California Riding Magazine • August, 2013

Borné Saddlery
Artisan saddle maker defines custom process and broadens its
holistic approach with rider nutrition.

Dressage has a proud history dating back more than two thousand years. The harmonious development of the horse and its ability to move freely has always been a hallmark of the sport. As in all equestrian disciplines, the proper saddle is of utmost importance and this is especially true for the sport of dressage. Because the saddle is the union of rider and horse, the proper fit is critical to maximizing the comfort of both the rider and the horse. In custom saddle making, the art of hand-made craftsmanship finds the perfect balance with the science of human and equine anatomy. However, because of recent cost-cutting trends, the art of custom saddle making faces serious challenges.

Enter Borné Saddlery. For over a decade Borné Saddlery has been a leader in bespoke English made saddles and remains committed to traditional craftsmanship despite the cost-cutting trend in the industry. According to Karen Borne, President of Borné Saddlery, mass production is becoming more prevalent in the industry. "Unfortunately, we are beginning to see the old-school craftsmanship dying out in favor of an assembly line way of producing saddles." According to Karen, this assembly line method is resulting in inconsistent saddle quality and high labor turnover.

Talent and expertise is what sets Borné Saddlery apart from the competition. For over a decade Borné has partnered with Andy Sankey, Certified Master Saddler, Trade and established member of The Society of Master Saddlers, UK, to provide outstanding service and quality saddles to the United States market. Andy is seeing the same trends in the UK saddle industry. "Over the last few years I have seen saddle companies go from making quality saddles to quantity. It seems that saddles are being made with less care and attention to details. Just get them out the door and no one will know."

Andy goes on to say, "Sadly, my opinion of the future generation of saddle makers is that they will be doing high volume production work only and will not learn the true craft of hand making a saddle from beginning to end. The trend here in the UK is to teach young lads to do 'piece work, meaning more like an assembly line process."

This shift in production methods has also led to some confusion in what makes a saddle truly custom. According to Andy, "I hear the word 'custom made' all the time (i.e. my saddle was custom made for my horse), then you find out they purchased it by mail order or out of a van. Ninety-nine percent of saddle companies say custom made, when it is really options which can be changed on a production saddle. 'Bespoke' is when a saddle is tailor-made for your horse, like an $8,000 suit from LA, Milan or London. We do the same with saddles. We custom make the panels and use the correct tree for the horse's back and then design the saddle and leathers to the customer's needs, resulting in a perfect fit, classy design, and durable construction."

Holistic Approach

While Borné continues to champion the art of custom saddle making, Borné Saddlery also prides itself in a holistic approach to horse and rider. For that reason, Borné has teamed up with equestrian, Nicola Stauder and her company, JustCleanse, to provide nutritional support for athletes.

It's another partnership that is based on a shared philosophy. According to Nicola, "I have a long history with Karen Borne. I have always appreciated Karen's constant effort to provide quality goods. Her customer service and people skills are above and beyond industry standard. JustCleanse decided to team up with Karen due to her belief in there being a need for better nutritional options in our world today. We share a common love for the world of equestrians and, when it comes to nutrition and better health choices, it's a great place to share and educate." 

As an athlete and dressage rider for over 25 years, Nicola understands that nutrition is key to better performance and recovery. "Food today is not the same as it was 50 years ago. We need to consider environmental toxicity, nutritional deficiencies in our foods, and how that impacts our bodies. Athletes especially love our products, they help with better recovery from workouts, increased lean muscle mass, are super-convenient, and easy to integrate into a busy persons lifestyle."

The combination of old world craftsmanship and 21st Century nutritional science has positioned Borné Saddlery as a leader in holistic solutions for horse and rider in the sport of dressage.

For more information, visit them online at or call 1-866-254-5853.
Article provided by Borné Saddlery.