No one understands the importance of a good foundation better than a professional homebuilder. Dave Kaden, 57, of Specialized Saddles in Canutillo, Texas, brings that expertise to constructing saddles for the king of Malaysia, and five of the top finishers at the 2010 World Equestrian Games Endurance qualifier in Lexington, Kentucky.
This horseman understands the relationship between a good fit and a good ride. Growing up in Greenville, Texas, “I didn’t own a bicycle. I rode my Shetland pony, Star, and horses remained my passion until college.” A mid-life crisis led to endurance riding: “Getting back in the saddle was what I needed. I began conditioning and competing three geldings.” That was 1998, when his “great saddle hunt” began. As Dave logged miles and his horses gained muscle, he saw how badly his saddles performed. “I had seven saddles for three horses. None was perfect. The right fit became a ‘moving target.’ “I was the kid who tore up his toys to see how they worked. I wondered why I could not find a saddle I could adjust right now, instead of making templates or tracings, and sending it out for another well-intentioned, but failed attempt, at a good fit. “There had to be a better system -- between a saddle’s rigid tree and a horse’s dynamic back -- to cushion muscles in motion, be easily adjusted, and accommodate different horses.” Dave came to a “better solution,” and friends who tried his prototype saddles reported their problems solved, too. “I quit my job and started Specialized Saddles. These are the only saddles where you can adjust width, arch, and angle without any tools other than scissors.” A how-to video, and more about adjustable saddles, is on www.SpecializedSaddles.com. “Alleviating pain and discomfort is our mission. We make custom saddles, special trees for mules and draft horses, and have solved saddle fit problems for groups like the Fort Lauderdale mounted police. We get hundreds of letters telling us how Specialized Saddles changed someone’s relationship with their horse and their riding experience.” His fascination with how things work continues: “I am working on new prototypes, including dressage and jumping models that increase the surface area and decrease pressure on horses’ backs, and roping and barrel racing saddles.” If Lexington was an indicator, Specialized Saddles will carry riders into the medals at the World Equestrian Games, as Dave continues to help horses and riders enjoy the same happy partnership as that little boy from Texas had with a pony named Star.