A Bit about Deborah Witty of Performance Saddlery

Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Posted by Christy

Deborah Witty, the owner and president of Trilogy Saddles and Performance Saddlery, has spent years helping top riders such as George Williams, Guenter Seidel, Courtney King-Dye, Shannon Peters and Debbie McDonald with their saddle needs. With over 20 years of experience as a saddle fitter, Witty has developed an eye for detail, an understanding of training, and the ability to see how the rider, saddle and the horse are all affected by each other.

Photo:The Debbie McDonald Dressage Saddle Featuring a flatter, more open seat, narrower seat and straighter leg.

After recognizing that there was a need in the market place for a saddle line that addressees more of the horse and riders needs, Witty developed her line of Trilogy Saddles. “It is extremely rewarding to have the opportunity to build and provide horses and their riders with a saddle that generates more comfort, makes the rider more effective and enhances the team’s performance,” Witty said.

Witty, a qualified fitter from the Society of Master Saddlers of England, has her saddles built in England because she believes the best and experienced craftsmen in the world are in England. Through her years of experience, Witty has found she prefers a traditional British saddle tree that is  made of laminated Beachwood. “They are semi rigid and the horses seem to really like them,” Witty explained, adding that for the last ten years she has made regular trips to England where she takes part in many hours of training, reviewing and refreshing as a saddle fitter.

Witty believes a wide variety of saddle choices can overwhelm the saddle buyer. “Over the years I discovered that there were three basic saddle styles that people would lean towards. One – a deeper seat narrower twist, wider seat bone area for more support. Second - a bit wider twist not as deep a seat. And third - a flatter more open seat with a narrower seat. It may not cover every rider but it encompasses most,” Witty said.

One rider Witty has worked with for seven years is Olympic dressage rider Debbie McDonald. Due to McDonald’s petite frame, Witty designed and built a saddle especially for the petite rider. “The Debbie Special was developed so that the saddle would accommodate a rider that is physically unable to establish their position in a regular size saddle because there is just too much leather and saddle surrounding them. Instead everything is tailored to suit the smaller in stature so that they can effectively put their leg on the horse, shift their seat bones and communicate clearly to the horse without the bulk of the saddle getting in the way.”

A lifelong equestrian, Witty grew up and still lives in Ithaca, New York. Witty said growing up in a horse family was a blessing as she was surrounded by old-time horsemen that would stand over the top of her and guide her to perfect her style in training, grooming and bandaging legs from the time she was old enough to hot walk race horses.

Witty’s perfection continued when she discovered her love for Standardbreds. “The challenge of training the harness horses became a priority for me. Even as a teenager I loved the challenge of finding that feel of what made each horse tick, how they traveled and what the feel in your hand would be that made the horse balanced and happy.”

Witty held her Driver/Trainers license for Standardbreds for many years. During college she was offered a research assistant position at Cornell Veterinary College. “I worked at the Veterinary College for 10 years, galloping and driving race horses to evaluate horses musculature, blood chemistries, heart rates and blood pressures and the affects of exercise on all of those parameters. I was also responsible for the management of 150 horses at an off-campus facility with breeding stock and donation horses.”

In the late ‘80s, Witty started her dressage career which took her to the show ring through third level. “By the mid ‘90s I had developed a clientele of 20 lower level students,” Witty said. “I have worked with novice riders to top professionals and I have learned that many of them share the same saddle concerns.”

With a solid equestrian background to her name, Witty opened a tack store in 1989 then headed to Southern California from 2003 to 2005 to establish Performance Saddlery on the West Coast. With the addition of her line of Trilogy Saddles, Witty has worked tirelessly to make sure that saddle fitters who work for her are the best trained fitters in the field and that they receive hours of support and additional training in new techniques and methods of evaluation. “Clients saddles are hand delivered and custom flocked to the horses the customers enjoy the one on one specialized treatment,” Witty said.

Thanks to her years of experience and understanding what riders want, Witty has pledged to provide superior service to her customers. “I am committed to servicing the client and keeping them happy and satisfied with their saddles. Trilogy Saddles has created opportunities to monitor the clients and their satisfaction through post purchase interviews, surveys and touching base with them at competitions. We encourage the clients to keep us informed of any changes in their horse, training program and any concerns that they may addressed we like to be kept in the loop. We encourage the riders to have their saddles evaluated every six to nine months to keep it well tuned for the best performance.”