Beth Hamil

 Beth Hamil on her Norwegian Fjord mare Martina

Beth Hamil on her Norwegian Fjord mare Martina

In May of 2011 I contacted Colin about fitting my two Norwegian Fjord Mares with a proper Aussie saddle.  I had been advised by an International Norwegian Fjord Horse official evaluator that the western saddles I had been using were interfering with their shoulder mechanics and potentially causing them pain. 

I already owned one Aussie saddle that I’d purchased in the 1990s from a mail-order catalog, but it was clearly an inferior version and was not comfortable for me (it didn’t make me feel “seated” properly).  My sister (who lives in Montana) recommended that I call Colin. 

He recommended that I bring the horses to him, and he would measure them.  He is only about 100 miles away from where I live, so I loaded up the “girls” and headed to his facility in Malibu.  Wow, what a place!  He got to know the horses and carefully measured them for a proper fit.  We then looked at dozens and dozens of saddles and I tried many of them on a rack for a good seat feel. So suffice to say, he got to know me and ensured that I had a proper fit as well.

 Beth Hamil and Martina in the forest

Beth Hamil and Martina in the forest

I was absolutely enamored with a Trevor James Northern Champion Drafter saddle, with Campdraft leathers and Aussie Oxbow stirrups, along with all the normal ancillary gear (crupper, breastplate, etc.).  It is a gorgeous saddle and I just had to have it! 

  Juliana with the Champion Drafter Saddle  

Juliana with the Champion Drafter Saddle  

Colin then fitted it to my horses (they are a matched pair) and made the proper adjustments to the tree for a perfect fit for both horses.

  Juliana on the left and Martina on the right

Juliana on the left and Martina on the right

What a difference this saddle made for me and my horses!  It is so comfortable for them and their wide stature. And I was instantly a better rider because I was so comfortable and felt more secure in my seat than I had in years (BTW, I am 65 years old and have ridden since I was 6). Even though they are a draft breed and extremely loving, Fjord horses can be very stubborn and cantankerous under saddle.   And on top of that, one of them is a bit flighty and prone to little “explosions” for no apparent reason, so a confident seat is paramount for an old woman like me.

 Martina and Beth in Santa Cruz

Martina and Beth in Santa Cruz

Since I can only ride on horse at a time, I bought one saddle (I use it on both horses).  However, when I ride with others, I needed another saddle that was comfortable for the horse as well as the rider.  So, Colin refitted my old Aussie saddle with new Campdraft leathers and Aussie Oxbow stirrups, along with all the normal ancillary gear (crupper, breastplate, etc.). What a difference that made on my old saddle!  Now, I don’t have to feel guilty of the fact that I don’t let ANYONE use my Drafter. 

 Mounting up......

Mounting up......

 and sitting pretty.

and sitting pretty.

Colin Dangaard Inc. is a family-run business and over the years they have always gone out of their way to provide the best products at the best prices, but (in my opinion) most importantly they have the absolutely best customer service. And equally as important, Colin’s knowledge of horses, everything Australian, and his good cheer make the experience that much more pleasant.

 Riding confidently on the beach with the Fjord sisters, Martina and Juliana.  .

Riding confidently on the beach with the Fjord sisters, Martina and Juliana.

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I will remain a loyal customer forever.  And I spend a lot of time riding the Fjords on Pismo Beach (it’s where I live) and people not only stop me to enquire about these striking horses, but they always ask about my saddle.  I simply tell them I got it from the Man from Snowy River!