Our colleague Nicole put pen to paper and wrote about her visit to Writtle University College in Chelmsford, Essex in the United Kingdom. Writtle’s researchers are searching for answers regarding ‘Saddle Fit’ and requested our saddle equipment be used in their extensive study and research. Nicole flew from across the channel and met up with Letitia (NHS founder) from the US to take a peek at the opening process of the research to learn how it would be conducted while data is collected.
Here is her experience. And we PROMISE, Michael Jackson DOES appear – just not as you know him!
Having had the dream of studying Equine Studies in the UK as a young girl, I have to admit, I’ve been sincerely thrilled about the opportunity to visit a University that was situated in one of the most “horsey” countries I know. Writtle University College is known for their great range of equine-related courses and ongoing research in the equine field. Along with working with Natural Horseman Saddles, I have studied Biology for many years. So you can see my love of science and how this experience was so personally fulfilling.
I have spent a fair share of my time in the UK regularly visiting family and friends. Some of whom are horse lovers and take me out riding. Through these horse outings, it became evident that when it comes to the UK, they are SERIOUS about horses and the sport/art/tradition of riding. Admittedly, I had half expected the team of students and professionals at Writtle University to be quite conservative in their approach. You know, hard to convince that thinking outside the box could lead to wonderful things? Of course ‘outside of the box’ is where we tend to find our Natural Horseman Saddles saddle system. 🙂
I had got that pre-conceived idea quite wrong!
What a collection of lovely, determined and seriously interested horse people… Letitia and I were warmly welcomed and found a very excited audience, who were keen to listen, discuss and share. The topic? Ideal saddle fit.
Needless to say, the facilities Writtle University College offers were more than impressing. Huge indoor arenas, paddocks and fields, a separate stud farm, horse walker and aqua trainer just to name a few.
While our primary host, Dr. Roberta Ferro de Godoy showed us around, it was evident that Writtles’ major areas of focus are Dressage and Showjumping. They also have a grand focus on the rehabilitation of horses through massage, bodywork and physiotherapy. It is simply the best place when you happen to know of a saddle system that helps both sports horses and recovering/rehabilitation horses right?
Not only were their facilities impressive, so too were the variety of technical equipment. They could measure pressure, stride length, the flexibility of joints, horse behavior as well as quantify stress indicators in horses. It was almost like the horses could speak themselves about what they could feel.
Writtle University College has such a wide variety of horses available. From the Fell Pony stallion in their Stud Farm, to a Thoroughbred Dressage Master, to ‘Toffee’ the massive Irish Draft Horse who we saw, touched and discussed… All these various types of horses and back shapes we assessed among us and the interested Writtle Team.
Of course the various tests we did with some of these horse subjects (traditional versus our saddle system) and the equipment and parameters Roberta and her team used/will use in their ongoing research were one of the big highlights of my time at Writtle.
The immediately visible signs of comfort the horses showed, the positive results all the ‘tech stuff’ gave us, the big smile on the faces of those watching… It all really made my day!
Amongst all that, a quick spin on Writtles very own “Michael Jackson” – (their mechanical horse) who is used for various training and research purposes was also great fun!
As I have never had the pleasure of trying a mechanical horse before, it was really a unique experience for me! So fascinating to see how man can make something to help train a balanced seat or measure rider and saddle impact. It is the “perfect” horse and a great reference point.
The time at Writtle University College was more than exciting for me. I got to know wonderful people and I am so happy for horses out there that the Equine Science field is growing more and more with such experienced, well educated and determined professionals. Their eagerness to improve the health and comfort for horses in the sports world is admirable. Stay tuned for the results of their research, incorporating Natural Horseman Saddles’s saddle and management of the interface system!