California Riding Magazine • October, 2012

The Game Changer
Saddle Network tackles an industry scourge: tack theft.

by Erin Gilmore


Will, Sophie and Nicole Simpson became some of the
first members of Saddle Network!

Top show jumper Nicole Simpson never expected a thief to strike so close to home, but last winter in Florida, one did.

It took everyone at Simpson Show Jumping by surprise. The Simpsons operate a busy, but relatively private show jumping program and regularly compete at top events on both coasts of the United States as well as internationally. Their day-to-day operations run like a finely tuned machine, and they have produced outstanding results and some of the most competitive horses in show jumping over the last four years.

But when Nicole's daughter Sophie Simpson's custom Butte saddle was stolen, the whole barn went into lockdown.

"The police got involved, and eventually we learned that it was an in-house job," recounts Nicole. "We were lucky, we got the saddle back. But saddle theft is a huge problem for us as an industry."

An Intriguing Solution

The Simpsons were one of the (very) lucky ones. More often than not, stolen saddles disappear without a trace, and are very difficult, if not impossible, to recover.

Even worse, stolen saddles are often sold right back into the community they came from.

And so Nicole was intrigued when she heard about Saddle Network, which aims to halt tack theft before it happens. Saddle Network owners Mary and Hugh Braly have been traveling the horse show circuit for years representing Braly Woodworking and Trunks Unlimited. After hearing tales of saddle theft again and again, they decided that enough was enough.


The Saddle Network tag is thin, unobtrusive,
and an effective stop sign for thieves.

"We saw equipment theft happening over and over, regardless of riding discipline or breed, and with typically no recourse for the victims," explains Mary. "We watched and listened as the community tried to help each other, but they lacked a true, effective solution.
"One day we had an epiphany," Mary adds. "If we could combine technology and social networking we knew that we could help solve this problem."

This month they introduce Saddle Network, a bold new system that combines a website based platform that unites riders, tack stores, and saddle manufacturers. With a visible tag affixed to the saddle's exterior, riders will no longer sit idle while thieves take what they please.

What's a Saddle Tag?

Saddle Network tags give the owner the ability to quickly notify the community through its link with social networking if the saddle has been stolen or lost. A three-inch flat, aluminum tag created to military specifications, each tag contains the item's description, pictures and current status information, and is easily accessible by scan of the QR code on the tag or by entering the tag number directly at the website (a smaller tag for items such as bridles, halters, breastplates etc. is being developed for a 2013 release.)

If the tag is removed, the rivet holes left behind are a red flag that a saddle's legitimacy should be questioned. A saddle with holes in a Saddle Network tag location can still be checked on the site in a parameter search by entering information as simple as saddle brand.

Unique from other theft deterrent devices, Saddle Network mandates that the tag be riveted upon the saddle flap in a specific exterior location. Braly explains that hiding the tag defies its purpose. "If the thief can't see the tag, they're going to take the saddle!" she says. "Tags create a theft deterrent. Thieves will realize that tagged saddles are no longer an easy score and the possibility of getting caught is high."

Currently, because most people have no means with which to protect their equipment effectively, tack ranks as one of the easiest equestrian items to steal. No matter their riding level or discipline, equestrians constantly find themselves the victims of theft.


Four-time NFR Qualifier and top barrel racer
Sharon Camarillo proudly displays her tagged saddle.

"I think that Saddle Network will definitely deter the ease of theft," states Nicole. "Our situation would have been much easier, or maybe not have happened at all, if our saddles had been tagged."

Simpson Show Jumping became one of the first high performance show jumping operations to become members of Saddle Network, and their saddles are now all tagged and registered.

Besides theft prevention Saddle Network provides its members with a secure, online file cabinet in which to store an unlimited amount of equipment records tagged and untagged with pictures and detailed information.

Saddle Network provides a timely solution to an ever-increasing problem. Help make the network stronger and take up your role in the fight against equipment theft. Join today!

For more information or to join the Saddle Network, visit www.saddlenetwork.com.