The first point of call would be to visit the Society of Master Saddlers website to look at the different options and opportunities available to you, especially if you are currently working outside the industry.
The Society organises a two-day Introductory Course in Saddle Fitting which is run in conjunction with BETA. The course is open to all those with an interest in entering the field of saddle fitting. It is also open to other equestrian professionals who want to enhance their equestrian knowledge in this area such as BHS Instructors, chartered physiotherapists, veterinarians etc.
An ideal route into saddle fitting is to find employment with a Society member who is willing to train you through an apprenticeship. Another route could be to train as a saddler and join the society in your own right, then progressing into saddle fitting. There is a helpful page on the SMS website to help you find apprenticeships and courses currently available.
After initially attending the two-day introductory course, which will not only inspire you but give you plenty of knowledge to start your first steps to becoming a Qualified Saddle Fitter recognised by the Society of Master Saddlers, you will need to complete three years’ experience working with and alongside a QSF. This can be done on a part-time or full-time basis depending upon your circumstances and the availability of a tutor. You would be able to join the Society’s Mentor Scheme as a trainee saddle fitter which is open to those who have attended the Introductory Course. This is an ideal way to develop your training and skills whilst working towards the five-day qualification course.
All of those training to become a saddle fitter and working towards the Society’s City & Guilds Saddle Fitting course and assessment will need to undertake training in saddle flocking and attain the Society’s Saddle Flocking Qualification before attending the QSF course. Full details of the requirements for the exam can be found on the SMS web site under ‘Training’ then ‘Courses’. You can train for this where you wish or at one of the establishments listed.
Your final step to becoming a QSF on completing the five-day course is to complete a final assessment leading to your SMS Registered Qualified Saddler Fitter status. It really is that straight forward!
The Society’s aims are to safeguard the quality of work, services, training and qualifications of all those who work in the saddlery trade from manufacturers and retailers through individual craftspeople and saddle fitters.
With this in mind the SMS formulated the Qualified Saddle Fitters course, a more advanced course aimed at saddle fitters who have been fitting saddles for a number of years and who want to refine their saddle fitting to the standards promoted by the Society and approved by City & Guilds.
You will be required to pass an assessment, which will include a written paper and practical units in conformation and action in hand, saddle assessment and fault identification, taking template measurements and a practical saddle fitting assessment.
Once a Saddle Fitter achieves their qualified status they will need to attend a refresher day every two years to maintain their qualification. Qualified saddle fitters should also gain CPD points and attend additional training seminars when they can to maintain their knowledge to current standards. These days are also a great chance to meet and socialise with other likeminded SMS members within the same industry and learn from each other.
Don’t forget to take a look at the SMS website. You will find it is full of very informative advice on what each step to becoming a Qualified Saddle Fitter consists of. Take your time to research the website and feel filled with confidence to take the leap from your everyday office job to your dream saddle fitting career.
Don’t wait any longer to become what you have always dreamed of, be brave and take the step now.
To find out more information on The Society of Master Saddlers visit www.mastersaddlers.co.uk or telephone 01449 711642.