Ashley Deboer

Like most riders, my horse’s comfort is one of my top priorities. Also like most riders, I thought I knew how to correctly fit a saddle to my horse’s sensitive back, I was wrong. I was very excited to show my new promising young horse at her first dressage show at Willow Tree Farms. I tacked her up as always in my old, trusty saddle; but when I got on, I gave the spectators more of a show than I had bargained for – Safari reared straight up in the air several times before we entered at [point] A. I rode her through the test the best I could; this was not the first time I had ridden her rear. I was happy to get through our test and I shrugged off her behavior, thinking she just needed more experience.

Luckily for Safari, Karin Bielefeld observed our ride. After we left the ring, Karin was kind enough to approach me and after taking a closer look at my saddle, she tactfully clued me in to the real reason for Safari’s naughty behavior. My saddle was pinching Safari at the shoulders and causing this sensitive horse to feel claustrophobic. As a flight animal, Safari was simply trying to escape the painful pressure.

I was immediately impressed with Karin’s sharp eye, and was delighted to learn that she is a professional saddle fitter. I begged her to squeeze in a saddle fitting before my next ride. She agreed and was able to work with her tools and the saddle I already had to make a proper fit. As she worked, she involved me in the process by explaining exactly what she was doing. She then had me remount so that she could give me a lesson with the new and wonderful feel that Safari was giving me. She truly felt like a different horse, and thanked me for the freedom in her back by putting in two more excellent tests.

Safari is now going better than ever, and scored in the 70’s in her last two shows. I’m so grateful to Karin for her sharp insights and her expert teachings. A proper saddle fit is crucial key to a good relationship with every horse. It is a matter that is too often overlooked, yet it’s so worthy of every rider’s time and attention.


The Ugly Pad


Marie Milliman (Dressage Trainer)

“The Ugly Pad has made a tremendous difference in horses I train. When horses are physically comfortable they learn faster. All of my own horses and many of my client’s horses have an “Ugly Pad”.


Jackie Allen (Trainer)

“It’s ugly , but it works!”


Cathy Halinski (Dressage Student)

“The Ugly Pad” has made a significant change in the “throughness” of my horse.”