Wellington, FL – “So often one of our saddles fitters spots a young rider at a show who has a lot of talent but is literally unable to ride in the correct position because they are competing in a saddle that simply does not fit their body size and type. Even more frequently we see horses struggling to perform for their riders with an incorrectly fit saddle that is putting pressure on its back, shoulders or withers,” said Cary Wallace of Custom Saddlery about the inspiration behind the Custom Young Ambassadors Talent Search program to help educate younger riders on the importance of proper saddle fit. “The Custom Young Ambassador program was developed to educate today's riders ages 25 years and under who will be tomorrow's stars.”
The 2013 Custom Young Ambassador Talent Search was originally to select one winner, but the judges could not decide between two individuals. Custom felt both deserved new saddles, and so selected two grand prize winners who reflected the broad spectrum of what defines an equestrian sport athlete and how better saddle fit rewards a loyal equine partner with a clearer and more comfortable line of communication. “It was difficult to narrow it down to ten deserving The talent search contest, which ended July 15, saw Sydney Collier and Jessica Foschi unanimously chosen by the selection committee of Custom MVR's (Most Valuable Riders) Olympic Bronze Medalist Steffen Peters, Olympic Dressage Team Reserve and Pan Am Gold Medalist Heather Blitz, and Pan Am Gold Medal Team Alternate Endel Ots.
Collier is a para-rider who trains out of Millbrook, NY, with Wes Dunham, and rides Wentworth, a 10 year-old Hanoverian gelding discovered in Ottawa, Canada, last November with the help of Amy McIlwam.
“We absolutely love Wentworth,” said Anna, Sydney’s mother. “He is one of the coolest horses, with the most amazing brain and sense of humor. He takes on Syd's physical challenges and really focuses on what he needs to perform his best and what she needs to perform at hers.”
“I am thrilled and honored to be chosen,” said Sydney Collier, whose high aspriations include competing at the 2014 World Equestrian Games and 2016 Paralympics. Sydney’s winning attitude set her appart from the other nominations, and Custom is proud to give such a deserving and dedicated candidate a new saddle with which to pursue her dreams. No rider has to put aside their dreams, no matter what obstacles lay before them. Go ahead and reach for the stars as high as you want. That’s my philosophy,” she said. Ready to ride with her will be her new Custom Saddle, tailored to Collier's own 'perfect fit,' including an adaptive panel and design to the offside to work in harmony with the unique tilt of her pelvis and leg position. Wentworth, so attuned to his rider's every message, should also discover Custom's improved fit rewards freer expression through his shoulders and back, and clearer aids off a balanced seat.
Jessica Foschi of Minnesota earned her nomination as a Custom Young Ambassador following her horsemanship with two very different horses: a Welsh Cob competing at Prix St. Georges and Intermediare I, and a three year-old Dutch Warmblood she has raised since a yearling.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be selected as a winner of the Custom Young Ambassador Talent Search,” said Foschi. “I have big plans for both of the horses I ride and Custom’s saddle will help me achieve my goals. Crescent Moon's Lancelot is a black Welsh Cob gelding owned by Kellie Hunter that I have been riding for three years. In that time, we have earned my USDF Bronze (2011) and Silver Medals (2013). Also in 2010, we were the Bronze Medal pair in the USEF Dressage Seat National Medal Finals (14-18) at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Illinois. He is truly one kind. Lance has a heart of gold and loves his job.
“My bay Dutch Warmblood mare, Calypso, will be three at the end of July. Her grandsire is Sweden's Watermill Scandic. I have owned her since she was a yearling and am very excited to see what she will do. She is powerful and elegant, and my new Custom Saddle will be on her as she steps into the ring!”
Wallace, who heads design and research for Custom Saddlery, sees its grand prize-winning riders and horses as indicative of the talent that deserves encouragement: “We believe every saddle should fit both horse and rider. We are constantly designing and researching saddles – and riders – to find the right blend of design and craftsmanship to fit today's demands.” The perfect saddle fit between a horse and rider is its own talent.
To learn more about saddle fit, awards programs like Custom Young Ambassador program and Custom Saddlery, please visit their website at www.mysaddle.com.