California Riding Magazine • March, 2008

Down Under Saddle Supply
Australian saddles are comfortable
for the long haul.

by Erna L. Adelson

Any rider who has endured discomfort after riding on trails will be thrilled to discover that Australian saddles, renowned for their practicality, close contact and safety features are easier to come by than ever thanks to Mike and Jan Bergin of Down Under Saddle Supply in Denver, CO. Since 2002, the Bergins have been importing specialty saddles from around the world, making their warehouse the most varied and the most economic source for the acclaimed tack.

Riders all their lives, the Bergins bought the Australian-founded saddlery to maintain a family-run business that allowed them to provide others with quality equipment and continue their equine lifestyle.

Australian saddles feature poleys, or large thigh pads at the front of the saddle for extra security if the horse moves erratically, removable stirrup leathers and a suspended webbed seat that functions like a mini-hammock for a rider instead of the harder seats typical of english and western saddles. The design is nearly 200 years old and originated in the outback, where it was common to spend long hours in a saddle while braving harsh and unforgiving landscapes. Today, the Bergins stock saddles from India as well as Australia in order to provide different styles and prices for their customers.

In addition to filling orders from Sweden to Mexico, the Bergins supply the tack for Al Ragusin, who runs the widely successful dancing horse show. Ragusin says he discovered the saddles somewhat by accident. When one of his saddles broke during a performance nearly a decade ago, he was forced to use the only other saddle he had with him: an Australian saddle he had purchased on a whim. It was the best show he had put on to date, and Ragusin has been training and showing within nine different disciplines in nothing but Aussie saddles since that day. He orders solely from Down Under Saddle Supply.

“The Australian saddle is the safest saddle I have ever found under any circumstance,” Ragusin explains. “I couldn’t perform the same maneuvers with a different saddle, so my shows wouldn’t be the same without it.” Ragusin adds that because of the safety features, he also trains riders in Aussie saddles exclusively.

Investing in an Australian-style saddle returns long-term physical benefits to riders, too. The unique, webbed design of the seat shifts a rider’s weight off of their knees while the stirrups follow the natural position of the legs. This relieves much of the stress on a rider’s body caused by traditional english and western saddles.

Down Under Saddle Supply is a popular destination for endurance riders because Australian saddles are lightweight, may be custom fitted and can be tailored for endurance events. Their warehouse will always have over 1,000 saddles in stock, and customers will even receive an instructional DVD with the purchase of an Australian saddle. Although they claim that most riders who try an Aussie saddle will never want to return to their former equipment style, Down Under also carries quality english and western tack, as well as clothing, accessories and souvenirs.

For more information, visit Mike and Jan Bergin and the experienced staff of Down Under Saddle Supply at www.downunderweb.com. For more information about Al Ragusin’s Dancing Horse Show, visit www.dancinghorseshow.com.