s not just the rider at stake – if the rider is out of balance, his or her weight is not in the right place for the horse to carry it, which leads to poor performance at best and a sore back at worst.
I soon became fascinated with Saddle Fitting and set out to gain as much knowledge as possible. The SMS’s training and qualification procedures are very thorough and necessitate a full knowledge of saddle construction, horse and rider anatomy, the bio-mechanics of how the horse works and how correct saddle fit can influence the horse’s performance.
The SMS ensures that Qualified Fitters follow correct saddle fitting and record keeping procedures and that ethical business practices are adhered to. We all attend refresher courses every two years to ensure that we are up to date with the latest technologies and techniques, and I also enjoy going to veterinary and saddlery conferences.
Since I qualified in 2004, my business has continually grown, and now that my competition days are behind me, I concentrate purely on Saddle Fitting and teaching. I have an extensive and varied stock of new and secondhand saddles and I will give you as much time and advice as you need – this is an important purchase that can seriously affect the performance and success of your horse.
"As a registered behaviourist I deal with clients from all disciplines, many of which are on rehabilitation programmes where the welfare and comfort of the horse and safety of the client are paramount. Antonia's skills in saddle fitting have been second to none in complimenting the work I do and I cannot count the number of clients who have said how thrilled they have been with her service.
I would highly recommend Antonia Wills services to anyone requiring a qualified saddle fitter with a passion for perfection."
Kay Willoughby SEBC PTC
Calm and Collected
"Few saddle fitters can boast both qualifications from the Society of Master Saddlers and a competition career which took them to top level. When we're buying saddles for our horses, we know that the product that Antonia recommends will be suitable. However, the real benefit that stems from the combination of her experience as a saddle fitter and her equal experience as a competitor is that she understands what we are looking for in terms of performance and can instantly translate our feedback into measures for improvement.
Our relationship with Antonia spans thirty years and in each case we have always had the right advice. She attends our yard approximately every two months for routine saddle checks as well as whenever we require new saddles."