Is your Saddle Fitter Qualified?
Author- Lisa Fay
This seems to be something of a hot topic at the moment so I wanted to give my two cents worth as there appears to be some misinformation doing the rounds.
I keep reading that there is only one worthwhile qualification for saddle fitters and that said qualification is the ‘one and only, the best, most thorough and hardest to achieve’.
(In all fairness this message isn’t being touted by the education provider themselves but by their ambassadors however, it seems to be getting a lot of traction and I think it should be addressed).
Firstly let’s establish what ‘qualified’ means.
The oxford dictionary defines qualified as: “having passed the exams or completed the training that are necessary in order to do a particular job; having the experience to do a particular job”
That means in a non-regulated industry such as saddle fitting your professional simply needs to be competent, trained and/or experienced.
Now let’s look at what qualifications are prominent in the UK?
The Society of Master Saddlers (SMS)- NVQ in Saddle Fitting – Level 3
Master Saddle Fitting Consultants (MSFC) Diploma – HND Equivalent
Horse1st – approx HND equivalent
International Academy of Saddle Fitters IASF)– Level 3 (A Level) and Level 4 (HND equivalent)
Equine Ergonomist (EE/EEC) Certificate – approx Level 3 / 4
There may well be more qualifications to add to this list but these are the main players as far as I am aware.
So just in reviewing the level of education and equivalent qualification we can see that the playing field is in fact fairly even across the board. Each qualification has its own system of delivery but they are all employ a form of blended learning mixing theory with practical and supervised work either through a mentorship scheme or case studies (although this may have changed since covid).
My personal opinion having studied/qualified with all but Horse1st (and yes I do include the IASF even though I wrote the course) is that no ‘one’ is better than the other. Every provider has strengths and weaknesses and something can be learnt from each.
So next time you see a post or an article about saddle fitting qualifications ask yourself what the objective is? Is it a genuine attempt to communicate unbiased advice or is it just a way of promoting one badge and downplaying others?
IASF aim to provide a truly well rounded understanding of saddle fit by combining all methods off saddle fit combined with forward thinking and scientific research. If you are interested in becoming a saddle fitter visit our 'course' page to find out how IASF can help.