The Society of Master Saddlers in England
In this issue we look at how The Society of Master Saddlers serves overseas members in their quest to become Qualified Saddle Fitters and Master Saddlers.
Celebrating 50 Years of Saddlery Overseas The Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) is a world-renowned Trade Association with members across the globe in far-reaching countries.
With an aim to safeguard the quality of work, services, training and qualifications of all those who work in the saddlery trade – from manufacturers and retailers to individual craftspeople and saddle fitters, the society continues to flourish around the world.
With 475 members in total, this figure is made up of 357 in the UK and 115 overseas from 18 countries. The society now has qualified members in countries across Europe and Scandinavia, to the US, Canada and South Africa.
Formed in 1966 to serve as a Trade Association for the craft retail saddler, the society has since embraced all aspects of the trade, offering training and qualifications in saddle, harness and bridle making and fitting, as well as professional training in the latest technology, regulations and policies.
In order to become a Qualified Saddle Fitter, applicants, whether UK or overseas-based go through stringent training and undertake courses in introductory and qualified saddle fitting.
Similarly in the craft sector, overseas members are provided with training of the highest quality and have to pass the City & Guilds Saddlery Skills Assessment. It takes four years to qualify and a minimum of seven before they can apply to upgrade to a Master Saddler.
Says Hazel Morley of The Society of Master Saddlers: “It takes hard work, dedication, study and commitment to become a Qualified Saddle Fitter and overseas candidates undertake all the same study as UK-based members.
“From in-depth courses to rigorous assessments and training, overseas members gain the essential knowledge required to work through each of the required units to pass the City & Guilds Certificate in Saddle Fitting in association with the society.”
To gain the Certificate in Saddle Fitting, candidates undertake assessments in five core units:
1, Saddle Assessment and Fault Identification
2, Conformation and Condition for Saddle Fitting
3, Taking a Template
4, Practical Saddle Fitting
5, Principles of Saddle Fitting
Explains Hazel: “Each unit is assessed individually and candidates are required to pass all five units before being issued with a certificate. If a candidate fails one or more of the units they are required to re-sit the failed units again.
“The assessment is undertaken using both practical and written exams with City & Guilds approved Society of Master Saddlers examiners.”
To become a Master Saddler, candidates are required to show they are skilled in the manufacture, repair and maintenance of saddles; and have passed Level III (Advanced) Saddle of the City & Guilds Saddlery Skills Assessment Scheme or completed the 4 year apprenticeship recognised and evidenced by the Worshipful Company of Saddlers to name just two of eight statutory guidelines.
Overseas members recognise SMS courses and training for their quality and expertise with a host of support for the qualification.
The course has helped candidates develop extensive saddle fitting and saddle sales businesses all over the world, as well as saddlery manufacture and development.
What They Say
“The education I’ve received from the society has been invaluable, as it’s the best in the world. I travel widely throughout our home region in New England, and conduct saddle fitting clinics regularly further afield, including Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and even Bermuda! As a result, I see hundreds of horses per year and have developed a good sense of what works, and what doesn’t, in terms of saddles and saddle fitting with the sorts of horses we see here in the US.”
“I’ve owned a saddle fitting business and shop since 1997, and been a SMS Qualified Saddle Fitter since January 2002, and I’m very well regarded within the equestrian world. The education I continually receive from the Society has been integral to the quality of the work I can provide to my community.”
“I have been a saddle fitter for 30 years and the society has been very helpful in my business, and its certification is respected around the world. The training I have gained through the society has enabled me to work with the biomechanics of the horse to better fit saddles. This gives freedom through all the horse’s movements, from casual trail riding to Olympic dressage and showjumping.”
For further information contact The Society of Master Saddlers on 01449 711642 or visit www.mastersaddlers.co.uk