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Saddles: The Importance of Design, Fit, and Function


Master saddler Bernardo Vergara presented a seminar on Friday night November 30, 2012 in conjunction with the Albert Voorn clinic, hosted by McKrell Baier and Southern Blues Equestrian Center, Collierville, Tennessee. Thirty-five people attended the theory seminar, also enjoying a delicious dinner at the Bhan Thai Restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee.

Vergara is owner of Verhan Saddlery, named by combining his last name, Vergara, with his wife’s last name (Georgette Hanover), of Morriston, Florida. In the seminar, Vergara explained the history of the use of horses through the times, and how the saddle was used, and changed, in that process. “If people understand the process, it is easier to understand how the pieces fit together,” he said. “The horse was first used for transportation, then used in the web of war, and now is used as a sport horse.”

Next he explained the anatomy of the horse and how the saddle can help or hurt the horse. From here, he went into the history of saddle making, which started 1 approximately 1,000 years BC, through today’s saddles. With each change in the use of the horse, there is a change in saddle making.

Now, Vergara has made another change in the line of history with the Free Shoulder™ saddle, and he is seeing excellent results in the performance of horses under this type of saddle. “This is the first time this has been done,” he explained. “The saddles are being used here and in Europe in polo, dressage, and show jumping with incredible success! So now I am traveling around the country, training agents to represent us. We don’t market them through the traditional tack shop. We want knowledgeable horse people to represent us. The combination of their experience and dedication to the horse with the work we do will get the best product for the horse and rider. When you buy the Free Shoulder™ saddle,” Vergara said, “then we custom fit the saddle to the horse. We use top quality elements. The saddles are made in Europe with German steel, English or Italian or Swedish leather. We use the best elements we can find to get the best quality saddle.” Verhan saddles have a patented tree and free shoulder panel that work together to relieve pressure on the shoulders. No other saddles can use this technology for 10-20 years worldwide!
Vergara has been a saddle maker for 20 years.  Twelve years ago he started his own brand, and more recently his company merged with Polo Gear. “They are similar companies and support each other,” Vergara said. “We have over 200 international riders using our saddles.” For thirty years Vergara was a dressage trainer. He retired from that career, and went exclusively to saddle making. “I’ve always been around horses,” he said.

McKrell is an agent for Verhan saddles, available in jumping, dressage, polo, combined training models. For more information about Verhan Saddles and the Free Shoulder™ saddle collection, visit

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