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Saddle Review – Defiance Dressage

After travelling the globe Dr Clarissa Brown-Douglas now calls Bendigo home. It’s where she’s settled with her husband, two children and a horse called Pi.

Dr Clarissa Brown-Douglas, originally from Wellington in New Zealand, has ridden all her life. As a child, she was fortunate to have parents who were happy to drive their horse-mad daughter from their suburban home to a riding stable where she could indulge her passion.

Clarissa later had horses of her own and was a keen eventer. But then her career as an equine nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research, a job she loves, intervened, and for several years she lived and worked in the US. The next move was to Melbourne, which became her base while she travelled the world working with horse owners, breeders and trainers providing nutrition advice for their equine athletes.

Then the opportunity arose to move to Bendigo, Victoria, and Clarissa and her husband relocated to the old gold rush town in 2014.

As life settled into a steady rhythm, it was time to think about owning another horse, and this eventuated when Clarissa purchased a stunning OTT dapple grey who unfortunately, proved not to be The One.

And then along came Pi: He’s a beautiful German Riding Pony cross Thoroughbred, who at 16hh is a teddy bear, or perhaps a giant Labrador would be more accurate. We have a Labrador called Raffie, and she and Pi are best mates, laughs Clarissa.

Originally bred to be a small dressage horse, Pi grew too tall to fulfil that role and subsequently joined Clarissa’s family, of which he is a much loved member.

Courtesy of Pi’s mixed heritage, finding a saddle to accommodate his solid body with its sloping back, high withers, and prominent shoulders, was always going to be challenging. I enlisted the help of a saddle fitter, who assessed Pi and gave me a list of saddles that might suit us both. I’m really quite tall with very long legs, Clarissa explains.

There were a couple of saddles there that caught my eye, but then I saw the Defiance, which was the right size and a very good price, she says. It was first time lucky the saddle was perfect, I’m loving it.

Given that Pi is only six, there’s every possibility that he might change shape and need a different saddle. But for now, it’s time to enjoy the comfort of her Defence Dressage Saddle as she rides her sweet, sensible Pi. And when her children are older Clarissa may even consider getting into some dressage, but right now: I’m a very happy hacker, she says with a smile.


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