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Equation Saddlery

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  • #21
    I am looking elsewhere too. He said he could send a used saddle that might work, but I haven't seen the saddle... or had my phone calls returned.

    Will try Carol Patty and see if she's got anything used and try some of the links posted in other threads.


    • #22
      Holy cow! I am sorry that some of you have had such bad luck with George. Our experience has been quite the opposite.

      Our Saddlebred mare has a fairly wide and flat back. Every cutback saddle made bridged on her withers and back, and various combinations of pads did little. We owned a Blue Ribbon, and tried Barnsby, Shivley, Crabtree and Whitman, and nothing seemed to be right. She was often back-sore, and consequently often a bit cranky to work. At shows, the discomfort combined with the overall performance tension made her unpredictable in the ring. With the saddle off, she is the kindest horse I have ever met. In desperation, we contacted George, who was recommended by several Saddlebred trainers and riders in our area.

      He carefully measured the mare, and my daughter, and designed a saddle to fit both that is both flocked and built with adjustable air bladders to distribute the weight more evenly across the mare's back.

      In short, the difference in the mare's comfort, and consequently her disposition and training and show performance was absolutely remarkable. Within a couple of weeks she was a different horse.

      George forged a gullet plate for the saddle to fit the mare, and had the saddle made in England. It was delivered on time. The workmanship equals the best cutback saddles I have seen, and is far better than most. It is ridden several times a week (in training and performances) for over three years, and shows hardly any wear. My trainer and my daughter also tell me that it is the most comfortable saddle they have ever ridden.

      George does not come at the drop of a hat, true. I usually have to wait a few weeks for an appointment. But I have always been able to have him out to check on the saddle and make adjustments (usually flocking ) when necessary.

      His saddles are not cheap, but the money I spent on our saddle was some of the best money I have spent on the mare, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It has saved me money on chiro. adjustments, too. Perhaps most importantly, my horse is now free of discomfort. I know several Saddlebred folks who ride George's saddles, and I have NEVER heard anything but good comments about his work.


      • #23
        I should say that his office did finally call me back, about 1 week ago. The saddle he wanted to send to me to try wasn't available, apparently the owner decided to keep it.

        I'm glad that some other people had good experiences. He did get the saddle that I have to fit well enough I could still ride.

        Since I'm looked for a new used saddle, it just bothers me that when I am going to spend $$$ on a saddle, that it's so hard to get a call back.


        • #24
          George was out to our barn just today to check on three saddles, including ours. I had no problem at all getting a call back after I left a message -- as I recall, Pat called me back later the same day. He arrived today on time, although we set the appointment about five or six weeks in advance. Pat called earlier in the week to confirm.

          In terms of adjustments, let me make another personal observation. When our mare was being ridden in an ill-fitting saddle, she compensated to relieve the discomfort (among other things, she had trouble bending left). When we got George's saddle, she was discomfort-free, quit compensating and, consequently over the course of a year, her muscle structure across her back changed as her body moved differently. George came out about three times that first year when we requested to have him make small adjustments to compensate for the mare's physical changes. Since the, we have him out about once a year without any problems.

          Another thing I might offer from talking to a cutback saddle repair and sales people (before we settled on George) is that under the nice leather, many saddles today are poorly made in comparison to older versions of the same saddle, even those from famous names, at least in the cutback saddle world. Cheaper materials, especially, is a problem, as is the contracting out of interior pieces to areas that have lower labor costs. There is a reason why so many Saddlebred folks seek the elusive "old Blue Ribbon" saddle (1980s and before) -- because so many new saddles from makers are built on bad and weak trees, use thinner metal or plastic gullet plates, use fewer screws, etc. George's cutback saddles are built with forged heavy iron gullet plates over laminated, compressed-layer wood trees, by the world's leading saddle maker (Paddy has won several international awards for his work and makes saddles for the British royal family).

          Who knows? Maybe George broke a saddle trying to fix a problem, but then again maybe the saddle was already cracked before he touched it because it was so ill fitting to begin with and couldn't take the stress. Maybe it was junk to begin with and broke while he was honestly trying to fix someone's issues. Maybe a poor trainer is looking for an easy excuse for incompetence and pointing to a poor saddle fit to explain a bigger problem he or she created with customers' horses (because we all know that there is no such thing as a poor trainer, or a trainer who does not know how to work a certain horse...) Maybe the horse is simply tired of being ridden by a bad rider who thinks he or she is the next Rolex or Louisville equitation champion and it is easier to blame anything else when a horse doesn't perform well (we have never seen that before, either...) Maybe those who have the biggest complaints are simply whining prima donnas who are chronically dissatisfied and blowing a minor disagreement into big deal (sadly, the customer is not always right...)

          OR, maybe George IS a terrific huckster who has managed to pull the wool over the eyes of some of the best riders and trainers in the world.

          I am not suggesting any untruthfulness on anyone's part, just that it is impossible to know all the facts on a forum such as this, and that truth ALWAYS lies between two extremes -- indeed, I suppose I am offering the other extreme view of George's work, and I encourage all of you to take MY comments with a grain of salt as well. But to trash someone's reputation on such a public forum (and while we all must sign up to post comments, I found and read this thread via Google search -- so like most things today, this is a very public forum indeed) without providing both sides of the issue, or knowing all the details, is unfair. Those of you who are curious should call George and ask him directly about these complaints and see how he responds. I suspect he has a far different view of these allegedly difficult transactions. Make up your own mind. Try one of his saddles. If you are still unsatisfied then, buy a different saddle, I wish you the best of luck and safety, and feel confident that you have done all you can to get as close to the truth as possible.

          Nothing I say here is likely to change the minds that are already made up. Fair enough, some of you believe that you were ill-used. But I see the other side, lots of folks who wouldn't trade their Equation cutback saddles for any one on the market today. I know many horses whose day-to-day training lives, and arena performances, have been dramatically improved by making them more saddle-comfortable then ever before.

          I guess everyone has different experiences and, perhaps, different expectations about things.


          • #25

            This forum is for "opinions" as requested by it's members.

            People express their opinions from there personal perspective to the best of their abilities to assist others in their decisions. It that ends up shedding an unfavorable light on a particular individual, or when you have multiple people expressing the same opinions whether they be unfavorable or favorable, that information is helpful.

            Just in case your comments were directed toward me, again I will fill you in.

            My trainer noticed issues with my saddle, as did two previous olympic clinicians, as well as chiropractor, massage therapist, within the first month of owning. The saddle, behind the motion- one of the worst case scenarios in Georges little book of poor saddle fits. I owned and rode in the saddle 6 months, custom fit saddle. We were unable to get George to come even in 6-7 weeks for adjustments. He would say he would come, Patricia would forget to let him know he was scheduled, he would get sidetracked.

            My horse let me know there was a problem, with a sore back and unwillingness to work.

            When he was unable to provide me with an acceptable saddle that my horse was comfortable in, I suggested we part ways and requested he assist me in finding a new home for the brand new saddle. No return calls, no assistance, did not even respond to the BBB complaint, which was a last resort.

            I located a reputable saddle fitter who fit my horse beautifully. Since that day 2 1/2 years ago, not one problem, no horse complaints, moving up the levels just fine. Still riding in that perfect saddle, which is adjusted annually.

            Since George is local, have heard many of the same stories as mine over the last 2 years. He is not welcome at many of the local barns anymore.


            Learned my lesson- hope you don't have the same one, and hopefully we save others from an expensive mistake, or maybe, George finally gets it, and is making customer service a priority-

            Good luck to you.
            Last edited by Moderator 1; Sep. 17, 2009, 11:58 AM.


            • #26
              I am George Gullikson president of Equation Saddlery.

              For those of you who are not familiar with how I fit or make a saddle, the following is a short overview.

              When I do a consultation on a horse, I always look across the back of the horse to see what correct or compensating muscles are being used. I look for the asymmetry and balance of the major back muscles, latissimus dorsi. I look at the hamstring group of muscles; bicep femoris, semitendinosis, and semi membransus muscles. The development of those muscles can tell me a lot about the entire hind quarters; activity of the hocks, stifle/hock motion, and the balance of those muscles with the gluteus medius and superficialis muscles, which determines the articulation of the pelvis. I also look at the neck and fore quarters: brachiocephalicius, cervical and thoracic trapezes, rhomboideus, deltoids, biceps, and triceps. The development of those muscles can tell me a lot about whether the horse is bracing in their frame, the biomechanic movement of the humerus/shoulder, tension in the pole, whether the horse is pacing, popping, and even gaited. I check the skeletal frame for correct position of the 3 sections of the spine, plus the bone structures of the fore and hind quarters, I also check for the elasticity, tightness, or looseness of ligaments and tendons. In addition, I look at the angle of the hoofs, their coat, and their disposition and more importantly their expression - the eye can usually fill in the blanks.

              When complete, I always point out to the rider the asymmetry of his/her horse, plus the correct and compensating muscle groups. While asking a lot of questions about the horse's strengths and resistances, past medical problems, or any other issue that has caused the horse to be moving in a compensating frame. From that information, I can make some assumptions about that particular horse/rider team.

              There are a lot of reasons that a horse may be moving in a compensating frame; a horse that is not strong enough to carry the weight of the rider, how a horse is shod or trimmed, nutrition, general condition, and the fit of a saddle - my specialty. Here I have to determine whether the saddle is ill-fitting and causing the horse to brace, or whether the saddle is allowing the rider to represent live-weight to their mount. I check for correct contact with the muscle groups of strength or if the saddle is making too much pressure on muscles of protection. I also check for panel contact, channel width, front to rear and lateral balance, plus other issues inherent of specific saddle brands - gusset panels, full vertical panels and their influence on triceps, deltoids, and the wither. I also have to make the determination of the size of the saddle in relationship to the rider and the placement of their ischium in the seat of the saddle.

              Not everyone needs a new saddle, but almost everyone needs a saddle fitted correctly. If the saddle has a gullet plate that can be adjusted - Hennig, Passier, Schleese, and a few English made saddles, I adjust the plate to correspond to the shape of the wither. And yes, I do reverse the asymmetry of the horse by flocking the saddle to allow the rider to sit centered - this not only allows the horse to load the weight of the rider equally on all 4 quarters, it also allows the passive hock to share the work of the stronger active side. In addition, for the rider that had been sitting stronger on one sitting bone and collapsing to the other side, his/her horse won't have to brace on a rein for the rider's cantilevered position. I will also purposely bridge a saddle for a horse that has not been able to use their abdominal muscles to lift the horse's back into the saddle, the degree of which is dependent on how much latissimus dorsi the horse has - and yes, for horses that have had colic surgery, older horses that have been bracing for so long that using their abs is almost impossible, younger horses that are struggling with the weight of the rider, or for that rider that is not asking for anything and just a passenger, I will flock the saddle for full panel contact.

              However, If the rider finds that the saddle is not allowing them to sit in their aerobic frame, or that that the saddle cannot be made to comfortable fit the horse; non-adjustable fiberglass or plastic tree, felt or foam panels, or a gullet plate that cannot be adjusted to fit the horse's wither, I can make a saddle to address all of the asymmetries of horse and rider. My saddles have to address the disparity of his/her upper to lower leg position, if they have a straight or lordotic spine, if his/her pelvis is tilted, the width of the pelvis and hip socket rotation and other issues that may need to be addressed when building a saddle for position and comfort - ischium spurs, broken coccyx, lumbar pain, sciatic issues, or radiating pain from their sacroiliac. I will always put a rider in a position where they can't brace on the thigh blocks for balance, where they are in a position that allows them to sit into the saddle instead of on top of it, a position that will not allow them to use their quadriceps, abductors and in a position where they will not be able to ride off their knees, but a position where the back is always relaxed and the abdominals are absorbing the energy of the horse - undulation. With the position and comfort that my custom saddle offers the rider, the aids can become more subtle, the openness of the rider's chest influences the horse to move forward instead of the use of a whip or spurs, and the relaxed neutral position the saddle offers, not only makes the rider more secure, but gives the horse a sense of relaxation. As for the saddle and its influence on the horse's conformation, please go to my web site www.equationsaddlery.com, to see the innovations of our new saddle that will allow the horse to move with the least amount of resistance offered by saddle and rider.

              I know I can make the best saddle possible to allow the horse to move with the least amount of resistance to the weight of the rider, and allow the rider a position that is balanced, effective and relaxed. But, no matter how good the saddle is, or how well trained the horse is, the rider has to realize that they have the responsibility to not ask the horse to do something they are not capable of doing. There is a term used by NASCAR, "Slow up to go fast" - in that once you have the strength of the horse, success in your specific discipline will be a lot easier. As Tom Noone, who rides in 5 of my saddles states, "never ask for the back of the horse, unless they have one".

              This forum, I believe, is a great tool for the sharing of helpful information, but is misused when it becomes a vehicle for venting petty beefs, character assassination, and sometimes boldfaced lies, particularly considering the anonymity which covers most contributors.
              I am not going to get into an argument with those individuals that have posted negative comments on this and other forums and bulletin boards. Instead, I ask you to realize that there are two sides to every story, and if you need positive comments about the service and products I offer, go to my web site and read the testimonials from the other 98% of my cliental with real names and credentials such as World Cup riders, and members of Olympic teams.


              • #27

                So good to hear from you. Several of the complaints on the forum were of a customer service nature of which you did not address. It is wonderful that you believe in your product and the way in which you adjust saddles.

                What you don't mention is customer satisfaction and when you can't make it right, what options do you give that customer?


                • #28
                  Equation Saddlery

                  Originally posted by KatherineC View Post
                  Has anyone purchased a dressage saddle from George Gullickson? Please share your experience if you have. Thanks
                  Yes, I purchased a Dressage saddle and a Cross Country from George Gullikson/ Equation Saddlery. I have two eventers that are built quite differently. George showed me how to accomadate both horses using different saddle pads. He has since adjusted the saddles after I used them for a while. I really like both saddles. The Dressage saddle helps me sit taller due to the way George adjusted it to fit me. The xc saddle has great support, and I feel secure in it. Both horses go really well in both saddles, and neither has any soreness issues. I would highly recommend purchasing from Equation Saddlery. George is constantly adding to his saddle line with new and innovative ideas and adjustments to fit both horse and rider.


                  • #29
                    Complaint ID#: 44027508
                    Business Name: Canterbury Farm/Equation Saddlery

                    The Better Business Bureau has made several attempts to contact the business regarding the above referenced complaint. We regret to inform you that we have not received a response from the company. This complaint has been closed as unanswered.

                    The Better Business Bureau develops and maintains Reliability Reports on companies in our service area. This information is available to the public and is frequently used by potential customers. In the case of your complaint, the company's failure to promptly give attention to the matter will be reflected in the report we give to consumers about them.

                    If the company has contacted you in the interim, please notify the BBB immediately.


                    Melinda D Stokes
                    Complaints Analyst
                    BBB Complaint Department


                    • #30
                      I first met George in Ocala and he was professional and great to deal with. He spoke with me about saddles, but at that point, I was not getting MY horse fitted. I appreciated, however, the time he took to explain what he was doing as I do enjoy learning in all environments.

                      When I went to New England later that year, I really did need my saddle fitting and I was very pleased and impressed with what George did with my saddle. I NEVER got any pressure to buy a new saddle or a different saddle. He spoke at length with me about my horse, his history, my riding, what I was feeling, worked on my saddle, then he watched me ride. Fantastic results.

                      Over the last year, I have bought a new horse, and have coordinated with Patricia (with no problem, via e-mail) about George's fitting my new horse. Unfortunately, my old saddle, did not fit. It was obvious to me; however, even again, I did not get any type of "sell." It was apparent that the fit of this particular brand of saddle would not fit the build of my horse. I am incredibly pleased with the saddle that George fitted and sold me for my young horse. The quality and workmanship, not to mention, the comfort of the saddle itself is one of the highest. I've always appreciated the time and customer service.

                      I certainly don't mind signing my name, although I am just an amateur.
                      Pamela Jefcoat


                      • #31
                        I have also had nothing but positive interactions with Equation Saddlery, as have countless riders and trainers I've met over the years that use his services. The new Equation dressage saddle is nothing short of the most comfortable saddle I have ever had the pleasure of riding in. Everyone who has sat in it to date has drooled over the leather and comfort. I have also sat in the new event saddle, although do not own one. I was ready to live in it! It will be on my Christmas list this year and every year until I'm lucky enough to get one!

                        George has been fitting my very hard to fit horses (from draft ponies to Friesians to Swedish Warmbloods and everything in between) for years and I have been nothing less than thrilled with the results. Through his innovative flocking techniques and great eye for the flaws in my build, he was able to custom flock my saddle to not only alleviate lower back pain I'd had while riding for years, but also to allow me to sit straight on my horses for the first time in my life. I no longer fought to find my position...I just sat in the saddle and everything fell immediately into place. This allowed me to focus on just riding for the first time in my life instead of struggling with my own seat. This was through the asymetrical flocking technique he uses. I went from struggling with back pain and horses whose haunches constantly fell off the rail (my hips are slighly crooked) to a pain free riding experience and horses who rode straight as an arrow. The extra swing in their step and freedom in their backs was something I had never even known I was missing! I can name over a dozen riders off the top of my head who would also give George rave reviews...however I'm sure like many of his satisfied customers, they are not members of this board. Well I am no saddle fitting expert, I can say through my own experience and the experience of many others I know...his technique works. My horses are happy...no more tail swishing and tense backs. They are finally able to round up and into the saddle with ease and the difference in the feel of my rides is night and day. My personal chiropractor and my horses' chiropractor are also happy with the results. My chiropractor barely has adjusting to do when he comes now. Not to mention my competition scores have increased. I am a 100% satisfied customer and am walking proof that George's techniques work and his saddles are the most comfortable things I've ever had the pleasure to sit in! Thank you George for all of your hard work and innovative thinking! You have made such a huge difference in my riding career and both my horses and I thank you repeatedly!
                        Please excuse the typos...I'm always on my iPhone and autocorrect is not my friend. Yes I mean mares autocorrect...not mates.


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by PFMJ View Post
                          When I went to New England later that year, I really did need my saddle fitting and I was very pleased and impressed with what George did with my saddle. I NEVER got any pressure to buy a new saddle or a different saddle. He spoke at length with me about my horse, his history, my riding, what I was feeling, worked on my saddle, then he watched me ride. Fantastic results.

                          Over the last year, I have bought a new horse, and have coordinated with Patricia (with no problem, via e-mail) about George's fitting my new horse.
                          I'm glad others have had luck with him. The positives for me were he did get my Spalding to fit enough that I could still continue training, and I didn't get a hard sell. Also he suggested some used brands to try.

                          The downside is it took a loonngg time to get a call back. Maybe I just fell through the cracks.

                          He is due back in Hernando, MS in a couple weeks I think. I'll most likely give him another shot. Have found another used saddle (Custom Saddlery Advantage) in my price range - if I buy it I'll ask him to give it a double check.


                          • #33
                            George helped us

                            I have a had a great experience with George. His saddle fits me so much better than anything else I have ever ridden in and my horses are going well too. I recommend him.


                            • #34
                              I think George is great

                              I have nothing but positives to say about George and his saddles. I have been riding for 20 years, and his saddle has helped both me and my horse. I feel that I finally have a saddle that fits and is comfortable. The saddle helps me to sit in the correct position, and be a more effective rider. My trainer and I felt an immediate improvement in my horse after I started to use the saddle. Also George's knowledge of biomechanics has helped me understand what is going on with me and my horse physically, and has helped my riding. As my horse improves and goes up the levels, George adjusts my saddle to help my horse continue to improve.

                              I have an FEI dressage horse and a Grand Prix level trainer, and we are both happy with what George has done for saddle and fit. In addition, I have a horse who is difficult to fit that is ridden and shown by my trainer. George designed a saddle for this horse which has made a vast difference, and we have no complaints about fit anymore.

                              Sometimes you have to wait for George to come, but it is worth the wait. Thank you George for a job well done!

                              Shelley Welch
                              Glenmere Dressage Center
                              Chester, NY


                              • #35
                                George Gulickson saddles

                                I purchased a dressage saddle from George last year and love it. He did a great job fitting me and my mare. I had been thoroughly frustrated in attempts to find the right solution. (I'm small and I have petite, short-coupled Quarter Horse.) The custom he created for us has provided a positive difference in my riding and my mare's performance. In addition, George has been extremely helpful in the follow-up fittings as my mare's muscling has changed with our work. I would recommend a Gulickson saddle.


                                • #36
                                  George Gulickson saddles

                                  I purchased a used Equation dressage saddle after six months of saddles shopping (trailoring to saddle fitters, paying to have saddles shipped to me and paying to have them shipped back, many trips to Chicago, winding up with a horse with a very sore back - not riding for 5 weeks, chiro adjustments, etc.).

                                  I LOVE George! He comes to our barn about twice a year and makes sure the fit is still working for me and my horse.

                                  I highly recommend Equation Saddlery early in the saddle search process. It will save time and money not to mention your horses back.


                                  • #37
                                    Great Success with George's saddles

                                    I am an FEI Dressage trainer who has had wonderful success working with George and his saddles. Five of my clients bought saddles from him and each have seen their riding improve from being in a saddle that fits them and their horses better. The owner of our farm has 3 horses and each of them has a saddle made by George. Some of the saddles were purchased new and others were used.

                                    The first time I met George and discussed saddles with him I told him that I loved riding in my Passiers. He agreed that the saddle I had was a great saddle for me and happily adjusted it to fit my horses better. Last year I bought a new Warmblood who was not comfortable in the Passier. George made me a saddle to fit my horse, whose movement improved greatly. It is a saddle that I am very comfortable riding in as well.

                                    We have all been nothing but happy with George's work here at the farm. As for having to wait for an appointment, anyone in this business that is any good at what they do is going to be very busy, and therefor often hard to get in touch with. As a client you need to know this and organize yourself so you get on the schedule ahead of time so you are not left waiting with a saddle that needs adjusting.

                                    Elizabeth King


                                    • #38
                                      We just got our most recent Equation saddle for a hard to fit Sport pony and a petite adult rider. Both are very happy with it!
                                      Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. –Sebastian Junger


                                      • #39
                                        George Gullikson Saddles -

                                        I have been riding in an EE saddle built by George Gullikson for 2 years now. I have a 10yr old Lipizzan X who due to his compact short back and HUGE shoulder was very very hard to fit correctly... My trainer and I tried several saddles both new and used and could not find the right combination. When George came to our barn, he was there on an appointment for someone else. We waited and found time to talk with him. George was very knowledgable, and made time for me and my horse to be examined for fitting. I also expressed that I could not get a NEW saddle and that budget was an issue. I say this because what ended up happening was above and beyond. George reached out to a former client of his whom was selling a specialty made saddle that could be adapted to fit my horse, he then drove almost 400 miles to pick up this saddle (on the way to other appointments). Upon returning to our farm with this saddle, he made final adjustments to ensure a good fit on my horse, and also put air panels in the shoulder area to accommodate for my horses confirmation. George was extremely easy to work with, allowed me a payment plan and has been back regularly to check the saddle and how my horses back is changing / developing underneath it. The saddle also fits me very well and for the first time since riding dressage I am able to sit evenly on both seat bones. I have had zero problems with the saddle, with George, with my horse - it was money well spent. My chiropractor, and also my dentist for my horse both have commented on how balanced my horse is - that he only needs touch up visits at this point (and I should point out that both of these profesionals are some of the top in the country). In my opinion, George is an artist at what he does - and without my semi-custom saddle I am sure my horse would have developed musculature, skeletal issues by now. My horse is sound, happy and has a very secure strong back... Thank you George!


                                        • #40
                                          George Gullikson

                                          Here's my 2 cents: I think George is an incredible saddler. We went through several saddle fitters before finding him. He has made all the difference in many horses and riders. He gave 2 horses their careers back, and has made all the difference in the comfort and effectiveness of several riders. He never pushes the sale of his saddles, has let people try them for several weeks- months even.

                                          He is not always the easiest to get a hold of- but this has been the case for me with other talented professionals: he is in high demand and probably needs more support staff to answer calls/emails. Also, I think he's hard to book because he travels to some out-of-the-way spots (thankfully). In addition he's an artist-type... he functions on feel and senses energy, along with the more practical side of what he does. Some people may not feel comfortable with this.

                                          Of course, I do believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinions... now mine is added to the mix.

                                          Life is good- enjoy the ride!