If there’s one thing event rider Sharon Hunt couldn’t do without, it’s her Butet saddles. The Olympic team bronze medallist says anything else she rides on feels bulky and restrictive and that she hasn’t found another to match the quality. “I’ve got long legs and I’m long from my hip to my knee,” she says. “If I get on anyone else’s saddle, I usually find my knees come over the flaps, but these seem to work for riders of all shapes and sizes. “They’re made from calfskin, which gives better grip, and there are different types of seat so you can choose exactly what you need. I prefer a slightly deeper seat, but you can also have flatter ones.”
Butet saddles are made in France and distributed in the UK by Annika Sederholm of Sederholm International. It’s a name long associated with eventing — Annika’s father, Lars Sederholm, founded Waterstock eventing and training centre and trained many top event riders and show jumpers — and Sharon finds that the family’s experience a great help. “They know the game, which makes a big difference,” she says.
As someone who brings on young horses, she finds Myler bits another useful part of her armoury. “I’ve got ones with various mouthpieces and might use a bit with full cheeks to help with steering and an eggbutt for a horse that doesn’t take the bridle as much as I’d like,” she says. “I’ve also got a Myler combination, which works on the nose as well as the mouth. It isn’t severe, but helps if a horse is strong. Though I haven’t used it for ages, I’ll always keep it in the tackroom.”
Sharon has also adopted a curb gag bit from Equiport recommended to her by William Fox-Pitt. “The running cord goes through the bit rings and is joined to a leather pad that goes round the back of the jaw,” she says. “It doesn’t give strong poll pressure like an ordinary gag, but it’s very effective.” Her other tried and tested favourite is a rubber-covered pelham used with roundings and a single rein. “I use this a lot for show jumping,” she says. “It helps keep the horse rounder and because you can keep them nicer in the corners, you can be softer to a fence.”