Our senior Saddle Fitter, Kayleen Harrison, has a lifetime of stories to tell about horses, early morning plaiting sessions, and her saddle fitting journey. We asked some big questions!
- Name: Kayleen Harrison
- Nicknames: Kayz
- Job title at Western Shoppe: Saddle Fitter at Western Shoppe JHB.
- Give three words that best describe yourself:
Loud, crazy, kind.
- Give us a brief history on your riding journey. Childhood, disciplines, what is your involvement with horses now etc.?
I started riding at 3 years old on Welsh ponies. I have ridden in many disciplines including show jumping, eventing, dressage, showing, equitation and I’ve also driven carriages competitively. I help out at SANESA and DSA shows as a scribe or show director on my free weekends.
- Do you have a four-legged equine friend/s of your own? Tell us more.
Berg Wind (or as he is fondly known – the Orange Beast). He is a 9 year old chestnut Thoroughbred who I have owned since he came off the track as a 4 year old. He is from Port Elizabeth and quite feisty.
- How did you find yourself in the saddle fitting and equestrian trade?
I started working at Western Shoppe JHB on the sales floor in 2001. I love helping horses. Fitting saddles would give me the opportunity to help horses by improving the way they worked and felt (by improving the way their saddles fitted). And it really has been just that! I did an in-depth apprenticeship alongside Rosslyn Watt (former Western Shoppe saddle fitter who is now living in Australia), training with Bates Australia, and here I am!
- Qualifications: Bates Australia, as well as many years experience working with/on entire range of saddles brands e.g. Prestige, Pessoa, Wintec etc.
- Why do you love your job?
I love my job because I get to work with horses and be outside all day. I also really enjoy watching horses and riders grow in their new saddle. It’s a journey!
- What does your current ‘fit portfolio’ look like?
I fit for various clients in different disciplines at various levels – SANESA to FEI.
- Favourite saddle at the moment?
I really like the Bates All Purpose (GP). I have one of my own and they are great to ride in, as well as being really versatile with its multiple gullet and insert options.
- Lastly, what is the one piece of advice or tip you would want to share with any and every horse owner with regards to their horse and its saddle?
I would always recommend having your saddle checked at least every 6 months as horses change with seasonal and feed changes.