Saddles of the future being developed in the Foothills

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2018

New riding technology being researched in Tryon

TRYON — Ron Friedson, of Pegasus Saddles, was in town this week talking about Pegasus’ new Featherweight saddle designed for endurance riders.

Friedson has been working with Mike Schatzberg, owner of Cherokee Hill Farm in Tryon, to develop the ideal lightweight saddle for endurance riders.

The new technology offered in Pegasus Saddles includes forward and centered stirrup bar locations. (Photo by Catherine Hunter/Tryon Daily Bulletin)

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“The Pegasus Saddles are made with a Unicorn Duel Action spring hinge embedded on either side in the front of the saddletree,” Friedson said. “This lets the saddle automatically open and close to fit wide or narrow backed horses, or even a horse that is uneven.”

Pegasus saddles are designed and built by a former Kieffer saddle maker. Friedson himself is a world-renowned saddle designer, and has studied with both German and English saddle makers.

Ron Friedson, of Pegasus Saddles, has been working with Schatzberg to develop a new breakaway stirrup that has the elegance and style of traditional stirrups. (Photo by Catherine Hunter/Tryon Daily Bulletin)

Since last year, he and Schatzberg have been working with endurance teams from Israel and Great Britain about using the basic Pegasus eventing saddle design to create an extra lightweight endurance saddle.

“It’s the lightest saddle in the world,” Friedson said. “Most saddles weigh 12 to 14 pounds. The Featherweight weighs 8.75 pounds.”

In addition to the new saddle fitting technology, Pegasus Saddles has designed a new breakaway stirrup. If the rider gets a foot caught, the side of the stirrup snaps open, which allows the rider to easily extract their foot.

The top of the stirrup is also turned so that it is easier for the rider to recover the stirrup in the event they drop it.

Friedson said they began working on the new stirrup design because traditional barns and fox hunters wanted the elegant silver stirrups with the white pads. They also wanted a breakaway stirrup designed to make it easier for the rider to fall free in the case of an accident.

In addition to the adjustable trees, Friedson is trying a saddle with flexible rear panels that self adjusts for the horse’s back.

“This is just one more conformation piece to help the horse,” Schatzberg said. “It’s therapeutic for the horse.”

Kelly Snyder, equine structural integrator with Equine Freedom Solutions, agreed about the therapeutic benefits of the saddles.

“I love the Pegasus Unicorn saddles, because proper saddle fit is so vital to a horse’s physical, and therefor mental, well-being,” she said.

Snyder also pointed out the economic benefits of having only one saddle that fits all horses rather than having to have a custom-made saddle for numerous horses. 

Friedson and Schatzberg are continuing to look at ways to improve saddles and tack in general to help both horses and riders. Their “stable” of saddles not only includes the endurance and eventing saddles, but also saddles designed for dressage, fox hunting, show jumping and specialty saddles for mounted police units. They are coming out with a new Western saddle in a few months.

For more information about Pegasus Saddles, people may contact Schatzberg at Cherokee Hill Farm, 828-859-9990, on Facebook at Cherokee Hill Farm, or may visit