California Riding Magazine • January, 2011

Saddle Surprise
Californian Dantia Benson gets two treats during USDF convention.

California dressage rider Dantia Benson is the second rider to win a custom dressage saddle through Custom Saddlery's All American Saddle Fit Challenge. Photo © censon

Dressage rider Dantia Benson flew from her home in Ventura County's Somis to Florida to attend the annual United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Convention and watch her 4-year-old Dutch horse be awarded the Materiale Horse of the Year. What Benson didn't expect was to fly home from the convention as the second winner of a custom made dressage saddle from Custom Saddlery as part of their All American Saddle Fit Challenge.

"I think the whole audience at the convention saw my excitement and surprise when I won the saddle, I was so ecstatic," Benson said. "The new saddle will be for Bad Boy, who was just inducted into the USDF Hall Of Fame as the Materiale Horse of the Year, which is the Sunshine Sporthorse Association Trophy. He had the Overall High Score for all ages and sexes this year. Bad Boy is Dutch and by Olive (Jazz) out of Lotte (Damiro). I got him as a 2-year-old and last year he was the 3-year-old Materiale Horse of the Year as well as the DG Bar Cup winner for 3-year-olds. This year he was also the winner of the DG Bar Cup for 4-year-olds and shows a lot of promise in his training as he is a lovely mover."

Benson trains with Sabine Schut-Kery, but said she enjoys taking clinics and lessons from top riders. "I just took a lesson with Shannon Peters and she told me that her husband, World Equestrian Games bronze medalist, Steffen Peters, rides in a saddle from Custom Saddlery," Benson said. "I look forward to fitting and riding Bad Boy in his new saddle. I just think it is awesome to have the opportunity to have such a nice saddle and I am thinking of the style that will match my ability to 'stick' on my young, big moving boy."

Benson, who competes as an amateur and says she has "too many horses," thanks Custom Saddlery for the opportunity to ride in one of their saddles. "I hope it gives Bad Boy the 'edge' to continue to rise for the occasion up the levels," she said. "I really need a saddle that will help me keep my seat in the saddle and my leg long. The Buffalo hide is also really helpful for me, so I am looking forward to having a saddle that fits the both of us. I am so excited."

Cary Wallace, President and Master Saddle Fitter at Custom Saddlery, congratulated Benson on winning the second saddle through their All American Saddle Fit Challenge. "We look forward to fitting Bad Boy with his saddle and helping Dantia and Bad Boy as they progress in the show world. Custom Saddlery, whose list of riders includes Steffen Peters, Sue Blinks, Hilda Gurney, Leslie Reid, and Heather Blitz, will give away five Custom Saddlery dressage saddles as part of the All American Saddle Fit Challenge. The program is designed to bring awareness to the fact that all saddles need to fit both the horse and rider properly. "All of our saddles are anatomically designed and handcrafted from the finest leathers. Our saddles are made with the idea that people want more out of their saddles and we do everything in our power to accommodate them," Wallace said.

For more information on Custom Saddlery and the All American Saddle Fit Challenge, visit their website at