You may have heard about Equipe USA and their recent popularity in the industry. This isn't just because the saddles are beautiful and technologically functional. Rather, Equipe USA focuses on good saddle fitters and fitting techniques so that the saddle perfectly pairs the horse and rider. Follow along as we dive into Equipe USA and their roots in America with Joanna Dillon, the US distributor!
Equipe USA was started in the US just about 2 years ago now. "I was an independent saddle fitter for Selleria Equipe in the UK for many years before relocating to the US with my husband, 2 dogs and 1 horse. At the time, Selleria Equipe had very little presence here in the US and asked me as an expert in their product to saddle fit for them in California. It turned out there was a real gap in the market for a high end technical product that Equipe saddles are able to fill and I soon became overwhelmed with demand for saddle fittings both in California and the rest of the US. Based on my success, Selleria Equipe offered me the chance to be the US distributor and within 2 years I now manage a team of 17 saddle fitters (and growing) located throughout the country. Welcome to Equipe USA."
A saddle is only as good as the saddle fitter, and the fitter is only as good as the technical options that the brand offers them. Each of the Equipe saddle models are based on a unique tree shape to enable the saddle fitter to respect the biomechanics of the horse and rider.
While there are a lot of great saddle providers in the industry, we asked -- what makes Equipe USA unique? "Equipe saddles are handmade in Italy, their logo incorporates a handprint to signify their commitment to this process. The saddles are made with only the finest French and Italian leathers and crafted in such a way that only the Italian’s can, to produce an aesthetically beautiful product. But, more importantly (for me as a saddle fitter) they provide me with a technical product that performs. A saddle is only as good as the saddle fitter, and the fitter is only as good as the technical options that the brand offers them. Each of the Equipe saddle models are based on a unique tree shape to enable the saddle fitter to respect the biomechanics of the horse and rider. Custom saddle fitting is much more than just a width….or added bling. In addition to the tree shapes Equipe offer saddles on 3 tree material types, composite, wood and carbon fiber. These differing tree materials give the horse and rider a different ‘feel’. So we can select the biomechanically correct tree shape for the horse and then let the horse and rider pick the ‘feel’ that enables them perform at their very best. It’s the cherry on the cake!"
As you can imagine, Equipe USA offers a huge variety of saddles with over 15 listed on the Equivont site! That being said, Joanna told us that if she had to pick just one saddle, her favorite at the moment would be the new e-carbon EKCLASS Cross Country Saddle. She says, "It’s more than just a monoflap jump saddle, it has been specifically designed with the cross country rider in mind. Equipe worked with professional event riders in Europe and studied copious footage of event riders to see what specific support but also range of motion they need over a cross country round. The EKCLASS enables the rider to maintain a balanced supported position whilst also allowing the rider to adopt the ‘safety position’ when required."
We also asked Joanna how it is that she balances her time being a businesswoman and an equestrian. "All new businesses are time-consuming and Equipe USA is no different. I’m lucky that even whilst I’m working I still get my ‘horse fix’ but that doesn’t substitute actually being in the saddle. I currently part own a young event horse with professional event rider Jess Hargrave of Charis Equestrian. Jess does the majority of the work and fun mom - that would be me- turns up to ride whenever I can :)" It's a balancing act for sure, but possible with a great support system!
Being a rider herself, we also learned about the most influential horse in Joanna's life. She said, "I had the most fabulous Irish Sport Horse in the UK called The Philosopher’s Stone aka Harry. Harry was one in a million, we did everything together from affiliated showjumping, eventing, dressage to hunting. He taught me that correct training and accurate riding can outshine the flashiest of horses…" Those are just the best kinds of horses! Plus, bonus points for the Harry Potter references! ; )
Finally, are you eager to get in touch with Equipe USA? Joanna and her team of saddle-fitters are all over the country and will also be at the in Kentucky in April. "Our big event of the year is the Land Rover Kentucky 3 Day Event. But also look out for your local saddle fitters at a number of other 3 Day events across the country as well as Dressage and Hunter-Jumper shows." You can contact Joanna for more information and to find out who your local representatives are!
Also, this beautifully produced video from Selleria Equipe displays what this sport is really all about. Check it out while dreaming about your own future Equipe USA saddle!