“Horse welfare will suffer as owners struggle to balance the needs of their families against the well-being of their horses,” says architect of the idea.

New training for saddle and bridle fitters is to cover the latest equine welfare issues.

The online course is the result of a collaboration between the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS), The Horse Trust and Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

The training provides saddlery fitters with the latest information on welfare issues, plus current legislation - and helps them make clear decisions in the course of their professional duties.

Ted Boggis, past president of the SMS, came up with the idea for the new training. “It’s thanks to his vision and focus on equine welfare, along with his determination to do something practical,” said a society spokesman.

The SMS then approached Redwings and The Horse Trust to develop the programme designed to build on the crucial role saddlery fitters already play in upholding horse welfare.   

New dimension to saddlery fitters’ skills

“The severity of animal neglect ranges from mistakes by inexperienced owners to gross mistreatment,” said Ted. 

“In these straited times, horse welfare will undoubtedly suffer as owners struggle to balance the needs of their families against the well-being of their horses.” 

Ted added that the training course provides a new dimension to the skills of SMS members who fit saddles and bridles.

“It will allow them to address welfare issues non-confrontationally through improved communication skills and understanding of their clients' circumstances, as well as defining confidential reporting channels for the most egregious cases,” he explained.

“I’m delighted that the collaboration between The Horse Trust, Redwings Horse Sanctuary and the SMS has produced a course that completely fits the society’s ethos of ‘horse welfare first’.”

The Horse Trust has been involved in training equine professionals for many years, recognising the importance of a team approach to horse care and welfare. 

“During our extensive experience dealing with cases of equine neglect, para-professionals with an understanding of welfare, such as saddlery fitters, have been invaluable in supporting the rehabilitation of our horses,” said Jeanette Allen, chief executive.

“This course shows our commitment to supporting saddlery fitters and aims to give them more confidence within their roles.” 

Lynn Cutress, chief executive of Redwings, added: “The SMS got in touch with us following our collaborative work on a similar course for farriers.

“It’s so important to work with equine professionals, such as saddlery fitters, who have regular contact with horses and their owners and really have the opportunity to influence horse welfare in a positive way.”