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The Free ‘n’ Easy Saddle Company celebrated its biggest competition success to date when endurance riders using their fully adjustable saddles took many of the higher placings in the race rides at the EHPS Lindum ride (Market Rasen Racecourse, 2/3 July 2000) and the Free ‘n’ Easy team also finished third in the event’s Team Challenge. The rollcall of Free ‘n’ Easy successes was topped by Heather Evans’ win in The Lindum 100 miler.

The Free ' n Easy team
(left to right): Les Spark & Agneta Pallinder (Free ‘n’ Easy Saddles), Lesley Helliwell, Mick (crew for Lesley Caswell), Lesley Caswell, Karen Greenwood, Heather Evans and Sallie Dudley

Heather’s victory was all the more sweet as it came on her own home-bred 24 year old veteran, Royal Mikado (Bilbo). The combination won a Free ‘n’ Easy saddle two years ago for the highest placed owner-rider in the 1998 Arab Marathon. Explained Heather: “I was over the moon to have won this saddle because Bilbo had suffered from muscle damage in his neck as a youngster and developed a sway back early on. I only started him in the sport when he was 19 and found that conventional saddles would always appear to fit in the dip and, at the same time, get in the way of his shoulder. The Free ‘n’ Easy saddle frees up his shoulder and this eliminates the risk of damage to the back when riding over long distances. I would say that this saddle has definitely contributed to Bilbo’s outstanding endurance record in recent years.” The horse’s Lindum victory follows a win in two 40 mile race rides last year and the 50 mile Dukeries ER.

Karen Greenwood from Darlington with her 8 year old trotter, North Island Bill, took third place in the 40 mile Lindum Imp ER finishing on an average speed of 9.66mph on the horse’s first attempt at a race ride; and similarly paid tribute to her Free ‘n’ Easy Saddle: “Billy’s performance on Sunday followed a 40 mile CTR which we did on the Saturday and when we finished on the second day, there was no evidence that a saddle had even been on his back, not one dry spot. Billy has the gliding trot that you would expect from his breeding, which just eats up the ground and his action in this saddle is even better. As we have been training harder and competing more, he has inevitably changed shape so we were able to have the saddle adjusted; rather than switch to a new one. It took me quite a time to get used to riding in it but now I am a real convert. Our next goal is to go for a hundred in 2001.”

Making up the Free ‘n’ Easy team were: Lynda Croft, Layla (5th, 60 mile ER), Lesley Caswell, Archimeades (Grade 1, 2 x 40 Mile CTRS on both days), and Lesley Helliwell, Freddie (two 25 mile CTRs, Grade 1, Saturday and Grade 2, Sunday).

Full individual Free ‘n’ Easy saddle rider results: The Lindum 100 mile ER – Heather Evans, Royal Mikado (1st) and Sallie Dudley, Pharach Samantah (3rd); The Little Lindum 60 mile ER – Caroline Atkinson, Magef Cariad (3rd); The Lindum Imp 40 mile ER – Karen Greenwood, North Island Bill (3rd) and Val Cammock, Ziegreid’s Folly (4th).

Commented Les Spark for Free ‘n’ Easy saddles: “This was the first time we had put a team together and launched our new colours. We were enormously heartened by riders’ willingness to share their experiences of using our saddles. It looks like we may have five Free ‘n’ Easy riders in the 150 mile, 4 day class at The Spirit of Sherwood in early August and we hope to field another team there too.”

Established in 1995, the Free ‘n’ Easy Saddle Company is based in Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham (with agents based across the UK) and produce the only saddle in the country which is fully adjustable across the width and length of the horse’s back - as well as in the location of the stirrup bar - to ensure maximum freedom of action of the horse and to encourage a correct and balanced position for the rider. The first saddles produced by the company were designed for endurance but other models have since been developed for dressage and jumping. For further information including details of Free ‘n’ Easy Saddle Clinics held regularly across the country: 01833-640887.

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