Saddle Up! FEI and Bates Saddles announce new partnership

Media updates
01 November 2023 Author: FEI Communications

Saddlery experts Bates Saddles – an esteemed fourth-generation family-owned saddlery company and well-known international equestrian brand – has become the Official FEI Saddle Partner.

Photo: FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez (left) with Head of Product Innovation at Bates Saddles, Emily Bates at the official signing (Copyright/FEI)

With their reputation for delivering sound and practical saddle guidance for riders of every equestrian discipline, Bates Saddles has enjoyed career-long partnerships with many elite riders including German Dressage legend Isabell Werth (GER).

“Horse saddles are considered the most important piece of tack, and a key concern of riders is often the impact that their saddle has on their riding,” FEI Commercial Director Ralph Straus explained.

“Riders from all over the world have long relied on Bates Saddles unparalleled expertise to provide sound information on saddle related questions. So, we are extremely pleased to be partnering with them not just for the pride they take in delivering high quality saddlery, but also because horse welfare is always at the heart of their work. We know that it is these shared values that will help us both evolve and grow over the long term in this partnership.”

Founded by George Bates in 1934, Bates Saddles has passed down through generations of the Bates family and is today proudly run by George's great-granddaughters, Ellen and Emily. They inherited the company from their father Ron Bates, whose role as the Managing Director still keeps him heavily involved in the day-to-day running of the business. 

Photo: German Dressage legend Isabell Werth, pictured with Ron Bates. (Image courtesy of Bates Saddles)

The company’s guiding principle has always been horse welfare and comfort, as well as the strong belief that “comfortable horses perform better”.

As a saddler and experienced horseman himself, Ron Bates pioneered much of the innovation in the brand, introducing various advancements, such as air cushions, plastic adjustable saddle trees, webbers, and movable blocks on saddles.

Ron’s legacy has been one of reimagining saddle functionality from the horse’s perspective, with his creative solutions becoming the industry benchmark for horse comfort under saddle. His work has also helped position Bates Saddles as a company with unparalleled competitive advantage in the industry.

Innovation has always been the name of the game, and the contribution Bates Saddles have made to the evolution of saddles over time has no comparison. The company’s reputation has been built on its creation of the first adjustable tree, adjustable knee rolls and adjustable girth systems, as well as pioneering changeable gullet plates, the sealed equestrian air cushion panel system, a riser system enabling panel customisation and the close contact adjustable stirrup bars.

"Under the governance of the FEI, equestrian sport has evolved over the years to an incredibly high standard of competition and professionalism,” Ron said.

“It is such a joy to collaborate with the FEI on all aspects of horse health around saddles, as an official supplier. It has been my experience that progress is driven through the exchange of knowledge and it is my hope that our collaboration will advance horse and rider happiness under saddle, around the world.

“As competitive standards reach ever new heights, we will leave no stone unturned in driving the future evolution of saddles to deliver on performance.”

As a saddlery company, Bates Saddles have also long been focused on education, not only through research and development, but in sharing what they know with as many equestrians as possible for the good of horses worldwide.

It was this focus on education and horse welfare which first forged the partnership between the FEI and Bates Saddles, with the latter providing advice to the FEI’s online community over the past year.

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"As my daughters start their equestrian journeys, I'm reminded of how steep the learning curve is for equestrians of all ages,”, Head of Product Innovation at Bates Saddles, Emily Bates said.

“It is rewarding to cultivate sound foundational guidance for riders wherever they are in their unfolding equestrian story. I consider it a huge privilege to form part of the FEI's trusted voice in creating a timeless resource on saddles across all disciplines and experience levels."