Horse1st is a partnership of like-minded individuals whose wide range of knowledge and experience, has lead to this new and exciting approach to saddle fitting. We have combined the skills of the saddle maker, the saddle fitter and the equine therapist to design a comprehensive, holistic, training course in Remedial Saddle Fitting. Our graduates are excellently qualified to provide a better service to equestrians and, most importantly, their horses.
Whether you are an equestrian wanting to optimise your horse's performance, or an equine professional wishing to expand and develop your skills, this must be of interest to you.
How we started
Horse1st arose from a chance meeting between equine therapist Sue Connolly and leading saddle fitter Kay Humphries. Sue was frustrated by 'putting horses back together - only to have them re-injure themselves by being ridden in the same unsuitable saddle'. Equally Kay had been looking for a therapist to speed the rehabilitation of horses she had re-saddled. Their meeting was to lead to many successful cross-referrals.
In their conversations Kay spoke about her worry that her knowledge would be lost, as she did not know how to pass it on. Sue's partner, Steve Wright, had recently retired but had worked in the training sector for many years. His services were volunteered, and with the help of Ben Weston (a friend and colleague of both women) a training course was designed and ultimately accredited by Lantra.
This process had taken several years before we launched our first course in 2011, with students graduating in 2012. Since then our personnel has changed as Ben moved on with marriage and parenthood and Kay has sadly stepped back from her initial involvement. This course is very much her legacy to horse welfare in the future. We have since been fortunate to recruit Remedial Saddle Fitters Thea Maxfield and Saj Southey-Stewart, both from the first course intake, to join our instructing team. Together they bring a diversity of skills, allied to much knowledge and experience.
Providing a wide knowledge, and practical experience, of equine anatomy and physiology, we are fortunate to have Sahajo Southey-Stewart as part of our team. She specialises in the assessment of horses and ponies in motion, and ensures that our students correctly identify and understand the implications of primary and secondary saddle problems. Saj has worked for many years with World Horse Welfare and qualified on the original Horse1st Remedial Saddle Fitting course. She also practices Equine Muscle Release Therapy and is a registered International Teacher in this therapy - having taught in Austria, Denmark, Canada and the UK.
Another graduate of our first course, and our lead instructor, is Thea Maxfield. Her specialty is coaching performance, dressage and leisure riders. Having trained to Grand Prix level in Spain, and competed to Prix St George, surrounded by their culture of classical dressage, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the course. As an SEBC qualified equine behaviour consultant she can help students navigate logically through any saddle and related pain/fear issues.
Thea runs her own rehabilitation yard, and also teaches clients the art of long-reining and in-hand work to strengthen injured horses..
Since qualifying with Horse1st in 2012, Thea has included Remedial Saddle Fitting in her wide portfolio of skills and has designed her own range of saddles. Looking at horses from an ethical and holistic approach she prides herself on always seeking positive solutions for horses and their owners.
Supporting roles are filled by Sue Connolly (seen below with a favourite patient "Denman" when he was team chasing with Charlotte Alexander). Sue practices Equine Muscle Release Therapy, Equine Muscle Management, Myo-Fascial Release and Kinesio-taping. She too was in our first group of students and has a lifetime's experience of NH racing, as well as 20 years of treating horses and ponies from a wide range of disciplines. Sue has an exceptional 'eye' and her ability to identify the primary cause of lamenesses and asymmetries makes her the perfect coach for our students in this vital area.