A new saddle-fitting association has been launched to provide an alternative professional body for the industry.
The Professional Saddle Fitters Association (PSFA), a not-for-profit organisation, has been founded with the core aim of “improving horse welfare and/or quality of life to a level that would assure the public ridden work can be as every bit enriching for the equine as it is for the rider”.
Full PSFA membership can be gained directly by those who are Society of Master Saddlers qualified saddle-fitters (SMSQSF), or those who hold the Netherlands-based Academy of Master Saddle Fitting Consultants (MSFC) or the Lantra-approved Horse1st saddle-fitting certificates. Fitters who have not done these courses, but who wish to be considered for full PSFA membership, must submit evidence that their “level of expertise” complies with the Occupational Standards for Saddle Fitters, produced by a working party reporting to the Saddle Fitting (Training & Qualifications) steering group, chaired by the Saddlers Company, before they will be accepted.
An associate membership is available for provisional applicants who are progressing towards compliance with the occupational standard and aim to progress to full PSFA membership, and there is also a trainee membership. PSFA members must not already be registered with a saddle-fitting professional body, owing to the fact they are “already professionally represented” for their fitting services, and to avoid “conflict of interest”.
Caroline Lindsay, PSFA vice-president and veterinary physiotherapist, told H&H the association aims to be inclusive by providing a professional body for those that are SMSQSFs or hold the MSFC or Horse1st certificates – but also for those who have chosen to follow a different pathway into the industry, and PSFA members will have access to continued professional development.
“The past decade has seen an explosion in equitation research which is bringing us ever closer to the need for professionals who can address the horse, saddle and rider combination by serving those separate elements as one complete unit,” she said.
“We wanted to support motivated professional saddle-fitters who had already committed to fulfilling that need. To do this we are providing them with the opportunity to build on their comprehensive levels of expertise with our networking and educational resources, as well as a platform from which they can represent themselves to the public as fully committed to their professional obligations.”
PSFA president Dean Woodward added that the association’s objectives are to offer more learning and advanced opportunities that will “nurture a culture of professionals committed to progressing their levels of customer relations and fitting expertise to achieve even higher standards of ridden horse welfare”.
“We were aware that there were many competent saddle-fitters out there that are undoubtedly providing an approach to fitting that aligns with the occupational standards for saddle-fitters and frequently beyond it,” he said.
“We are confident this resource will be welcomed by equestrians and, ultimately, allied equine and equitation practitioners seeking intervention from professionally competent saddle-fitters.”
A spokesman for the SMS told H&H the society is aware of the PFSA, but did not wish to comment.
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