I am Paul Wiles who is saddle fitting as a slow down, from a busy life amongst horses.
Starting as a reluctant 4yr. old rider, because the pony preferred for me by my father's riding school manager, liked to take off with me and just generally make life scary. The alternative one liked grazing and I found it uncomfortable sliding down her hogged mane when she came to sudden stops and put her head down to eat.
By the time I was ten or so I was getting to quite like the ponies. We could ride around the woods and play cowboys or go to local shows and play gymkhana games. By the time I was 12 was enjoying a bit of hunter trialling and shortly after that I became involved in teaching other people to ride.
At age 15 I was clipping sixty or so horses each winter, learning to shoe, working on the farm and hunting a little. At seventeen I went down south and took my BHSAI exam and passed.
At eighteen I took over the family business and tenancy of the stables at Browsholme in Cottingham and continued to run a successful Riding school and livery yard, with the help of some good staff. Hunting with Holderness hunt were special days for me during the following years.
Three years later I joined forces again with my parents and brother and we took over a racing stables at Northlands, Walkington. Later the premises became the home for Humberside police horses. We schooled horses, broke some in and had residential riding students from all over the country and a few from outside the country.
Whilst there my long time interest in saddlery developed and especially in saddles.
Marrying Sheila, my childhood girlfriend, when I was twenty one, we became involved in the saddlery shop that we opened at the riding school and livery yard premises. Selling feed, trailers, riding and horse clothing, alongside the saddles and leatherwork. We also expanded the farrier business by adding two more farriers to the team.
Eventually I turned tired of working long hours, for little return.
The family closed the horse side of the business and I kept busy with saddlery and shoeing. Eventually the saddlery shop was sold and moved into Beverley, by the new owner. As a farrier I was often asked for saddles even though I did not have the shop any longer, so I had an arrangement with an out of town company to just buy saddles and fit them amongst my shoeing customers. That continued for some time.
In between all the horse activity I still had farming interests and took various city and guilds courses and exams in farm machinery, and crop growing, at Bishop Burton Agricultural College followed by an intensive course on Advanced Pig Husbandry.
When the children were grown up and away from home Sheila and I went to a warmer climate. Florida was where we opened our farrier supply business. After a few years we added a saddlery shop, selling English, Walsall made saddles from Frank Baines, Jeffries, Black Country and Patrick. I fitted these and did made to measure orders for a range of customers.
I was still shoeing some selected horses which I eventually gave up as my hip gave out in 2008.
Some twelve years after arriving in Florida we returned to be nearer family. I was asked by Sylvia at Parnaby's Saddlery shop in Malton, if I would fit saddles for their customers. This got me back involved with the horse world and saddles which I have some weird affinity to. I have continued to do the best that I can keeping horses back's in good condition whilst giving riders comfort and suitable saddles for the sport that they are involved in.
Some jobs are more challenging than others but getting the best outcome is always the aim. In semi retirement the work is more of an interest than a job now but I do have to make expenses so fees are needed but I try to give good value for money and good service.
With luck my one man business/hobby can help you get the best saddle fit possible. Paul Wiles