Seymour Powell updates saddle design for first time in 200 years

Seymour Powell has created a new horse saddle, which has been ten years in development and aims to fundamentally change saddle design for the first time in 200 years.

The consultancy developed the Quantum AMS Saddle after being appointed directly to the job in 1999 by the late Andrew Stockford, who at the time was running his family business, Quay Equestrian.

Stockford, according to Seymour Powell director Dick Powell, was an ‘extreme sports’ fan who was frustrated by the lack of innovation in the saddle world, and sent a saddle to the Seymour Powell offices with a note saying, ‘We should be able to do better than this’.

Powell says Stockford approached Seymour Powell after seeing them wrestle with the challenge of designing the perfect bra on the Channel 4 series Better by Design.

Seymour Powell, which took the project on a minimum cost-only basis, was tasked to address a number of problems associated with traditional or badly fitted saddles, including localised high-stress points on the horse’s back, and saddle movement – which can lead to severe suffering for the horse.

The consultancy was also asked to develop a saddle that could be altered to adapt to the frequently changing shape of horses, which occurs due to age or fitness.

Powell says, ‘Opportunities to completely rethink a product from the ground up don’t come along every day, even in our business.

‘But to do it in a domain where so little has been changed or challenged for decades, or even centuries, is rare indeed.’ He adds, ‘It is a genuinely innovative product that delivers compelling improvements in functionality and performance. It is, quite simply, better by design.’

The project saw testing by a group of designers, engineers and Olympic riders, and had to overcome a number of challenges, not least the death of original entrepreneur Stockford, who died in 2006 and was succeeded by his brother Matthew.

Matthew Stockford, managing director of Quantum, the successor firm to Quay Equestrian, says, ‘The Quantum is unlike anything the equestrian industry has seen before.

‘Seymour Powell has helped us achieve a revolution in saddle design and construction that enhances performance, stability and comfort for both horse and rider. The results are staggering.’

The first jump saddles, which will sell for £2750 each, will be available in February, with a dressage saddle planned for March.

Key elements of the Quantum:

• The Quantum is fitted in calfskin and looks like a traditional saddle

• It comprises two padded carbon-fibre fins, which are contoured to fit the horse’s back and are joined at the front by a strong structure called ‘the bridge’

• The bridge and fins are both adjustable to fit the horse, and the fins have been designed to distribute pressure evenly over the horse’s back and away from its shoulders

• The stirrup bar is positioned to provide the rider with a balanced riding position

• The girth is mounted to the fins with a three-point self-righting system

• The seat is made from carbon fibre and is mounted to the chassis at the bridge

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