Saddle maker John Gray creates unique therapeutic saddles to help put disabled riders back on their horses again.
It’s no secret that horseback riding is therapeutic. Riding offers riders countless benefits, including improved strength and coordination, increased balance, and even improved confidence. But for disabled riders, simply getting into the saddle can be a challenge in itself.
Master saddler John Gray of Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas helps to put disabled riders back in the saddle. Gray learned the art of saddle making from his father, but when it came to making therapeutic saddles, learning the craft was a matter of trial and error. Gray started by adapting standard saddles, adding on elements like seat belts to make them accessible for disabled riders. Then Gray found a saddle tree manufacturer who was willing to customize trees to each rider’s needs.
Each saddle that Gray makes includes custom options needed by an individual rider. Many of the saddles have back rests and seat belts. Gray has made saddles with bucket seats, and even head and chest restraints.
Gray’s saddles help disabled riders to mount up again. When a rider goes from being able-bodied to being disabled, they stand to lose a huge part of their lives. We all know how all-encompassing riding is; imagine waking up and being told that you can never ride again? Gray gives these riders back their passion.
Some of the riders who have purchased saddles from Gray have gone onto compete, ride in parades, and even barrel race. Where custom therapeutic saddles are few and far between, Gray is fulfilling a need that makes all the difference in the world to these riders.
Want to learn more? Be sure to visit Gray’s Custom Saddlery’s website.
What do you think about these saddles? Let us know in the comments below!
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