Here are a selection of client testimonials.
The majority were purposely taken 6-12 months after the client first received their saddles. I find this allows the client to give an unbiased review of their saddle, once the excitement of receiving their beautiful new saddle has settled down and to give the horse longer to show any issues, thereby giving a more honest opinion. This gives them time to give both their first impressions and a longer term review.
Also, research has shown that when changing saddles or pads, it can take around 3 months for a horse to exhibit any new, pain based, saddle related, behaviour. This means that when an ill-fitting new saddle and/or pad is bought, the horse may well go much better initially, but it doesn't last. This is not how I fit saddles - I aim to fit saddles to last.
If any clients would like to send a testimonial, or add new photos/updates to an existing one, please get in touch, it would be lovely to hear from you.
Amanda & Shylo Surrey 27/10/23
Maria (and Eden) have been amazingly helpful and informative throughout the whole process. It’s not easy finding a western saddle for a short backed part Welsh pony!
Absolutely love our Equiflex saddle - it’s so well made, beautiful leather and not too heavy! It’s so comfortable, you can ride in it for hours!
The sheep’s wool pad with shims is so adaptable and can accommodate my pony’s ever changing shape!
Maria is always on hand to advise and help fit and is very knowledgeable and professional- I really wouldn’t look anywhere else!
Thank you so much for all your continued help and support.
(Saddle purchased October 2021.)
Anne & Jaxon 19/07/23
Fantastic! We are both so much more comfortable. No more pins and needles in my feet and he strides forwards and does not pull faces at the sight of his tack!
Tess & Pixie in Buckingham 12/06/23
Maria is a very knowledgeable saddle fitter who is honest and has integrity. This is a big purchase for most people and Maria does not do a hard sell.My ex polo pony is a hard fit and we have had a number of English saddles that have not fitted her as well as I hoped. Pixie is a Criollo with a challenging past medical history. Her biting when tacking up always concerned me.We first met Maria early March and she confirmed Pixie as being a difficult pony to fit.It’s early days but so far Pixie is going really well in it. The biting has virtually stopped and her trot is to die for!!Will update in 6 months!
Charlie & Spangle in Lancashire
I bought a saddle off Maria in April 22, it arrived in September and has been my main saddle since. It fits amazingly and is very comfy for our long rides My horses back is looking fantastic and he's clearly feeling great as he's running 2 seconds faster or more on the archery track.
Jo & Leo in Dorset 08/05/22
Maria has been my go to person for saddle fitting, purchases and advice for many years now. I love her never ending self-development and thirst for knowledge which she generously passes on to her customers. When she fitted my last saddle she took in to account some physical issues my horse was having and made sure the saddle wouldn't exacerbate these problems. The horse's comfort is at the centre of her saddle fitting and advice. It's great to know that any product I buy from Maria will have been thoroughly researched and proven to be of good quality and I'm always very happy to recommend her products and services.
Kate & Trysor in Dorset 26/02/21
Your saddle has just completely transformed my and Trysor's life. Beforehand, he used to stalk along like a giraffe, with his head up somewhere near my nose, peering sideways into hedges all the time looking for monsters, constantly on edge. Following a bad fall I had completely lost my confidence to the point where my friend rode him and I rode my old cob. After your fabulous saddle was fitted, my riding experience was transformed. Trysor walks out now, with his neck stretched out, comfortable and relaxed. He still sees monsters behind every tree, but even when he leaps sideways I feel completely safe and secure in my lovely saddle, I have completely got my riding mojo back, and I don't worry about what is round the next corner.Thank you again!
Julie & Pat The Pony in Newark 11/09/20
Maria recently checked the saddle of our Fell pony. There was no rush with the fitting, or hard sell to buy products from her.Best news being that the saddle still fits, with pad upgrade.
Carin & Twinkie in Wisbech 02/09/20
Maria is very knowledgeable and has your horses comfort a priority over making a sale, also ensuring the suitability for the rider. Has just been to check my mare and of the 2 saddles I had 1 fits. Due to Covid I'm just hacking out but hopefully will be back competing next year. Maria described fully how to check the saddle is still fitting once the work changes.
Vanessa & Boots ❤️ in Ulverston 01/07/22
Sadly Boots passed away due to a tragic field accident. 💔
Up until then Vanessa was regularly riding Boots, 5 times a week for 4-6 hours a time, up and down the mountains in Cumbria in a western saddle from us. I was very fortunate to see Boots this year and was so very pleased to see how incredible this 17 year old horse back looked with the amount of work he carried out! He had no soreness or atrophy at all. Incredible and as it should be!
Vanessa & Boots in Ulverston 20/07/20
Last year I decided I wanted to switch to western riding, We had been on a number of riding holidays in the US, Argentina etc and I really appreciated the comfort and feeling of safety I had when riding in a western saddle.
I contacted Maria at the Western Saddler Ltd and after discussing my needs, and more importantly the needs of my horse Boots (he is an Irish cob, who is quite wide backed with low withers) she guided me towards the TWS Buckaroo Saddle.Maria visited me and measured Boots for his new saddle using the The Equiscan Topographer system, at all times she focussed on Boots to ensure that the saddle was right for him and also provided me with the safe and secure saddle that I was looking for. I ended up buying pretty much everything I needed from the Western Saddler Ltd, including Don Orrell stirrups, Matte saddle pad etc, I was impressed by Maria’s attention to detail and the quality of the items that I bought. She has continued to support me during my introduction to western riding and I would not hesitate to recommend her for her knowledge, and the quality of her goods. What is most striking about Maria is her genuine concern for the horse and rider, (especially the horse). I am so pleased that I made the switch to Western and that Maria was there to advise me., Boots goes really well in his new tack and certainly looks the part.
Soozi & Fox in Devon 03/05/20
I have an Appaloosa gelding who is now 20 years old. I bought him as an unbroken 4 year old and have always believed in natural horsemanship and if I follow anyone it is monty Roberts. Initially I purchased a western saddle but worried as it was so heavy and rigid and I looked into treeless saddles and after purchasing an Arizona barefoot treeless saddle have never looked back. Fox loves being ridden and the saddle is gentle on his back and so comfortable for me . It is a beautiful saddle and is still going strong after about 10 or even 12 years . These saddles are the best and friends who have taken my advice agree . They fit the contours of your horses spine and if you see my boy at 20 you can see how well he looks. We ride most days Treeless is the best for any horses shape and build I have never looked back
Ms Soozi Cooper BSc(hons) Reiki healer and horse therapist
Sarah & Cisco in Devon 15/04/20
I bought an Equiflex saddle from Maria soon after I got Cisco and every couple of years because Cisco was really nappy and anxious. The saddle is the most comfortable saddle ever, very safe, the stirrups are turned so you never lose your feet, and the (ties??) are great for securing your coat if it's too hot or you need an extra layer.A couple of years ago, I asked her to come and check the saddle because Cisco was bucking when going into canter and this was new. Advice is always check the saddle, teeth, bit, back. Maria came really quickly and immediately suggested I get the vet to check Cisco for KS, which he did have. The vet was very happy with the saddle and said it fitted Cisco really well and was certainly not contributing to the KS. He said that Westerns were good for horses with KS and I would concur. One of the best things is they spread the weight really evenly over a horse's back and have the best clearance on the spine.I am so grateful to Maria for suggesting getting Cisco checked. Maria is part of Team Cisco, along with an amazing vet, equine osteopath and a smashing trainer. I have worked really hard on his posture and carriage, on getting him to round down and changing my riding. My vet is really pleased and the KS is no longer a problem, he has no injections, no treatment needed for 18 months. He goes beautifully now and is back to being a happy horse, charging around the field and enjoying a good gallop when we are out. I really never thought we would be doing that again. I highly recommend the Western Saddler. Maria is really knowledgeable and the saddle is a perfect fit.
Lou & Roo (Rescue 12.2HH Pony) in Gloucester 07/04/20
I recently took delivery of a beautiful TWS western saddle fitted by Maria, and am delighted, not only with the saddle, but the time and effort she put into making it just right. I have since been in contact for advise re a number of queries and found her response to be most helpful and friendly. If you have the money to invest in a high quality saddle, I would highly recommend Maria and her team!! Thank you again, Lou and Roo!!
Joanne & Floss (Coloured Cob) in Northampton 03/04/20
I highly recommend Maria, she came out and fitted a western saddle for my mare Floss who is a big shouldered cob.The weather on the day that Maria came to see us was horrendous but she just got on with it. My saddle is very comfortable now that I have worn it in and I ride in it everyday now instead of my English saddle. My physio has also commented on the way Floss is now more fluid in her movement which has been since I started riding western. My English saddle just sits gathering dust now!!! Thank you Maria.
Kay & Sioux (Paint Horse) in Wiltshire 05/08/19
“Maria is very knowledgeable, personable and taught me where I was going wrong. She had exactly the right saddle to fit my horse within my budget. Delighted! Highly recommend.”.
Lesley with Teya (American Mammoth Jackstock Donkey) in Kent 02/08/2019
I first met Maria over eleven years ago when she came to fit a saddle for my criollo. Maria's gentle and quiet approach was much appreciated as my horse had not had a good start. She took time, she looked and listened with patience and then explained how she was fitting the saddle for my horse. I rode him in a couple of saddles together with different pads until the correct saddle and pad were chosen. I competed and trail rode in that saddle for eight years and my horse never had a problem. Three years ago I needed a saddle for a quarter horse, the above was again true. Also that year I needed a saddle for my American Mammoth Jackstock donkey, they are anatomically not at all easy to achieve a good saddle fit. Maria’s knowledge is fantastic, she allows you to relax knowing that the best is being done for your equine. She again was not hurried and tried the skeleton of various saddles before settling on one and then the pad was carefully selected. Three years on and my donkeys back has got stronger as her work increases with not a flicker of a problem. I cannot recommend Maria highly enough.
Kim with Cash (QH) in Somerset 01/08/2019
I have bought 3 or 4 western saddles from Maria over the years for different horses, the one time I didn’t through lack of patience to wait for a new saddle to be made, I ended up buying a saddle from someone else only to find a couple of years later, it didn’t really fit my horse. So after the guilt trip I put myself through for doing this to my precious boy, I once again contacted Maria and had him fitted properly for his new saddle! Yes, I had to wait but luckily we had an older saddle from one of our retirees that Maria made sure would be suitable for the interim period. That’s one lesson I have learned the hard way, that I will trust Maria completely when it comes to saddling up my boys!
Lynn & Hawk (Appaloosa) in Somerset 22/07/19
“What a lovely Lady Maria is.
Very knowledgeable, quiet and has empathy for the horses feelings.
She spent a long time at the yard with my friend, who's pony was a challenge, then met my boy Hawk, he accepted her quite quickly for him.
Beautiful saddles and accessories.
Highly recommend for all types of Western saddles.”
Nicola & Winnie (Quarter Horse) in London 18/07/19
Winnie is possibly the most difficult pony to saddle fit but you managed to do it. With her barrel shape, downhill conformation and one shoulder bigger than the other I was resigned to riding her in a bareback pad forever. Her custom saddle and shimmed pad have helped us both be better balanced. Thank you so much.
Pamela with Louis (Coloured Cob) in Hampshire 18/07/2019
Maria has been the best saddle fitter I have ever had and my horse never had a sore back and I rode hundreds of miles on him with the western saddle from Maria.
Diana with Rhiona (Connemara X) in Hampshire 01/05/2019
From Rhiona ( connemara x ) and Diana ( owner happy )Over 10 years ago my owner decided it was time to invest in a Western saddle for me and after a couple of false starts, she saw sense and contacted Maria. I must say I am very glad she did so because the saddle she eventually bought was fitted so professionally and carefully that it has been very comfortable all these years. It was good to have a saddle fitted by someone who put my longterm comfort first, because, as I said there were a couple of false starts by people who lacked Maria’s caring attitude to me.I have spent the intervening years being ridden regularly, at least five times a week and I can honestly say I have never suffered a twinge. I’ve had physiotherapy once or twice a year during this time and the therapists have all been surprised at how good the condition is of my back. They attribute this to the great fit of my saddle.Now I am twenty I will shortly be having the saddle properly checked again by Maria and I will let you know how that goes.Rhiona
Helen & Sam with Hoku & Hiro - both Italian Thoroughbreds in Spain 07/01/19
When my horses were two year olds I began my saddle research. Having been on a steep re-learning curve since their arrival, having questioned everything I knew previously about horses and figured it was mostly wrong, and not having not bought a saddle for 35 years, I figured I needed help. When there is a serious task to achieve, I strongly believe in hiring a professional person with far more experience than me. And as I researched for a western saddle fitter, all roads led to Maria. I am so very glad I found her.
By fate really, but that’s another story, I have two high-spirited Italian racehorses, now 9 years old; Hoku, a small fine-boned trotter and Hiro, 15.3 Thoroughbred. Hoku is nimble, Hiro highly competitive, both are friendly and fast. Our intention was to trail ride in western saddles.
When I contacted Maria I had been hunting for saddles on the internet for far too long getting nowhere. I realised most saddle sites were trying to sell saddles. What I needed was advice and fitting as well as guidance on what saddles to buy. I did not want to make a mistake, or make do with a saddle that was not quite right. I absolutely did not want to cause the horses any discomfort. The idea was that life with us was kind, safe and fun. Maria was super-helpful from the outset. I told her what I had been looking at and what we hoped to achieve, and she Kindly steered me in the right direction.Her knowledge and attention to detail is outstanding, I cannot fault any advice she gave me. We worked remotely as we were in Italy at the time. She sent templates which we fitted and shipped to Germany where two Equiflex Little Snake Dance saddles were made. I saddled the horses and we sent video and photographs as the horses moved. A couple of times we had to send a saddle back for adjustment and Maria handled the return shipping swiftly. The standard of work on the saddles is excellent. Beautifully made. In terms of fit, both the horses and riders, Sam and I, are very happy. We have not had a problem. The only issue we discovered when I rode Hoku was a nerve sensitivity which affects his hip and leg movement, which we were then able to work on to help him.I am delighted with the pads and girths Maria recommended, so comfy and excellent quality. In addition, Maria gave me so much advice and guidance beyond saddle fitting, sharing experience from her many years of ‘natural’ horsemanship, and recommended books, links and good horse-people.We are all so very glad to have found Maria and have our wonderful saddles. I missed talking to her when all was done, the saddles finished and fitted. We then relocated and are now settled in Spain. Every single day when I enter my lovely new tack room and see the saddles I think of Maria and how fortunate we are to have them.Photo with trainer Julio Meir https://www.julios-hufpflege.de/pferdetraining/
Rosie & Colonel (QH) in Edinburgh, Scotland 24/09/18
I have had my Equiflex NRHA short reiner for a year and love it. Before my fitting my horse had back pain due to a poorly fitting saddle and following physio and the custom fit saddle he is now in great shape. Maria took the time to get everything right, from fit to the extras I wanted, such as colours, silver and tooling. I would definitely recommend Maria's services and it is worth the investment for an authentic saddle and peace of mind that my horse has kit that is not causing discomfort or behavioural problems.
Shirley, Kodah (QH) ❤️ & Teddy (Clydesdale) in Middlesex, UK 15/07/18
I originally contacted Maria In 2015 as I had a Quarter horse who had outgrown his original western saddle which I had purchased from the breeder. Having no idea where to go to purchase another saddle or who to talk to, I found quite by chance, The Western Saddler's web site. Once i spoke with Maria I knew I had made the right choice. Maria was so helpful and didn't mind how many times I emailed, texted or called with numerous questions she was always patient and helpful.
Eventually we managed to arrange a date for her to come and see my beautiful boy Kodah. His back was very sore due to his previous saddle pinching and as he had not been ridden for some time due to saddle. I was rather anxious how he would react to trying out a new saddle as he was still young only 8 years old. Maria was very patient and after trying on several saddle moulds for size and shape Maria had an old saddle for me to try which she thought would fit based on the photos I had sent her. This was a great fit and Kodah loved it so much that he made rather a lot of fuss over Maria to say thank you. I ordered a new version of this saddle which arrived in October 2015 and Kodah and I had some great times.
Unfortunately my story does not end there as my boy had an awful accident in the field in February 2017 and I had to have him put to sleep in May 2017.
At this low point in my life I did not think I ever wanted another horse so my lovely saddle sat in the tack room gathering dust until June 2018 this year. At this point I had purchased a 16 3 (I was told he was 16 1) Clydesdale gelding called Teddy who needed a good home after a rather rough start in life, I inherited bad feet, bad back and a horse that didn't have a lot of faith in humans and had a rather jaundiced view of English saddles.
So I called Maria and gave her my rather sad story. Her answer was "don't worry I will come and take a look and see what can be done" So last month Maria came all the way from Hampshire to Middlesex together with a car full of saddles.
Out came the western saddle onto Teddy's back. I had been dreading this as I was sure there was no way it was going to fit and and I would lose the last bit of my boy. However a miracle happened and neither Maria nor I could believe it the saddle fitted. Maria put it on without the pad then with the pad tried the mould of the saddle and even got up on the saddle to make sure and yes it definitely fitted. At this point we just hugged each other and shed a few tears as well.
The chances of this saddle fitting a Quarter horse and a Clydesdale were so slim I had resigned myself to giving it up. So it just goes to show how versatile western saddles are compared to English/European saddles and maybe just maybe my boy was looking down at me and granted my last wish.
Thank you Maria for all your help and patience and if anyone says western saddle to me I say call Maria at the Western Saddler.you will be so pleased you did.
Jo with Leo (NF) in Dorset 17/06/18
Over a year down the line and I'm still very happy with my saddle from TWS. The time Maria took to fit it to my horse was definitely time well spent. Before ordering she came out with a number of different trees to make sure she had the best fit. Once my saddle arrived she came back out to check the fit and advise on the best pad and shimming to ensure my horse was as comfortable as possible. She was extra careful with fit as my horse had some back issues, and took this in to account when advising on which saddle I should have. She watched me ride in the saddle, checking that it wasn't pinching anywhere and spent a long time making sure both she, my horse and I were happy with the fit. I've been on many long trail rides since buying my saddle, and my horse has never shown any sign of soreness, the saddle stays perfectly in place and I've been able to adjust the shimming in the pad Maria recommended to allow for seasonal weight changes. Thanks for a great service Maria Leo and I have really appreciated your knowledge throughout.
Liz with Maia (Arab) on Dartmoor 10/06/18
We ride on Dartmoor in all weather and inevitably, across all types of terrain. Eight years ago Maria came and spent an hour with each horse getting just the right saddle (we have a quarter horse and a part bred Arab with very different needs), and making sure the fit was perfect. The saddles have stayed in excellent shape and remained comfortable for horses and riders so when I got a new young Arab the obvious place to go was back to The Western Saddler to find a western saddle to fit. Maria is a joy to work with, reassuringly concerned to get the detail right and explaining clearly how the fit is specific to my horse’s shape (it was a real eye-opener to realise that my slight young Arab is wider across her shoulders and rib cage than my stocky older quarter horse). I am confident my new horse will be as comfortable in her saddle as our others have been for the past eight years and can’t recommend Maria, her saddles and her saddle fitting highly enough.
Jadie & Joe (QH) in Kent 21/09/17
Maria has made my horse Joe a very happy boy!!! So very pleased with his made to measure western saddle…. it’s so nice to be able to tack him up and him not pull a face… it’s so very comfortable for me too and not so heavy to lift up onto him… teamed with a beautiful saddle pad and cinch.
Clare & Trixie (Irish Cob) in West Sussex 28/09/17
I contacted Maria with regard to fitting a western saddle for my Irish cob. She arrived with a car-load of saddles and trees and was very thorough in making sure the fit was just right, explaining everything to me as she went – her knowledge is phenomenal! It took a while but we did find a perfect fit. Maria showed me how to saddle up and watched me riding, checking the fit of the saddle while my horse was moving to see if any adjustments were needed. My saddle was made to order, along with the cinch and saddle pad, and a few weeks later I became the proud owner of a beautiful Pullman saddle with acorn tooling, ostrich seat, with stirrups and conchos engraved to match the tooling. It really is stunning and has been much admired. Maria’s enthusiasm and expertise were invaluable throughout the whole process, and I would not hesitate to recommend her services most highly.
Chris & Patrick in Shropshire 19/10/17
Thank you so much Maria for all of your help. It’s beautiful and so comfortable (Patrick agrees with that part too). Hoping to spend many hours across many miles in it.
Meryl & Mr Jamie Fish (NF) in Hampshire 05/10/17
I am very happy with the care you have taken to make sure everything was correctly fitting, particularly as he is a native pony and required custom made saddle, headstall and breast collar. May I say your care was exemplary and he is working very well.
Fiona & Lulu 12/10/16
I can recommend both the saddle and Maria's fitting. I have had mine nearly two years now and done around 200 hours riding in it and it is so comfortable for both Lulu and I. Used with the Mattes pad it fits perfectly. Although this is the expensive option, it is worth it. I have spent so much on secondhand saddles which did not fit correctly over the years. I would not use any other fitter or pad.
Lesley-Anne & Vandy, UK 19/12/13
“I bought my first Quarter Horse this year, a beautiful black mare called Vandys Orions Bar. This was my first step into the world of western riding and I wanted to start out right. With lots of recommendations I called Maria out to fit Vandy. Maria came a long way with a car full of saddles to try. She explained to me how a western saddle is different to English and the importance of a good fit. She took the time to chat to me about our needs and assess Vandy’s shape, watching us ride and how the saddle fitted while in motion. Maria is very knowledgeable and approachable and goes out of her way to help. I would recommend her to anyone.”
Abby & Angel (QH) in Cambridge 02/12/13
“I bought my first QH in April 2012 and, through a recommendation from a trainer, I contacted Maria at TWS for a made to measure Western saddle. Maria was really helpful, she travelled a long distance to meet me and spent time trying different types/sizes of trees on my mare. Western saddle fit seems to be a bit of a mine field but Maria explained the principals clearly and I felt confident with her advice. My saddle was made to order, I chose the colour of the leather, the silver detailing on the skirt and it was great that I could have a non standard Equiflex tree fitted. 2013 has been my first show season and me and my gorgeous QH mare have enjoyed every minute, she’s much fitter, i’m much more knowledgeable than I was 18 months ago and I would recommend TWS for your saddlery needs”.
Ben Moxon in Surrey 10/09/13
“Maria came out to help me with the fit of my existing saddle, which I had been riding with my horse in for a few weeks. She was able to show me how the saddle was not a terrible fit, but also that it could be improved by using a shimmed saddle pad to balance it out and lift it off my horse’s loins. My mare immediately started carrying herself more correctly and found it much easier to bend on the circle. Maria’s understanding equine physiology and how the shape and structure of the saddle interact with the horse in movement equip her very well for saddle fitting and I strongly recommend her.”
Barry Collyer & Sparky (QH) in Surrey 19/05/13
“I recently asked Maria to come to my yard to measure up and fit a western saddle for my American Quarter Horse. This was my first every experience with having a western saddle fitted and I am so pleased that I found Maria to do this for me. I received a fantastic service, both before and during the fitting, with an amazing product, and at a very respectable price too. What I am really pleased with is the on going after care that she offers too. Thank you so much Maria, from myself and Sparky.”