Top Dressage Athletes Prefer Riding in Childéric Saddles
Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage Directory - Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Available now in the United States, Childéric dressage saddles are for every type of horse. Established favorites throughout Europe for almost 25 years, they maximize freedom of movement and comfort, and are designed to create harmony between the rider and the horse. Childéric Saddles USA, www.childericsaddlesusa.com
Crafted by Luc Childéric since 1991, his saddles are all about shape, balance and style, “I always wanted to understand how to improve the balance, contact and comfort of both rider and horse. Each saddle has to have everything in harmony – seat, shape, stirrup bar placement, blocks, panels, to have the best result. It has to be the best.”
Childéric saddles are designed for every rider and every breed, allowing for the most optimal function of one’s saddle. U.S. Childéric sales rep German-born Daniela (Dani) Banner also runs a training farm in Shelbyville, Kentucky and imports quality dressage horses. She tries to help other riders understand the benefits from the array of these wonderful saddles, “There are plenty of models. It's easy to find the perfect one for each individual.”
The saddles are designed so that the rider sits in the center and has added design in the front, making the saddle more comfortable for both horse and rider. The saddles add to balance and security and allows for more effective communication between the rider and horse. When riding on a Luc Childéric design, you appreciate the close contact.
Dani shared a personal experience riding this extraordinary saddle brand, “Several years ago, I got to ride a Childéric DAC model that a friend of mine was trying on her horse. I immediately loved the close contact, quality and softness of the leather; it put me in a very balanced position right away and allowed my leg to ‘hang’ naturally. I have three slipped disks in my lower back and any saddle with a wide twist can hurt my back while riding those big moving warmbloods. There are tons of saddle makers out there who claim their saddles have a narrow twist, but Childéric is one of the very few that truly does have a narrow twist.”
Over any other saddle brand, Dani continued to support her preference for Childéric saddles, “They have so many options to assure proper fit, such as free shoulder option, free whither option, panel sizes, channel, width. I can use one model panel if that’s what the horse needs and then give the rider the seat, flaps and blocks of another model if the rider likes that better. I can add memory foam to the panels for a more secure fit. I can shorten the back panel to accommodate a shorter back. The list goes on and on. Childéric saddles have been designed to give the horse a lot of freedom in the shoulder and allow for movement over the back. The balance of these saddles is amazing. And it does the same for the rider.”
Dani explained more benefits to the rider, “The biggest advantage is how it changes a rider’s positions. It’s different from rider to rider due to hip shape, thigh length, etc., but when I get a rider in the proper model it stabilizes the upper body, allows for a longer, more natural leg with less tension and a closer contact feel with the horse.”
Riding only in Childéric saddles for the past ten years, leading dressage rider Ashley Holzer has represented Canada as a four-time Olympian who competed at the 2012 Games in the individual dressage and finished in 24th place. A member of the bronze medal winning Canadian Dressage Team at the 1988 Olympic Games held in Seoul, Korea, she competed in her first World Equestrian Games in Stockholm in 1990, Jerez, Spain in 2002, Aachen, Germany in 2006, the World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1989 and Las Vegas in 2009. She also won team gold at the 1991 Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba and team silver at the 2003 Pan Am Games in Santo Domingo.
Further supporting loyalty to Childéric saddles, Ashley said, “Many riders out there think that all saddles feel the same. They have no idea the level of comfort a great saddle can provide. I’m very picky about what I ride in and feel that a comfortable saddle for the horse and for the rider is the most important thing. And these saddles are comfortable. When you feel that comfort, you just won’t go back to any other saddle.”
Ashley went into more detail, “These saddles give the rider greater balance in the hip area, and they help me communicate with my horse better. If the rider is not balanced, neither the rider nor the horse will have a pleasurable experience. Due to its craftsmanship, this saddle not only allows me to sit quietly and not interfere with the horses balance, but it also helps me quickly correct my horse’s balance if necessary.” And she said, “My horse ‘Dressed in Black’ also has much more shoulder movement with these saddles.”
Top rider Katherine Bateson-Chandler swears by them. English born Bateson‑Chandler, groomed at two World Dressage Championships and two Olympics for Robert Dover and now prepares Jane Clarkes’ 9-year old KWPN gelding Alcazer (Contango x Polina x Ferro) for the Grand Prix in a Childéric saddle.
Bateson-Chandler endorsed the saddle, “There are so many reasons to love my Childéric saddle. First is its look. It has very clean lines and an elegant outline. Second is the quality of the leather. The buffalo hide gives a fantastic amount of grip while being soft and comfortable to sit in.”
She described her lengthy quest for a reliable saddle, “I searched and searched to find a saddle comfortable for both me and my horse. It was a struggle because I would find a saddle that satisfied one or the other, but never both. Using the Childéric, I feel like I found the holy grail of saddles. I immediately felt my horse move more freely through his shoulders and the saddle felt melded to him with no sign of bouncing on his back that I had experienced with other saddles. As to how it fits me, it is a close contact saddle which has a lovely balance and a feel that I'm riding my horse and not the saddle. What a great thing.”
Also riding in a Childéric saddle, Tina Konyot who dominated the Grand Prix division from the 2010 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions/US National Championships with stallion Calecto V and represented the USA Dressage team at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky where they helped the US to a fourth-place finish and qualified for the Grand Prix Special, and also represented the United States at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Tina Konyot has been extremely pleased as she uses the saddle one of her up and coming young horses, “The craftsmanship on these saddles is just amazing. My horse is going better than ever. I love my Childéric saddle.”
Childéric Saddles USA
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Contact Dani in Florida January through March, near Louisville, Kentucky the rest of the year.