Wanted: A comfortable dressage saddle to fit a Thoroughbred who looks more like a Quarter Horse.
Damian Foale hails from Dunmora, a small rural community 20kms to the west of Maryborough on Queensland’s Fraser Coast.
Around six years ago, inspired by wife Debbie, a keen rider herself, and a family friend who’s a riding instructor and horse trainer, Damian decided it was time to give it a go. “I just fell into it, I guess you could say. I got a real interest for it and luckily we had a couple of good horses that I could start with as a beginner.”
Initially Damian rode in a western saddle, later switching to a second-hand dressage saddle that he found gave him a better shape and seat. But time takes its toll, and it became apparent that the saddle was reaching the end of its days.
An update was in order: “I wanted a newer saddle of better quality and better fit for Ralitsa, my 13-year-old Thoroughbred mare,” says Damian. “But for a Thoroughbred, she’s really built more like a Quarter Horse: she has quite a low wither, is quite wide, and has a long body. She’s actually very solid.”
So the hunt for a suitable second hand saddle began. Debbie hopped online.
Initially they had no particular brand in mind: “There were a few that we’d heard of and when we began searching we discovered many more brands, but after doing some research we thought the Equipe would be a good one to try,” Damian says.
Between them, the couple have six horses, and when the saddle arrived they trialled it not only on Ralitsa, but on several of their other horses, and were delighted to find that it was easy to fit as well as being very comfortable.
Damian is enjoying his new saddle and finds the deep seat holds his shape well. He is also pursuing his interest in Working Equitation: “I really do like it because it gives your horse something to think about. Rather than just riding in an arena, you’re giving them a direction to do something that involves an obstacle,” he explains.
Although Damian hasn’t competed yet, he would like to: “I’ve been to a couple of Working Equitation competitions just to see what’s involved, and it looks like I could get there, but I’ve got a lot more work to do before then,” he says.