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New British Standard for Wooden Saddle Trees

SYMMETRY is the main feature of the new British Standard for wooden saddle trees launched this week at the Walsall Leather Museum.

The idea for BS6635:2003 arose from a meeting called by the Worshipful Company of Saddlers, involving remedial saddler Kaye Humphries, the Society of Master Saddlers, the Walsall Equestrian Society and BETA, together with representatives of the veterinary profession and the saddlery manufacturing and retail trades.

All agreed that the symmetry of saddle trees should be emphasised at every level from training to manufacture as an important factor in producing a well-fitting saddle.

Walsall tree makers took on the challenge of identifying the symmetry criteria - what should be measured and how. And a prototype measuring jig to test trees for symmetry was developed to very demanding tolerances.

The Saddlers' Company approached the British Standards Institute (BSI) with a view of incorporating this information into a new standard which has now been authorised and published.

Left to Right: Jacqui Poutney, WES; Claire Williams, BETA; Kaye Humphries, saddle fitter, Norton & Newby; Steven Brereton-Martin, Clerk of the Worshipful of Company of Saddlers; Richard Brown, Abbey Saddlery, President of the SMS; Hazel Morley, SMS; Paul Belton, Albion Saddle Makers; Edward Pearson, Past MAster of the Worshipful COmpany of Saddlers; Oliver Moreton, Jabez Cliff. Seated in front demonstrating the jig designed to check symetry is Michael Heath from Lariot.

BS6635:2003 will enable all saddle makers to identify trees which have passed the tests for symmetry.

"It really is an indication on just how far the industry has come in a relatively short space of time, and the new British Standard will be recognised around the world as the benchmark for quality and reliability on saddle trees, " says Ian Rae from Lariot Equestrian Supplies who manufactures wooden laminated saddle trees.

"Saddle tree making has truly entered another era and our congratulations go out to all concerned for moving the industry forward in such a positive and forthright way."

Jacqui Poutney, Chief Executive of the Walsall Equestrian Society added "This shows how all the Walsall Tree makers are working together for the betterment of the industry and for the end users- both horse and rider.

Steven Brereton-Martin, Clerk to the Saddlers' Company said: "The Worshipful Company of Saddlers has been delighted to be able, once again, to play a central role in the development of such an important initiative.

"We assisted at the birth of the first British Standard 6635 for wooden saddle trees in 1985 and have been closely involved in this next stage of its development, with its new, and vital element - the incorporation of demanding symmetry standards.

"The continued high quality of British saddlery demands the best foundations and this new British Standard helps to ensure it. But the new Standard, on its own, will not eradicate all problems.

"It is now up to the saddle makers to ensure that they demand the new Standard - BS 6635:2003. It is also up to the riding public to ensure that the saddle they buy is built on such a tree. And it is up to all to ensure that a saddle is correctly fitted to the horse."

Hazel Morley of the Society of Master Saddlers added: "We are proud of the trade for the hard work and dedication which has been put into the development of the new tree standard.

"Our 'raison d'etre' is to improve and maintain standards and this new tree standard is proof that the saddlery trade is willing to address problems, embrace new technology and work together for the common good.

"Both the manufacturers and retailers have an excellent marketing tool, being able to assure the riding public that the product which they are purchasing is of the highest quality and precision.

BETA Chief Executive and Secretary Claire Williams says: "It is wonderful to see the industry working together to produce a symmetrical and well-fitting saddle which will benefit both horse and rider alike."

Copies of the revised standard cost BSI members £20 and non-members £40 from BSI Customer Services on 020 8996 9001.


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