A love of the horse and understanding the needs of the rider are two of the variables in the equation that set Aiken Saddle Pros’ Hal Hargrave and Jana Mallow apart from their competition. The Aiken-based couple use a 10-point evaluation when fitting a saddle for a horse and three points for the person who will be in the saddle, said Mallow. The assessment process includes observing the rider on the horse.

“When we evaluate the horse, we look at the condition, the age, the weight, the type of breed, which is very important because a Warmblood is different from a Thoroughbred,” said Mallow.

The evaluation process is extremely in-depth and also includes looking at the position of the saddle and the tree design of the saddle. They also take into consideration the angle of the tree points, the gullet width, the panel contact and pressure and whether the panel is sitting evenly.

“The next component is bridging,” said Mallow. “Bridging is where the panel sits at the front and back, but in the middle there’s no pressure. You need a level seat with the saddle and withers clearance. We then watch our clients ride; we can evaluate the rider, the seat size and the flap size.”

Aiken Saddle Pros also reflocks, adjusts and repairs saddles, said Mallow. The company also picks up and delivers.

“When we reflock a saddle, we do an evaluation to make sure the saddle is fitting properly, taking the horse into consideration,” said Mallow.

The artisan crafted saddles take four to six weeks to complete, said Mallow. The saddles are built up from the metal trees. It’s Aiken Saddle Pros customized and personalized approach that helps distinguish them from the competition, she said.

“We build these for fit, balance and movement because only when the saddle fits properly do you get the correct movement in the horse,” said Mallow. “We do dressage, jump, polo and monoflap saddles, which are just one flap, and they bring the horse and rider closer together. Eventers particularly like those saddles.”

Aiken Saddle Pros has four industrial machines, Mallow said. They also replace billets and have custom halters and saddles.

“I think a well-fitting saddle lets the rider and the horse communicate more effectively,” said Mallow. “The reason we do this well is because we ride. We understand how important it is for the horse to have a healthy back musculature enhanced by something that fits correctly.”

For more information, visit dressagesaddlerepair.com.